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Spring 2014

NEXT ISSUE COMING SOON # Sci-Comm Times February 2014 On OcImproving tober 1, Life-cycle of 2013, Dr. a Solar Cell Mantooth and Alison During the summer Brown at- 2013, Christian tended the Jacquez, an President Arkansas undergraduate New ACMAP Advanced student from International Workshop Energy As- the University on Bismuth- Containing sociation of Arkansas, Semiconductors emPOWFayetteville, ERing analyzed the Clean The 5th International Workshop on Arkansas Bismuth-Containing Semiconductors will (AAEA) an- Electron Energy be held July 21-23 at Tyndall National nual meet- panel, a product by Institute, part of University College Cork Marcraft Company in Ireland. The 4th International Working. The shop on Bismuth-Containing Semiconthat integrates solar ductors keynote sponsored by NSF, UA VP for cell, wind, and fuel Research and Economic Development, speaker was forcell technologies and NSF GREEN center, was held at mer CO onto a single panel UA on July 2014. Previous conferences Governor for the purpose of were held at the University of Michigan, the University of Surrey (UK) Bill Ritter, charging a battery University of Victoria (BC, and the Canada). and after bank. Mentored he spoke Summer 2014 camps by Dr. Ajay during the Malshe, Christian GO GREEN!!! SUMMER ACADEMY The lack of STEM initiatives for young women in the Arkansas lunch Dr. River Valley, and the need to train teachers to present STEM concepts in a more engaging manner worked with Shilpi Mantooth will both be addressed in the 2014 Go GREEN! Summer Academy for 8th grade female students Mukherjee, a talked .... centered around renewable energy. Participants will be exposed to science with practical see pg.14. graduate student..... applications in their local communities before entering high school and engage... see pg. 16 see pg. 13.

Science communicat ors President New ACMAP

New ACMAPAP Doctoral ACM New NewACMAP Presiden Student works tM C A ew etnAt P N d i s Presiden e Ne r w P AC M AP to advance.....? estident PresidPren

What is ASSET Initiative? The Arkansas ASSET Initiative is a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary, state-wide program. Our current project, ASSET II, is designed to strengthen Arkansas research areas with potential for national significance and with major economic development potential. Our three specialty areas include: plant-based production, solar cell technology, and new power electronics. The Arkansas ASSET Initiative is part of the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR Program. An integral component of the program is entrepreneurial training, support for commercialization of new technologies, and an educational outreach program that targets the STEM pipeline needed to support the advanced technologies workforce.

ASSETs of Arkansas (Editorial Staff) EXECUTIVE EDITOR Dr. Gail McClure SENIOR EDITOR Marta Collier-Youngblood CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jaime Garcia, Emily Devereux, Alison Brown, Kathy Kirk GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Marta Collier-Youngblood & Jaime Garcia WEBSITE

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Director’s Welcome

Arkansas ASSET Initiative has been working hard to effectively communicate our science. In the following pages you will find examples of faculty and students from P3, GREEN and VICTER communicating their research findings to the general public. This year we have made great progress in our research and outreach efforts. On pages 6-9, we highlight the Plant Powered Production (P3) center’s successes as they brought P3 efforts to the forefront at the Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting 2013 in Austin, TX, and Dr. MedinaBolivar’s election as president of the American Council for Medicinally Active Plants (ACMAP) for the year 2014. Following the example of their faculty achievements, student researchers also share their work at national and international conferences.

ASSET Initiative also welcomed Dr. Tansel Karabacak from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to the GREEN center. Karabacak’s research group specializes in the application of nanostructured materials in renewable energy technologies including solar cells, fuel cells, and batteries (see page 10). With years of experience behind him, Dr. Karabacak brings increased capacity to the GREEN center for advancing solar cell research. Next, we recognize Dr. ShuiQing “Fisher” Yu for his National Science Foundation Early Career Award (Page 11) and his leadership in the 2013 International Workshop on Bismuth-Containing Semiconductors. Our efforts to stimulate undergraduate research participants is also paying off through the efforts of students like Lafayette DeRamus III, who partnered with Dr. Jingbio Cui in GREEN Center solar cell efficiency research highlighted on Page 12. Our success stories are rising to the top through one part hard work in research labs combined with one part strong communications skills. On page 13, we feature student researchers who are learning to share their findings across an increasingly challenging information environment. Recognizing that effective communication is a major skill that scientists must develop in order to share the positive impact and solutions scientific research brings to the world. VICTER Center’s Dr. Brian Berry, an organic chemist at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, is working with tethered nanoparticles in order to improve ORGANIC solar cells. Berry collaborates with two VICTER researchers, Dr. Alexandru Biris (Nanotechnology Center) and Dr. Anindya Ghosh (Chemistry Department) on his home campus, as well as partners at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, to produce more efficient longer lifetime solar cells. VICTER faculty have also taken leadership in facilitating and presenting in meetings (see pg 14-15). Young scientists in ASSET continue to inform the public and other colleagues about their current and future research. ASSET Initiative students are making their mark in a growing cross-section of research meetings and conferences such as Research Day @ the Capitol, Arkansas INBRE, Arkansas Space Grant Symposium, and at the Arkansas Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation research conference. There are several students who have gone beyond the lab bench in pursuit of entrepreneurial dreams via the Arkansas Governor’s Cup annual competition (page 25). Finally, we feature a number of summer STEM camps and professional development opportunities that will be offered around the state in the summer and fall (page 16-17, 19). As we prepare to enter the final year of ASSET II, we are excited to see the cumulative impacts of our efforts rise to the surface. Sincerely, Dr. Gail McClure Vice President Sponsored Projects

