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MILLENNIAL INNOVATING INNOVATION Funding the future of North Carolina



Partnership with UNC Charlotte and Catawba EcoComplex


ASPE members visit Duke & Grigg Hall laboratories


Get to know CRI funded researchers at UNC Charlotte.


August 2010 no.1

FEATURES Director’s Note | 5 Study Savvy | 6 Meet the CRI student liaisons.

Innovating Innovation | 10 North Carolina Innovation Fund gears up to revitalize the regional economy.

Exquisite Labs | 16 ASPE members visit Duke & Grigg Hall laboratories.

Green Power | 18 Dr. Gloria Elliott gives an inside look into the new research initiatives at the Catawba EcoComplex.

Kannapolis Office | 26 “UNC Charlotte Research Initiatives” meet the speakers.

Post Docs | 34 Get to know Dr. Katherine Weaver, Dr. Timothy Gutu, & Dr. Jerald Overcash.



CRI hosts and is part of several events throughout the year.


The quarterly newsletter for CRI has information on workshops, and future conferences. In addition, we recognize the accomplishments of the faculty and staff that promote CRI’s activities.

Center Knowledge The Charlotte Research Institute is composed of a variety of research centers. For more information on the research and development activities in these centers visit us online.

• Charlotte Biotechnology Conference: On its ninth year the conference will be held on October 27. • UIDP: The UIDP fall conference will be held on October 4-6 it promises to provide its participants with a wealth of knowledge. Fo r registration information visit us online.

• Center for Optoelectronics & Optical Communications • Center for Precision Metrology • Bioinformatics & Genomics

MILLENNIAL August 2010


MILLENNIAL Editor in Chief:

Dr. Barry Burks

Creative Director:

Juan G. Galvez-Fonseca

Features Editor:

Karen J. Ford

CRI at NCRC Editor:

Clare Cook Faggart

Copy Editor: Abbey Gonzales

Copy Editor:

Kushal Sarkara

letter from the Executive Director


elcome to another glimpse into the flurry of activity and results at the Charlotte Research Institute (CRI) and UNC Charlotte. Top of mind is the recent R&D 100 Award for a novel manufacturing process. We applaud Professor Scott Smith, his research team, and collaborators at the National Nuclear Security Administration. This result is one more example of the outcomes that CRI pursues in promoting collaborative research. Following the central focus of CRI, this issue details research that CRI postdoctoral fellows are conducting in areas of nano and pico meter positioning devices, t h e r m o d y n a m i c s, a n d s c a n n e d p r o b e microscopy. We also highlight key UNC Charlotte researchers who will be speaking at our Public Lecture Series at the North Carolina

Research Campus (NCRC) on topics spanning Bioinformatics, Biofactories, and Bioethics. The first mover to the NCRC, CRI is now completing its fourth year on the campus and c o n t i n u e s t o b e a s t r o n g p a r t n e r fo r collaborative research, business startups, and innovation. CRI supports a continuing series of conferences and workshops to encourage new ideas, research programs, and applications. We hope you will be able to take part in upcoming events targeting biotechnology, informatics, and energy. For our business partners, we also have new opportunities for on-location research collaboration. Nine companies are currently working side by side with our faculty members and students on the CRI campus. We look forward to many more.

- Dr. Robert G. Wilhelm

MILLENNIAL August 2010


study savvy


Redskins fan, MILLENNIAL Magazine Copy Editor, and avid sports enthusiast, Abbey Gonzales has been part of CRI staff for two summers and continues to assist the workplace in behind-thescenes functions. The 18-year-old is a rising sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill currently pursuing her biomedical engineering degree. In addition, Gonzales has also partaken in an amalgamation of internship tenures. The Filipina-American born in Alexandria, VA and raised in the D.C. metropolitan area says “I envision myself pioneering my own private practice and taking ownership of a chain of dental clinics”. Creativity sparks Gonzales’ motivation to play piano and organ for her church, teach music theory and voice, and training new up and coming organists/pianists who are beginning to discover the joys of music appreciation.

