Asheville, NC, United States
Asheville, NC, United States

The University of North Carolina at Asheville is a co-educational, four year, public liberal arts university. The university is also known as UNC Asheville. Located in Asheville, Buncombe County, in the U.S. state of North Carolina, UNCA is the only designated liberal arts institution in the University of North Carolina system. UNC Asheville is member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. Wikipedia.

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The Walker Lane is an enigmatic zone of northwest-trending belt of deformation that straddles the California and Nevada border and is nearly 700 kilometers long. It is primarily characterized by northwest-striking faults that show evidence of right-lateral shear. The faults of the Walker Lane have formed in response to deformation related to relative motion of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates as they slide past one another. The goal of this study is to investigate the spatial and temporal distribution of fault slip and motion along a set of active faults across the relatively narrow eastern part of the central Walker Lane in Nevada. This research will yield the first fault slip rates from right-lateral (dextral) faults using modern geologic techniques collected over multiple time scales on these faults. The results will bracket the timing of dextral faulting and will result in more accurate fault slip rates during the Quaternary (i.e., from about 2.6 million years to the present-day). The data obtained in this study will aid in developing improved estimates of seismic hazards in the region. In addition to the scientific objectives of the study, the project will contribute to strengthening and diversify the geoscience academic workforce through mentorship of two early career scientists; it will promote interdisciplinary research projects through collaborations among students, faculty, and researchers from multiple institutions; it will contribute to the training of the next generation of scientists by involvement in research and high impact inquiry-based course activities; will disseminate these activities to the teaching community for adoption in their own courses to increase geoscience literacy; and will enhance scientific literacy of the public by developing an outreach program of lectures and online land- and aerial-based videos. The project represents collaboration and partnerships between educational and research institutions of diverse scale and mission, as well as with state and governmental agencies.

The principal investigators will investigate the spatial and temporal distribution of faulting and fault kinematics along a set of active northwest-striking dextral faults across the relatively narrow eastern part of the central Walker Lane, Nevada. The research involves an integrated program of geologic mapping including terrestrial laser scanning structural and kinematic studies, and geochronology using 40Ar/39Ar, terrestrial cosmogenic 10Be and 36Cl, and U-series dating. The research is motivated by: ongoing GPS studies of contemporary dextral strain accumulation in the central Walker Lane; geologic studies of dextral strain release across wider zones of deformation in the northern and southern Walker Lane; and proposed changes in the forces driving deformation over time including edge forces (related to changing directions and rates of relative motion between the Pacific and North American plates) and internal forces (increased gravitational potential energy as a consequence of recent uplift of the Sierra Nevada). The Walker Lane is a zone of dextral shear that accommodates approximately 25% of the Pacific-North American relative plate motion that is superimposed on Basin and Range extension. Our proposed research program across the central Walker Lane will yield dextral fault slip rates collected over multiple time scales (millions to thousands) and brackets on the timing of dextral faulting. Documenting the strain release patterns along faults in this part of the Walker Lane will allow the principal investigators to characterize the spatial and temporal patterns of strain release along faults in this part of the Walker Lane. Combining these data with similar geologic studies ongoing elsewhere in the Walker Lane, and studies ongoing throughout the Walker Lane will allow the principal investigators to document the magnitude of strain partitioning among the western and eastern central Walker Lane, the adjacent Basin and Range, and the northern Walker Lane. Examination of these data will allow assessment of whether patterns of strain in the Walker Lane have changed in synchrony with known changes in potential driving forces the western U.S. This project will support the continued development and application of U-series geochronological techniques for dating late Quaternary landforms and deposits. The combination of terrestrial cosmogenic radionuclide and U-series geochronology used in this study will provide a comprehensive evaluation of its application to dating late Quaternary landforms and deposits in the Great Basin that will inform future slip-rate studies in this region and worldwide.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Enviro Health & Safety of Nano | Award Amount: 149.94K | Year: 2015


It is well known that ultrafine particles regardless of their origin or chemical nature are an environmental hazard. The question arises as to why any material when subdivided to a very fine powder (nanomaterial) becomes hazardous. Part of it has to do with the aerodynamics of the lungs. More importantly, in very small particles where the surface is large, some of the atoms or molecules on the surface are displaced from their regular sites forming what is known as defects. These intrinsic defects often trap stray electrons, which are loosely bound according to our proposed model. The nature and concentration of the defects varies from material to material. No systematic study has been made about these defects. We believe that once these ultrafine particles are inhaled, the loosely bound electrons are released on interaction with the lung tissue and trigger a chain of biological events resulting in damage, which is not well understood at present. Nanomaterials like carbon nanotubes and titanium dioxide are playing ever increasing role in modern technology. They find application in electronics, drug delivery, cosmetics, sunscreens, catalysts, solar cells, energy storage devices and as composites (e.g. carbon nanotubes in Boeing 787 jet). The problem of health hazard posed by respiration of nanomaterials by mild thermal treatment in ambient of electron accepting (oxidizing) or electron donating (reducing) vapors is addressed to find out which of the treatments is likely to pacify (deactivate) the defect centers.

