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UTA Alumni Out of the Blue E-Newsletter October 2010 Edition: Record Student Enrollment at UTA

Student enrollment at UTA has jumped 17 percent this fall to 32,596 setting a new record for the campus and making it the second largest institution in the UT system. Watch the report by KXAS/Channel 5 at: http://www.criticalmention.com/components/url_gen/play_flash.php?autoplay=1&clip_info=1571516871%7C32%7C15%5E.  Almost 30 percent of this year’s first-time, full-time freshman ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. That number surpassed last year’s record of 25 percent.  The Fort Worth Business Press highlighted an increase in students seeking professions in health care, education, the sciences, and social work. It also referred that freshman to sophomore retention is up to 73 percent. Read their article on UTA here: http://www.fwbusinesspress.com/main.asp?FromHome=1&TypeID=1&ArticleID=13113&SectionID=8&SubSectionID=33.

Researcher Secures Grant to Battle Thyroid Cancer

A bioengineering researcher has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas to work on creating better tools for determining where thyroid cancer is and treating it. Jian Yang, a bioengineering assistant professor, says the research combines the use of nanotechnology and biofluorescent/biodegradable materials.

“It’s called a dual-imaging, dual-targeting nanoparticle system. This system combines magnetic resonance imaging and fluorescence imaging for cancer diagnosis, magnetic targeting and antibody-mediated targeting for cancer drug delivery,” says Dr. Yang, who is partnering on the grant with fellow bioengineer Kytai Nguyen. “Our intent is to find the cancer with high precision and treat it in a single setting.”  The two-year grant is the first awarded to UT Arlington to receive funding through the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas. Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2007 establishing CPRIT and authorizing the state to issue $3 billion in bonds to fund groundbreaking cancer research and prevention programs and services in Texas.

Civil Engineering Professor Wins 2 National Science Foundation Grants to Study Expansive Soils

The National Science Foundation has awarded a civil engineering professor two grants totaling more than $650,000 that could change the way expansive soils are tested, leading to better construction practices.  Anand Puppala, a UT Arlington Distinguished Teaching Professor in civil engineering, says a three-year grant for $257,000 uses the Soil Water Characteristic Curve to test those soils.  Dr. Puppala is teaming with researchers from Arizona State University in the study. The Soil Water Characteristic Curve method is a long-term study of the soil in extreme conditions.

Puppala also has won a four-year, $400,023 NSF Major Research Instrumentation grant to develop a triaxial testing device that would measure soil behaviors under different moisture conditions. NSF has funded only 15 percent of those grant proposals in the current year.  The device is unique, Puppala says, and should allow for better evaluations of soil characteristics that would lead to better and safer design of civil infrastructure.

Five UT Arlington students to present research at Great Plains Honors Council conference

Five students from The University of Texas at Arlington will present research to peers from six states during the Great Plains Honors Council’s annual meeting April 1-3 on this campus and the Arlington Hilton Hotel, 2401 East Lamar Blvd.

Seniors Ali Alam, Houda El Fakir, Kimberly Sams, Neri Sandoval and sophomore Yayu Hew hope to gain further insight of their work through peer reviews and critiques. They will join honors students from colleges in Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma in the exchange of original and scholarly ideas.

The Great Plains Honors Council coordinates its activities with the National Collegiate Honors Council to promote the flow of information, ideas, fellowship and professional encouragement. “This opportunity gives the students a leg up,” said Karl Petruso, dean of UT Arlington’s Honors College. “These are supportive venues. Students will present to others who have an interest in their work. It’s almost a rite of passage for those who want to go on and do further graduate research.”

Sams, an English and history major, will receive the Dennis Boe Award for her work on “Claiming Power and Agency: Medieval Women’s Self-Perceptions in Fifteenth-Century Family Letters.” The Boe Award recognizes outstanding scholarly work among undergraduate papers presented at the conference, and includes a monetary prize and engraved plaque.  

Helping UT Arlington honors students reach their full potential is one of Petruso’s key goals, but he also hopes hosting this year’s conference will provide an opportunity to recruit other top-notch students from two-year institutions, who are shopping for where they might go to finish a bachelor’s degree. “Students who come to this meeting are not only high achieving and have a good academic record, they generally have something in mind as their next step,” Petruso said. “They’re considering graduate school, medical school, careers in law or in research.”

While on campus, tours of UT Arlington’s new Engineering Research Building, Smart Hospital and other labs will be provided to conference attendees. This is the second time in 10 years that UT Arlington has hosted the Great Plains Honors Council conference. Visit www.greatplainshonors.com for more details. The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of 33,800 students in the heart of North Texas.