Abbey Gonzales

I Kushal Sarkara


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nterwoven within his Indian culture and A m e r i c a n e d u c a t i o n l i e s Ku s h a l Sarkara’s ambition and determination for ultimate success. The 23-year-old Mumbai native has been contributing to CRI since 2009. In charge of technology support and website maintenance, contacts database management and creative media operations, Sarkara says working at CRI “has exposed me to a multitude of hardware and software tools that I haven’t had the chance to work with before”. When asked where he sees himself in 10 years, Sarkara hopes “to build a strong technical foundation for myself in the wireless communications industry and to be engaged in entrepreneurial activities in some capacity.” Among the various hobbies he’s involved in, playing soccer and cricket are his favorites. The MILLENNIAL Magazine Copy Editor is on route to obtaining a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering in spring of 2011.

R Juan G. Galvez-Fonseca

ecent UNC Charlotte graduate and avid editorial enthusiast, Juan G. Galvez-Fonseca has continued to foster his passion for publishing at CRI as the Creative Editorial Director for MILLENNIAL Magazine. Galvez-Fonseca obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations with an emphasis on international communications in the spring of 2010. Previously to joining CRI, he completed various editorial internship tenures at GQ (Gentleman’s Quarterly), Men’s Health, and Charlotte Magazines. In addition to his editorial experience, the Colombian native was part of the Wilhelmina Evolution agency as the Public Relations and Promotional Modeling Booking Agent. When asked what are his preferred pastimes, the 22 year old said “traveling the world is one of them, I’ve had the good fortune to live in Bogota, Colombia, London, UK, and Stellenbosch, South Africa. I hope to visit Fiji, Bali, and Bora Bora next.”

TOP TALENT Student liaisons make all the difference at CRI. They contribute copious amounts of raw talent to the day to day operations.

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G UNC Charlotte & Y-12 Receive Top Prize


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iven annually “to recognize the 100 most technologically significant new products of the year,” the 2010 R&D 100 Award from R&D Magazine was given to a research team of engineers from the US Department of Energy’s Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and UNC Charlotte. The team, composed of eight members included William E. Barkman and Edwin F. Babelay from Y-12, and Scott Smith, Thomas S. Assaid, Justin T. McFarland, and David A. Tursky from UNC Charlotte, and two former UNC Charlotte students Bethany Woody, and David Adams. The team was lead by professor and chair in UNC Charlotte’s Department of Mechanical Engineering Scott Smith.

11th Annual Cyber Security Symposium Tuesday, November 2, 2010 UNC Charlotte’s College of Computing and Informatics will host its 11th annual Cyber Security Symposium on the UNC Charlotte campus on Tuesday, November 2, 2010. What has become the premier security conference in the region will again feature expert guest speakers from around the country who will address the latest issues surrounding cyber crime and what is being done to combat this ever-increasing global problem. “The Cyber Security Symposium continues to draw attention to the urgency of dealing with cyber terrorism,” said Bill Chu, Chair of the Department of Software and Information Systems (SIS) at CCI. “Once again, we are assembling a list of distinguished industry experts to talk about this on-going global threat. It’s a thrill to see how the symposium has grown over the years and the interest it has generated with business leaders and professionals from around the region. We anticipate over 500 individuals will attend this year’s symposium.” Rapid advancements in communication and information technology have increased interdependence among diverse groups including businesses and government agencies. The spread of such technologies, and the consequential reliance on them, require participants to understand and take action to minimize security threats. Also, a larger portion of the dangers from the threats come from experienced cyber terrorists who target large monetary rewards from their preys. Over the years this conference has proven to be invaluable to business continuity professionals, information technology managers, software developers, systems administrators, information security professionals, information security consultants, and policy-makers. Each year the City of Charlotte has proclaimed November Cyber Security Awareness Month in recognition of the conference. The symposium will be held from 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Cone University Center on the UNC Charlotte campus. For questions regarding the event please email