Why are nano- and meso-sized particulates of different origin including auto- and industrial emissions and of the widely used materials in nanotechnology like Carbon Nanotubes, TiO2, ZnO, MgO, and SiO2 toxic to inhalation? Proposed Model: Electronically active surface defects release shallow trapped electrons or holes on interaction with biomolecules in the lung tissues which are primarily responsible for toxicity. Once the model is put on a firm footing by experimentation several technologies of great societal benefit follow logically. We propose to conduct the following experiments with a couple of systems to check the veracity of the proposed model. For example, ultrafine powder of âlpha phthalocyanine would be divided in three portions. One portion will serve as reference. One of the other would be thermally treated in an ambient of ethanol vapors, which is known from our previous work to be an electron donor (A. Nath, Studies of Isotopic Exchange in Solid State Healing of Damaged Molecules Accounts of Chemical Research 17, 90, 1984). The third specimen would be subjected to mild thermal treatment in oxygen ambient. The chemisorbed O2 would grab electrons and make the material hole conducting. The three samples of phthalocyanine would be checked for toxicity by our toxicologist collaborator. Whether the toxicity is enhanced or reduced by the treatments would shed light on the electronic nature of defect centers. Similar experiments with TiO2 and carbon nanotubes would be in order.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 114.77K | Year: 2012

With this award from the Major Research Instrumentation Program, Professor George Heard from University of North Carolina Asheville and colleagues Bert Holmes and Sally Wasileski will acquire a 480-core computer cluster with a set of terminals. The proposal is aimed at enhancing research training and education at all levels, especially in areas such as (a) substituent effects for the 1,2-FCl interchange reaction; (b) computational investigation of the 1,2-interchange reaction of halogens and pseudo-halogens; (c) computational investigation of the Wagner-Meerwein rearrangement mechanism; (d) computational investigation of catalytic reaction mechanisms for hydrogen generation from alcohols; (e) 1,1-HX elimination reactions of halogenated ethanes; and (f) studies of the rearrangement and elimination processes using the Quantum Theory of Atoms In Molecules (QTAIM).

Computer systems and clusters of computers are used by chemists and biochemists to investigate reactions and the properties of chemicals and materials using theoretical models and programs. The computer calculations are used, often along with experimental data, to model and better understand many types of complex chemical and biological phenomena. They are also used to predict results and guide experiments. This resource will be used in research and in course work by undergraduate students and faculty at the University of North Carolina Asheville.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 116.45K | Year: 2015

The acquisition of the iDXA instrument will enable researchers to examine basic behavioral factors which have the potential to effect health behavior change (dietary habits, physical activity, and sedentary behavior) and thereby, improve key physiological markers (body composition and bone density) related to chronic disease. The iDXA uses x-ray technology to differentiate between tissues in the body which provides measures of bone density (total, neck of femur, lumbar spine), site-specific body fat and lean muscle mass, and type of body fat (subcutaneous or visceral). Researchers will use the iDXA for trials of novel dietary pattern treatments (e.g. those high in protein from plant sources) to support bone health, increase lean mass, and reduce site-specific adiposity. Projects will also include controlled trials to examine innovative strategies (e.g. using commercially-available activity monitors and standing desks) to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior and examine the impact of these interventions on visceral body fat and lean muscle mass. Furthermore, worksite wellness programs targeting underserved, local small businesses will also include the use of the iDXA to measure physiological changes and to encourage behavior change. Researchers will also examine the impact of strength training on lean muscle mass and balance among individuals with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. In sum, access to the iDXA will allow a highly trained team of researchers to effectively address critically important outcomes with research into health behavior.

The investigators institution is nationally recognized for leadership in Undergraduate Research, hosting the first National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and set to host the 30th Anniversary NCUR conference in 2016. At least seven undergraduate researchers will be trained yearly on use of the iDXA for collaborative research, and findings will be disseminated internationally through publication in scientific journals and to North Carolina communities through reports from the NC Center for Health and Wellness and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 599.85K | Year: 2011

This project is providing students interested in completing a chemistry degree an opportunity to earn scholarships based on their academic merit and financial need. The project is partnering with the Integrative Liberal Studies Program, the Center for Academic Advising and Learning Support, and the Career Center to sustain recruitment, retention and academic success in the chemistry major.

