Jackson, AL, United States
Jackson, AL, United States

Alabama State University, founded 1867, is a historically black university located in Montgomery, Alabama. ASU is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Wikipedia.

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Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 271.54K | Year: 2016

Cutting-edge research at Alabama State University (ASU) is focused on developing materials and structures that can aid in the regeneration of bone tissue, liver replacements, and dental tissue. These materials are known as scaffolds. The proposed 3-D bioprinter will enable researchers to build these scaffolds in a very precise manner. The 3-D printer will be used to support research and educate students in K-12, undergraduate and graduate school, including students in underrepresented groups. It will benefit scientists and students at ASU in Biomedical Engineering, Biology and Chemistry as well as other scientists across the state. Faculty members, post-doctoral researchers and graduate students will utilize the printer in their research. The printer will also be used by approximately 25 undergraduate students involved in current projects at ASU (e.g, the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates site (REU) and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP)), as well as the ASU Science and Technology Honors Program, and in Senior Design projects.

The project proposes the acquisition of a multimaterial bioplotter to create a multiuser tissue scaffold fabrication facility affiliated with the Alabama State University, ASU, College of Science, Math and Technology and the Center for NanoBiotechnology. The facility will support a number of multidisciplinary research and education activities involving investigators from Biomedical Engineering, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Cutting-edge research at ASU is focused on nano and microstructured, compositionally-graded, multiphase polymeric scaffolds for bone tissue, 3-D porous scaffolds for liver replacement, and dental tissue applications. Progress in the understanding of fundamental aspects of the, processing, structure and function of these materials is contingent upon the ability to precisely fabricate 3-dimensional scaffolds that more closely mimic the extracellular matrix. This state-of-the-art bioplotter will be integral to research support and also to the education of students in K-12, undergraduate school, and graduate school, including students in underrepresented groups. The requested instrument will support a number of funded NSF projects, and is necessary to continue at ASU the work in the fundamental understanding of the fabrication, structure and function issues for a variety of 3-dimensional biomaterials. At least 3 graduate and undergraduate courses in Biomedical Engineering and Biology will use the instrument. Additionally, approximately 20 faculty, post-docs and graduate students will utilize the instrument. Approximately 25 undergraduate students will utilize this instrument through funded research projects, the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates site, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, LSAMP, ASU Science and Technology Honors Program, and in Senior Design. The acquisition of this instrument will enhance demonstrations to be offered in K-12 outreach programs, including ASU STEM Academy.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 5.13M | Year: 2012

The Center for NanoBiotechnology Research (CNBR) was established at Alabama State University in 2007 as a NSF Center of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST). The Phase II Center will expand and strengthen a major research activity at Alabama State, which has become a model for the development of research scholarship at a university that only a decade ago was a primarily undergraduate institution with only a small amount of funded STEM research activity. The Phase I award (HRD-0734232) trained 26 graduate students, led to the first 3 PhD students at Alabama State University (all programs), led to the first patents being awarded to ASU, enabled a world-class research infrastructure, led to new curricula development, and led to the formation of national and international collaborations. The nanotechnology infrastructure now in place is capable of synthesizing, analyzing and applying nanomaterials into biological systems.

The Phase II CREST award will enable the advancement of nanobiotechnology and nanogenomics, which has the potential for development of a new generation of therapies and diagnostic tools. The new research projects that will comprise the scholarly activity of the CNBR will build on the Phase I activities that established a solid foundation at Alabama State in nanobiotechnology. The Center will be a leader in the CREST goals to develop a diverse, advanced STEM workforce and should be positioned within the next 5 years to compete effectively for major support from NSF, NIH, and other state and federal agencies, as well as industry.

The proposed research is organized around the following subprojects:

1. Evaluation of Anti-RSV Multi-functionalized Nanobiomaterials and Their Effect on Host and Viral Genomes

The first project embarks on nanovirology by exploring nanomaterials to specifically target a virus. Virus specific biomolecules (anti-peptide and siRNA) with known properties will be used to functionalize nanomaterials and apply them to inhibit virus replication.

