UM Partners with Vietnamese University for Teaching and Research

Agreement facilitates student, faculty exchange and collaborations between institutions

UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter (right) and Pham Duy Hoa, rector at the National University of Civil Engineering in Vietnam, sign a memorandum of agreement between the two institutions. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has entered into a new international partnership with the National University of Civil Engineering in Vietnam for student and faculty exchanges and research collaborations.

A formal memorandum of agreement between the two institutions was signed Thursday (May 10) in the chancellor’s office in the Lyceum. This partnership is NUCE’s first with an institution of higher learning in the United States.

“The University of Mississippi is pleased to collaborate with other universities and external partners to foster academic opportunities and enhance excellence,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “We expect outstanding outcomes from this agreement with NUCE, including new curriculum, faculty exchanges and research synergies.

“This partnership also contributes to our universitywide strategic goal of educating and engaging global citizens.”

The university’s global reputation for rigorous academics, innovative research and increasing diversity all influenced NUCE officials’ decision to partner with UM.

“I understood that the University of Mississippi is widely respected and very well known in the United States and beyond,” said NUCE Rector Pham Duy Hoa. “As we seek to expand our global collaborations, we found that the goals and activities of this institution were very compatible with ours.”

Noel Wilkin, UM provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs; Blair McElroy, senior international officer; and Kurt Smith, global engagement project coordinator, also were on hand for the signing.

Other NUCE delegates included Pham Quang Dung, vice rector; Nguyen Binh Ha, dean of the graduate school; Nguyen Hoang Giang, director of the International Cooperation Department; Ta Quynh Hoa, dean of faculty of international education; Cao Tuan Anh, director of the Office of Investment Management; and Tran Hong Hai, lecturer of building and industrial engineering.

Following the memorandum signing, NUCE officials interacted with Ole Miss faculty, discussed programming and toured various facilities.

NUCE proposes to establish a 2+2 transfer agreement in which students in an engineering bachelor’s degree program complete two years at one institution and transfer to finish it at the other. Other points of the agreement allow for faculty exchange, research collaborations, English as a Second Language instruction and continued development of the partnership.

“I am pleased with the interest that international institutions have in our outstanding academic programs,” Wilkin said. “Our School of Engineering faculty have worked hard to ensure that students who spend their first two years at fine international universities can have a seamless transition to our programs.

“Further, this will open the door for research collaborations that have international significance.”

The agreement will further enhance goals in the Department of Civil Engineering to increase internationalization, diversity and inclusion, said Yacoub “Jacob” Najjar, professor and chair of the department.

“We are happy to see that our curriculum will be emulated by similar program in Vietnam,” he said. “We are looking forward to such collaborations.”

Joining with NUCE provides opportunities for Ole Miss computer and information science majors to gain experience interacting with international students, said Dawn Wilkins, chair and professor of the department. “It will expose them to new working relationships and potentially lifelong friendships.”

Negotiations leading to the agreement began unofficially in January 2017. Smith and Tracy Koslowski, associate director of the UM Intensive English Program, traveled to Vietnam and Thailand to establish new international partnerships for academic exchange and collaborations.

Through the university’s Vietnamese Student Association, a connection was made with Pham Quan, second son of Pham Duy Hoa. Pham received his Bachelor of Business Administration in banking and finance from UM during Saturday’s (May 12) Commencement ceremonies.

“My son told me that he has had a wonderful educational experience at the University of Mississippi,” Hoa said. “It is certainly my desire that many more Vietnamese students have the opportunity to come to the University of Mississippi and have experiences similar to his.”

Established in 1966 as Ha Noi University of Civil Engineering, NUCE is one of Vietnam’s leading universities. With the main campus in Hai Ba Trung District of Hanoi, the institution is accredited by the Ministry of Education and Training in Vietnam. NUCE admits more than 3,000 undergraduate students and 150 graduate students annually.

Graduates work in research institutions, engineering firms, construction companies and management agencies across Southeast Asia and worldwide.

For more information about NUCE, visit http://nuce.edu.vn/.

Marc Slattery Receives Top UM Research Award

Researcher known for work with marine ecosystems, from coral reefs to Antarctica

Josh Gladden (left), UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, presents the2018 Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award to Marc Slattery during the university’s Commencement ceremony Saturday morning in the Grove. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Marc Slattery was a little conflicted about being honored for his research achievement at the University of Mississippi.

Slattery, a professor of biomolecular sciences in the School of Pharmacy and research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, was named the 2018 recipient of the Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award during the university’s 165th Commencement ceremonies Saturday (May 12) in the Grove.

