News Article | May 1, 2017
Ruyan Guo, Robert E. Clark Endowed Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has received a $50,000 I-Corps grant from the National Science Foundation to commercialize a chip that can make lower power electronics, like cell phones, work more efficiently. Guo's team developed the technology, which is about the size of a pin's head, with UTSA researcher Shuza Binzaid in the UTSA Multifunctional Electronic Materials and Devices Research Laboratory alongside graduate student Avadhood Herlekar. "The purpose of this grant is to better identify the commercial opportunities for technology created at universities," Guo says. Guo and Binzaid are currently working with marketplace experts, as well as UTSA technology and IP management specialist Neal A. Guentzel, to understand the needs of consumers so they can determine which industry their chip is best suited for. It's an odd problem to have, since the device is applicable to several different uses, from every day electronics to medical apparatuses. "This chip can be used with anything that runs on a battery," says Binzaid. "It manages power so that the device can last longer." Cell phone users in desperate need of a charge, for example, put their devices on low power mode and reduce its regular functions to extend the battery life of their phones. The chip can keep a phone working at top functionality with much less power. Moreover, it facilitates the use of smaller batteries, since the object itself is so small. The chip also tackles another common annoyance for electronics users: how hot devices get when they're being used for several minutes. "The heat is a result of a lot of power being used," Guo says. "It's a nuisance, but with our device there is less power consumption, which means the heat will be much less of an issue." Guo notes that as the "Internet of things" becomes more integrated into the average person's daily life, battery power will continue to become a valuable resource. Beyond lower power devices such as cell phones, the chip could be used in fire sensors, fitness monitors, and even medical apparatuses. "We hope to make a significant leap forward in defibrillators and pacemakers," she says. "Invasive surgeries to replace medical devices that are running out of power could become much less frequent." For now, Guo's team is focusing on developing the chip for customized sensors, with more possibilities on the horizon.
News Article | May 1, 2017
If your phone's battery life is the bane of your existence, then this is for you. Engineers at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), led by Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Ruyan Guo, have developed a chip that can extend the battery life of almost any gadget. The tiny chip is only the size of a pinhead, but its potential is great. The chip can make lower power electronics like smartphones work much more efficiently, cutting back on the number of times you have to plug in and slashing the energy consumption of the electronics in our lives. "This chip can be used with anything that runs on a battery," said UTSA researcher Shuza Binzaid. "It manages power so that the device can last longer." When people want to extend the life of their phone's battery, usually that means switching it into low power mode which turns off many of the phone's functions in order to preserve the battery charge. With the chip, the same power sipping mode could be achieved while the phone was running at full functionality. The researchers say that the chip improves the power efficiency of electronics so much that smaller batteries could be used across the board. This major boost to battery life could make the chip especially well-suited to medical applications. Imagine pace makers, defibrillators and future medical sensors that could run almost indefinitely, removing the risks of multiple invasive surgeries to replace batteries when they run low. Those same benefits could be seen in sensors that keep an eye out for air pollution, fires, even the structural integrity of bridges and buildings. Small gadgets like fitness monitors would rarely have to be charged. The research team just received a grant from the National Science Foundation for the purpose of exploring the commercialization of the chip. Now the engineers must made the hard decision of picking which industry to focus on first.