2. Nanobiomaterials as Anti-bacterial Agents

The second project focuses on applications of nanomaterials against bacteria. Many antibiotics are in the market but are resistant to many bacteria, necessitating the design of new classes of anti-bacterials. The research team will develop and apply novel nanomaterials that can destroy bacteria and stop their growth. The main goal is to understand the mechanisms by which nanomaterials kill bacteria.

3. Regulation of Immune Cells Using Novel Nanomaterials: Merging Nanoimmunology and Nanogenomics

The third project will explore novel materials that could non-specifically enhance immune functions and reduce disease manifestations. Proposed nano-biomaterials will be synthesized, characterized and tested in biological systems using nanoscience tools and techniques.

Intellectual Merit
The Phase II CREST award will enable the advancement of nanobiotechnology and nanogenomics, which has the potential for development of a new generation of therapies and diagnostic tools. The three subprojects have overlapping research objectives. All three projects will analyze genes from host as well as pathogens and use bioinformatics tools to analyze data. In addition, proteomics will be used by all projects which will study the impact of nanobiomaterials at the functional levels. All projects have common methods for analyzing nanomaterials and samples. The project relevancy and synergy are based on: 1) synthesis/characterization of nanomaterials, 2) genomic studies of host and pathogen, 3) proteomic studies of gene products in response to nanobiomaterials.

Broader Impact
The CNBR will be a leader in the CREST goals to develop a diverse, advanced STEM workforce and should be positioned within the next 5 years to compete effectively for major support from NSF, NIH, and other state and federal agencies, as well as industry. The Phase I center support has resulted in the establishment of excellent research infrastructure to train minority students in nanobiotechnology, thus increasing the number of well-trained minority students for the scientific workforce. The Phase II CNBR will continue to increase the number of minorities in the Ph.D. program and the workforce in nanobiotechnology and nanogenomics. The center will provide leadership in new curricula development, undergraduate research opportunities and expose students to entrepreneurship. The center will continue to impact a large number of constituents in the state of Alabama by providing opportunities to high school students, hosting dignitaries, and offering seminars and workshops open to the general public. The center will work with over 15 U.S. institutions, 4 NSF centers, 6 NSF-funded programs (MSP, RISE, HBCU-UP, SBIR, C2 RII, PIRE) and will impact a large and diverse number of constituents. The center will continue to work with global partners to prepare students and faculty who are globally competitive in emerging scientific technologies.

This award has been partially funded through the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research at the National Science Foundation.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: CENTERS FOR RSCH EXCELL IN S&T | Award Amount: 998.77K | Year: 2016

The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering (HBCU-RISE) activity within the Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program supports the development of research capability at HBCUs that offer doctoral degrees in science and engineering disciplines. HBCU-RISE projects have a direct connection to the long-term plans of the host department(s) and the institutional mission, and plans for expanding institutional research capacity as well as increasing the production of doctoral students in science and engineering. With support from the National Science Foundation, Alabama State University (ASU), a four-year liberal arts institution with over 89% African American students, aims to enhance the PhD program in Microbiology by expanding research resources in the area of nanobiomaterials and tissue engineering. This project has the potential to contribute significantly to the pool of minority students trained in the emerging field of nanobiomaterials and tissue engineering and significantly expand the breadth of the PhD Program in Microbiology. The proposed project will advance the mission of ASU by providing quality education to a large underrepresented minority population and increasing the number of minority students pursuing STEM degree programs and careers.

The proposed research involves the development of novel 3D bioengineered skin and drug-eluting bone scaffolds that potentially could be used to treat diseased and damaged tissues. The project objectives are to: 1) expand research infrastructure by acquiring new equipment and recruiting high caliber scientists with expertise in the area of nanobiomaterials and tissue engineering; 2) provide research support to PhD students and research faculty; and 3) introduce new courses in nanobiomaterials and cell interaction, bioinstrumentation and tissue engineering. The established research infrastructure and partnerships with several research-intensive institutions will have a broader impact on ASU. This project will expand the scientific capabilities and accomplishments of ASU on issues related to NSFs mission, scientific achievement, and technological advancements.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: NSF INCLUDES | Award Amount: 3.70K | Year: 2016

Auburn University, Alabama State University, Tuskegee University and Vanderbilt University will lead this Design and Development Launch Pilot to form the SouthEast Alliance for Persons with Disabilities in STEM (SEAPD-STEM), eventually creating a network of 21 universities and colleges, as well as additional community colleges and high schools, in the southeastern U.S. and Washington, DC. This project was created in response to the Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (NSF INCLUDES) program solicitation (NSF 16-544). The INCLUDES program is a comprehensive national initiative designed to enhance U.S. leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) discoveries and innovations focused on NSFs commitment to diversity, inclusion, and broadening participation in these fields. The INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilots represent bold, innovative ways for solving a broadening participation challenge in STEM.

