Oct. 27, 2011 | Research Alert

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Research Prizes and Honors

[Have you or a colleague won a research-related prize or honor? Let the Research Alert know.]

Engineering Professor and Alumnus Receive Civil Engineering Award

Shadi NajjarRobert GilbertA professor at the Cockrell School of Engineering and a graduate of the school have been awarded the Norman Medal, the most prestigious award given by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The award recognizes Robert Gilbert, left, a geotechnical engineering professor in the school’s Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, and Shadi Najjar, a Ph.D. graduate from the Cockrell School and now an assistant professor of civil engineering at American University of Beirut, for a research paper that could improve the reliability and efficiency of deep foundations in constructing bridges and other structures.

News and Information

Professor Named New Director of Division of Statistics and Scientific Computation

Lauren Ancel MeyersAs the new director of the Division of Statistics and Scientific Computation (SSC), Lauren Ancel Meyers hopes to recruit top faculty and continue a large string of initiatives geared toward students.

“As a young program unencumbered by institutional inertia in a rapidly evolving field, the SSC has a unique opportunity to become one of the most innovative statistics programs in the world,” said Meyers, who is also a professor in the Section of Integrative Biology. “As director, my highest priority is to transform quantitative education so that every UT undergraduate is equipped with the intuition and computational skills required for understanding, communicating and problem solving in today's world.”

Meyers has been a pioneer in the field of mathematical epidemiology, with research ranging from tracking the influenza virus to tracing the spread of a virus in lions on the Serengeti.

New Politics Forum Set for Nov. 12

Joel Johnson

The New Politics Forum, an initiative of the Annette Strauss Institute, in partnership with the Center for Politics and Governance and the Dell Social Innovation Challenge seeks to present the leading ideas that are shaping the way young people are changing the game and championing the movement to upgrade political engagement into the new millennium.

Students from any college or university are encouraged to attend. Registration is $15 for students and $20 for others.

Austin Forum Presents Stem Cell Researcher

Dr. Emerson Perin, director of Clinical Research for Cardiovascular Medicine and the medical director of the Stem Cell Center, Texas Heart Institute, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, will speak about adult stem cell research at the Austin Forum on Nov. 1, 2011. The talk at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center is free and open to the public.

Quoted-UT Researchers in the News

Tell Me More-NPR
Oct. 24, 2011
HEADLINE: Coming Home From Iraq: Military Community Responds

Edward Dorn (Edwin Dorn, a professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and former Defense Department official, spoke with Michelle Martin on NPR's "Tell Me More" program about the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.)

MICHEL MARTIN: You know, Professor Dorn, in the early years of the war a lot was made of the lack of adequate preparation for the post-invasion period. Now, presumably the leaders of the Pentagon have had time to think about what a drawdown will look like. Could you just tell us a little bit of what are some of the considerations right now about preparing for the drawdown? What has to happen?

DORN: A lot of equipment has to be moved out, but that's been going on for the past year, Michel, and just as our military is pretty good at moving stuff into position, it's pretty good at moving stuff back. One detail, a costly detail, is that when that equipment is moved out of Iraq, it has to be cleaned very carefully. You don't want to bring Iraqi soil back to the United States.

So, that's a pretty arduous process; they know how to do that, and we don't have that many people or that much equipment left. We also, of course, are going to leave a fair amount of stuff there for the Iraqis, and that's part of the training and equip mission that we've been on for the past several years.

Research Opportunities

Important University Research Deadlines

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The University of Texas at Austin Stimulus Package Web page is online.

