Washington, DC, United States
Washington, DC, United States

The Catholic University of America is a private university located in Washington, D.C. in the United States. It is a pontifical university of the Catholic Church in the United States and the only institution of higher education founded by the U.S. Catholic bishops. Established in 1887 as a graduate and research center following approval by Pope Leo XIII on Easter Sunday, the university began offering undergraduate education in 1904. The university's campus lies within the Brookland neighborhood, known as "Little Rome", which contains 60 Catholic institutions, including Trinity Washington University and the Dominican House of Studies.It has been called one of the 25 most underrated colleges in America, one of the nation's best colleges by the Princeton Review, one of the best values of any private school in the country by Kiplinger's, "one of the most eco-friendly universities in the country," was awarded the "highest federal recognition an institution can receive" for community service, and has been recommended by the Cardinal Newman Society in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.CUA's programs emphasize the liberal arts, professional education, and personal development. The school stays closely connected with the Catholic Church and Catholic organizations. The American Cardinals Dinner is put on by the residential U.S. cardinals each year to raise scholarship funds for CUA. The university has a long history of working with the Knights of Columbus; the university's law school and basilica have dedications to the involvement and support of the Knights.The university has been visited twice by reigning Popes. Pope John Paul II visited on October 7, 1979. On April 16, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address on Catholic education and academic freedom on campus. Wikipedia.

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Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING | Award Amount: 504.67K | Year: 2016

PI: Luo, Xiaolong
Proposal Number: 1553330

Natural cell membranes are composed of a thin lipid bilayer (LB) that forms a continuous barrier around the cell, and abundant membrane proteins that play key functions of the cell and stabilize LB. The cell membrane sits on a supporting intracellular matrix called cytoskeleton layer that defines cell shape and further stabilizes LB. Ion channels and molecular receptors of membrane proteins on LB are the main targets of fundamental research and pharmaceutical drugs. As such, model LBs have been the crucial platform to study transport and signaling processes of membrane proteins. However, current model LBs suffer from notorious limitations including (1) short LB lifetime, (2) fluidic and/or electrical inaccessibility to both sides of the membranes, and (3) lack of the rich constituents of natural cell membrane. Addressing these limitations of model LB systems should significantly expedite both fundamental biological studies and pharmaceutical drug screenings.

This proposal outlines a five-year program of integrated research and educational activities focusing on the development of highly stable lipid bilayers (HSLB) in microfluidic networks. The investigator proposes to fabricate LB on a freestanding, semi-permeable and mechanically robust biopolymer membrane, the first time such a configuration being pursued. The work will assess the hypothesis that the supporting membrane can serve as a model cytoskeleton layer for the lipid bilayer with high stability that presents in natural cell membranes. The fabricated HSLB will be characterized and compared with current model LBs, applied to study ion channel activities and the virus-cell membrane fusion process, and scaled up for other research and industrial users. Compared to current suspended and supported LBs, the developed HSLB system will provide long-term stability, better replication of cell membranes and ease of scaling-up, as well as enabling simultaneous fluidic, electrical and optical measurements and manipulations. When fully established, the HSLB platform can be a game-changer for studying fundamental membrane biology and identifying membrane-associated novel drug targets, which are greatly limited by the current model LB systems. Besides bioengineers developing microfluidic and Lab-on-a-Chip devices, this research will be of interest to scientists studying biopolymer materials and membrane protein activities, industrial researchers investigating drug targets and high throughput screening, and educators teaching biomaterials and biomicrosystems.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: PLANETARY ASTRONOMY | Award Amount: 104.00K | Year: 2016

Comets are early Solar System objects, mostly unchanged from the time the Solar System was created. The orbits of comets trace them to the locations in the outer Solar System where they formed. The compositions of molecules released from a comet can be measured by looking at their spectral signals. Combining these compositions with the comet orbits allows scientists to learn what materials were present at different locations in the early Solar System. The investigators will measure the amounts of many molecules in comet spectra, including H2O, HDO, CH4, C2H2, C2H6, H2S, SO2, OCS, CO, H2CO, CH3OH, HCOOH, HCN, HNC, CH3CN, HC3N, NH2CHO, and NH3. They will use ground-based observatories such as the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, the W. M. Keck Observatory, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. The years of 2017-2019 provide an excellent opportunity to study Jupiter Family Comets - comets with smaller orbits for which little is known about their compositions. This research serves the national interest by advancing our knowledge of the materials that served as the building blocks of our Solar System. Shows at the Watson-King Planetarium, Towson University, and the University of Missouri, Saint Louis new planetarium will feature this research. Students from St. Louis and Baltimore, including many minority students, will have the chance to see them.