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03 Director’s Welcome 06 P3 UPDATES 08 P3 Student Research 10 GREEN UPDATES 12 GREEN Student Research 14 VICTER UPDATES 16 2014 Summer Camps 18 Research Day @ the Capitol 20 2014 Solar Design Competition 22 2013 INBRE Conference 23 Arkansas Space Grant Symposium/ ARK-LSAMP Conference 24 ASSETs Goes Global 25 State Championship

2014 S.T.E.M NEWS

P3 Sponsors ESA 2013 & Hosts MiniSymposium “Modern Tools to Study Plant Insect Interactions”


ESA P3 Group Picture – (L to R) Dr. Ben Vosman, Dr. Fionna Goggin, Madalyn Van Valkenburg, Kyle Hurley, Dr. David Dussourd

The AR P3 Center was highlighted as a sponsor at the Entomological Society of America (ESA) Annual Meeting 2013 in Austin, TX. Dr. Fiona Goggin, University of Arkansas, P3 researcher, was session host of the P3 sponsored session, “How New Technologies and Interdisciplinary Approaches are Transforming our Understanding of Complex Biological Interactions.” P3 presentations included talks by Drs. Fiona Goggin, University of Arkansas, and David Dussourd, University of Central Arkansas, and an oral presentation by graduate student, Kyle Hurley, University of Central Arkansas. Hurley placed second overall in the ESA graduate oral competition. For more information on ESA 2013, please visit Two international keynote speakers from the P3 sponsored ESA session, Dr. Ben Vosman, Wageningen University, The Netherlands, and Dr. Robert Hancock, James Hutton Institute, Scotland, UK, made a pit stop at Arkansas State University during their travel to ESA 2013 to hold a mini-symposium entitled “Modern Tools to Study Plant Insect Interactions.” The mini-symposium, hosted by Arkansas State University, the AR P3 Center and AR INBRE, included seminars by the renowned guests, Hancock’s “Ascorbic-Acid – Functions and Consequences” and Vosman’s “Breeding for Insect Resistant Plants.” Alongside the seminars, meetings with P3 faculty and graduate students were held, LemnaTec Scanalyzer and laboratory tours were conducted and a question and answer panel session was held for STEM majors, including NSF Experiential Learning Fellowship (ELF) students.


Mini Symposium Panel Picture: ELF students, STEM majors, have a Q&A session with Drs. Hancock & Vosman. P3’s Dr. Argelia Lorence in the middle.

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Congratulations to the New ACMAP President Dr. Fabricio Medina-Bolivar, Associate Professor of metabolic engineering at Arkansas State University, has been elected as president of the American Council for Medicinally Active Plants (ACMAP) for the year 2014. The primary purpose of this professional society is to promote and foster research, development, production, and conservation of medicinal, aromatic, and other bioactive plants useful to human health. Dr. Medina-Bolivar organized and hosted the third annual meeting of ACMAP in 2012 that was attended by 19 countries and 22 states. Medina-Bolivar’s research is at the interface of plant biotechnology and medicine. His research involves the use “hairy roots” for production of specialized biologically active chemicals with important applications in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical/food and agricultural industries. “Hairy roots” are unique tissue culture systems that reproduce the biosynthetic potential of intact plants. Dr. Medina-Bolivar’s approach is to utilize different stress signals to induce the natural biosynthetic pathways present in the roots. In addition, metabolic engineering strategies are utilized to enhance the production of these chemicals. Through active research collaborations with scientists on and off campus, these chemicals are being tested for different biological activities, including anticancer and antimicrobial properties. Other 2014 ACMAP board members include Vice President Jeff Adelberg of Clemson University; Secretary Rao Mentreddy of Alabama A&M University; Treasurer Carol Stiff of Kitchen Culture Education Technologies Inc.; Member at large Jeanine Davis of North Carolina State University; Member at large Nirmal Joshee of Fort Valley State University; and Member-at-large Anait Levenson of the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Ex-officio members are past president Agnes Rimando of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); executive director Gary Stutte of NASA; editor JMAP Lyle Craker of the University of Massachusetts and program chair Dipayan Sakar of North Dakota State University.