Forum on the Future of Complex Systems Research and Applications September 16-17, 2010

For more informations visit You may also contact Dr. Mirsad Hadzikadic at 704.340.0062 or

MILLENNIAL August 2010



INNOVATING INNOVATION North Carolina innovation fund gears up to revitalize the regional economy.


he NC Innovation Fund To u r v i s i t e d U N C Charlotte, on Thursday, July 22nd. Attendees to the invitation only event, heard from the Executive Director of the Charlotte Research Institute, Dr. Robert G. Wilhelm; co-founder of Falfurrias Capital Partners, Hugh McColl; President of The Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Joan Siefert Rose; North Carolina State Treasurer, Janet Cowell; and Credit Suisse Customized Fund Investment Director, Lee Brashear. Dr. Wilhelm opened the informational session with greeting remarks and an overview of CRI and the research programs at UNC Charlotte. Followed by Hugh McColl, retired Chairman and CEO of Bank of America, who commented on the importance of the Innovation Fund. McColl focused his remarks on the impact and longevity the fund will have on small businesses in North Carolina. McColl provided a long term perspective of the current economic crisis based on his experience as a businessman in Charlotte over the past six decades.


economic endeavor

Welcoming Remarks Dr. Robert Wilhelm welcomes attendees to the Innovation Fund event.


Featured Speakers From left to right, Dr. Robert Wilhelm, North Carolina State Treasurer Janet Cowell, Hugh McColl

resident of The Center for Entrepreneurial Development Joan Siefert Rose offered her view on the lasting impact of the fund as well as the benefits it will bring to entrepreneurial growth the region and state. Following Joan Siefert Rose’s remarks North Carolina State Treasurer Janet Cowell informed attendees on the various facets of the fund and the positive implications it would have on the regional economy. Following an extensive search and evaluation process, Credit Suisse was selected to manage the $232.3 million fund. In addition, Credit Suisse will be investing its own resources in select ventures and will leverage


MILLENNIAL August 2010

from a variety of sources in addition to the state funds. Investments will go to organizations that focus on Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Clean Technology, IT and Financial Services. Within the agreement guidelines, “the partnership will seek to invest primarily in companies based in North Carolina,” in addition to geographically focusing on organizations in high growth, high impact areas. Ending with a question and answer session, both NC State Treasurer Cowell and representatives of Credit Suisse addressed the audiences’ inquiries as well as provided further insight into the long-term growth potential of the fund.

Hugh McColl Shared his views on the lasting impact the fund will have on small business.

Joan Siefert Rose The President of The Center for Entrepreneurial Development introduces NC State Treasurer Janet Cowell

NC State Treasurer Janet Cowell Cowell elaborating on the funds benefits to small businesses.

After the event Attendees congregated in the main communal area while sampling the breakfast spread.

FORWARD THINKING The Institute's campus, a geographically distinct part of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, was created in 2002 to further the university’s teaching, research, and service mission as well as to enhance the economic development of the region. The CRI campus is a Millennial Campus, as defined by North Carolina legislation, and offers special opportunities for collaboration with private sector partners. In particular, partner companies may contract for use of research capabilities or facilities on the Millennial Campus, contract for sole-use space, and construct and manage privately owned buildings. The Charlotte Research Institute manages all activities of the Millennial Campus. The Millennial Campus currently covers 102 acres of land. A 17 acre parcel on the core 9 MILLENNIAL August 2010

campus includes six buildings: Cameron Hall, Burnson Hall, Health and Human Services, College of Education, Smith Hall, and Woodward Hall. An 85 acre parcel adjoining Tryon Street on the west side of the university includes Grigg Hall, Duke Centennial Hall, and the Bioinformatics Research Center. Construction is underway for a tenth building, The Energy Production and Infrastructure Center and construction will begin soon on two additional buildings for engineering research and university-industry partnership. The football stadium will also be built on the Millennial Campus with ground breaking scheduled in 2011.