The Principal Investigators will use high-resolution molecular spectroscopy of comets to measure the compositions of volatiles released from their nuclei, and to test theories about the early formation of the Solar System. While the orbits of observed comets link them to their dynamical reservoir (the distant Oort cloud or closer Kuiper belt), the suite of detected molecules for an individual comet provides a snapshot of the volatile inventory at their location in the protoplanetary disk where these comets formed. The investigators will use ground-based near-infrared and radio observatories, including the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, the W. M. Keck Observatory, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. By combining the advantages of each wavelength domain, the investigators goal is to measure the relative abundances among various molecular species, including H2O, HDO, CH4, C2H2, C2H6, H2S, SO2, OCS, CO, H2CO, CH3OH, HCOOH, HCN, HNC, CH3CN, HC3N, NH2CHO, and NH3. New observations are planned of Jupiter Family comets and Oort cloud comets. The 2017-2019 period brings the best opportunity for many years to study Jupiter Family comets - a dynamical class underrepresented in compositional studies of all parent volatiles. These studies will be integrated into a planetarium program that will be hosted at the Watson-King Planetarium, Towson University, and at the University of Missouri, Saint Louis new digital planetarium, reaching St. Louis and Baltimore students, including many underrepresented minorities. One investigator will also mentor graduate and undergraduate students.

Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.98K | Year: 2016

CubeSat/SmallSat bus infrastructure imposes stringent mass, power, footprint, and volume constraints on science instruments such as spectrometers. Nanohmics, Inc., proposes teaming with researchers at the Catholic University of America (CUA) to develop a real-time spectrometer that demonstrates photonic integrated circuit (IC) interferometric capabilities for the first time in the MWIR spectral band, and achieves extremely low size, weight and power (SWaP). The Nanohmics/CUA team proposes in Phase I to design and fabricate a proof of concept (PoC) photonic IC spectrometer operating in the MWIR, with TRL 3. Laboratory testing of the Phase I photonic IC device will strengthen the scaled-up photonic IC spectrometer prototype design for Phase II. The CUA research partner will perform finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) modeling and simulation. In Phase II, the team will fabricate and test the scaled-up photonic IC spectrometer prototype, achieving TRL 6. The photonic IC spectrometer uses an array of interferometers that are microfabricated on the IC to output a real-time spatial interference pattern that is similar to the spectrograph obtained via time-scanning in Fourier transform spectroscopy (FTS) such as Fourier transform spectroscopy (FTIR). However, the photonic IC spectrograph is instantaneous and obtained by an instrument with no moving parts, similar to a class of devices called a spatial heterodyne spectrometer (SHS). A stack of photonic IC spectrometers acts as a one-dimensional (1D) imaging array and performs hyperspectral imaging for remote sensing and other applications. Wavelengths in the MWIR range (~3-5 micrometers) will allow the use of common microfabrication techniques and materials, which will keep costs low. Our expertise in developing planar waveguide structures places Nanohmics in a unique position for fabricating photonic IC spectrometers.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: INDUSTRY/UNIV COOP RES CENTERS | Award Amount: 300.00K | Year: 2016

This award will support creating a new I/UCRC Site of Broadband Wireless Access and Applications Center (BWAC) at the Catholic University of America (CUA). The CUA Site will complement existing BWAC Center strengths to develop novel technologies in the wireless domain. The new site, in combination with the existing center, addresses a critical area of American economy, and has potential to increase the societal ability to access broadband wireless services and to support development of broadband wireless as a platform for innovation. The I/UCRC Site will help recruit diverse and promising students into the electrical engineering and computer science programs at CUA. Research related to wireless realm will be seamlessly integrated with education. By involving undergraduate and graduate students directly in the projects of actual interest to industry, the center will better prepare the students in their career development, and enhance the intellectual capacity of the engineering and science workforce.