P3 Center researchers published in BioData Mining As a result of the NSF EPSCoR Bioinformatics Workshop in Spring 2013, a collaborative open access review article has been published in BioData Mining, including co-authorship of P3 researchers and the workshop steering committee. The No-boundary thinking in bioinformatics research review article has reached status of highly accessed and can be found at the following link,

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t n e d u h St c r a e s Re


rynn Alford, a student at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, who did collaborative research in the Korth lab at the University of Akansas (UAF) over the summer, presented her work in a talk at the 2013 Arkansas INBRE Conference in Fayetteville, October 18th. Her talk was entitled “Comparison of insect induced Responses in Multiple accessions of the barrel medic, Medicago truncatula”. Brynn’s summer research was funded by the Adair Program of the Department of Plant Pathology.

(Pictured L to R)- Lacy Nelson, UAF P3, Brynn Alford, and Dr. Ken Korth, UAF P3. Dr. Korth and Lacy Nelson were co-authors of Brynn’s presentation.


uaretta Ihenatu worked in the Korth P3 Lab at UAF in Summer 2013. A student from St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC, Ihenatu presented a poster at the 2013 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Memphis on Nov 16. Ihenatu’s research is funded by an NSF REU grant in Cell and Molecular Biology and the George Washington Carver Research program. She won an award for her poster presentation “Evaluation of Screening Methods for Salt Tolerance in Soybeans”. She was the only one from her home institution to win an award, she also received an award stipend.

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P3 Presents & is Highlighted for Phenomics

Research at National and International Events


rgelia Lorence, PhD, Associate Professor, Arkansas State University, received a prestigious speaking invitation by LemnaTec at PhenoDays 2013 Europe in Vaalsbroek, The Netherlands in October 2013. She presented “High throughput Arabidopsis phenotyping at the Arkansas Center for Plant Powered Production.” PhenoDays 2013 Europe featured internationally renowned keynote speakers in the plant phenotyping field and covered significant emerging fields in plant breeding and plant research. Please visit for video and pdf versions of talks presented. (Picture 1). Kasteel Vaalsbroek where PhenoDays 2013 Europe was held.


(Picture 2). Zac Campbell at Danforth training.

ac Campbell, Graduate Biotechnology Student and Lab Technician in the Lorence Lab, trained in a phenomics workshop at the Danforth Center’s PhenoDays: Imaging & Robotics for 21st Century Science Fall Symposium, St. Louis, MO, September 2013. Campbell presented a poster entitled “High Throughput Arabidopsis Phenotyping at the Arkansas Center for Plant Powered Production.” The Symposium addressed advances in phenomics and high-throughput phenotyping platforms, which are generating increased biological understanding and potential for applications useful for improving crop yield. For more information about the Danforth Center and PhenoDays, visit

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r. Tansel Karabacak’s research group has specialized in the applications of nanostructured materials in renewable energy technologies including solar cells, fuel cells, and batteries. These alternative energy systems have attracted the interest of many researchers and industries due to serious concerns regarding the world’s energy resources. However, current state-of-the-art systems are still far behind the conventional energy sources especially in power efficiency and cost. Dr. Karabacak’s Thin Films and Nanostructures Laboratory (http:// utilizes a novel glancing angle deposition (GLAD) method to fabricate nanostructured materials of various kinds including metals, alloys, oxides, and semiconductors in a simple and cost-effective way. Dr. Karabacak’s group demonstrated that GLAD nanostructures can be implemented as advanced components for several alternative energy technologies due to the superior properties of these nanostructures. For example, GLAD nanostructures can trap light and enhance optical absorption in solar cells. More optical absorption results in higher number of electrons generated by the solar cell. In addition, nanostructures can provide shorter pathways for collecting the electronic charge. These nanostructured solar cells can lead to superior power efficiencies compared to the conventional cells. Dr. Karabacak’s group will participate in the GREEN project in developing high-efficiency low-cost nanostructured solar cells using GLAD.