OCTOBER 2010 CONFERENCE Dates: October 4 - 6, 2010 Venue: UNC Charlotte - Charlotte Research Institute Campus UIDP is an organization of universities and companies who seek to build a stronger relationship between these parties. UIDP provides a forum for university and industry representatives to meet and discuss contracting and intellectual property policy, publication and technology transfer preferences, and other issues.  These conversations might otherwise never take place, and they serve to help university representatives better understand the culture and constraints of their industry counterparts, and vice versa. To register visit events.

Date: October 27, 2010 Venue: Barnhardt Student Activities Center, UNC Charlotte The 9th Annual Charlotte Biotechnology Conference will provide insight from some of the most recognized biotechnology, business and research professionals in addition to highlighting regional opportunities and investment trends within the local biotechnology sector. To register visit events.

MILLENNIAL August 2010




ASPE Members Visit Grigg & Duke Hall Laboratories


rganized in order to f a m i l i a r i z e members of the American Society for Precision Engineering (ASPE) with the Charlotte Research I n s t i t u t e laboratories in both Grigg and Duke Centennial Halls, the event also included a Poster Session, which sparked numerous conversations and networking opportunities. As the experts in i n t e r f e r o m e t r y, m e t r o l o g y, a n d precision engineering gathered at the rotunda, coffee on hand, Duke Centennial Hall welcomed its visitors. ASPE focuses on many areas that are important in the research, design, development, manufacturing and measurement of high accuracy components and systems.  The amalgamation of laboratories visited by ASPE members on Monday, June 22nd ranged from the Electronics and Machine shops to an overview of the Center for Precision Metrology. Members represent a variety of technical areas - from engineering (mechanical, electrical, optical and industrial) to materials science, physics, chemistry, mathematics and computer science and are employed in industry, academia and national labs. Following the lab tours in Duke Centennial Hall the group moved to Grigg Hall where, the Center for Optoelectronics & Optical Communications opened its laboratory doors to ASPE members. Tour guides took visitors to the Optics Metrology User Facility, MicroPhotonics Laboratory, the Clean Room, and the Optical Characterization Facility among other laboratories located in Grigg Hall.

MILLENNIAL August 2010




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he grass will be greener on the other side. Flora & fauna find a favorable future in Catawba County.


ere, there and everywhere, ecofriendly initiatives have taken a front seat in developing sustainability. Dr. Gloria Elliott, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, collaborated in igniting a relationship between the Catawba County Regional EcoComplex and Resource Facility and UNC Charlotte. The partnership originated in 2008 from a UNC Charlotte Bio-Energy delegation trip (23 members) to Austria where professionals with diverse backgrounds in business, local government and academia studied the Austrian bio-energy model. Through these experiences, delegates could “bring the best technology and ideas back to the region,” says Dr. Elliott “as well as brainstorm ways to create the appropriate environment and partnership in our region where eco-friendly research projects can have a fruitful lifespan.” In a successful effort to establish an ecorelationship the Chancellor of UNC Charlotte, Philip L. Dubois, and the Catawba County Board of Commissioners, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on January 19, 2009. This now serves to promote and to maintain a sustainable environmental research alliance.


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Provisions of the agreement: • EcoComplex will supply space for the installation of equipment, utilities, and the raw waste materials needed for testing new technologies. • Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) will test alternative means of generating energy and fuels from waste products. • Infrastructure Design, Environment and Sustainability (IDEAS) Center will test sustainable waste reduction and waste processing techniques. • The North Carolina Motorsports and Automotive Research Center (NC MARC) will test emission reduction technologies and waste heat recovery schemes. These pilot programs are an asset for the subsequent success and future of the alliance. Projects planned cover BioEthanol, which is obtained from the fermentation of plant starches, and CO2 scrubbing technology, a form of carbon capture that removes CO2 before the exhaust is released into the air. Among the abundant greenery that can be seen in her fourth floor Woodward Hall office, Dr. Elliott described the EcoComplex as a “living lab”. Currently programs being conducted at the earth friendly site include a sustainable wood and crop waste to ethanol venture led by Dr. Matthew Parrow, and a biomass digester project led by Dr. Helene Hilger, and a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) accounting/carbon footprint project led by Dr. Elliott. The focus of The Catawba County Regional EcoComplex and Resource Recovery Facility is to recover from waste usable products and by-products and convert them to sources of energy (electricity, steam, or heat), or use them as a raw material for the production of other products on site (pallets, compost, brick shapes/ art). By focusing on making and providing ecofriendly energy, the EcoComplex brings about economic development to Catawba County and