The CUA Site will address the technical challenges of broadband wireless access and applications with an integrative approach, and conduct research in the areas of software defined wireless networks, mobile edge cloud, cognitive radio networks, dynamic spectrum sharing, millimeter wave antennas and networking systems, Internet of Things, and wireless and mobile applications. The cooperative research efforts at the CUA Site will potentially make impactful contributions to advance wireless technologies and applications, software and hardware components, and wireless standards.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: PLANETARY ASTRONOMY | Award Amount: 211.55K | Year: 2016

The atmosphere of Saturns moon Titan is composed of molecules such as nitrogen and carbon and other elements that were present in the early atmospheres of the rocky planets like Earth. We study Titans atmosphere to learn more about the early history of the Earths atmosphere. Cassini spacecraft has mapped simple carbon and nitrogen molecules, revealing many patterns of molecules that change with the changing seasons of Titan. These are, however, only a small number of the types of molecules in Titans atmosphere, and we do not have coverage of the atmosphere across all of Titan. This is Cassinis last year of operation. Using the new Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope observatory at the same time as Cassini, the astronomers will observe Titans atmosphere completely using both the radio telescopes and the spacecraft. They will make the first 3-dimensional maps of the types and amounts of molecules in Titans atmosphere. They will then model the results to learn about how the molecules in the atmosphere are produced, transported, and changed with time. Undergraduate physics and astronomy students from minority-serving schools in the Washington DC area will conduct independent Solar System research with the principal investigators input and backing at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center.

Saturns moon Titan has a thick nitrogen and carbon-rich atmosphere, abundant in complex organic molecules. It is a potential analogue for primitive terrestrial bodies (including the early Earth). Instruments onboard NASAs Cassini spacecraft have provided maps of the smaller hydrocarbons and nitriles, revealing many complex, seasonally-varying molecular abundance patterns. These observations, however, trace only a small subset of Titans molecular inventory, and have incomplete spatial and temporal coverage. Understanding the formation and evolution of Titans atmospheric gases is a key step in determining the molecular inventories present in other primitive planetary atmospheres. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is a revolutionary tool for the detection and instantaneous daylight-hemisphere mapping of Titans gases. ALMA will be used concurrently with Cassini during its final year of operation to provide complete views of Titans atmosphere. This research will produce the first instantaneous, spatially-resolved 3-dimensional molecular abundance maps for multiple molecular species on Titan, allowing new and rigorous tests for understanding the basic physics and chemistry of planetary atmospheres. Interpretation of these maps will help generate more detailed chemical models to provide insight into the global production, transport and evolution of molecular material, particularly in Titans less well-studied middle and upper atmospheres. Isotope abundance ratios will help constrain chemical pathways and trace the origin and evolution of Titans hydrogen and nitrogen. The principal investigator will mentor undergraduate physics and astronomy students from minority-serving institutions in the Washington DC area, who will conduct independent Solar System research at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center.

Catholic University of America | Date: 2016-03-25

Described herein is a soluble HIV-1 retrovirus transmembrane glycoprotein gp41 trimer (Soc-gp41M-Fd) containing a partial ectodomain and the cytoplasmic domain, that is fused to the small outer capsid (Soc) protein of bacteriophage T4 and the Foldon domain of the bacteriophage T4 fibritin (Fd). The gp41 trimer that has a prehairpin structure could be utilized to understand the mechanism of viral entry and as a candidate for development of HIV-1 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. Other secondary embodiments of the gp41 proteins containing different modifications are also disclosed. According to one embodiment, the gp41 trimer is further attached to a cell penetration peptide (CPP). Methods of producing gp41 trimers are also disclosed.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Space Weather Research | Award Amount: 400.00K | Year: 2015

The Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) is an interagency partnership established in 2000, with the goal of bridging the gap between science and space weather operations while enhancing research, supporting development of next-generation space weather models, and disseminating knowledge to the public. CCMC assets and services include: an expanding collection of state-of-the-art models; one-of-a-kind runs-on-request service; innovative online tools and systems for research, space weather analysis and forecasting. This project will comprise a blend of activities that take advantage of unique, multi-faceted, and multi-layered opportunities for hands-on education at the CCMC. This project will focus on expanding and improving the CCMC collection of ionosphere-thermosphere-mesosphere (ITM) models. Improvements will be made in the visualization and analysis tools as well as developing new capabilities in ensemble modeling. The project will also lead community-wide ATM model validation activities and perform unbiased assessment of ITM model capabilities. All of these activities will lead to improved capabilities in space weather now-casting and forecasting.