Dr. Karabacak’s brief samples of research at his research facility.

n addition to his work on solar cells, Dr. Karabacak’s laboratory is also investigating nanostructured materials for lithium-ion batteries with higher charge capacities and faster charging/discharging speeds, as well as for hydrogen fuel cells with enhanced catalyst activity and lower cost. The studies of Dr. Karabacak’s group in the field of nanostructured materials and their applications in energy technologies have led to about sixty journal papers, thirty peer-reviewed conference proceedings, two book chapters, one patent, several pending patents, and numerous national and international awards. Since 2007, Karabacak has been organizing GLAD sessions at the annual American Vacuum Society (AVS) meetings, which is one of the top ranking conferences in the field of thin film and nanostructured materials. In addition, Dr. Karabacak has served as the Program Chair of the Thin Film Division in AVS-2012 meeting and as the AVS Thin Film Division Chair in 2013.

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Early Success Dr. Shui-Qing “Fisher” Yu’s current research interests are developing novel semiconductor optoelectronic devices such as lasers, photo detectors, THz devices, and renewable energy devices covering visible to far-infrared wavelength ranges (solar cells, thermo photovoltaic cells, and thermoelectric devices) by using novel Bismide compounds and SiGeSn alloys and advanced nanofabrication techniques. Research Grants: • Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Growth and Characterization of SiGeSn Using Ultra-High-Vacuum Plasma-Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition Technique for Silicon Based Mid-infrared Laser and Detector Applications, Mansour Mortazavi (UAPB, PI), Shui-Qing Yu (UAF, Co-PI), Hameed Naseem (UAF, Co-PI), $725,000 (10/1/20139/30/2017), Submitted through DoD HBCU/ MI program. UAF share $217,500 (30% of total award). This proposal was submitted to HBCU/MI program. Shui-Qing (technical contact point). •

Arkansas Bioscience Institute, A femtosecond laser core facility for engineering and biophotonics research at University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Timothy J. Muldoon (PI) and Shui-Qing Yu (Co-PI), $115,420, (07/01/13-06/30/14).

NSF, Conference support for 4th International Workshop on Bismuth-Containing Semiconductors: Growth, Properties and Devices, Shui-Qing Yu (PI), $24,740 (6/1/2013-5/31/2014).

DARPA MTO, GeSn/Si Avalanche Photodetectors on Si substrates, Shui-Qing Yu (PI) and Hameed Naseem (Co-PI), $300,000 (07/01/2013-6/30/2015).

NSF CAREER program, CAREER: High Performance III-V-Bismide Mid-Infrared Semiconductor Lasers, Shui-Qing Yu (PI), $400,000 (06/01/2012-5/31/2017).

Arkansas Bioscience Institute, A Nanophotonics Platform for Neuron Stimulation, Shui-Qing Yu (PI), $40,476 from ABI + $7,035 matching for tuition from UA (07/01/11-06/30/12).

International Workshop on BismuthContaining Semiconductors The 5th International Workshop on Bismuth-Containing Semiconductors will be held July 21-23, 2014, at Tyndall National Institute, part of University College Cork in Ireland. The 4th International Workshop on Bismuth-Containing Semiconductors sponsored by NSF, University of Arkansas Vice Chancellor Research and Economic Development, and the NSF-funded GREEN center, was held at UA on July 2013. Previous conferences were held at the University of Michigan, the University of Surrey (UK) and the University of Victoria (BC, Canada). 4th International Workshop on Bismuth at University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

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Optimization of CIGS Solar Cells through AFORS-HET Simulation Program, Lafayette DeRamus ASSET Summer Research Intern (Undergraduate) and Dr. Cui, UALR

Most of the photo voltaic market is dominated by silicon because of the low material cost. CIGS thin-film solar cells offer a different solution to cost-effectiveness through its inherent high absorption coefficient and flexible band gap (1.04-1.67eV). The higher absorption coefficient allows for more sunlight to be absorbed in less material resulting in lower cost, while the varying bandgap allows the cell to take advantage of high-energy short wavelengths and more pervasive shorter wavelengths. See Fig. 1. As solar cell technology advances it becomes increasingly important to test new devices in a cost-efficient manner. In response electrical device models have been developed to test varying parameters and obtain performance values that characterize the efficiency of the solar cell e.g. open-circuit voltage (Voc), short-circuit current (Jsc), fill factor (FF) and efficiency (Eff ) . The program used for this research was the AFORS-HET software. The goal of this study was to investigate the effect of varying band gap and varying thickness on performance values. Voc

Fig. 1 shows a basic CIGS solar cell design.