“It came as a shock, a very pleasant surprise,” Slattery said. “I’m incredibly honored to be amongst the group of past honorees – there are tremendous scientists there.

“When I think about my colleagues here who have never won this award, I have to wonder, ‘What brings me above them?’ There are so many solid scientists here, so it was a very pleasant surprise.”

Created in 2008, the annual honor recognizes a faculty member who has shown outstanding accomplishment in research, scholarship and creative activity. Applicants are nominated by peers and reviewed by a committee of past recipients.

Winning the award is not a solo endeavor, however, Slattery said. Science is interdisciplinary and collaborative, and he has “tremendous collaborators and colleagues (at UM), within the School of Pharmacy and across campus.”

“I also work with several (people) off-campus at different universities who collaborate with me on grants and papers,” he said. “In many ways, I hope that people recognize that this honor is really for a team. I’m lucky enough to stand up for that.

“Everybody has really contributed to my being able to successfully do the work that I’ve done.”

Slattery said that in the broadest sense, he’s a marine biologist, but further efforts to pigeonhole him would be difficult as he has many interests, including a focus on coral reef ecology. His research interests also include pursuing drug discovery efforts in marine invertebrates, algae and microbes.

Slattery’s research has included work in extreme environments, from deep-sea reefs and marine caves to polar ecosystems in Antarctica and kelp forests off the coast of California.

He also said he’s interested in ecosystems and their processes, along with how resources in these ecosystems might ultimately become the next drug and with the conservation of these ecosystems.

Marc Slattery

“Dr. Slattery is an international leader in the fields of environmental ecology and marine biotechnology,” said Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, when presenting the award. “While artfully balancing his teaching, research and service responsibilities, he’s contributed to many discoveries in his field, brought recognition to the university and created fantastic opportunities for our students.”

Slattery earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Loyola Marymount University in 1981, a master’s degree in marine biology from San Jose State University in 1987 and his doctorate in biological sciences from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1994. He joined the Ole Miss faculty in 1995.

While at UM, Slattery has served as executive director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology and as research coordinator for the university’s Environmental Toxicology Research Program. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, and has two patent applications and a book chapter in review.

He also has given close to 200 invited presentations, including presentations before the United Nations and U.S. Senate. He was among 10 faculty members selected to participate in the university’s first TEDx conference.

“Marc is a dynamic scientist, not only because of the groundbreaking research he contributes to, but because he truly embodies the ‘creative’ element of this award,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “Many of his students go on to conduct their own influential research, attesting to the enthusiasm and dedication he brings to his work.

“The School of Pharmacy is home to some incredible scientists and faculty, many of whom are preeminent in their fields. We are fortunate to be home to five winners of this award, and are thrilled that this honor recognizes the breadth, caliber and originality of the some of the research coming out of our school.”

Slattery has received more than $30 million in funding from a range of federal agencies as either a principal investigator or co-principal investigator, and has been recognized with several honors, including serving as president of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences, earning the Cumberland Pharmaceuticals Inc. Faculty Research Award at UM in 2010 and serving as chief scientist on four NOAA research cruises.

He has advised or served on thesis or dissertation committees for 27 Ph.D. students, 25 master’s students and eight Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College students.

“At the University of Mississippi, we greatly value and emphasize excellence in scientific discoveries and scholarly research,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “This award recognizes those who curate bold ideas and foster collaborative and innovative approaches. As this year’s recipient, Marc Slattery lives up to the exceptional standard we’ve come to expect of honorees.”

Born in California, Slattery moved to Jamaica at age 5 and lived there for about a decade. Fascinated with the outdoors from an early age, Slattery remembers going to the beach in Jamaica, throwing on his diving mask and exploring the vibrant turquoise waters until being hauled out of the water by his parents, who instilled in him a passion for learning and exploring his interests.

In turn, Slattery has spent his career inspiring his students to investigate their interests to the fullest.

“You have to do what you’re passionate about,” said Slattery, who is married to Deborah Gochfeld, a principal scientist in the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research and a research professor of environmental toxicology.

“A career is a long time. You have to work hard and when you are in school, you have to study hard. There are a lot of people competing for the same jobs, but if you are doing what you love, it makes it so much easier.”

This year’s Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award was sponsored by GlobalStar, a Covington, Louisiana-based company that is a leading provider of mobile satellite voice and data services. The sponsorship is just one example of several collaborations between UM and GlobalStar, including an agreement to establish a second-generation ground station on campus, which will give Ole Miss students and faculty unique learning and research experiences.