The CCMC will add a variety of data assimilation models to its suite of ITM models. New models will include the AMIE model (Assimilative Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Electrodynamics), the SuperDARN (Super Dual Auroral Radar Network) global mapping method, MEPS (Multimodel Ensemble Prediction System), TRIPL-DA (Texas Reconfigurable Ionosphere-Plasmasphere Logarithmic Assimilator), UK-MIDAS (UK Multi-Instrument Data System), IDA4D (Ionospheric Data Assimilation 4-Dimensional), FUSION++ (Fprward Updating Simple IONosphere) and the LPIM (La Plata Ionosphere Model). The CCMC will also expand the range of data sources available for ingestion in the data assimilation models. New data streams will include Incoherent Scatter Radar (ISR) electric field data from NSF supported ISR radars. The CCMC will offer Runs-on-Request service of ensemble simulations, which will be an invaluable tool for assessment of uncertainties in the ITM models. It will continue leading the development of patch-panel driver swapping tools, which will allow users to swap high-latitude ionospheric electrodynamics (IE) drivers of the ITM models. The library of drivers will include a variety of empirical, physics-based, and data assimilative models of the high latitude potential pattern, penetration electric field, and auroral particle precipitation. The driver-swapping tool will be utilized in studies of the effects of IE drivers on the ITM system. The CCMC will continue leading the community-wide model validation efforts to address the need for assessment of state-of-the-art modeling capabilities to specify and forecast the ITM system. It will enhance collaboration between communities for planning the ITM model validation studies, including selection of metrics formats for specific applications and tackling the problem of quantifying ITM model abilities to reproduce physical phenomena. The CCMC will expand validation activity to include the validation of the ITM models hosted at the CCMC utilizing data from the NSF upper atmosphere facilities and from the NSF CubeSats program. The tools and data derived from the model simulations will be made available to the research community.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 526.06K | Year: 2015

Gaining a quantitative description of the nature of strongly bound systems is of great importance for our understanding of the fundamental structure and origin of matter. Revealing the inner structure of the core of the atom that contains the protons and neutrons and understanding the dynamics that bind these most basic elements of nuclear physics is an essential part to advance this knowledge. This project is aimed at conducting leading-edge research to construct a neutral particle spectrometer (NPS) critical to confirm the understanding of the structure of the proton. The NPS enables a multifaceted experimental physics program at the Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, in which the PIs play a leading role. The participation of postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and undergraduate students is an integral part of this project and contributes to the development of the technological work force in the USA. The all-female project leadership will provide role models that could encourage under-represented groups to pursue advanced studies in physics or technical fields.

The two-arm combination of neutral-particle detection as provided by the NPS and a high-resolution magnetic spectrometer offers unique scientific capabilities to push the energy scale for studies of the transverse spatial and momentum structure of the nucleon through reactions with neutral particles requiring precision and high luminosity. The NPS allows accurate access to measurements of so-called hard exclusive (the recoiling proton stays intact in the energetic electron-quark scattering process) and semi-inclusive (the energy loss of the electron-quark scattering process gets predominantly absorbed by a single pion or kaon) scattering processes. To extract the rich information on proton structure through spatial and momentum imaging, it is of prime importance to show in accurate measurements, pushing the energy scales, that the scattering process is understood. Precision measurements of real photons or neutral-pions with the NPS offer unique advantages here. The instrument will be built by a collaboration of researchers forming a consortium led by the Catholic Univ. of America and Ohio Univ. It will also include the Old Dominion Univ. and as non-lead partners, the Jefferson Lab, North Carolina A&T University, the Yerevan Physics Institute, U. of Glasgow, and the Institute of Nuclear Physics at Orsay.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Space Weather Research | Award Amount: 46.17K | Year: 2017

This award would support the first dedicated scientific meeting focusing on specific needs of space weather studies using small satellite platforms. The proposed event would bridge this gap thus fulfilling a major need in the space weather community to have opportunities to generate and develop new projects based upon the new ideas created by this meeting activity.