Layer Thickness- The upward trend in Jsc, Voc, and Eff are expected as increased layer thickness allows for more light absorption. Gradual decrease in FF may result from a warping of the IV-curve due to varying layer thickness.



Voc (mV)



70.50% 70.00% 69.50%




68.50% 0














μm Eff 14.00%

35 30

Eff (%)

Band gap- The maximum band gap offers the device up to 5.93% more Eff and 9.27% more FF. The sudden drops in the FF and Eff are due to the photons being unable to supply the necessary amount of energy at that particular bandgap. Decrease in Jsc is due to the lack of absorbed low energy photons .



Jsc (mA/cm^2)





25 20

12.00% 10.00% 8.00% 6.00%



10 0












RESULTS: Fig. 2 above represents the characteristic values for varying CIGS layer thickness. Jsc and Eff have peak values at 10μm and undergo a steep drop at 10.3μm

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NSF Science Becoming the Messenger Workshop Larry Cousar, Corey Thompson and Sayan Seal demostrated their ability to communicate their research effectively in under three minutes at the 2013 National EPSCoR Conference in Nashville, TN. This group of talented undergraduate & graduate researchers are part of the NSF EPSCoR-funded programs GREEN and VICTER centers. The students received tips from Ninja Communications, an organization that promotes effective science communication on behalf of the NSF office of Legislative & Public Affairs. Successful authors, including Joe Schreiber and Chris Mooney, taught students how to captivate an audience through the use of a Message Triangle, part of the proprietary NinjaCom’s Communications Planning Worksheet. The goal of the competition was for the students to work together to create a three-minute speech on how research in Arkansas was stimulating the economy. The National Science Foundation offers workshops dubbed “Science Idol” in EPSCoR states to help scientists share their knowledge and findings accross an increasingly challenging information environment. Principal Investigators, early career researchers and engineers, graduate students, postdocs, and public information officers from all over Arkansas attended one of these workshops in September 2012 to learn more about effectively communicating science to news media and the general public. From Wall Street to Main Street, there is a growing interest in science communication and how it impacts future funding and economic development efforts. Scientists are asking how they can more effectively communicate to the media and public--how their knowledge can accurately get across in an increasingly challenging information environment where everyone with a smart phone has the ability to “report” news. The workshop featured three accomplished communicators and trainers--Emmy award winning television producer Joe Schreiber, former PBS executive Dan Agan, and bestselling science author Chris Mooney-- the NSF workshop, “Science: Becoming the Messenger,” provides one-stop shopping for those seeking to reach a broader public about their work. For more ambitious reseachers specially selected to participate in the day two portion of the workshop, their messages were developed further and translated into an appropriate medium to be taken public. Click the link below to view the Blog released during the September 2012 workshop highlighting Arkansas ASSET Initiative (

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victer UPDATES Improving Organic Solar Cells Dr. Brian Berry, an organic chemist at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), has been working with tether nanoparticles in order to make organic solar cells more efficient. An advantage of organic solar cells is that organic cells are easy to fabricate and can easily be placed in flexible substrates. In contrast, silicon solar panels are heavy, flat, and difficult to transport. With improved efficiency and flexible substrates, organic solar cells could be a niche market. Berry’s research goal is to control how the organic cells age and how to make them last longer and increase their efficiency. Berry’s research team does all of the synthesis to device fabrication. In the lab, they make polymers (essentially plastics) to attach those polymers to nanoparticles to control how the nanoparticles assemble. Berry’s team uses a unique instrument called the Flow Coater. This instrument was built and programmed by Berry and his lab members. The Flow Coater is used to deposit thin polymer, gradient thickness polymer films or self-assembled nanoparticles. They make solar devices in a Big Glove Box, evaporation chamber (VICTER-purchased equipment located in the Nanotechnology Center at UALR). Once the device is ready, they test it to find characteristics using the Solar Simulator and External and Internal Quantum Efficiency instrument (EQE/IQE) is used to characterize the photovoltaic device. The nanoparticles are part of the combination that is required in organic solar cells. If the research team can control how the acceptor and donor assemble, then they will be able to make the solar cell last longer and function more efficient. At UALR, Berry collaborates with two VICTER researchers, Dr. Alexandru Biris (Nanotechnology Center) and Dr. Anindya Ghosh (Chemistry Dept.), to produce more efficient longer lifetime solar cells. Each research group works to make advances in different areas. Berry’s group works with the acceptor molecules. Dr. Ghosh’s group works with donor molecules. Biris’ group works with other layers within the solar cells that help transport charge. Berry is also collaborating with Dr. Ryan Tian, VICTER researcher from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Berry is doing chemical treatments to Tian’s titania nanoparticles and using the new product in solar cells to improve efficiency. Berry’s VICTER research group members are graduate students Cory Stogsdill and Joshua Moore. Each of these students is contributing to the research efforts to advance organic solar cells.

