Murfreesboro, TN, United States
Murfreesboro, TN, United States

Middle Tennessee State University, commonly abbreviated as MTSU or MT, is a comprehensive coeducational public university in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.Founded in 1911 as a normal school, the university is composed of eight undergraduate colleges as well as a college of graduate studies, together offering more than 80 majors/degree programs through over 35 departments. MTSU is most prominently known for its Recording Industry, Aerospace, Music, and Concrete Industry Management programs. The university has partnered in research endeavors with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the United States Army, and the United States Marine Corps. In 2009, Middle Tennessee State University was ranked among the nation's top 100 public universities by Forbes magazine.MTSU student athletes compete intercollegiately as the Blue Raiders, as a part of Division I Football Bowl Subdivision athletics in the Conference USA. On November 29, 2012, MTSU Athletics announced they had accepted an invitation to the conference.MTSU is part of the Tennessee Board of Regents and the State University and Community College System of Tennessee, and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Its president is Sidney A. McPhee. Wikipedia.

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Brower A.V.,Middle Tennessee State University
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2013

The diverse Müllerian mimetic wing patterns of neotropical Heliconius (Nymphalidae) have been proposed to be not only aposematic signals to potential predators, but also intra- and interspecific recognition signals that allow the butterflies to maintain their specific identities, and which perhaps drive the process of speciation, as well. Adaptive features under differential selection that also serve as cues for assortative mating have been referred to as 'magic traits', which can drive ecological speciation. Such traits are expected to exhibit allelic differentiation between closely related species with ongoing gene flow, whereas unlinked neutral traits are expected to be homogenized to a greater degree by introgression. However, recent evidence suggests that interspecific hybridization among Heliconius butterflies may have resulted in adaptive introgression of these very same traits across species boundaries, and in the evolution of new species by homoploid hybrid speciation. The theory and data supporting various aspects of the apparent paradox of 'magic trait' introgression are reviewed, with emphasis on population genomic comparisons of Heliconius melpomene and its close relatives.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Chemical Catalysis | Award Amount: 143.18K | Year: 2015

With this award, the Chemical Catalysis Program of the Chemistry Division is funding Professor Keying Ding from Middle Tennessee State University to develop a novel types of earth-abundant catalysts for a useful coupling reaction. The target chemical structures, imines, represent a very important class of compounds with applications in the chemical, pharmaceutical and biological sectors. Currently, such coupling reactions employ precious metal catalysts that are expensive,sometimes toxic, and limited in supply. Thus, the most common approaches today pose economic and often environmental challenges. Developing catalytic processes for such reactions with earth-abundant metal systems is compatible with sustainable chemistry goals. Success here would also likely capture the attention of pharmaceutical process groups and industrial chemists. The broader impacts of the research include training opportunities and hands-on research experiences for undergraduate students, master-level researchers and high school students, including those from underrepresented groups and low-income backgrounds.

In this project, Professor Keying Ding is designing, synthesizing and characterizing new types of ligands and their respective defined iron complexes featuring metal-ligand cooperativities. Professor Ding is studying their catalytic reactivity toward alcohol-amine couplings under mild conditions. In the currently studied system, the ligands not only serve as metal binding sites, but also directly participate in chemical bond activations. The project is exploring the optimal reaction conditions and the substrate scope for alcohols and amines. Important reaction intermediates and catalytic mechanisms are being investigated by combined experimental and theoretical studies, which will enrich fundamental understanding of non-precious metal catalysis for such transformations and will provide new insights into the design of highly selective catalysts.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ROBERT NOYCE SCHOLARSHIP PGM | Award Amount: 1.43M | Year: 2014

The Noyce Phase I project at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) is supporting 43 junior and senior chemistry, geoscience or biology majors each for two years, as they are educated to become secondary teachers. In addition 80 freshman or sophomore students are supported as they explore a teaching career through a 2-credit course and an summer intern experience in informal learning settings, that allows them to see, through early field experiences, what teaching is like and the reward and satisfaction that can come from teaching. By partnering in meaningful ways with Volunteer State Community College and Columbia State Community College, MTSU is ensuring that students from those schools arrive at MTSU fully-equipped to be competitive for Noyce Scholarships. The Noyce Project is tightly woven into a newly initiated UTeach replication model at MTSU called MTeach. The Noyce Scholars experience and practice hands-on, inquiry-based teaching under the guidance of master teachers and quality mentors as the Scholars gain deep content knowledge in their STEM majors and strong pedagogical instruction specific to those content areas. Newly hired Noyce Scholar Teachers are supported through immersion in an education community that includes workshops designed to maintain the transformative teacher preparation culture they enjoyed.