Previous winners of the award are Sam Wang, Larry Walker, Charles Reagan Wilson, Dale Flesher, Atef Elsherbeni, Mahmoud ElSohly, Robert Van Ness, Charles Hussey, Ikhlas Khan and Alice Clark.

UM Students Present Their Research at the Capitol

Posters in the Rotunda showcases undergraduate projects at state universities

University of Mississippi students (left to right) Madison Savoy, Abigail Garrett, Cellas Hayes, Lindsey Miller and Brittany Brown present their undergraduate research during Posters in the Rotunda March 20 at the state Capitol. Photo by Shea Stewart/University Communications

JACKSON, Miss. – Five University of Mississippi students displayed their undergraduate research on topics ranging from the Latino South to therapeutic treatments for cognitive disorders during Posters in the Rotunda Tuesday (March 20) at the Mississippi State Capitol.

They were among 33 students from Mississippi’s eight public universities at the event, which showcased to state legislators and leaders some of the undergraduate research and scholarly activity being conducted at public universities.

“Research experiences at the undergraduate level can be extremely impactful for our students, giving them the first thrill of defining and answering a question no one else ever has,” said Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor of research and sponsored programs. “We have been expanding these experiential opportunities at UM and are excited for this opportunity for our leaders to learn more about the impressive work being produced by our students throughout the state.”

The event provided opportunities for state leaders to visit with students from their districts, allowed students to network with one other and showcased cutting-edge research conducted by undergraduates that benefits Mississippians.

“The work being done by undergraduates with their mentors at the eight state universities is quite impressive,” said Marie Danforth, chair of the steering committee for the Drapeau Center for Undergraduate Research at the University of Southern Mississippi and coordinator of the event, in a news release. “This event (helps) legislators appreciate the contributions that the students are making to the state in so many areas, including economics, health care and education.”

Ole Miss students presenting at the Posters in the Rotunda event were:

– Brittany Brown, a journalism major from Quitman. “The Latino South: Migration, Identity and Foodways” was the title of Brown’s poster abstract. According to Brown, her research “examines the demographic changes that result from the migration of Latinos to nontraditional settings in the American South.”

“It is important to understand how this increasing population will affect the idea of race and how Southern society views people of Hispanic descent in order to move forward as a region,” she wrote in her poster abstract.

– Abigail Garrett, a mathematics and computer science major from Mountain Brook, Alabama. Garrett’s research involves analyzing and sorting data with the mission of giving others “the ability to easily view and understand vast amounts of data provided about breast cancer patients and their treatments,” she wrote in her poster abstract.

“The research seeks to benefit Mississippi by helping its residents who are affected by breast cancer, and also benefit the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s research in regard to this terrible disease.”

– Cellas Hayes, a classics and biology major from Lena. As life expectancy has increased, so has diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, Hayes wrote in his poster abstract. The purpose of his research is to “identify therapeutic treatments for these diseases.”

“Within the last 50 years, life expectancy in Mississippi has increased to almost 80 years of age,” he wrote in his poster abstract. “This increased life expectancy has come with more age-related problems such as increased rates of dementia. Our goal is to understand how cognitive disorders come about in order to find potential therapeutic treatments.”

– Lindsey Miller, a pre-pharmacy major from Corinth. Miller’s poster abstract was titled “Finding the Dimerization Interface of Skp1 from Dictyostelium.” The research is focused “on understanding the function of F-box proteins, which are key proteins in regulating a wide variety of cellular activities in organisms including humans, plants and fungi.”

“Dictyostelium is an amoeba that lives in soil and is a good model system for studying how cells react to their environment,” she wrote in her poster abstract. “We are studying the Skp1 protein from this amoeba to understand how it works with other proteins. This information may help advance medicine and agriculture in Mississippi.”

– Madison Savoy, a communication sciences and disorders major from Southaven. Savoy’s research involves examining “how verb transitivity impacts pronoun interpretation for adults with intellectual disabilities versus typically developing adults,” she wrote in her poster abstract.

“Approximately 14 percent of Mississippians have intellectual or developmental disabilities. Understanding strengths and weaknesses in their language can help identify areas for targeted intervention. These targeted interventions could ultimately save the state of Mississippi a significant amount of funds to help these individuals go on to live independent lives.”

Started in 2016 and modeled after the Posters on the Hill event at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., which includes students from around the country, Posters in the Rotunda is held in some format in 17 states.