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serves as a medium for increased understanding in the “green” frontier. The EcoComplex and UNC Charlotte continue creating new ways to discover all that the “living lab” has to reveal by heralding a new era in the “green” initiative. For more information on the Catawba County EcoConplex visit: ecocomplex.asp


bulletin 1 Five facts you should know about UNC Charlotte

On November 3, 2008, UNC Charlotte hosted now President Barack Obama’s historic electioneve rally. Twenty-five thousand people attended.

More than 25 major works of sculpture are installed on the UNC Charlotte campus, including 14 bronze statues representing each one of the 49er sports teams. Other more abstract sculptures include the Water Harp in front of Robinson Hall for the Performing Arts and “Orbis” which graces the courtyard of the Charlotte Research Institute.


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UNC Charlotte is building the nations largest bioinformatics and genomics program.

UNC Charlotte has the largest research library in the Piedmont Region with over a million volumes.



Major abstract sculptures seen on campus include, the Water Harp in front of Robinson Hall for the performing arts and the “Orbis� that graces the courtyard of the Charlotte Research Institute.

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CRI at NCRC North Carolina Research Campus



CURVATURE S cience and engineering ventures at CRI are driven by the internationally known results of its research centers i n P r e c i s i o n M e t r o l o g y, Visualization, and Optoelectronics. CRI’s research vision continues to grow with emerging research initiatives that include bioinformatics, biomedical engineering systems, energy production and infrastructure, sustainable design, information security, motor sports and automotive engineering, nanoscale science, cancer and translational research. With facilities on the Charlotte Research Institute Campus and at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, CRI helps companies initiate new partnerships at UNC Charlotte and offers a variety of

opportunities to engage talented faculty and make use of specialized resources available at UNC Charlotte. Innovation and entrepreneurship are strongly supported by CRI’s Ben Craig Center business incubator (BCC). The incubator program, business advisory services, and education events offered by the BCC support dozens of companies each year. BCC focuses on community businesses and University startups that benefit most directly from proximity to expertise, services, and equipment that only the BCC and the University can provide. In addition, the S m a l l B u s i n e s s a n d Te c h n o l o g y Development Center located at Ben Craig Center supports hundreds of small businesses each year.


David H. Murdock Core Laboratory Building

SPEAKING KNOWLEDGE UNC CHARLOTTE and The Charlotte Research Institute will present their North Carolina Research Campus Public Lecture Series during the month of September, 2010. The series is free and open to the public. It will be held in the Event Room at the David H. Murdock Core Laboratory Building at 150 Research Campus Drive. 6:30 to 8:00 pm on Tuesdays.

Laboratory at NCRC

September 7


Larry Mellichamp, PhD "Plants That Eat Insects and the Myth of the Man-eating Plant" -


r. Larry Mellichamp is a Professor of Botany and Horticulture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he has taught for over 30 years. He is also director of the University’s Botanical Gardens which are an important resource in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The Gardens have a great diversity of interesting plants – both indoors and out – that represent the world’s most unusual flora. They are visited by thousands of people each year from all over the world. Larry has been interested in carnivorous plants since he was an undergraduate student when his professors introduced him to the world of wild flower identification. He has studied carnivorous pitcher plants in the genus Sarracenia for over 40 years, is one of the world’s experts in that group, and has produced some of the world’s most interesting horticultural hybrids for which he is widely known. He has directed research on the native plants of the Southeastern United States, especially rare and endangered species; and is concerned with both wild conservation and the greater use of native

