University Research Council

December 16, 2009

Meeting Summary


Multidisciplinary Grant Project Report

Alex Star, Professor in the Department of Chemistry, reported on the status of his multidisciplinary grant project, which deals with issues related to nanoparticle toxicity (specifically carbon nanotubes).  Carbon nanotubes are one-atom-thick rolls of graphite.  They are 100,000 times smaller than a human hair, yet stronger than steel and excellent conductors of electricity and heat.  Carbon nanotubes reinforce plastics, ceramics, and concrete; conduct electricity in electronics and energy-conversion devices; and are sensitive chemical sensors.  Dr. Star and his team developed a method for biodegrading carbon nanotubes, which could help diminish the environmental and health concerns that mar the otherwise bright prospects of the super-strong materials.  They discovered that carbon nanotubes deteriorate when exposed to the natural enzyme horseradish peroxidase.  These results open the door to further development of safe and natural methods of cleaning up carbon nanotube spills in the environment and the industrial or laboratory setting.  Faculty members from GSPH, the School of Engineering, and the School of Arts and Sciences participate in the project.

Report from the Office of Research

Allen DiPalma, Director of the Office of Research, discussed two topics related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:

  • The Act requires funding recipients to provide quarterly reports on their grants.  The next quarterly reports are due on January 10, 2010.
  • The federal government will provide improved guidelines on reporting stimulus-related job creation.  The Government Accountability Office uncovered numerous circumstances in which the data were not accurately reported.

Responsible Conduct of Research

The NSF will require undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who perform NSF-funded research to undertake research integrity training.  The University will employ the University's Internet Studies in Education and Research's (lSER) Research Integrity Module to meet the NSF mandate.

DAAD Trip Report

Dr. Klinzing discussed his recent trip to Germany, which was sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).  The tour addressed various aspects of higher education, research funding, interdisciplinary cooperation, and industrial application.  DAAD focused upon renewable energy – primarily wind and solar energy.  Participants learned about current research at German academic institutions and met with potential partners in research and student exchange.

Miscellaneous

Council members also discussed:

  • Brainstorming for multidisciplinary projects
  • The Conflict of Interest policy
  • The University’s new guidelines on data management