The objectives of the program are to:
(1) Increase the number of quality professional chemists by offering scholarships to Chemistry Scholars.
(2) Implement a long-term recruiting plan to attract high-quality, motivated and promising students to the college as chemistry majors.
(3) Increase the academic success and community strength of chemistry students by forming a Chemistry Learning Community (CLC) composed of Chemistry Scholars and other chemistry majors.
(4) Develop and implement a three phase educational support program to retain students in the major and prepare them for success as chemistry professionals.
(5) Develop the three-phase educational support structure into a long-term program sustainable beyond the funding period.

Intellectual merit: This project is developing and implementing an educational support structure for the chemistry major from first entry to the college through graduation. This support structure uses proven pedagogical theories and practices and is coupled with a student-centered Chemistry Department curriculum that focuses on rigorous undergraduate research (UR). A freshman colloquium course required of all graduates is specifically designed for chemistry majors to learn discipline specific academic skills that enable them to achieve success. The CLC utilizes an enhanced curriculum that provides faculty and peer mentorship, a student management team, UR opportunities, supplemental instruction, career building, and other quality programs that are designed to graduate quality chemistry professionals.

Broader impacts: This project is yielding an increased number of high-quality chemistry graduates well-prepared to enter the chemistry workforce. The support structure is also increasing the number of students who successfully complete foundation chemistry courses yielding gains in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) literacy, retention, and graduates. The long term recruiting plan is being sustained through new relationships with high school teachers and guidance counselors in the region and state. This support structure that is helping to recruit and retain chemistry majors at the college can be adopted for other STEM disciplines at other primarily undergraduate institutions.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 605.12K | Year: 2015

The Chemistry First Scholars program will offer scholarships to 20 students, with financial need and academic merit, who are seeking to become successful chemists. The project will attract and support through to graduation at-risk, first-generation students in chemistry, thereby increasing the number of quality professional chemists, and the project team will continue to reach across campus and provide leadership to other STEM departments in promoting best practices for support systems for STEM students. Such practices include identification of Faculty Mentors to help students dentify individual chemistry career paths, opportunities, and professional programs.

The program will use a three-tiered, inclusive academic support program in the chemistry major, developed through institutionalization of efforts from a prior S-STEM project. The three-tiered student support structure will rely first on building a natural student cohort. A Chemistry Learning Community (CLC) will begin in the first year and last through to graduation. There will be a total of four CLCs over the project period. The three-tiered model follows best practices in supporting first generation students through all phases of their college career. The Chemistry First Scholars program will partner with the existing UNC Asheville Scholars Program to strengthen community among chemistry majors and to engage and support at risk, low income, first generation students. The Director of the Academic Assessment act UNC-Asheville, an independent evaluator, will coordinate the assessment the project. Success will be measured through the assessment and evaluation of student academic performance, project activities, and project deliverables. Project deliverables include the number of scholars funded, the total number of scholarships awarded, the graduation rate of scholars and career placement following graduation. To investigate the impact of the program on student retention, progress, and success in chemistry, relative to past years, the information and results gathered from the prior S-STEM project will serve as a pre-project baseline. In so doing, the project will contribute to a growing body of knowledge regarding attributes and practices of successful programs for students who demonstrate financial need.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 99.06K | Year: 2013

This project addresses a recognized need of the 21st century technological society - broadening participation in computing education. The project is transforming STEM education by building a nationwide community of educators, who are teaching students to synthesize the creativity and design of art with the mathematical rigor and formality of computer science, technology, and engineering.

The Computing in the Arts (CITA) model curriculum consists of 50 hours of computing courses, arts courses, and synthesis courses. Graduates of CITA are educated to create, design, and code new creativity tools. From contemporary music, art and theater production, to new forms of animation and digital media, to the visual and audio systems of tomorrows computers, to revolutionary web applications, CITA prepares students for productive and integrated careers in the information and arts economies. The CITA model maximizes reuse of existing courses and faculty expertise, and thus facilitates adaptation. In this collaborative project the CITA model has already been successfully implemented at the lead institution, where there are currently 46 majors (a 22% increase), mainly from an underserved population - students interested in the arts.

This project focuses on dissemination - successes and synthesis with other complementary approaches with partner institutions to build a strong, diversified community of educators interested in adopting and further developing innovative CITA instructional materials. This community is being forged through three faculty workshops, special sessions at the annual conference for Computer Science Education, and a website of pedagogical materials. The evaluation plan involves an independent evaluator, and various quantitative and qualitative outcomes that assess (a) the formation of a thriving CITA community, (b) dissemination efforts, and (c) the impact on transforming STEM education.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 613.61K | Year: 2014

ACES: A Scholarship Program for Atmospheric and Computer Science Exploratory Scholars will provide scholarship and academic support for thirty four undergraduate students majoring in the Atmospheric and Computer Sciences (A&CS) over five years while enrolled at University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA). ACES will add to the knowledge of the effectiveness of community-based A&CS undergraduate learning experiences by building cohorts for A&CS students to establish support groups designed to encourage early academic success, monitoring student progress through a student management team, offering help to struggling students by providing peer tutors to assist in low- and mid-level A&CS science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses, enlisting peer and faculty mentors to help resolve issues inside and outside the classroom, and providing opportunities for students to engage in activities in three discipline areas (research, teaching, and operations) to expand the types of A&CS STEM career options under consideration by undergraduates.