Graduate student Cory Stogsdill ready to use the Big Glove Box- evaporation chamber to build a solar cell device.

Improving Life-cycle of a Solar Cell During the summer of 2013 Christian Jacquez, an undergraduate student from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, analyzed the Clean Electron Energy panel, a product by Marcraft Company that integrates solar cell, wind, and fuel cell technologies onto a single panel for the purpose of charging a battery bank. Mentored in Dr. Ajay Malshe’s lab, Christian worked with Shilpi Mukherjee, a graduate student. After gathering practical information about the assembly and potential uses for the Clean Electron Energy panel, Christian and Shilpi decided they could create their own panel and customize it to meet training and outreach needs locally. Their goal was to produce a model that would engage interested students to better understand alternative energies, mechanics, electronics, and circuit theory. At the end of their analysis, the cost for creating a similar panel scaled lower or higher than the Marcraft product is much lower not taking into consideration the time to assemble the panel. To increase solar cell efficiency, Christian plans to continue analyzing the life-cycle of polycrystalline solar cells in order to determine in which area there is a lack of study.

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VICTER & GREEN Mid-Year Meeting held Jan 6-7, 2014 at Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. Two VICTER TAC members and the director of the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research out of Louisville, Kentucky presented and facilitated the meeting and breakout sessions.

On October 1, 2013, Dr. Alan Mantooth and Alison Brown attended the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association emPOWERing Arkansas (AAEA) annual meeting. The keynote speaker was former CO Governor Bill Ritter. Dr. Mantooth talked to the attendees (including AAEA members and state legislators) about research going on in VICTER & GREEN and some of his other projects regarding advancements in research.

VICTER POWER BOX PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP The VICTER Power Box professional development workshop was designed to support Little Rock School District (LRSD) middle school educators who will use the VICTER Power Box materials with their after school programs. The workshop took place on Saturday, January 11, 2014 and Saturday, February 1, 2014. The goal of the workshops was to develop confidence in teaching alternative energy, knowledge of the structure and types of learning activites within the Power Box manual, and awareness of alternative energy as a field and how it applies to environmental problems. In addition, teachers learned how to provide opportunities to put students in active roles by experiencing the power of science. On the first session day, 39 participants learned the 5E Learning Cycle (i.e Explore, Evaluate, Explain, Elaborate, Engage), and the Engineering Design Process.

Picture above: Teachers asking questions about how solar power systems work. Picture below: Leaders and learners building a circuit and developing H.O.T questions to include in the 5E-lesson plan.

During the second session, teachers presented a lesson plan for a certain activity from the VICTER power box kit activity book.The group was divided into leaders and learners. Leaders presented their lesson and project to the learners, while both contributed to extension of the activities for students to engage and become more interested in the building circuits.

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Summer Camps

University of Arkansas at Fort Smith 5210 Grand Avenue Fort Smith, AR 72913


The lack of STEM initiatives for young women in the Arkansas River Valley and the need to train teachers to present STEM concepts in a more engaging manner will be addressed at the 2014 Go GREEN! Summer Academy for 8th grade female students, centered around renewable energy. Participants will be exposed to science, with practical applications, in their local communities before entering high school and engage young women to think about STEM in a manner that they may not have considered before. Activities will include topics in biofuels, DNA analysis, solar energy and more. JUNE 23-27, 2014

Contact: Sabrina Gomez Phone: 479-788-7586 e-mail:

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eSTEMA Summer Enrichment Academy (elementary STEM Academy @ SAU) The Academy will provide hands-on enrichment activities designed to increase the 21st century skills of Arkansas’s students and teachers in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Fourth grade students from Southwest Arkansas area schools and their parents will be recruited to participate along with Arkansas-based, STEM teacher professionals for a three day, project-based learning experience in Summer 2014.

JULY 8-10, 2014

Contact: Dr. Roger Guevara Phone: 870-235-5014 e-mail:

Southern Arkansas University 100 E. University Magnolia, Arkansas 71753

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Research Day @ the Capitol On March 6, 2014, STEM undergraduates from all across the state of Arkansas presented their scientific work to elected state officials, media, general public as well as other students and faculty. Students had the opportunity to learn from other students who are working in different research areas at other universities. This successful event provided great experience for STEM undergraduates and faculty, while showcasing Arkansas’s talented students who improve and make a difference in the state and nation. Among the many students that presented their research were several funded directly by the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority, P3, GREEN, and the VICTER centers.