Both chambers of the Mississippi Legislature proclaimed March 20 as Undergraduate Research Day.

“Outstanding students from across the state have dedicated their time and have worked tremendously hard on their research projects for Posters in the Rotunda, and these students demonstrate the positive impact that higher education appropriation brings to our state, and supporting students who participate in Posters in the Rotunda is an excellent way for Mississippi to invest in its future,” House Resolution No. 54 stated.

“Undergraduate research is critical in developing solutions to the needs of Mississippi’s future workforce because it cultivates the students’ goals and aspirations and it encourages students to specialize in the biomedical and (science, technology, engineering and mathematical) fields after graduation.”

Spark Series Covers Starting an Online Business

Free event is Tuesday at Jackson Avenue Center

OXFORD, Miss. – The process seems simple: Launch a business online; make money.

Except the process is not that straightforward, and the next Spark Series at the University of Mississippi covers what business owners need to consider before starting their online ventures, including avoiding pitfalls, digitally marketing their businesses smarter and more.

“Questions You Should Ask Before Launching Your Business Online” is set for 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday (March 20) at the Jackson Avenue Center, Auditorium A.

The free panel discussion is open to the public with no registration necessary. The panel includes Allyson Best, director of the UM Division of Technology Management; Stacey Lantagne, assistant professor of law at the UM School of Law; Neil Olson, former general counsel with mortgage technology company FNC Inc., and startup and tech business consultant; and Jennifer Sadler, UM instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications.

The event is intended for any new or existing business, any nonprofit or other organization, or any individual who is interested in a website, app or other digital effort.

“Life online is continuously evolving,” Lantagne said. “It’s important to think about how the law affects the ways you want to use the internet to grow your business. We want to make sure you make the law work for you.”

After the presentation, experts from around campus and the community will be available for individual conversations during an ask-the-expert reception.

The first Spark Series event in late February discussed questions potential business owners need to investigate before forming a limited liability company. The event was well-attended by new businesses and existing ones, and by members of the UM campus and the local community, Best said.

“Now we are going to spark a discussion on another critical point: doing business online,” Best said.

A number of issues should be considered when doing business online, such as contractual and intellectual property considerations, work-for-hire issues when designing a website or app, and security requirements for protecting a business.

“Copyright is as old as our Constitution, yet it still seems to have surprises in store for new entrepreneurs,” Olson said. “Let us show you how you can avoid some of the more unpleasant surprises so you can get on with making your new online presence a success.”

Tuesday’s discussion also includes Sadler, an expert in digital marketing and entrepreneurship.

Digital marketing starts and ends with the consumer, and in an era of big data, business owners can target their exact audience and reach them as they browse online, Sadler said. Some keys to doing this are researching the consumer, understanding their online behavior and providing an easy way to solve any problems they may have.

User-friendly websites and audience-tailored advertisements also help business owners when it comes to digital marketing, but making money online is still hard work.

“Many entrepreneurs believe that once the website or app is up that orders will immediately start coming in – instant success,” Sadler said. “The truth is that it rarely happens that way. It can take a new business roughly six to nine months to reach the top of Google search pages, and that’s only if you have the right website to reach your audience.

“We want to give attendees the tools they need to start strong and grow fast. From forming the business/website name to getting it online, we are aiming to equip entrepreneurs with information they can use today.”

The Spark Series – intended to inspire, discover and transform – will continue in the fall.

Sponsors of this Spark Series event include the Division of Technology Management, School of Law, Insight Park, Meek School of Journalism and New Media, Mississippi Law Research Institute, Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation, McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Mid-South Intellectual Property Institute.

UM to Host Discussion Aimed at Business Beginners

Spark Series is intended to inspire, discover and transform

OXFORD, Miss. – Business experts from the University of Mississippi and the local community will lead a Wednesday (Feb. 28) discussion about questions potential business owners need to investigate before forming a limited liability company.

Part of the Spark Series, the panel discussion is titled “Questions You Should Ask Before You Begin Your Business.” The event, set for 4 p.m. in the Jackson Avenue Center, Auditorium A, is free and open to the public with no registration necessary.

The panel includes Marie Saliba Cope, UM assistant dean for student affairs, assistant clinical professor at the UM School of Law and director of the Transactional Clinic; Neil Olson, former general counsel with mortgage technology company FNC Inc., and startup and tech business consultant; Will Wilkins, director of the Mississippi Law Research Institute; and Allyson Best, director of the UM Division of Technology Management.