The full participation of all of Americas STEM talent is critical to the advancement of science and engineering for national security, health and prosperity. Our nation is advancing knowledge and practices to address the STEM education practices for recruiting, better educating, retaining and graduating STEM secondary and postsecondary students with disabilities (SWDs) at our nations high schools, colleges and universities. However SWDs historically underperform in STEM at the secondary and postsecondary levels. This project, NSF INCLUDES: SEAPD-STEM, has the potential to significantly advance a collaborative approach by a group of organizations to improve the success of SWDs in STEM disciplines.

The project builds on the existing Alabama Alliance for Students with Disabilities in STEM (AASD-STEM), a NSF-funded model, and includes a plan to form a larger regional alliance focused on training STEM SWDs across the academic pathway from high school through postdoctoral training and entry into faculty positions. The collaboration addresses five goals: (1) To increase the quality and quantity of SWDs completing associate, undergraduate, and graduate degrees in STEM disciplines and entering the STEM workforce, (2) To increase the quality and quantity of post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty with disabilities in STEM fields, (3) To improve academic performance of students with disabilities in secondary level science and mathematics courses, (4) To enhance communication and collaboration among post-secondary institutions in addressing the education of SWDs in STEM disciplines, and (5) To assess project activities to understand what works to support the matriculation and retention of STEM SWDs in science followed by broad dissemination through workshops, conference presentations, webinars, and peer-reviewed publications. The team proposes the following project activities in the pilot: (1) Implementing a Bridge Model at 13 partner institutions, including Alabama State University, Auburn University, Auburn University Montgomery, Gallaudet University, Jackson State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Southern Union State Community College, Troy University, Tuskegee University, the University of Alabama Birmingham, the University of Tennessee, the University of West Georgia and Xavier University of Louisiana (2) Implementing SEAPD-STEM training workshops, (3) Implementing NSF INCLUDES Alliances planning workshops in each participating state, at Kennesaw State University, Tougaloo College, the University of Alabama in Hunstville, Vanderbilt University and Xavier University of Louisiana, (4) Gathering enrollment, retention, and graduation baseline data for STEM SWDs by race, ethnicity, and gender at 21 colleges and universities institutions, (5) Identifying high schools and school districts for each of the participating institutions for outreach activities, (6) Adding at least one community college to partner with SEAPD-STEM college or university, (7) Engaging additional partners including national and local labs, non-profits, federal agencies, industry, foundations, and state governments for additional funding and/or internships for participating SEAPD-STEM students. The project team will implement a plan to scale approaches and develop an alliance of institutions to maximize potential project outcomes now and in the future.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 778.33K | Year: 2014

Tuskegee University, Auburn University and Alabama State University will collaborate to create the Tuskegee Alliance to Forge Pathways to Academic Careers (T-PAC). This project was created in response to the NSF?s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program solicitation (NSF 14-505) for the AGEP-Transformation (AGEP-T) track. The AGEP-T track targets strategic alliances of institutions and organizations to develop, implement, and study innovative evidence-based models and standards for STEM graduate education, postdoctoral training, and academic STEM career preparation that eliminate or mitigate negative factors and promote positive practices for URMs. The T-PAC project will develop, implement, study, and evaluate a model of STEM graduate education focusing on underrepresented minorities (URMs) who are U.S. citizens.

