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Monthly Archives: November 2014

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Alabama Cyber Research Consortium Awarded National Science Foundation Grant

Alabama Cyber Research ConsortiumA newly organized consortium of the state’s top university cyber researchers has been awarded an NSF Science, Technology, and Society grant to develop a three-day conference at the National Science Foundation in Bethesda, Maryland in May.  The conference will focus on ethics and digital forensics.

The Alabama Cyber Research Consortium (ALCRC) is a partnership of the seven PhD-granting universities in Alabama. Formed in 2013, after years of informal and formal collaborations between smaller groups of the partner Universities, the ALCRC is the culmination of individual and collective commitments to research, advanced development, education, and outreach in all areas of the cyber domain.  Member institutions include: Alabama A&M University, Auburn University, Tuskegee University, The University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of South Alabama.

“This award represents the first funding opportunity and significant national recognition for the ALCRC.  It powerfully demonstrates the validity of the consortium and how closely tied together we are as members.  It also speaks to the new ways in which higher education can organize to advance research in critical areas like cyber,” said Anthony Skjellum, COLSA cyber security and information assurance professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, and director of the Auburn Cyber Research Center in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University.

The ALCRC, along with The University of Alabama’s Cyber Institute and the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research have received a significant grant from the NSF to design a national conference in the spring of 2015.  The event will provide opportunities for members of the cyber community to address critical issues in digital forensics, including a lack of unifying ethical standards, procedures and guidelines for routine activities such as forensic analysis, cyber-crime case processing and data mining/surveillance.

“Auburn University is proud to be recognized as one of the founding members of the Alabama Cyber Research Consortium for our focus on and role in addressing topics of such vital importance to our state and nation.  It reflects our commitment to the primary mission of serving the people of Alabama,” said Lieutenant General (retired) Ron Burgess, senior counsel for national security programs, cyber programs and military affairs at Auburn University.

“This is the first time that the topic of ethical guidelines for digital forensic examiners has been openly discussed at such a high level forum, “ said John Sloan, director of UAB’s Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research, and principal investigator of the grant. “We hope to develop policies and ‘best practices’ as a result of this conference that will assist forensic examiners and reduce potential lawsuits and mishandled criminal cases.”

In a statement issued earlier this month, Reginald Hyde, executive director of The University of Alabama’s Cyber Institute said, “This grant is the first of many anticipated funded projects between members of the Alabama Cyber Research Consortium.  UA’s Institute is excited to begin developing cyber policy—such as that projected by this project—that benefits the citizens of Alabama.”

The Alabama Cyber Research Consortium is an active group of scientists, engineers, and affiliates committed to creating solutions with practical impact on the state, local, regional, and national economy, and to helping consumers, corporations, and the public sector solve real problems and avoid significant harm involving cybercrime and related national security issues.

To learn more about the Alabama Cyber Research Consortium, visit:  www.ALCRC.org.   To learn more about the Auburn University Cyber Initiative, visit: www.auburn.edu/cyber

 

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Auburn’s Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center and the Underwood Family: Putting Good Ideas To Work in the Pecan Industry

Pecans

One measure of a land-grant university’s success is the impact it has on people throughout its state. The Underwoods, from Baldwin County, Alabama, are leaders in the pecan industry and credit Auburn for significant contributions to their success.

Gary Underwood grew up in a pecan orchard near Foley, helping his parents, Vaughn and Marcline, take care of the family pecan orchard, a task he continues today. Later he gained experience in the pecan nursery business while working with his uncle, Bill Underwood.

Today, Gary and his wife, Billie Jo, are a farm family living in Summerdale and are extensively involved with the pecan industry. They have their own pecan orchard and a pecan and fruit nursery business. They assist with the family retail marketing of pecans. Billie Jo, a certified public accountant, helps with the business management. Sister-in-law Amanda Underwood runs the retail side of the business. Gary Underwood is a national leader in the industry.

Gary is quick to recognize Auburn University as instrumental in his success. The proximity of his orchard and nursery to Auburn’s Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center at Fairhope has led to his being a frequent visitor to the center. A keen observer, he has kept up with the center’s ongoing research and has gained valuable information about the farming and nursery business.

Underwood says now-retired station superintendent Ronnie McDaniel was a good source in the beginning, and former Auburn research associate Monte Nesbitt, a pecan and citrus authority, worked hand-in-hand with Gary on both the orchard and nursery projects. Nesbitt and Gary shared a love for budding and grafting, and they worked together on perfecting this intricate process. Current research associate Brian Wilkins brings a strong background in fruit research that is also valuable to Gary—he grows Satsuma oranges, blackberries, pears, plums, and persimmons, as well as pecans, in his nursery business.

Auburn Extension horticulturist Bill Goff developed a technique for improving the success of whip-grafting nursery stock using small trees and placing the graft on controlled- temperature heating cables. Gary further refined the technique, which enables him to produce a marketable grafted container pecan tree in one season. The process formerly took three seasons, so this was a huge advantage, especially considering the high demand for pecan nursery stock following the exponential increase in Chinese imports of pecans.

Not only was the technique of how to propagate the nursery trees developed at Auburn, but most of the cultivars Gary grows were discovered and/or evaluated and recommended by Auburn. Since south Alabama is among the rainiest locations in the country where pecans are grown, resistance to disease is a major consideration in cultivar choices. Auburn’s nearby low- input cultivar trial at Fairhope served as a model for selecting the proper cultivars for Gary to grow. Gafford, McMillan, Syrup Mill, and Amling seedling selections were identified by Auburn scientists, evaluated thoroughly, and ultimately recommended, and these cultivars are the mainstays of Gary’s nursery sales. Once these were identified, members of the Auburn team, notably Cathy Browne, provided graftwood to Gary to allow him to propagate the selections and get them into the industry trade. Further, Auburn arranged—in cooperation with the Louisiana State Forest Nursery—to procure a source of seedling trees for Gary to use.