Funding Sources

Department of Defense

Office of Naval Research
Energetic Materials Program
Deadline: White Paper, Nov. 7, 2011

Department of Energy

Materials Solicitation with Focus on Structural Materials, Blanket First Walls, and Divertor Plasma Facing Component (PDF)
Deadlines: Pre-Application, Nov. 14, 2011; Application, Dec. 23, 2011

Environmental Protection Agency

Activities that Reduce Global Anthropogenic Methane Emissions (PDF)
Deadline: Jan. 19, 2012

National Institutes of Health

Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa): H3Africa Biorepository Grants
Deadline: Dec. 19, 2012

Patient Safety and Medical Liability Reform Planning Projects
Deadline: Feb.16, 2012

Research Into The Impact Of Economic Fluctuations On Alcohol Consumption, Drinking Patterns, And Prevention And Treatment Of Problem Drinking And Related Problems
Deadline: Feb. 16, 2012

National Science Foundation

Deadline: Jan. 18, 2012

Strategic Technologies for CyberInfrastructure
Deadline: Feb. 15, 2012

Decision, Risk and Management Sciences
Deadline: Jan. 18, 2012

Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers Program
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, Jan. 2, 2012; Proposal, March 6, 2012

Network for Computational Nanotechnology
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, Dec. 16, 2011; Proposal, Jan. 17, 2012

Innovation and Organizational Sciences
Deadline: Feb. 2, 2012

Energy, Power and Adaptive Systems
Deadline: Feb. 7, 2012

Cultural Anthropology
Deadlines: See program guidelines

Arts, Humanities and Culture

The American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Fellowships and Grants
Deadlines: Submission dates vary by the specific fellowship or grant

Smithsonian American Art Museum
Fellowship Opportunities in American Art 
Deadline: Jan. 15, 2012

Other Funding Opportunities

Bayer Healthcare
Bayer Hemophilia Awards Program: Early Career Investigator
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, continuous; Application, Nov. 30, 2011

American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Hellman Fellowship in Science and Technology Policy
Deadlines: Jan. 13, 2012

American Sociological Association
Minority Fellowship Program
Deadline: Jan. 31, 2012

RAND Postdoctoral Training Program in the Study of Aging
Deadline: Feb. 10, 2102

Research Project

Quantifying the coevolution of bedload transport and bed topography in mountain rivers: Field and flume experiments using smartrocks

Joel JohnsonResearcher: Joel Johnson, assistant professor, Department of Geological Sciences, principal investigator
Agency: National Science Foundation
Amount: $322,276

The bottom of most steep mountain rivers is composed of coarse sediment (gravel to boulders), and the morphology (slope, width, depth, sediment size distribution, surface roughness) of a given channel develops over time due to size-dependent sediment transport and sorting. Conversely, transport rates of both water and sediment are controlled (in part) by channel morphology.

The overall goal of this project is to better understand key feedbacks among sediment size, sediment transport rate and channel bed topography, in order to more accurately predict all these factors in natural rivers. A field experiment in river bed evolution will be conducted in which part of a mountain river channel (Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed, Idaho) is modified using construction equipment. Starting from this artificially smoothed and straightened channel reach, the coevolution of bed topography and bedload transport rate will be measured over time. Complementary experiments will be conducted in laboratory flumes (artificial rivers in which variables can be precisely controlled). Hypotheses will be evaluated using unique data sets collected in both the field and laboratory by applying new and developing technologies. Methods include custom "smartrocks" (gravel and cobbles embedded with accelerometers) and clast tracking using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. Channel bed morphology will be measured over length scales from centimeters to kilometers by combining airborne and ground-based laser topography surveys (LiDAR).

Understanding river bed topography and bedload transport has many practical applications with broad significance to society. Mountain rivers are economically important (for example, cattle ranching takes place along one of the field sites at Reynolds Creek). Predicting how a river will respond to a flood of a given size depends on understanding channel stability, which in turn depends on the channel feedbacks being studied. River restoration efforts require a stronger scientific grounding to be able to engineer channels that will be stable over a given range of floods. Dam removal planning depends strongly on predicting channel feedbacks that occur while river discharge, sediment transport rate and channel morphology are all rapidly changing. In many rivers, transported sediment is also regulated as a pollutant, and better predictions of transport rates are critical for scientifically informed land-management decisions. Finally, the bed topographies of engineered and natural river channels form specific ecological niches, such as for spawning salmon that are sensitive to sediment sizes on the channel bottom.


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