Following the presentation, the panel will be available for individual conversations during an ask-the-expert reception.

“The local community is fortunate to have so many resources for entrepreneurs and technology commercialization efforts, but if you’re new to this world, it can be a little daunting,” Best said. “We have noticed there are critical points in the process where it’s valuable to stop and consider your options. This series is intended to spark those conversations.”

The event will attempt to answer a number of questions and cover scenarios aspiring owners should investigate before proceeding. Topics for the Wednesday panel include ownership rights and control, independent contractors vs. employees, intellectual property ownership, investor funding and tax issues.

Allyson Best

“(This event) has been created to educate entrepreneurs about legal issues,” Cope said. “For our first event, our hope is that attendees will begin to address the issues that arise when one begins a business.

“We have found that people begin working and jump into business relationships without defining the ownership interest or roles that the members or partners will hold. Our goal is to assist people in planning before they start so that they can avoid conflicts that may arise from misunderstandings.”

Another Spark Series event is scheduled for March, time and place to be announced. The event will focus on e-commerce, with topics including legal considerations, digital marketing and more.

The Spark Series – intended to inspire, discover and transform – is not intended to be a typical training session, Best said. And Wednesday’s event is important for anyone interested in forming a business entity, even if they have already filed with the Mississippi Secretary of State.

Sponsors of the Spark Series include the Division of Technology Management, School of Law, the Mississippi Law Research Institute, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Insight Park, the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation and the Mid-South Intellectual Property Institute.

Flagship Constellations Mini-Conference Set for Jan. 19

Registration is open for event focused on disaster resilience

OXFORD, Miss. – A mini-conference on the Disaster Resilience Flagship Constellation at the University of Mississippi is set for Jan. 19.

Information related to disaster resilience will be shared at the event through a general-information session led by the interim constellation leadership team, a series of five-minute presentations from individual faculty and researchers, and breakout discussions focusing on constellation sub-themes.

The event is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 19 with in-person and online participation options. A location is to be announced. Lunch will be provided.

The mini-conference is open to all faculty and staff, but pre-registration is requested by 5 p.m. Jan. 17.

There are two ways to register. Oxford campus attendees who have not decided to present a five-minute talk can register at http://www.research.olemiss.edu/upcoming-presentations. Be sure to click on the appropriate registration option: in person or remote. Registrants will be contacted later to see if they want to present.

Everyone else – including all University of Mississippi Medical Center personnel and anyone who already knows they want to present – should email Ahmed Al-Ostaz, Brevard Family Chair in Civil Engineering and professor of civil engineering, at alostaz@olemiss.edu. Once again, registrants should specify whether they will attend in person or remotely.

Attendees interested in giving a five-minute talk should specify a title, and provide a 150-word (max) abstract – or an abstract can be offered later.

Questions about this mini-conference should be directed to Al-Ostaz.

The Flagships Constellations are a new UM initiative involving multidisciplinary teams of faculty, staff and students searching for meaningful solutions to complicated issues through collaborative thinking in four areas: big data, brain wellness, community wellbeing and disaster resilience.

UM Researchers Working on Acoustic Detection for Undersea Oil Leaks

Team gets $591,000 grant for work to make crude production safer for the environment

Zhiqu Lu, senior research scientist at the UM National Center for Physical Acoustics, is leading a team working to develop technology to detect leaks in offshore deep-water oil and gas lines and production equipment. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Snaking beneath the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are thousands of miles of pipelines carrying oil and natural gas from offshore wells. They carry the fuel that keeps the American economy rolling, with Gulf production accounting for 17 percent of total U.S. crude oil production and 5 percent of total U.S. dry natural gas production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Even with safety protocols in place, though, a grave threat to offshore oil and gas operations is the leakage of hydrocarbons – a chief component of oil and natural gas – and the resulting damage to human health and safety, the environment and infrastructure.

Most recently, in October, an oil pipe fractured in the Gulf about 40 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, releasing between 7,950 and 9,350 barrels of oil before being halted. And, in 2010, the Deepwater Horizon spill leaked more than 3 million barrels into the Gulf.

“Oil exploration in the Gulf brings new economic development opportunities but also brings risks,” said Josh Gladden, University of Mississippi interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “The University of Mississippi has developed expertise in a number of areas, from engineering and sensing technologies to Biosystems, that can be brought to bear to minimize these risks and mitigate the impact.”