The Noyce project is guided by a view of science education that seeks the highest good for the greatest number for the longest time. Similarly, the project assumes that in todays knowledge and information age, it is not essential that everyone be able to do science, but that it is essential that everyone needs to understand science and how it is done in order to make informed decisions in the increasingly complex world. The foundational framework is provided by the UTeach model for STEM teacher education and leverages the institutions commitment to establishing MTeach. Close collaboration by education and STEM faculty is ensuring highly-qualified teachers are produced, with respect to both STEM disciplinary knowledge, teaching pedagogical knowledge, and understanding of how students learn.

MTSU and its partner 2-year schools are collaborating with Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Grundy County Schools, Cannon County Schools, Warren County Schools, and Ruther County Schools to meet needs from recently established guidelines stipulating that all Tennessee high school graduates complete three years of science including either chemistry or physics. The project is leveraging an ongoing Noyce project in Physics/Math, as well as a Noyce Master Teaching Fellows Program.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: I-Corps | Award Amount: 50.00K | Year: 2016

The increased prevalence of drug-resistant organisms has become a major concern for world health over the last 30 years. Compounding this threat is the fact that the rate at which new antibiotics are discovered has decreased significantly. Steps must be taken to increase the rate of discovery. The proposed product will be significant in the fight to develop new antibiotics for the treatment of bacterial and fungal pathogens that are the most problematic to human health. This team plans to provide scientists the tools they need to efficiently and effectively develop new therapeutics to treat infections. This I-Corps team will produce research-only, off-the-shelf consumable products containing panels of microorganisms to facilitate the initial screening of chemical libraries for the development of novel antimicrobials. The proposed product line will include panels of different microorganisms to facilitate the drug development process, such as the development of broad spectrum antibiotics or antibiotics that target specific problematic microbes. These products will eliminate the clients requirement to perform costly and labor intensive growth and assay preparations, reduce the assay preparation time by up to one week as well as decreasing experimental variability and increasing automation.

During the I-Corps training program, the team will conduct numerous customer interviews to determine what types of microbial panels are of most interest to its potential customers and what pricing structure is acceptable. The team will also plans to build a prototype. Post I-Corps, the I-Corps team will seek funding for continued product development and manufacture. Steps will be taken during this time to develop an IP portfolio to protect the teams proposed process and other proprietary information; and regulatory, copyright, and trademark studies will be undertaken. Branding will be integral for the valuation of the future company as it stands to be the first to exploit this new market opportunity. Following maturation of the proposed product line, investment capital will be pursued for brand development, advertisement, distribution, and legal consultation.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Chem Struct,Dynmcs&Mechansms B | Award Amount: 199.88K | Year: 2016

In this project funded by the Chemical Structure, Dynamics & Mechanism B Program of the Chemistry Division, Professor Chengshan Wang of the Chemistry Department at Middle Tennessee State University is studying the structure of aggregates of a protein, alpha-synuclein, that is abundant in the human brain and that has been linked to Parkinsons disease. Alpha-synuclein forms two types of aggregates: mature fibrils and oligomers. The mature fibrils are known to be non-toxic, but oligomers can cause the death of the neuronal cells by forming pore structure in the cell membrane. Understanding the structure of oligomer aggregates should provide clues for the development of therapeutic agents for Parkinsons disease. Undergraduate and graduate students working on this project include first-generation and underrepresented minority students who are learning about research areas that could influence their career choices. In addition, a new laboratory experiment on peptide synthesis for a graduate level organic chemistry class is being developed.