News Article | May 1, 2017
Ruyan Guo, Robert E. Clark Endowed Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has received a $50,000 I-Corps grant from the National Science Foundation to commercialize a chip that can make lower power electronics, like cell phones, work more efficiently. Guo's team developed the technology, which is about the size of a pin's head, with UTSA researcher Shuza Binzaid in the UTSA Multifunctional Electronic Materials and Devices Research Laboratory alongside graduate student Avadhood Herlekar. "The purpose of this grant is better identify the commercial opportunities for technology created at universities," Guo said. Guo and Binzaid are currently working with marketplace experts, as well as UTSA technology and IP management specialist Neal A. Guentzel, to understand the needs of consumers so they can determine which industry their chip is best suited for. It's an odd problem to have, since the device is applicable to several different uses, from every day electronics to medical apparatuses. "This chip can be used with anything that runs on a battery," said Binzaid. "It manages power so that the device can last longer." Cell phone users in desperate need of a charge, for example, put their devices on low power mode and reduce its regular functions to extend the battery life of their phones. The chip can keep a phone working at top functionality with much less power. Moreover, it facilitates the use of smaller batteries, since the object itself is so small. The chip also tackles another common annoyance for electronics users: how hot devices get when they're being used for several minutes. "The heat is a result of a lot of power being used," Guo said. "It's a nuisance, but with our device there is less power consumption, which means the heat will be much less of an issue." Guo noted that as the "internet of things" becomes more integrated into the average person's daily life, battery power will continue to become a valuable resource. Beyond lower power devices such as cell phones, the chip could be used in fire sensors, fitness monitors and even medical apparatuses. "We hope to make a significant leap forward in defibrillators and pacemakers," she said. "Invasive surgeries to replace medical devices that are running out of power could become much less frequent." For now, Guo's team is focusing on developing the chip for customized sensors, with more possibilities on the horizon.
News Article | May 2, 2017
DALLAS, TX / ACCESSWIRE / May 1, 2017 / For more than thirty years, Marcus Hiles has been a prominent real estate developer and innovator. A dynamic personality, the CEO and Chairman of Western Rim Property Services single-handedly transformed the Texas rental market by creating upscale communities throughout suburban Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. As the real estate industry represents the largest contributor to the total GDP of the U.S., its continued success is paramount for the economic well-being of the country. Hiles believes that future economic progress at both the state and national levels require policies that will foster private sector expansion and public education excellence; improving job creation will spur financial growth and, in turn, fuel a demand for housing, while a commitment towards readying students with 21st-century skills ensures that the workforce of America's next generation remains a competitive power on the world stage. From a local perspective, Texas has shown no shortage of development. Homes are being constructed at their fastest pace in Dallas-Fort Worth in nearly a decade, and studies by the University of Texas show that employment has consistently trended positively in San Antonio, and research director of UTSA Institute for Economic Development, Thomas Tunstall, expects that "growth will continue to flow into the local economy for years." Marcus Hiles maintains that the best way to further enlarge the housing market statewide will be through sustained enactment of strong laws that protect and increase the labor force. The recent past provides a solid testimony for this position: after the housing bubble crisis decimated real estate prices nationwide, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex was less affected than nearly every other major city, with a Fortune article asserting that the cause for the robust economy traces back to the "more than 100,000 new jobs added each year in North Texas." The rationale lies in its reputation for being business-friendly region with major corporations like Toyota, State Farm and Liberty Mutual relocating to the fourth-most populous American urban center in recent years. Forbes suggests that zoning and land-use construction burdens may be lifted throughout the U.S., as the new presidential administration could usher in an era of eased regulations and lowered building costs. Relaxed protocols for small banks may allow them to conduct business differently and boost development as well, having the flexibility to approve more loans for new housing projects. While safeguarding wage and job growth in the private sector is key, Marcus Hiles notes that political efforts also need to promote educational opportunities to empower students. The Programme for International Student Assessment placed U.S. school children in the middle of the international pack for math and science, with the Pew Research Center reporting scoring 36th and 28th out of 65 countries assessed. While politicians have been denouncing the results and demanding better training for decades, new policies must encourage more children to study math and science, ultimately, at the university level; The U.S. Department of Education believes that, "only 16 percent of high school students are interested in a [science, technology, engineering or math] career and have proven a proficiency in mathematics." Though the change in learning standards and curriculum must be instituted as early as grades K-6, teenagers finishing high school need better options for mastering trade skills that equip them for jobs in the construction and health care industries. Many expect that the next presidential administration makes good on promises to offer a bigger role for community colleges in the economy, with commercial real estate and house building industry career paths readily available to students working toward a future in development and infrastructure improvement. Marcus Hiles is a respected property authority and philanthropist who proudly supports many environmental and education causes. Having personally donated more than 59 acres of parkland to the general public for wildlife conservation, Hiles has also contributed significant capital to the improvement and protection of Texas's scenic beauty. As a firm believer that all students have the right to a quality education, he has given more than $2.5 million to public and private K-12 initiatives, after school programs, and university career services and job placement programs.