With that in mind, a team of UM researchers is working on technology that could quickly detect, locate and characterize these undersea hydrocarbon leakages in offshore deep-water oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Last week, the trio of scientists received a $591,000 grant from the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to assist in their research.

The research is focused on utilizing acoustic technologies to develop a functional real-time monitoring system that can find leaks in deep-water oil and gas production in the Gulf over a large area while still being cost-effective. Early detection and location of leaks could minimize their impact. Current monitoring techniques are limited, including being unable to monitor in real time.

The Ole Miss team consists of three active researchers in acoustics, physics and electrical engineering. Zhiqu Lu, a senior research scientist at the National Center for Physical Acoustics, is responsible for the experimentation and overview of the project. Likun Zhang, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, is responsible for the implementation and development of acoustic bubble modeling. Lei Cao, professor of electrical engineering, is responsible for the development of localization algorithms.

The researchers also are recruiting three graduate students to assist in experiments, programming and investigation in signal processing and acoustic signal modeling.

“When we heard the grant approval news, we were very excited and a little bit surprise, since among 66 submitted proposals only six projects were approved,” Lu said.

“This grant will provide a great opportunity to expand our research area that exploits the advantages of both underwater acoustic sensing techniques and oil spill-induced underwater sound mechanisms, along with an advanced localization technique.”

This project’s results could have tremendous applications in petroleum industries, environmental monitoring and other fields, he said.

“Further testing in the ocean, along with prototyping and commercializing efforts, will be immediately pursued upon the success of the current project,” Lu said. “That will be the next project.”

An “early warning system … is essential for preventing the next oil spill as well as for seafloor hydrocarbon seepage detection,” he said.

The researchers plan to build a network-based, real-time passive monitoring system of hydrophones, or underwater microphones, for detecting, locating and characterizing hydrocarbon leakages.

During an oil spill, the leaked hydrocarbon is injected into seawater at high speeds, creating an underwater sound through gas bubbles. The sounds of the bubbles can be recorded via the hydrophones over long distances that would indicate an oil spill.

“Using a hydrophone network, a triangulation localization method, similar to GPS-based navigation, can be developed to determine the leak location,” Lu said. “The oil-bubble sounds can be further analyzed to estimate the sizes and intensities of the oil leakages.

“Before the technology is full-developed and employed in ocean environments, we are going to first develop and test our detection and localization techniques/algorithm in a small-scale water tank under controlled oil spill conditions. This functional system will help us to acquire the acoustic signatures of bubble sound, improve detection and location techniques, and gain better understanding of bubble sound.”

The grant was one of six announced Dec. 7. The grants, involving research into new technologies that could improve the understanding and management of risks in offshore oil and gas operations, totaled $10.8 million.

Zhiqu Lu demonstrates his team’s approach for developing acoustic technology to detect gas bubbles from deep-water oil and gas leaks. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

“These projects address several facets of risk in offshore operations,” said Kelly Oskvig, program officer for the Gulf Research Program’s Safer Offshore Energy Systems initiative. “This includes research on the problem of gas unloading within deep-water drilling risers, development of remote detection capabilities of hydrocarbon releases, design of improved cementing mixtures and better techniques for sealing wells, and development of tools to assist team decision-making in the offshore environment.”

The six projects were selected after an external peer-review process.

The UM researchers are closely collaborating with GOWell International, an international oil and energy company, to ensure the relevance of the experiment to real scenarios and to aid in early prototyping of potential technologies, Lu said.

“The NCPA at the University of Mississippi has a long history of developing acoustics-based solutions for a wide variety of problems,” said Gladden, who is former director of the center. “Dr. Lu has many years of experience in linear and nonlinear acoustics in sediments and soils, and will provide excellent leadership on this project.”

In 2016, U.S. crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico set an annual high of 1.6 million barrels per day, surpassing the previous high set in 2009, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The administration estimates that annual crude oil production in the Gulf could increase to an average of 1.7 million barrels per day in 2017 and 1.9 million barrels per day in 2018.

For more information about the National Center for Physical Acoustics, visit https://ncpa.olemiss.edu/.

The National Academies’ Gulf Research Program is an independent, science-based program founded in 2013 as part of legal settlements with the companies involved in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The program seeks to enhance offshore energy system safety and protect human health and the environment.

The program has $500 million for use over 30 years to fund grants, fellowships and other activities in the areas of research and development, education and training, and monitoring and synthesis.

Visit http://www.national-academies.org/gulf/index.html to learn more.