Various techniques have been developed to determine the structure of proteins. Among them, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) provides a fast response and has been used to evaluate various conformations (such as alpha-helix, beta-sheet, unstructured conformation) in proteins and peptides. This method utilizes the amide I band, which arises from the stretching mode of the carbonyl group in the backbone amide bonds. Traditional FTIR can only provide information about an overall fraction of the conformations. To expand its capability, 13C labels can be introduced to the carbonyls in the backbone amide bonds and a new band (the 13C amide I band) can be generated to determine the conformation of specific residues. In this project, 13C labels are introduced into the sequence of alpha-synuclein to study the conformation of the oligomers of alpha-synuclein at the residue level. In addition, Infrared Reflection-Absorption Spectroscopy is used to address the orientation of 13C labeled carbonyls. With both conformation and orientation information, the structure of alpha-synuclein can be evaluated in phospholipid bilayer structures.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 614.17K | Year: 2015

The Middle Tennessee Mechatronics Scholars Program at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) plans to increase the number of students in the schools new Mechatronics Engineering baccalaureate degree program by 50% and retain at least 80% of incoming freshmen to the sophomore year. At least 15 new freshman majors will receive scholarships each year, allowing students to focus on their studies, complete college in four years instead of six, and give them two additional years of earnings and less debt. S-STEM scholarships will enable the program to recruit talented, dedicated students who will succeed in the rigorous engineering curriculum. The Tennessee automotive industry needs strong mechatronics engineers and this project will help meet this significant workforce need in Tennessee. The need for mechatronics engineering education is growing, not only in the middle Tennessee area, but also across the entire country as many mechatronics positions are seeking qualified applicants.

Opportunities for members of the cohort to participate in educational activities during their first year include a week long summer training experience at Siemens Headquarters in Berlin, Germany, a four week mechatronics research team project, intrusive advising, tutoring, mentoring, and manufacturing plant tours. Later, internships and significant interactions in the automotive manufacturing industry are possible. A dedicated professional advisor and predictive analytics software will enable project leaders to detect and address issues that place students at-risk. MTSU faculty and students will contribute to the engineering education literature related to early research experiences for engineering students, the impact of various support activities on the success of freshman engineering students, and the impact of hands-on project work on retention of female and minority engineering students. Comparing a) the building of a high quality engineering program using the Siemens systems approach and high level of student-industry interaction to b) a traditional engineering education will be a helpful contribution to the engineering education literature.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: SOLID STATE & MATERIALS CHEMIS | Award Amount: 120.00K | Year: 2016

Non-technical Abstract
With the support of the Solid State and Materials Chemistry program, this research team will take a multi-disciplinary and international approach to materials chemistry that trains undergraduate students to synthesize and characterize liquid crystals (LCs) in the context of display applications (LCD). Liquid crystalline materials are liquids or soft wax-like substances in which molecules exhibit some degree of ordering and organization; they uniquely combine fluidity of liquids and molecular ordering found in solid crystals. If molecules forming such materials are polar (have a permanent dipole moment), they can undergo realignment in an electric field resulting in switching of optical properties of the material. Such an electro-optical effect is at the heart of modern liquid crystal display industry, which demands improvements in resolution and speed of switching between screen images. This, in turn, motivates the search for new LC materials, such as those investigated in this project. Thus, a team comprised of the principal investigator (PI), co-PI, an international technical expert and undergraduate co-workers design, synthesize and fully characterize new polar liquid crystals derived from boron clusters. Among the main goals of the project is the development of extensive structure-property relationships in this class of materials, preparation of materials for practical applications, and training of undergraduate students for careers in materials chemistry.

Technical Abstract
This basic research project tests the hypothesis that rationally-designed zwitterionic derivatives of inorganic boron clusters, [closo-1-CB9H10]- and [closo-1-CB12H12]- anions, form liquid crystalline phases and are suitable materials for display applications. In this context, a series of zwitterions is synthesized and investigated for their spectroscopic, structural, thermal and dielectric properties using a broad selection of research tools. The experimental work is augmented with theoretical methods that allow the researchers to formulate a detailed understanding of structure-property relationships and to explain the observed results. The detailed multi-dimensional analysis of specific derivatives is expected to contribute to the understanding of the impact of the molecular structure on properties, materials performance, and to the fundamental chemistry and science of liquid crystals.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 300.00K | Year: 2016