This proposed AGEP-T project will be unique and will have potential to contribute to foundational knowledge about how two Historically Black Universities that focus on baccalaureate degree production will collaborate with a research university to develop, implement and study a model of graduate education and comprehensive professional development for URM graduate students in STEM. The project will also emphasize on-line instruction and professional development. The lessons learned as this project progresses, and the ultimate results from the work, will provide information that will be beneficial to educators, administrators and policymakers, as well as the general public.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: RSCH EXPER FOR UNDERGRAD SITES | Award Amount: 336.63K | Year: 2014

This REU Site award to Alabama State University, located in Montgomery, AL, will support the training of 10 students for 10 weeks during the summers of 2014 - 2016. The focus of this program is to provide research experiences in the multidisciplinary fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology. Faculty from biological sciences, chemistry, physical sciences and other related disciplines will be serving as mentors for the program. All research projects will be based on novel concepts of design and development of new nanomaterials for biological applications. Students will participate in a full-time closely mentored lab research project along with seminars and various professional development workshops, such as the responsible conduct of research, professional communication skills, career opportunities in academia and industry, and the graduate school application process. Students will present their findings at both a poster session and research symposium during the final weeks of the program. Students will also take field trips to encourage interactions with the faculty and students at Alabama State University. Housing, a stipend, and meal and travel allowances will be provided. Students will be selected based on their interest in research, academic record, and phone interviews with potential faculty mentors.

The REU program is intended to encourage students to pursue a career in STEM fields. Students will learn how research is conducted and many will present the results of their work at scientific conferences. Members of underrepresented minority groups and from colleges with limited research opportunities are especially encouraged to apply.

Program evaluation will use both internal evaluations and the BIO REU common assessment tool. Students are required to be tracked after the program and must respond to an automatic email sent via the NSF reporting system. More information is available by visiting http://www.alasu.edu/REU , or by contacting the PI (Dr. Komal Vig at komalvig@alasu.edu) or the co-PI (Dr. Shree R. Singh at ssingh@alasu.edu).

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 450.00K | Year: 2015

PI: Dean, Derrick R.
Proposal Number: 1510479

The human anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is ruptured over 200,000 times per year (or an incidence of 1 in 3000) in the United States, resulting in over $1 billion of medical expenses. The gold standard for surgical repair is the patellar tendon autograft, but this treatment is far from optimal due to lengthy recovery time, potential for developing arthritis, associated donor site morbidity, and degenerative joint disease. These limitations have prompted the need for a tissue engineered solution. This study proposes to use a multidisciplinary approach to provide a fundamental understanding of the design and fabrication of a scaffold (a temporary structure made of a biodegradable polymer that facilitates the growth of cells and tissue) that mimics and facilitates the development of the four tissue types found in the ACL structure. Students will be involved in the research, and several courses will benefit from the knowledge generated by this project.

The human anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is ruptured over 200,000 times per year (or an incidence of 1 in 3000) in the United States, resulting in over $1 billion of medical expenses. The conventional surgical repair involves autografting the patellar tendon autograft, however shortcomings of this approach include long recovery time, potential for developing arthritis, associated donor site morbidity, and degenerative joint disease. These limitations underscore the need for a tissue engineered solution. This study proposes to use a multidisciplinary approach which provides a fundamental understanding of the evolution of a hierarchical, spatially organized 2-dimensional biomimetic scaffold designed to facilitate the development of the four tissue types found in a ligament-to-bone interface. The objectives of this study are: To utilize inkjet printing to prepare hierarchical, spatially organized structures that can be used for bone-ligament interfaces; to characterize the morphology, composition, mechanical behavior and immunochemistry across the bone-to-ligament interface; and to understand the material-cell interactions across the gradient structure. The fundamental knowledge gained from this study will significantly impact the engineering of bone-ligament interfaces and other applications where gradient structures are present. Program resources will be leveraged with the existing REU program at Alabama State University and the NSF/Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program (LSAMP), to maximize the involvement of undergraduate students from underrepresented groups. Several courses will benefit from knowledge generated from the research, and students involved will have opportunities to present their research at national and regional conferences.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 399.98K | Year: 2014

The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) through Targeted Infusion Projects supports the development, implementation, and study of evidence-based innovative models and approaches for improving the preparation and success of HBCU undergraduate students so that they may pursue STEM graduate programs and/or careers. Recent advances in technology are generating data on a scale never seen before - a phenomenon known as big data. Industry demands workers that can retrieve useful information from very complex, unstructured data. Alabama State University will implement a Targeted Infusion Project entitled: Infusing Data-Enabled Active Learning in Mathematics and Statistics Courses. Project objectives are to adapt methods for big data analytics in mathematics courses; integrate big data analytics in existing courses; create a stand-alone course dedicated to the mathematics of big data analytics; develop and test instructional materials; collect and analyze achievement of outcomes based on student and industry feedback; and disseminate materials to other HBCUs and to the mathematical community.