UM, General Atomics to Collaborate on Unmanned Submarine Technology

Company moving into Insight Park offices and labs Nov. 1

The University of Mississippi and General Atomics are working together to develop new technology for unmanned underwater vehicles. The joint effort is based at UM’s Insight Park. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi and General Atomics are beginning an on-campus collaborative effort focusing on acoustic sensing and navigation technologies for unmanned underwater vehicles to aid Department of Defense operations in deep-sea areas.

GA Electromagnetic Systems Group will occupy offices on the UM campus at Insight Park beginning Nov. 1. The Insight Park facility will help GA-EMS strengthen the relationship established with UM and its National Center for Physical Acoustics to facilitate the investigation of acoustic-based techniques for navigation and control of unmanned underwater systems.

The collaboration ultimately will likely involve not just the NCPA, but other campus groups as well, said Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs.

“We are so pleased to have General Atomics plug into the university community through Insight Park,” Gladden said. “Over the course of the past year, we have identified multiple research groups on campus that could partner with GA-EMS to help find solutions for modern needs of the Department of Defense.

“I’m sure as our partnership continues to strengthen, both GA and UM will find this a mutually beneficial relationship.”

GA-EMS has a history of collaboration with universities to advance acoustic and infrasound technologies. This partnership is a natural one, said William Nicholas, Insight Park’s assistant director.

“Our location provides GA-EMS with close proximity to the National Center for Physical Acoustics and other key schools, colleges and centers at the University of Mississippi,” Nicholas said. “We are especially excited to provide our students with opportunities to intern with such an innovative company.”

Officials with the company look forward to being on-site at UM to continue researching and developing critical technologies designed for real-world applications, said Hank Rinehart, business lead for surveillance and sensor systems at GA-EMS.

“The broad spectrum of talent at Ole Miss and the focus on engineering disciplines is a great match for GA-EMS,” Rinehart said. “We are excited to work with students and faculty in an environment that not only advances game-changing technologies, but also fosters community growth and entrepreneurship.”

GA-EMS will initially occupy approximately 1,800 square feet of office space and laboratory for general electronic and mechanical systems and subsystems development, testing and prototyping. It is expected to expand operations to 3,500 square feet within the first half of 2018.

The company also has extensive manufacturing facilities in Tupelo and Iuka.

About General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Group is a global leader in the research, design and manufacture of first-of-a-kind electromagnetic and electric power generation systems. GA-EMS’ history of research, development and technology innovation has led to an expanding portfolio of specialized products and integrated system solutions supporting aviation, space systems and satellites, missile defense, power and energy, and processing and monitoring applications for critical defense, industrial and commercial customers worldwide.

University, ERDC Officials Discuss Partnership Opportunities

UM aims to increase collaborations with agency on several research projects

UM Vice Chancellor for Research Josh Gladden (far right) chats with (from left) ERDC Deputy Director David Pittman, NCPA Director Craig Hickey and ERDC Director James Holland during a visit Feb. 9 to the National Center for Physical Acoustics. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Several University of Mississippi administrators met with two top representatives from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center who visited campus Thursday (Feb. 9) to discuss strengthening mutually beneficial collaborations.

ERDC Director Jeff Holland and Deputy Director David Pittman visited Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter; Alex Cheng, dean of the School of Engineering; and Craig Hickey, interim director of the National Center for Physical Acoustics, to talk about funding opportunities and strategies. The ERDC officials also met with William Nicholas, director of the Hub at Insight Park; and Ryan Miller, associate director of the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

“We’ve had a wonderful relationship with the University of Mississippi for many years,” Holland said. “While it’s important that researchers at both ERDC and the university collaborate with each other, it’s also important that senior administrators at both places do the same. I believe we absolutely accomplished that objective today.”

Both Cheng and Hickey touted the value of the visit.

“In terms of engineering research, EDRC is one of the strongest assets in the state of Mississippi,” Cheng said. “The School of Engineering looks forward to educating students for high-tech careers who, hopefully, will seek and find employment at ERDC, thereby boosting the state’s economic growth.”

“As primarily a research organization on campus, NCPA and ERDC have multiple common research areas of interests,” Hickey said. “I can foresee scientists at both facilities continuing to communicate and increasing collaboration.”

Before Thursday’s meetings, UM and ERDC officials conducted visits, tours and calls at both sites. They agreed that the resilience of earthen dams and levees is a topic with mutual interest and capabilities that meets a national need.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter (left) enjoys conversations with (from left) ERDC Director James Holland and Deputy Director David Pittman during a visit to the Lyceum. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

“Over the past several years, UM and ERDC have put more energy into exploring collaborations, and we are excited about new opportunities that are emerging,” said Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs.