ACES objectives are to (1) motivate high school and transfer students demonstrating both strong academic potential and financial need to seriously consider majors in the atmospheric or computer sciences, (2) pique and maintain the interest of students while they are enrolled in the challenging curriculum of their major as undergraduates, particularly during their first and second years, when their curriculum is focused primarily on completing the liberal arts general education requirements, (3) expose students to a variety of discipline areas and career paths within the major, (4) prepare students for their chosen career path, and (5) make ACES sustainable beyond the initial support provided by the NSF. Student data (e.g. grade point averages, comprehensive examination scores, etc.) and surveys will be used to assess the effectiveness of program components and evaluate the overall success of the project. The results will be shared with other departments within the institution to serve as a model for other programs. Dissemination to the broader STEM community will occur through disciplinary conference presentations and papers published in educational journals that specifically target the atmospheric and computer sciences.

Phenology, the study of seasonal biological events, tracks the effects of both year to year climate variability and long-term environmental change on both local and global ecology. It has considerable potential for serving as a base for research studies by undergraduate classes and developing cross-campus studies. Several recent studies, including the Presidents Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (2014), and Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education (a 2011 document representing the views of over 500 biology faculty and administrators) cite the importance of undergraduate research for retaining science majors and helping students better understand key concepts and develop crucial competencies. Four institutions, the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Appalachian State University, East Tennessee State University, and Warren Wilson College, are combining forces to create common gardens and to develop modules that can guide students research studies to address potential impacts of global change at multiple levels of the biological hierarchy, from genes to ecosystems. The cooperating institutions are unique in character, diverse in their student bodies, and located in varying climate zones. The project will contribute to our knowledge about ecological issues and will expand the ways in which institutions can combine forces to increase the STEM knowledge and competencies of their students. Environmental change issues to be investigated include monitoring effects of invasive exotic removal techniques on herbs, shrubs, vines, and trees within the areas studied (studies for lower division courses), and exploring questions about the spread of potentially invasive exotic plants, using a combination of GIS (Global Information Systems) mapping, herbarium collections, and online databases (upper division courses).

The collaborating institutions will create and beta-test modules, identify and mitigate barriers to successful implementation of curricular changes, and disseminate curricular changes. The modules will have a direct impact on the learning of over 2000 undergraduates per year, including non-STEM majors. They will be developed and partially administered by undergraduate and graduate research students, and will be instrumental in developing pedagogical expertise for faculty members. The ability of modules to impart botanical knowledge while encouraging higher-order cognitive processes, advancing quantitative literacy, teaching analytical techniques, honing scientific communication skills, cultivating positive student attitudes towards plants and STEM, and improving persistence and graduation in STEM majors will be assessed using a mixed method approach (quantitative and qualitative data collection). Results will begin to document the effects of global change on an understudied but important bioregion while developing a future workforce with solid STEM training.

This project is funded jointly by the Directorate for Biological Sciences, Division of Biological Infrastructure and the Directorate for 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

Dennison B.,University of North Carolina at Asheville
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters | Year: 2014

Fast radio bursts appear to exhibit large dispersion measures, typically exceeding any expected Galactic interstellar contribution, especially along the moderate to high Galactic latitude directions in which such events have been most often observed. The dispersions have been therefore interpreted as extragalactic, with the sources of the bursts at Gpc distances. This then implies that the bursts are extremely energetic events, originating from quite small volumes. To circumvent the energetic difficulties, Loeb et al. propose that the bursts are produced by flares near the surfaces of M stars or contact binaries within a local volume of the Galaxy, with the observed dispersion occurring in the overlying stellar coronae. With the dispersion concentrated in a high-density region, the quadratic dispersion approximation breaks down as the plasma frequency is comparable to (although less than) the propagation frequency. The observed dispersion curves are closely quadratic, however, consistent with a low-density medium, ruling out this model. It thus appears highly likely that the dispersions occur in the intergalactic medium. This medium, probably containing most of the baryon content of the Universe, is expected to be highly structured on large scales. Hot gas within clusters and especially groups of galaxies may contribute significantly to the observed dispersion. © 2014 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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