Picture 1: Arkansas State University (ASU) student researcher Alyssa Caparas presented her poster “Technologies for Using Biological Therapeutics in Aquaculture to Improve Fish Health”.

Picture 2: Huong Quynh Tran, GREEN student researcher from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville presented her research “Resonant Spectra of Metal Nanotoroids with Various Sizes”.

Picture 3: Arkansas State University student researcher Christopher Aaron Tollett presented his research “Producing and Purification of the Anticancer Compound Arachidin-1 from Hairy Root Cultures of Peanut”.

Picture 4: University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) student Kiara Newhouse presented her summer research “Ion Chromatography Study of Aerosol Samples Collected From Jonesboro, AR”.

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Contact: Ms. Terri Frost, Science Specialist Arkansas Tech University STEM Center Phone: 479-880-4323 E-mail:


STEM Teacher PD Workshop at Arkansas Tech University (ATU)

to Y o u F

0 2 al l

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Your Future is Trending NOW For the past three years, the Arkansas ASSET Initiative has partnered with Environmental and Spatial Technologies, Inc. (EAST) in what is always a delightfully geekalicious event. This year’s theme was “Your Future is TrendingNOW”. Over 2,000 students from across the nation gathered in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to celebrate the achievements of their hands-on learning projects that leverage technology and innovation to solve real world problems. This year, we piloted the first ever “World of Tomorrow Workshop” wherein six students built 3D models of inventions they designed via our ASSET Solar Design Competition. Contestants took over the Grand Lobby of Summit Arena and packed the space with 3D printing stations, work benches, tools, circuit boards, materials and a lot of volunteers cheering on the design teams. In the end the judges were once again blown away by these students and their ability to push projects through to completion with very little direction. Team Eureka Springs HS EAST built two functioning models of solar ovens which have the potential for revolutionizing how we equip parks and rest areas with grills for those oh so important family outings and trips. Team Beebe MS EAST completed an automatic solar powered traffic gate to help make traffic easier to control and improve safety around their campus. This year’s first prize; however, went to Team Central HS from Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, who designed a cell phone case clip that connects a small solar cell directly to the back of a cell

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2014 EAST CONFERENCE phone which can then be set solar panel side up to charge the phone. The two runner up teams won full sized solar panel kits complete with tools to build for furthering their interest in solar energy and the first prize was a free 3D printer for the Central HS EAST classroom. When we first dreamed this concept up a year ago, we didn’t have a large budget or a coalition of folks ready to dig in and make it happen. However, thanks to some amazing partners who came on board throughout the year, we did it! Partners like @tinkerguyarhub, and Gordon Fisher, T.A. Walton, @ ARP3Center and @ARMathSciArts make it possible for our students to have life changing experiences like what we witnessed at this event. We all saw first hand what the power of stepping back and giving students the space to create can do for their active engagement in learning. We have one more year before our grant ends and I’m hoping we’ll be able to find a partner who believes in facilitating this type of learning so that the competition can become a permanent fixture in the landscape of EAST and other similar efforts. These types of efforts are not terribly expensive but they do require coordination and consistent funding from year to year. To see some of the tweets and photos from the competition, check out the Storify of the event.

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2013 AR INBRE Conference University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) student researcher, Lafayette DeRamus, was awarded 2nd place in physics at the 2013 Arkansas INBRE Conference in October. DeRamus presented his research: Optimization of CIGS solar cells through AFORS-HET simulation program. During the summer 2013, DeRamus worked with GREEN faculty member Dr. Jingbiao Cui. Asad Akhter also presented his research poster “Novel fabrication of carbon nanotube arrays.� Asad Akhter is a VICTER research student working with faculty member Dr. Brian Berry.

UALR students Lafayette DeRamus (above) and VICTER student Asad Akhter (below) presented at the 2013 Arkansas INBRE Conference. (

Picture from L to R: Saad Azam, Asad Ahkter, Lafayette Deramus, Taylor McClanahan, Javier Ortiz-Silva, Dr. Janet Lanza.

The Arkansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (AR INBRE) is funded by the grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences under the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The IDeA program was established for the purpose of broadening the geographic distribution of NIH funding for biomedical and behavioral research. Currently NIGMS supports INBRE programs in 23 states and Puerto Rico.