plants in the home landscape. While some horticulturists are called “plant doctors” because they know how to fix plant problems, Larry may be described as a “plant psychologist” because he is interested in understanding why plants behave the way they do, especially the ones that do unusual things. He is known locally for being freely accessible to give advice on plants and to explain unusual situations. Larry has won several prestigious teaching awards locally and regionally, and in 2003 received the Thomas Roland Medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for meritorious achievement. He has written many technical and popular articles on plants and gardening, appears regularly in the local media, and has co-authored three books: ‘Practical Botany” (1983) with Peter Kaufman, et al.; “The Winter Garden” (1997) with peter Loewer; and “Wildflowers of the Western Great Lakes Region” (1999) with James Wells and Fred Case. He received his Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Michigan in 1976. He has traveled and collected plants and photographs in Mexico, Costa Rica, South Africa, Borneo, Europe, China, and Australia. MILLENNIAL August 2010


September 14

Rosie Tong, PhD “Blood Feuds: The Ethics of BioBanking”


r. Rosemarie Tong is Distinguished Professor of Health Care Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and Director o f t h e C e n t e r fo r A p p l i e d a n d Professional Ethics at UNC Charlotte. Internationally recognized for her contributions to feminist thought and bioethics, Dr. Tong has published thirteen books, over one hundred articles and has served on numerous boards and committees, providing expert advice and oversight regarding issues such as health care reform, genetic and reproductive technology, biomedical research, and ethics and public policy. Previously Thatcher Professor in Medical Humanities at Davidson College, Dr. Tong came to UNC Charlotte in the fall of 1999. In addition to her widely recognized abilities as an instructor and scholar, Dr. Tong has greatly expanded the University’s role and visibility in promoting Professional and Applied Ethics. Her efforts have brought many noted academics as well as civic and professional leaders to UNC Charlotte as participants in various speakers’ series, workshops and seminars. A sought after speaker, she regularly delivers addresses for leading institutions and organizations nationally as well as internationally. Her latest book, New Perspectives in Health Care Ethics: An Interdisciplinary Approach, bears a 2009 publication date. Dr. Tong has held or now holds many offices. She is the immediate past Chair of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status of Women (2003-2007), a former cocoordinator of the International Network for Feminist Approaches to Bioethics (1999-2002), current Chair of the Institutional Review Board’s Conflict of Interest Committee at Chesapeake Research, Inc., and past Co-Chair of the NC Institute of Medicine’s Task Force on Pandemic Influenza. She is also an Executive Board member of the International Network for Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, the U.S. Women’s Bioethics Project, the NC Biotechnology Center, and the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. Her recent and upcoming speaking engagements include addresses at the Fogarty International Center Bioethics Training Project in Quezon City, Philippines in September, 2005, the International Seminar on Bioethics in Mexico City in November, 2005, the Graduate Institute of Philosophy at National Central University in Taipei, Taiwan, in August, 2006, and most of the World Congresses of the International Association of Bioethics and/or the International Network of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics between 2000-2010 (London, Helsinki, Mexico City, Sydney, Beijing, Croatia, and Singapore).


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September 21

Cory Brouwer, PhD –

“Bioinformatics: How to Understand Biology in the Petabyte Age”