Last fall, the university signed an Educational Partnership Agreement and joined the ERDC Graduate Institute. The move allows both Ole Miss and ERDC to host coursework, pursue internships and engage in other activities.

The university and ERDC have shared interest and expertise in infrasound and earthen dam and levee monitoring and assessment, Gladden said.

“There are immediate opportunities in these fields for us to pursue together,” he said. “Other areas of potential collaboration are acoustic monitoring techniques for fish ecology, sediment transport, blast- resistant materials and general disaster resilience. As our relationship strengthens, it is likely this list will expand.

“Dr. Holland and I are on the same page about the need to foster higher-tech businesses in the state. They have looked at the business ecosystems around other large government research facilities which have vibrant small high-tech startups as potential models for ERDC and Vicksburg.”

Pittman and Miller said the agency’s partnership with the university will result in continued successful outcomes.

“We’ve had a wonderful association with the University of Mississippi for many decades,” Pittman said. “With new leaders coming into place, we look forward to our relationship becoming even stronger.”

“Having Drs. Holland and Pittman on campus was a great honor and a testament to the relationship we have with them and want to continue developing,” Miller said. “They had a great tour of the CME and discussed how manufacturing education here might play into research that ERDC is doing.”

UM is included in the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive list of the nation’s top doctoral research universities. The group, which includes Harvard, MIT and Johns Hopkins, represents 2.5 percent of institutions of higher education in the U.S.

UM Volunteers Working at Career Expo in Tupelo

Three-day event designed to help junior high school students focus on opportunities

UM Field Station Director Scott Knight (center) shares with 8th grade students during the Career Expo. (Submitted photo by William Nicholas)

UM Field Station Director Scott Knight (center) shares with eighth-grade students during the Career Expo. Submitted photo by William Nicholas

OXFORD, Miss. – More than 60 University of Mississippi staff and students are working to get area eighth-graders thinking about their future at the Imagine the Possibilities Career Expo this week.

The event began today (Oct. 4) and ends Thursday (Oct. 6) at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo.

With the Toyota Wellspring Education Fund at CREATE Foundation as its lead sponsor, the three-day expo is designed to make eighth-graders aware of opportunities available after graduation. Some 7,000 students from more than 70 schools, including Oxford and Lafayette County schools, are expected.

“Our primary responsibility will be to manage UM’s various exhibits and engage with the students,” said William Nicholas, director of economic development at UM’s Insight Park and one of the organizers. “However, there will be ample opportunity to contribute in a number of ways. They need volunteers to check-in students, manage parking, distribute packets, distribute water, door greeters and so forth.”

Other UM organizers for expo are Ellen Shelton, director of pre-college programs in the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education; John Holleman, director of graduate studies in the School of Education; and Allyson Best, associate director for technology management in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Other UM divisions participating include the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence, the Center for Mathematics and Science Education, the UM Field Station, the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies and the university’s Tupelo regional campus.

“The CREATE Foundation was created to support an improved quality of life for people residing in 17 counties in northeast Mississippi, including Lafayette County,” Nicholas said. “CREATE does a number of things to fulfill their mission, and this expo is one of them. Dr. Alice Clark, vice chancellor for university relations, serves on the board.

Amanda Pham (forefront) of UM's Center for Mathematics and Science Education gave a robotics demonstration during the Expo. (Submitted photo by William Nicholas)

Amanda Pham (forefront) of UM’s Center for Mathematics and Science Education gave a robotics demonstration during the Expo. (Submitted photo by William Nicholas)

“UM is participating in the expo because we share in CREATE’s passion to connect with eighth-grade students and help them understand career opportunities available after graduation.”

Other Ole Miss organizers affirmed Nicholas’ observation.

“We want the participants to know that their experiences with UM can begin with summer programs for junior high and high school students,” Shelton said.

“The opportunity for eighth-grade students to connect with a wide variety of career functions represented at the career expo truly allows them to begin thinking about the world of work,” Holleman said.

The Imagine the Possibilities expo features activities connected to 18 career pathways: aerospace; agriculture, food and natural resources; architecture and construction; arts, A/V technology and communications; business management and administration; education and training; energy; engineering; finance; government and public administration; health science; hospitality and tourism; human services; information technology; law, public safety, corrections and security; manufacturing; marketing; and transportation, distribution and logistics.