The key intellectual merits of the proposed workshop are rooted in its interdisciplinarity. By bringing together scientists and engineers working on small satellite missions and space weather problems, the proposed workshop would facilitate innovative insights into both fields, provide new opportunities to brainstorm long-standing space weather problems, identify new observational targets, and develop recommendations for future small satellite missions serving the space weather community.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Gen & Age Rel Disabilities Eng | Award Amount: 500.44K | Year: 2015

PI: Lee, Sang Wook
Proposal Number: 1452763

The proposed project is a multi-year program of interdisciplinary research and educational activities that investigate neurological and biomechanical factors associated with functional impairment of the arm and hand post-stroke. While devastating impact of stroke on both lower and upper extremity function has been recognized, functional impairment of the upper extremity (arm and hand) is found to be particularly more severe. Thus there is an urgent need for the development of an effective strategy to reverse damaging impact on the upper extremity functionality for stroke survivors. But complexity of neurological abnormalities associated with the upper extremity impairment, along with its sophisticated biomechanics, poses substantial challenges to understanding neuromechanical processes associated with the functional impairment of upper extremity following stroke. The novel experimental and modeling methods proposed in the study will help clarify such mechanisms of the upper extremity impairment post-stroke, and the outcome of the proposed project will be of great interest to scientists studying neurophysiology and neuroscience of stroke, engineers designing rehabilitative devices for stroke survivors, and physicians and therapists treating them. More importantly, improved rehabilitation outcomes resulting from the proposed novel training method will benefit patients as their quality of life will be greatly improved. In addition, the proposed collaborative research activities will strengthen the relationship between the Catholic University of America and the nation?s leading clinics, the National Rehabilitation Hospital and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and will provide students with unique educational opportunities, including enhanced laboratory experience, clinical work with patients and physicians, and hands-on work experience in nations leading rehabilitation hospitals. This award is being made jointly by two Programs: (1) Biomedical Engineering, (2) General and Age Related Disabilities Engineering, both in the Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems Division in the Engineering Directorate.

This CAREER project attempts to elucidate key aspects of the neuromechanical process of the upper extremity functional impairment post-stroke, and to develop a novel strategy to improve upper extremity functionality of the stroke patients. Accordingly, the first two aims examine the following aspects of the functional impairment of upper extremity post-stroke: 1) neurological abnormalities affecting multi-muscle control, and 2) biomechanical pathway that such abnormalities translate into functional impairment. The proposed modeling methods clearly differ from existing approaches, as neurological abnormalities in multi-muscle control will be examined in a system perspective, rather than focusing on individual components (aim 1); and the proposed biomechanical model is based on force-based modeling, which contrasts to conventional moment-based modeling techniques (aim 2). The knowledge gained from these aims will be utilized to pursue the third aim of the project (aim 3), which is to develop biomimetic devices that can effectively promote neural plasticity of patients; a new type of devices driven by exotendons, emulating human musculotendon anatomy, will be developed, which will enable a unique rehabilitation training method, i.e., targeted assistance of impaired muscles (aim 4). This assistance technique presents a new approach that focuses on restoration of muscle coordination, which is fundamentally different from existing approaches that attempt to restore kinematics, and is expected to greatly improve rehabilitative benefits of the training. The pursuit of the proposed project will also provide unique educational opportunities for students in the School of Engineering of the Catholic University of America. Interacting with an interdisciplinary team of engineers, physicians, and therapists, students will have clinical, hands-on work experience in top-ranked rehabilitation hospitals. The investigator plans to particularly engage students from underrepresented group (i.e., Hispanic origin) in the research projects, for which they will work closely with patients on patient-specific device design. Research topics covered by the proposed project will also be incorporated into the curriculum. Furthermore, the educational benefit of the proposed project will be extended to K-12 STEM education via a series of case-study presentations by the undergraduate interns to K-12 students within the District of Columbia Public School System. The broad spectrum of topics addressed by this project, including biomechanics, biological system modeling, neural signal/processing, and device design is expected to greatly improve students hands-on experience, and research opportunities provided by the proposed activities will greatly help them prepare for their careers as successful biomedical engineers.

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