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UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING RESEARCH NEWSLETTER The University of Kansas School of Engineering Eaton Hall 1520 W. 15th Street, Room 1 Lawrence, KS 66045-7608 785-864-3881

Hello, As the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs at the University of Kansas School of Engineering I would like to share our research newsletter with you.

I know you’re busy so I’ll keep this brief. We’ve been busy, too. The KU School of Engineering is well into an expansion plan that is growing our infrastructure, our faculty, our student base, as well as our research expertise. Last fall we dedicated a new research facility and then broke ground on a student-focused building that will add more than 100,000 square feet to our complex. Faculty members, like Associate Professor Rick Hale and Assistant Professor Dongkyu Choi, continue to receive major grants through high-profile funding organizations. Others on our faculty are receiving accolades and recognition for their contributions to their field, such as Distinguished Professor Prasad Gogineni or Assistant Professor Belinda Sturm. The School’s plan to grow our faculty by 30 new positions in key research areas is already producing results. As those new faculty members arrive on campus our office will work to help them find high-caliber graduate students, like Lei Shi or Griffin Roberts, capable of carrying out innovative research. If you have some bright young graduates looking for opportunities (Graduate School or Faculty positions), please keep us in mind. This ebook will give you a glimpse of some of our current accomplishments and we hope will give you a sense of the great news you can expect to hear from us in the future. With warm regards,

Arvin Agah,

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs, School of Engineering Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science University of Kansas




Researchers at KU’s Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis are taking a biorefining initiative in the nation’s Heartland to new levels. Chemicals from grasses and after-harvests throwaways would be significantly more valuable than biofuels such as ethanol. The University of Kansas has existing strengths in biorefining and the potential benefit to Kansas is enormous.

h c r a e s e R e t i B h t i w Getting mercury out of amalgam fillings was an important step in dentistry, but safer polymer fillings only last a fraction as long. Paulette Spencer, DDS, a distinguished professor and director of the University of Kansas Bioengineering Research Center, will lead a $1.8 million NIH-funded interdisciplinary research effort to make polymer fillings last far longer. And that’s something dental patients everywhere can smile about.




Research by a University of Kansas School of Engineering professor has the potential to reduce stress on the nation’s strained power grid and increase energy savings for consumers. Professor Trung Van Nguyen leads a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy that will focus on developing affordable battery storage technology for homeowners. The effort aims to store cheap energy during times of low demand and help power the home when a community’s electrical usage is at its peak.


RELIEF Before birth, the lungs are one of the last organs to fully mature, and premature babies can encounter significant challenges in breathing. Prajna Dhar, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at KU, is working to develop a synthetic substance that helps preemies breathe easier. Dhar’s project of lipid-protein interactions is one of four funded through an $11 million National Institutes of Health grant to KU to establish the Center for Molecular Analysis of Disease Pathways, an NIH Center of Biomedical Research Excellence.


University of Kansas Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Sarah Kieweg is using principles of fluid mechanics to help fight the spread of HIV and, potentially, other sexually transmitted diseases. Her work with an interdisciplinary team of KU researchers to develop a microbicidal gel that protects women is supported through a $1.3 million NIH grant.


DISCOVERY The Measurement, Materials and Sustainable Environment Center, a 47,000 square-foot facility dedicated on Oct. 12, creates additional opportunities for exciting new research and discovery at the University of Kansas School of Engineering. An open design and collaborative laboratories and workspace are designed to foster innovation in a variety of interdisciplinary fields such as alternative fuels, bioengineering, materials, infrastructure and transportation. It’s part of the school’s Building on Excellence Initiative that drives growth in students, faculty, facilities, leadership and research.

NOW HIRING! To develop great graduates, we start with great faculty members. The University of Kansas School of Engineering is actively building its faculty base by adding 30 additional positions over a span of six years. Our new professors, at a variety of ranks, will complement our current research strengths in healthcare innovation, water, global change and climate, sustainable practices and infrastructure, information technology, energy, and transportation. It’s all part of the school’s Building on Excellence Initiative.

www .engr .ku.e


The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies: Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access,, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS 66045, (785) 864-6414, 711 TTY.

KU Engineering Research Newsletter 2013  

A look at major research efforts and achievements led by faculty in the KU School of Engineering.

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