r. Cory R. Brouwer is Director of the Bioinformatics Services Division and Associate Professor of Bioinformatics and Genomics at UNC Charlotte. He and his team provide a wide range of bioinformatics and computational biology services to the NCRC, UNC Charlotte and surrounding area life sciences community. Before coming to UNC Charlotte, Dr. Brouwer was leading a global computational biology group for the pharmaceutical company Pfizer out of their Sandwich, UK, research campus located southeast of London. During his tenure at Pfizer, he led various efforts in data integration, text mining, collaborative knowledge building and scientific software development supporting genomics and systems biology. He also was an active promoter of pre-competitive collaboration within the pharma industry and was Co-chair of the Knowledge and Information Services domain of the Pistoia Alliance, a crosspharma precompetitive standards organization. He joined Pfizer from Curagen Corporation, where he led software projects in the area of gene expression, proteomics and toxicoinformatics. Dr. Brouwer gained his AgBio experience at Pioneer HiB r e d , I n t l , I n c. wo r k i n g a s a computational biologist focusing on

genetics and comparative genomics. Dr. Brouwer received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Iowa State University under the direction of Dr. Ben Bowen studying the effects of nuclear matrix attachment regions on transgene expression in maize.

September 28

Kenneth Bost, PhD "Using Soybeans as a Biofactory for the Production of Pharmaceutically Important Proteins" –



hile at UNC Charlotte, Bost has been very active in research in human immunesystem response and the use of soybeans to deliver vaccines. He developed his ideas into the startup company SoyMeds Inc., which has the potential in the future to provide easily produced, administered and transported vaccines around the world. Bost has made numerous notable contributions to the field of biology, and his research on immunology has gained widespread recognition for the advancements he has made in the field. He has also been published in numerous reputable journals and he has received several highly competitive honors for his work, including three previous nominations for the First Citizens Bank Scholars Medal. Bost is frequently invited to speak about a variety of high-profile topics in biology and immunology. During Bost’s tenure at UNC Charlotte, all five doctoral students from his laboratory have obtained prestigious postdoctoral fellowships. MILLENNIAL August 2010

September 28  

Kenneth Piller, PhD "Using Soybeans as a Biofactory for the Production of Pharmaceutically Important Proteins"


esearch Associate Professor at UNC Charlotte, with a research focus on plant biotechnology and edible vaccine development Dr. Kenneth Piller has contributed copious amounts of research talent to the Biology Department since he joined the University in 2002. While the concept of eating a vaccine is easy to visualize, this technology is relatively new. Much progress has been made toward

demonstrating the feasibility of expressing subunit antigens in plants, however there are some practical questions concerning the effectiveness of edible vaccines that have yet to be addressed. Dr. Piller received his Bachelors of Science in Biology degree from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1985. In addition, Dr. Piller received his Ph.D. degree in Plant Molecular Biology from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1991.

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OST DOC Postdoctoral professionals reveal their passions, goals and aspirations.




Dr. Katherine Weaver & Dr. Gloria Elliott

urning tides tend to denote change in the horizon; Katherine Weaver’s path to professional success has been composed of more than copious note taking and diligent textbook reading. Change carved her professional pathway to intellectual serenity. ! A North Carolina native and LenoirRhyne College graduate, Weaver’s Bachelors of Science in Biology enabled her to enter the textile industry. A career in biological sciences had always been her primary selection, “I had intended to become a veterinarian,” says Weaver who got her first job primarily dealing with textiles in order to save towards veterinary school. As a technician in a textile laboratory, “we analyzed fibers, yarns, fabrics and other textiles that were submitted to the lab by fibers customers,” says Weaver. After deciding on acquiring a second degree, Weaver began working on her Bachelors of Chemistry in 1998 at UNC Charlotte. In 2002 fresh out of college, Weaver ventured on to continue pursuing her higher education. She

Dr. Katherine Weaver

was accepted at “several universities” including North Carolina State University, UNC Chapel Hill, and Duke University. Deciding to attend Duke University, Weaver received her Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2007. In the autumn of 2008, Weaver applied for a Postdoctoral position at UNC Charlotte. The tenure offered by Dr. Gloria Elliott Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering was a two-year agreement and focused heavily on Chemistry. Currently, Weaver is working on Differential Scanning Calorimetry: A method in which a sample and a reference are individually heated (by separately controlled resistance heaters, at a predetermined rate), and enthalpic heat-generating or absorbing processes are detected as differences in electrical energy supplied to either the sample or the reference material to maintain this heating rate. Weaver has found the position to be quite rewarding. By continuing to pursue her passion for research, she has polished her skills in hopes of attaining a full time position after the end of her postdoctoral experience. MILLENNIAL August 2010