News Article | June 1, 2017
Because the program is 100% online, students can work at their own pace, personalizing the experience to fit their schedule, while having access to the same vast cyber security expertise that UTSA students currently experience on-campus. They may also receive credit for past education, thereby shortening the time to completion so they can may more quickly begin or advance their career in cyber security. With an estimated 1 million unfilled cyber security jobs worldwide, according to a 2014 Cisco Security Capabilities Benchmark Study, this incredible demand gives students a myriad of opportunities to pursue their specific passion within the cyber security arena. Graduates of UTSA cyber security programs go on to work at security firms as well as government agencies like the NSA, CIA and FBI and for major business corporations such as USAA, Rackspace and H-E-B. Learn more about the online B.B.A. in Cyber Security. Learn more about the UTSA Department of Information Systems and Cyber Security. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/utsa-extends-application-deadline-for-fully-online-degree-program-in-cyber-security-300467455.html
News Article | May 26, 2017
Students in the online degree program will have access to the same vast cyber security expertise that UTSA students currently experience on-campus. The program will include over 30 industry-aligned certificates in specializations such as cyber intrusion detection, cyber incident response, and cyber attack analysis. Students will also earn badges and micro-certificates along the way, providing additional relevance to the job market. Graduates of UTSA cyber security programs go on to work at security firms as well as government agencies like the NSA, CIA and FBI and for major business corporations such as USAA, Rackspace and H-E-B. Partnering with the University of Texas System's innovation department, the new online degree program is supported by Total Educational Experience (TEx), a web-based learner platform that guides students on personalized journeys throughout their lifetime. UTSA is ranked among the top 400 universities in the world and among the top 100 in the nation, according to Times Higher Education. Learn more about the online B.B.A. in Cyber Security. Learn more about the UTSA Department of Information Systems and Cyber Security. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/application-deadline-for-utsa-online-degree-program-in-cyber-security-approaches-300464549.html
News Article | June 21, 2017
Oil rig counts in the Eagle Ford Shale region began to rise after bottoming in 2016, and are expected to continue rising steadily in 2017 SAN ANTONIO, (June 21, 2017) - Commissioned by the South Texas Energy and Economic Roundtable (STEER), The University of Texas at San Antonio's (UTSA) Center for Community and Business Research (CCBR) completed the latest Eagle Ford Shale (EFS) study in June. The study titled, "Economic Impact of the Eagle Ford Shale, Business Opportunities and the New Normal" provides new trend data and updated economic impact analysis across 2014, 2015 and, 2016. Dr. Thomas Tunstall, senior research director for CCBR, which is hosted at UTSA's Institute for Economic Development, led the study with his team of researchers. "Our report indicates that the decrease in economic impact bottomed out in 2016 and appears to have turned the corner. Oil prices in 2017 are higher and rig counts have risen from their lows last year," Tunstall said. After several years of unprecedented growth, the Eagle Ford Shale experienced a sharp decline in oil prices. The decline may have negatively impacted businesses and jobs in the area, however the current scenario offers more job opportunities in the region when compared to past decades of declining population and jobs in several counties in the shale area. Gross output from Eagle Ford activity across the 21 county area jumped from $87 billion in 2013 to $123 billion in 2014. In the years since the peak occurred in 2014, gross output from Eagle Ford activity fell to $80 billion in 2015, and again in 2016 to $50 billion. And, while jobs supported by the Eagle Ford also peaked in 2014 at 191,153, up from 154,984 in 2013, by 2016, the number of jobs supported had fallen to 108,213. "Although we experienced a decrease in jobs and economic impact in 2015 and 2016, we continue to see that the oil and gas industry is essential to the livelihood of South Texas. With more than 100,000 jobs and $55 billion in economic output last year, the results of the UTSA study further illustrates the importance of the oil and gas industry to South Texans. The industry in South Texas brought much needed infrastructure along with a sustainable source of income to the area. Sustained growth will further benefit the region through an increased tax base along with increased job and educational opportunities," said Omar Garcia, president and CEO of STEER. Since August 2014, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil price dropped from more than $100 per barrel to $43.4 by March 2015, and by February 2016 it was close to $26.2 per barrel. Since then however, the price has recovered and by January 2017 it had reached $53.0 per barrel, signaling important opportunities