This project will provide a better understanding of how big data analytics can be integrated within a classroom environment. The results obtained will translate into a framework of pedagogy and materials required for teaching big data analytics in mathematics courses. Several issues will be addressed that can add to the knowledge base in the field. These include the need for integrating big data analytics in mathematics courses; the need for support materials that can be used with a variety of textbooks; the impact of courses that include big data analytics on student learning and employment; and the impact of involving students in cross-disciplinary research teams to solve real big data problems. An online community portal will provide a means of dissemination, communication, and community involvement.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 200.00K | Year: 2014

Research Initiation Awards (RIAs) provide support for junior faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who are starting to build a research program, as well as for mid-career faculty who need to re-direct and re-build a research program. It is expected that the award helps to further the faculty members research capability and effectiveness, improves research and teaching at the researchers home institution, and involves undergraduate students in research experiences.

Alabama State Universitys (ASU) HBCU-UP RIA is aimed at systematically evaluating the role of the thanatomicrobiome (i.e., death-microbiome) in the decomposition of human organs. The goals of the proposed study are threefold: (i) to establish a working baseline of the thanatomicrobiome (blood, liver, spleen, heart and brain) of human cadavers that have known post-mortem intervals (PMIs) (i.e., the elapse time since actual death), (ii) to narrow down the number of sampling sites (blood, liver, spleen, heart and brain) to one/three in order to provide an in-depth assessment of the thanatomicrobiome in selected organs in many cadavers, (iii) identify the microbial community signatures that could be used to accurately determine PMI.

During the two-year project, the award supports four undergraduate and one master student in molecular biology, microbiology and bioinformatics STEM training. The project has the potential for local, regional and national impact as a collaboration with researchers at ASU, the University of Washington and the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, As a designated Experimental Program to Stimulate Research (EPSCoR) jurisdiction, the project broadens research capacity and capability in Alabama and contributes to preparation of a diverse workforce in the biological and computation sciences.

The project has the potential to lead to a tool that will assist in predicting the death interval for which, to date, no scientific method exists.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: BIO Innovation Activities | Award Amount: 49.95K | Year: 2014

This project seeks to create an RCN-UBE network for the purpose of providing faculty development activities at several historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Alabama. The HBCU-Alabama Biosciences Network (HBCU-ALBN) will be a community of biologists and life scientists from all ranks, diverse experiences, pedagogical approaches and scientific training who will be willing to adopt and explore recommended curriculum changes in undergraduate science education that are much needed in the HBCU system.

Virtual and in-person planning meetings by the Steering Committee will proceed a workshop planned for the summer of 2014 at Alabama State University. Network activities will provide a forum to exchange examples of reforms that are underway and will challenge other faculty to incorporate active learning approaches in their classes to better engage students. For example, faculty will consider using case studies to demonstrate the everyday relevance of what students learn in life science courses, encourage cooperative learning among students, and explore the use of new technologies in the classroom.

The broader impacts of the project lie in forming a network of faculty at HBCUs who want to adopt student-centered approaches in the classroom to better engage students. Courses for both majors and non-majors will be the focus of network activities to improve biological literacy of all students and retention of students interested in biology. Currently there is no central association of life science faculty at HBCUs in Alabama for them to share resources and information to improve undergraduate biology education. This RCN-UBE network plans to form such a network that could serve as a model for other HBCUs and community colleges in other states.

This project is funded jointly by the Directorate for Biological Sciences and the Directorate of Education and Human Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education in support of efforts to address the challenges posed in Vision and Change in Undergraduate Education: A Call to Action http://visionandchange.org/finalreport/

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