Zimbabwean BLOKE


laying neighbor to Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana, the Republic of Zimbabwe (formerly known as Rhodesia) is where Dr. Timothy Gutu calls home. Currently, holding an Electron Microscopist-Postdoctoral position at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and former Interim TEM Manager at the Center for Electron Microscopy and Nanofabrication research facility at the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute, Dr. Gutu has compiled quite an impressive resumé. Dr.Timothy Gutu & In 1994, Dr. Gutu obtained his Dr. Terry Xu Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Zimbabwe. Although he wanted to explore the engineering field, “I was interested in the applied physics” says the Harare (capital of Zimbabwe) native. After graduation, Dr. Gutu ventured into academia from 1995 to 2003. Although he taught advanced level high school physics, general sciences were also in his purview. A Master of Science Degree in Applied Physics from the University of Zimbabwe obtained in 2004, along with a Masters Degree in Physics obtained at Microscopic Eye. Portland State University in 2006 served as a catalyst for Dr. Timothy Gutu Dr. Gutu in deciding to pursue a Ph.D. in Applied plans to continue h i s re s e a rc h i n Physics at Portland State University in 2007. years to come. After acquiring his Ph.D. degree in 2009, Dr. Gutu undertook a Postdoctoral position at UNC Charlotte. It’s a “very good university, focused on research” says Dr. Gutu who has developed training manuals for an amalgamation of machines in his laboratory. Among his many duties as an Electron Microscopist, Dr. Gutu makes sure all machinery in the laboratory works properly; he trains students and faculty members on how to use equipment, in addition to his research. Although the rich African tapestry will always be a part of Dr. Gutu, he foresees teaching undergraduate and graduate students in the United States as well as continuing his research in Nano Materials.


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Research MATTERS


ockwell, North Carolina native Dr. Jerald Overcash has attended and worked at UNC Charlotte for 15 years. Ever since he could remember, Dr. Overcash f o u n d t h e fi e l d o f mechanical engineering intriguing “as a kid I was always involved with mechanical components.” In May 2000, Dr. Overcash received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering at UNC Charlotte. Without missing a step, he began the Masters program in the fall of 2000. The main focus of his Master’s Dr. Jerald Overcash & Research Project revolved around the Dr. Robert J. Hocken Intrinsic Standard Research & Development for U.S. Army Transfer Level Calibration Laboratory in the production of a portable, precision voltage system based on the Josephson effect. The system utilized millimeter waves and cryogenics in a vacuum environment. The product was a prototype transportable voltage standard based on the superconducting Josephson array. Dr. Overcash swiftly began his doctoral studies after receiving his Masters of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. In 2006, he received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering based on his dissertation research focused on ultrasonic vibration assisted diamond turning. This topic entailed the design, testing, and modeling of a newly developed active tool with turnable vibration parameters. This research was funded through the affiliate program of the Center for Precision Metrology. Currently, Dr. Overcash is a Postdoctoral Fellow at UNC Charlotte under the direction of Professor Dr. Robert Hocken. His NSF funded research project focuses on upgrades to the SubAtomic Measuring Machine, which increased the performance of an ultra-precision measuring instrument and lowered the laser interferometer resolution limits to picometer levels and updated the control hardware and software to a real-time environment. He was also able to lower the measurement uncertainties and increase the precision by adding offset frequency locked lasers, a custom wavelength tracking interferometer, and implementing a helium atmosphere. The measurements were enabled by integrating an atomic force microscope developed by MIT through this research project as well. In the years to come, Dr. Overcash foresees himself continuing his passion for higher education by expressing an interest in teaching. MILLENNIAL August 2010



Duke Centennial Hall