for future growth as the price more than doubled in less than one year. Additionally, a variety of industry sectors have also grown in the Eagle Ford area; many, but not all, are directly or indirectly associated with oil and gas activity. In 2015, U.S. natural gas exports to Mexico topped one trillion cubic feet annually - a new record. And, in 2016, U.S. natural gas production reached an annual record of 28 trillion cubic feet. The Study provides analysis for the 21-county study area as a whole, both the Eagle Ford Shale 15-county core area as a whole (Atascosa, Bee, DeWitt, Dimmit, Frio, Gonzales, Karnes, La Salle, Lavaca, Live Oak, McMullen, Maverick, Webb, Wilson, and Zavala) and the six adjacent counties as a whole (Bexar, Jim Wells, Nueces, San Patricio, Victoria, and Uvalde). The second phase of the Study includes breakouts for all 21 counties individually and compares inter- industry relationships from 2010-2015. The comparison of different multipliers demonstrates how employment and production have been affected in the area. UTSA and STEER representatives plan on traveling to Eagle Ford cities in late June to discuss the results of the 2017 Eagle Ford Shale Economic Impact Study with community leaders and the general public. The tour follows the Eagle Ford Consortium Inc.'s (EFCI) annual conference, which focused on the ongoing activity of the Eagle Ford and was hosted at UTSA's downtown campus from June 7-8. "The Eagle Ford Shale play became a boon to the South Texas economy, and provided an opportunity to boost local infrastructure. Our region is well positioned for a successful future as local area production picks back up. South Texas has become an export leader in the energy products realm. We are committed to continued sustainable growth," said John LaRue, Port Corpus Christi executive director. Access the Full Study: "Economic Impact of the Eagle Ford Shale, Business Opportunities and the New Normal" at ccbr.iedtexas.org/research Center for Community and Business Research: ccbr.iedtexas.org Institute for Economic Development: iedtexas.org
News Article | May 25, 2017
In the icy bodies around our solar system, radiation emitted from rocky cores could break up water molecules and support hydrogen-eating microbes. To address this cosmic possibility, a University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) team modeled a natural water-cracking process called radiolysis. They then applied the model to several worlds with known or suspected interior oceans, including Saturn's moon Enceladus, Jupiter's moon Europa, Pluto and its moon Charon, as well as the dwarf planet Ceres. "The physical and chemical processes that follow radiolysis release molecular hydrogen (H2), which is a molecule of astrobiological interest," said Alexis Bouquet, lead author of the study published in the May edition of Astrophysical Journal Letters. Radioactive isotopes of elements such as uranium, potassium, and thorium are found in a class of rocky meteorites known as chondrites. The cores of the worlds studied by Bouquet and his co-authors are thought to have chondrite-like compositions. Ocean water permeating the porous rock of the core could be exposed to ionizing radiation and undergo radiolysis, producing molecular hydrogen and reactive oxygen compounds. Bouquet, a student in the joint doctoral program between UTSA's Department of Physics and Astronomy and SwRI's Space Science and Engineering Division, explained that microbial communities sustained by H2 have been found in extreme environments on Earth. These include a groundwater sample found nearly 2 miles deep in a South African gold mine and at hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. That raises interesting possibilities for the potential existence of analogous microbes at the water-rock interfaces of ocean worlds such as Enceladus or Europa. "We know that these radioactive elements exist within icy bodies, but this is the first systematic look across the solar system to estimate radiolysis. The results suggest that there are many potential targets for exploration out there, and that's exciting," says co-author Dr. Danielle Wyrick, a principal scientist in SwRI's Space Science and Engineering Division. One frequently suggested source of molecular hydrogen on ocean worlds is serpentinization. This chemical reaction between rock and water occurs, for example, in hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. The key finding of the study is that radiolysis represents a potentially important additional source of molecular hydrogen. While hydrothermal activity can produce considerable quantities of hydrogen, in porous rocks often found under seafloors, radiolysis could produce copious amounts as well. Radiolysis may also contribute to the potential habitability of ocean worlds in another way. In addition to molecular hydrogen, it produces oxygen compounds that can react with certain minerals in the core to create sulfates, a food source for some kinds of microorganisms. "Radiolysis in an ocean world's outer core could be fundamental in supporting life. Because mixtures of water and rock are everywhere in the outer solar system, this insight increases the odds of abundant habitable real estate out there," Bouquet said.