With this award from the Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI) and support from the Chemistry Research Instrumentation Program (CRIF), Professor Kying Ding from Middle Tennessee State University and colleagues Piotr Kaszynski, Scott Handy, Tibor Koritsanszky and Anatoliy Volkov have acquired a single crystal X-ray diffractometer. In general, an X-ray diffractometer allows accurate and precise measurements of the full three-dimensional structure of a molecule, including bond distances and angles. It also provides accurate information about the spatial arrangement of a molecule relative to neighboring molecules. These studies impact a number of areas, including organic and inorganic chemistry, materials chemistry and biochemistry. This instrument is an integral part of teaching as well as research and training of undergraduate students in chemistry and biochemistry. Collaborators from regional institutions such as the universities Motlow State, Volunteer State, Nashville State, Fisk, Alabama A&M, East Tennessee State, Austin Peay, Belmont, Lipscomb, Memphis and Central Arkansas also use the instrument.

The award is aimed at enhancing research and education at all levels, especially in areas such as: (a) characterizing molecular geometry in non-precious metal organometallic catalysts and intermediates, (b) confirming stereoisomers and molecular geometry in families of organic compounds, (c) determining intermolecular associations in heterocyclic stable radicals, liquid crystals and dyes, (d) incorporating high resolution charge-density data for small- and medium-sized structures into charge density calculations, (e) carrying out preliminary measurements before neutron and X-ray synchrotron diffraction studies, and (f) collecting structural data that can be used in computational predictive modeling.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 125.00K | Year: 2015

Next-generation e-science is producing colossal amounts of data, commonly known as Big Data, on the order of terabyte at present and petabyte or even exabyte in the predictable future. These scientific applications typically feature data- and network-intensive workflows comprised of computing modules with intricate inter-module dependencies. Application users oftentimes need to manually configure their computing workflows in distributed environments in an ad-hoc manner, which significantly limits the productivity of scientists and constrains the utilization of resources.

The end-to-end performance of big data scientific workflows depends on both the mapping scheme that determines module assignment and the scheduling policy that determines resource allocation. These two aspects of a workflow-based research process are traditionally treated as two separate topics, and the interactions between them have not been fully explored. As the scale and complexity of scientific workflows and network environments rapidly increase, each individual aspect of performance optimization has limited success. This research is an in-depth investigation into workflow execution dynamics in resource sharing environments to explore the interactions between workflow mapping and node scheduling on a unified application-support platform. The idea is to build a three-layer workflow optimization architecture that seamlessly integrates three interrelated components based on rigorous algorithmic design, theoretical dynamics analysis, and real network implementation, deployment, and evaluation. The successful completion of this project will provide a solid mathematical foundation for the analysis and control of system dynamics of big data scientific workflows, produce a suite of cooperative mapping and scheduling optimization solutions to facilitate scientific collaborations, and add an additional level of intelligence to existing workflow engines widely adopted in the current grid and cloud computing middleware. The resulting workflow optimization solutions will benefit a broad spectrum of workflow-based scientific applications

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 437.93K | Year: 2014

The use of active learning strategies has long been advocated in the sciences, but high school science instruction remains highly didactic across the country. This project addresses this longstanding concern by examining the potential of two research-based and college-tested learning strategies in high school classrooms: Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) and Peer Instruction. The POGIL strategy was developed initially for chemistry classes, and Peer Instruction was developed within physics classes. These two learning strategies will be adapted for implementation in biology classes, with the goal of determining which strategy shows the most promise for increasing student achievement and attitudes toward science. The project will also study the influence of these instructional strategies on teacher beliefs about active learning and the contributions of these beliefs on student success in biology. Creation of the professional development model and materials for this project bring together high school biology teachers, university biology faculty, and science education specialists.

The project will conduct design and development research to iteratively develop the instructional materials through a collaboration of high school teachers and college faculty members experienced in using the instructional approaches being compared. Adaptation of the learning strategies for use in biology was chosen because biology is the science course most often taught across schools in the country, and it is required for graduation in the state where this project is being conducted. To compare the outcomes of the two instructional approaches, 42 teacher pairs will be randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: POGIL, Peer Instruction, or traditional instruction. Outcomes of the instructional approaches will be measured in terms of conceptual gains among teachers and students, attitudes toward science, personal agency beliefs, and instructional implementation fidelity.

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