22 | ASSETs of Arkansas | Spring 2014

Arkansas Space Grant Symposium The Arkansas Space Grant Consortium (ASGC) Annual Meeting was held on April 6-7, 2014. Participating consortium members gathered in Hot Springs, AR to communincate their research progress and results. Pictured on the left and right, are participating students presenting their research to other student and faculty researchers. ASGC trains students for careers in professional aerospace fields. The program offers internships in fields related to space at a NASA or aerospace related industry. For more information about opportunites with the ASGC visit:

ARK-LSAMP The Arkansas Louis Stokes Alliance For Minority Participation (ARK-LSAMP) Spring Research Conference was held on April 11-12, 2014. The 6th ARK-LSAMP research conference was a tremendious success. Two oral presentations and twelve research posters were presented by student participants. Along with all the research excitement, special guest Dr. Marcus A. Huggans from The National GEM Consortium talked about the fellowship opportunities and interships with over 100 universities available across the country and well recognized companies. For more information visit: http://

Arkansas ASSET Initiative | | 23

ASSETs of Arkansas Readership Goes Global


ith the release of its third issue in eZine format, ASSETs of Arkansas has expanded readership to eleven countries since October 1. The October publication statistics reported that the eZines drew 468 reads and made 3,072 impressions with readers in the United States, United Kingdom, Norway, China, Spain, South Africa, Thailand, Peru, Canada, Denmark and Turkey. ASSETs serves as the primary communication vehicle for reporting the progress of the Arkansas ASSET Initiative, a National Science Foundation EPSCoR project administered by the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority. ASSETs is a bi-annual e-publication highlighting the research and outreach programs related to its three research centers, the Arkansas Center for Plant-Powered Production (P3), Arkansas GREEN Solar Cells Center (GREEN), and the Vertically-Integrated Center for Transformative Energy Research (VICTER). “We are very encouraged by the jump in readership and thrilled that we can now track those numbers using the platform,” said Marta Collier-Youngblood, Education Outreach Director for the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority. “We take seriously our responsibility to effectively communicate the innovations and opportunities that come with investing in research and outreach in Arkansas.” Since the adoption of the platform, reader statistics have also revealed that mobile device users access the eZines twice as much as those using desktop computers. “Now that we have this data we can use it to inform how we design our publications in the future to make sure we’re effectively communicating the amazing work that is being produced through our project,” said Collier. The next issue of ASSETs is scheduled for release in May 2014. To see what all the buzz is about log on to www. to learn more about the project or visit

24 | ASSETs of Arkansas | Spring 2014

2014- STATE CHAMPIONSHIP Teams from six Arkansas colleges and universities were announced as finalists in the 14th annual Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition that is managed by The Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF), an affiliate of The Arkansas Capital Corporation Group. On April 9, 2014, the winners for both Graduate and Undergraduate Businesss Plan were announced at the 2014 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Awards Luncheon. The entrepreneurs gave a 90 second speech to the judges and audience. The audience was able to vote for the best business plan by through text message. The winners for both divisions are listed below: Govenor of Arkansas Mike Beebe welcomes the audience to the 14th Annual Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Awards Luncheon. • • • • • • •

LumaDrop (University of Arkansas) Datavis (University of Arkansas) HemaNotics (University of Arkansas) Arleesa,LLC (John Brown University) BioBotic Solutions (UA &Hendrix College) Funding Fathers (John Brown University) Datavis

• BioBotic Solutions

Graduate Best Business Plan First Place –$25,000 Graduate Best Business Plan Second Place – $15,000 Graduate Best Business Plan Third Place –$10,000 Undergraduate Best Business Plan First Place – $25,000 Undergraduate Best Business Plan Second Place – $15,000 Undergraduate Best Business Plan Third Place – $10,000 Graduate Innovation First Place – $5,000 Undergraduate Innovation First Place – $5,000

One of the top six graduate finalist was “Tethystructure” . Tethystructure was developed around Chenoa Summers’ thesis; Summers worked with VICTER faculty researcher Dr. Ross Carroll. The plan involves the production and distribution of a UV and Titanium Dioxide reaction portable system that can filter water under extreme conditions. The Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup business plan competition encourages students attending any Arkansas two or four year college or univerisity to act on their ideas and talents to produce tomorrow’s business. Click on Governor’s Cup logo for the full story.

Arkansas ASSET Initiative | | 25

ASSETs of Arkansas presents "The # SciComm Times" - Spring 2014  

Arkansas ASSET Initiative has been working hard to effectively communicate our science. In this edition, you will find examples of faculty a...

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