News Article | September 21, 2017
Multimillion dollar effort is supported by gifts from Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation and Semmes Foundation Making a bold commitment to develop groundbreaking approaches for treating brain diseases and injuries, The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) has assembled a world-class research enterprise, comprised of 40 of the nation's leading brain health researchers, dedicated to conquering the greatest mysteries of the brain. The researchers will leverage their expertise in neurodegenerative disease, brain circuits and electrical signaling, traumatic brain injury, regenerative medicine, stem cell therapies, medicinal chemistry, neuroinflammation, drug design and psychology to collaborate on complex, large-scale research projects that will produce a greater understanding of the brain's complexity and the factors that cause its decline. This knowledge will be used to develop new and more effective methods for treating debilitating conditions including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, addiction and traumatic brain injury. "It will take the nation's leading researchers, working together, to develop the innovative approaches needed to conquer neurodegenerative disease and reverse life-threatening brain injuries," said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. "Each researcher in this brilliant group has been hand-picked to contribute their expertise to these most challenging health issues of our time and to advance collaborative and interdisciplinary solutions." Jenny Hsieh, a nationally recognized researcher, will join the UTSA faculty this spring to lead the UTSA Brain Health Initiative as the Semmes Foundation Chair in Cell Biology. Hsieh's research focuses on how to make neurons replicate themselves so a brain affected by disease or injury can replace its own damaged cells and heal. She tackles the challenge using molecular and genetic tools and is focused on understanding the factors that control the brain's stem cells so she can manipulate and stimulate new growth. She has a doctorate in biology from John Hopkins University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation, which has supported medical and science research since 1950, will provide a $2.7 million gift to support Hsieh's research. "The Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation is glad to be working with UTSA toward finding causes and cures of human brain malfunctions," said Helen K. Groves, president of the Kleberg Foundation. Hsieh's work will also be supported by a $1 million gift from the Semmes Foundation. UTSA's bold vision to become a national leader in brain health attracted Hsieh to the university. She plans to expand UTSA's work in pluripotent stem cell research and personalized medicine to develop new and innovative approaches to neurodegenerative disease. Hsieh will use CRISPR, a cutting-edge gene-editing technology, to conduct some of her research into personalized, precision medicine. To encourage collaboration, Hsieh will also establish a new core facility at UTSA allowing researchers from around the country to study human-induced pluripotent stem cells. Pluripotent stem cells are taken from any tissue in the human body and genetically modified to behave like embryonic stem cells that are able to develop into any adult cell type. The cells are especially beneficial in brain health treatments, since damaged neurons are unable to replicate themselves. "Now that we can create a specific cell from any patient, every patient can have his or her own personalized stem cell line," Hsieh said. "We can differentiate a person's unique stem cells to any type of tissue we want and use that to treat their disease in a way that is personalized." Four additional researchers, recently recruited from some of the nation's top research institutions, include Hyoung-gon Lee, the John H. Doran, M.D., F.A.C.P. Distinguished Professor in Peripheral Neuropathy, Asif Maroof, assistant professor of biology, Lindsey Macpherson, assistant professor of biology, and Edward Golob, professor of psychology. Lee's research is focused on understanding the mechanisms of the neurodegeneration related to Alzheimer's disease. In particular, he is taking a closer look at why neurons appear to be attempting to divide but then die when afflicted with Alzheimer's. He joined UTSA from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Maroof is researching how brain cells are impacted by aging, injury or disease. Using human pluripotent stem cells, he is modeling neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Lou Gehrig's disease, to determine when the brain's cells are most susceptible or resistant to illness, and how molecular interactions in those cells affect the progression of disease. He joined UTSA from Harvard University. Macpherson's research centers on wiring and the functional connections between cells within peripheral sensory circuits. Specifically, she is interested in understanding the sense of taste and how the molecules, cells and circuits of the chemosensory system convey information from the tongue and gut to the brain. She joined UTSA from Columbia University, where she completed her post-doctoral fellowship, and The Scripps Research Institute, where she completed her doctoral studies. Golob's expertise is cognitive neuroscience, specifically perception, attention and memory perception in the auditory system. He studies aspects of hearing that are important to humans, such as determining where a sound is coming from, recognizing speech and music, and relating our actions to perception. Through this work, he is striving to understand the cognitive and neurobiological differences that accompany normal aging as well as neurodegenerative disease. He joined UTSA after serving on the Tulane University faculty, and completing his doctorate degree and post-doctorate fellowship at Dartmouth College and UC Irvine, respectively. "We have amazing neuroscientists here at UTSA and we've been able to round out their great work by recruiting other well-respected researchers, people with very specific expertise," said George Perry, Semmes Foundation Distinguished University Chair in Neurobiology and dean of the UTSA College of Sciences. "The work that they're conducting holds such great promise for society. It's an exciting time to be a neuroscientist at UTSA." UTSA is a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) of learning and discovery advancing to recognition as a world-class research enterprise.
News Article | February 15, 2017
Medication used to prevent infections may also help regenerate sperm from stem cells A new study led by Brian Hermann, assistant professor of biology at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), shows promising evidence that a medication previously used to prevent infections in cancer patients can also keep them from becoming infertile. Losing fertility is a frequent problem among cancer patients, as treatments for the disease often halt sperm production. Hermann and his research team have been pursuing a number of cutting-edge research initiatives to restore fertility in men who have lost their ability to have children as a result of cancer treatments they received as children. While working on methods to restart sperm production, the researchers discovered a link between a drug for recovering cancer patients and the absence of normal damage to reproductive ability. The drug is called G-CSF or granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. It stimulates the bone marrow to produce neutrophils, which are white blood cells that are needed to fight infections. They're commonly lost after chemotherapy and radiation treatments. "We were using G-CSF to prevent infections in our research experiments," Hermann said. "It turned out that the drug also had the unexpected impact of guarding against male infertility." Because cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy often kill sperm stem cells, male reproduction can become essentially impossible. In Hermann's laboratory, G-CSF, by promoting cell growth, unexpectedly began regenerating sperm production by creating new sperm cells to replace the dead cells. A study authored by Hermann and his students describing these results was recently published in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. Hermann's laboratory focuses almost exclusively on regenerating dead testicular tissue through the use of stem cells, making the project an exciting but unexpected detour that he hopes to continue, if possible. The next step would be observing whether the use of the drug, which is already prescribed often by oncologists, has any correlation with improved fertility among cancer patients. Until then, Hermann is focusing on better understanding the stem cells that make male reproduction possible, so he can find even more effective solutions to treating male infertility. "Male infertility is an intuitive disease and we need creative solutions," he said. "But we need to understand how things work before we can fix them."