“I could never have achieved what I have achieved in the pecan or nursery business without the assistance I have received from Auburn,” Gary says. Adds Billie Jo, “He and I will be forever grateful.”

As Gary developed his pecan orchard and nursery business, he also became involved in leadership roles in the pecan industry. He was selected Alabama Pecan Grower of the Year by the Alabama Pecan Growers Association in 1999, serving as president of the association from 1999-2001 and continuing in an active role on their board of directors today. His leadership expanded from state to regional to national offices, and he was elected president of the Southeastern Pecan Growers Association in 2010. Finally, in 2012, Gary became president of the National Pecan Growers Council.
The latest national pecan association with which he is involved is the National Pecan Council, an organization representing the interests of the entire U.S. pecan industry—growers, shellers, and processors. The National Pecan Council named Gary as its Southeastern grower representative in 2012.

This article was written by Karen Hunley of the Auburn University Food Systems Institute (AUFSI)  to accompany Auburn Speaks: On Food Systems.  To learn more about AUFSI, visit: www.aufsi.auburn.edu.  To read more great articles like this one, visit: www.auburn.edu/auburnspeaks.

Closing America’s Innovation Deficit

Universities like Auburn can be the engines of innovation, but funding is critical to fuel these engines. Recently, the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (of which Auburn is a member) joined over 130 national business, higher education, scientific, patient, and other organizations to urge Members of Congress to help close America’s Innovation Deficit by passing an omnibus FY2015 appropriations bill this year that includes increased investments in scientific research and higher education.
To learn more about America’s Innovation Deficit and to read their appeal to Congress, check out: http://www.innovationdeficit.org/ or follow the conversation on Twitter using  #InnovationDeficit

 

Alabama Power Foundation establishes interdisciplinary research institute in honor of Charles D. McCrary at Auburn University

Auburn University Seal identifies research as part of our trifold mission. The Alabama Power Foundation has made a significant philanthropic investment–the largest gift to support research in university history–to create the Charles D. McCrary Institute at Auburn University, as announced on Friday, November 7, 2014,  by the Auburn University Board of Trustees. The gift is being made in honor of McCrary’s recent retirement as president and chief executive officer of Alabama Power Company. McCrary, a 1973 mechanical engineering graduate of Auburn, completed a 40-year career with the company in April. The new institute will focus on interdisciplinary research and advanced technologies to improve the security and operations of our nation’s infrastructure while valuing natural resources and conservation. The creation of the institute will enable Auburn to attract nationally recognized faculty who are at the forefront of emerging technological issues, while leveraging existing university resources and personnel to broaden the institute’s technological impact and to inform policy and practice.

“It is very important that we guard and protect the security of our energy infrastructure systems, because they represent resources that are essential to our well-being. To secure the operation of these systems we will have to provide for the development of significant expertise to not only protect the resources already in place, but to develop next-generation technologies to meet the challenge of tomorrow’s threats. Therefore, we see research as a primary mission of the institute – to address the pressing needs that our state, region and country face in strategic areas related to our energy infrastructure,” said Chris Roberts, dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University, adding, “The planning that we have set in motion here within the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering will be complemented by conservation enterprises within the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.”

McCrary was introduced to Alabama Power through the work of his father, Douglas L. McCrary, who had a long and distinguished career at the company. Charles McCrary’s first job at Alabama Power was a part-time summer position in 1970, following his freshman year at Auburn. Following graduation, he joined the company full time and moved steadily into roles of increasing responsibility. He became president and CEO of Alabama Power in 2001.

During his tenure as chief executive, McCrary led the company through some of its most significant natural-disaster challenges, including Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, and the devastating tornadoes of 2011. He has been a leader in numerous civic, business, and educational initiatives, and a force for economic growth in the state, serving as chairman of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. He also was a key figure in the creation of the seven-county Birmingham Business Alliance. He is an avid outdoorsman and serves on the board of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

“We are incredibly appreciative to the Alabama Power Foundation for choosing to honor Charles McCrary in this significant and meaningful way. By supporting people and programmatic activity here at Auburn, a place Mr. McCrary clearly valued, they ensure that their tribute to him will have lasting impact for years to come. It is particularly appropriate and fitting that the newly formed Charles D. McCrary Institute will help to steward the abundant natural resources here in Alabama, which clearly mean a great deal to him as well.  There is a direct linkage between these resources, quality of life, and economic development,” said Graeme Lockaby, interim dean of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University.

“This investment will serve as a catalyst for other enterprises to invest in these programs that will have long-term implications for advanced research, policy formation, economic development, business expansion and job creation,” said John Mason, vice president for research and economic development at Auburn University.

The Alabama Power Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2014. Since its creation in 1989 with funds donated by shareholders, the foundation has provided Alabama communities, educational institutions and nonprofits more than $150 million in support through more than 20,000 grants and scholarships. Learn more about the Alabama Power Foundation at www.powerofgood.com.

Auburn School of Nursing uses nifty tool (can you say Glo Germ?) to train nurses to work safely around infectious disease

Auburn Nursingauburn nursing

Auburn’s School of Nursing is using a nifty tool (can you say Glo Germ?) to train nurses how to work safely around infectious diseases ranging from the flu to Ebola.  Read all about it here.

Auburn University: Working to Secure the Cyber Domain

Auburn University is one of a handful of institutions in the United States that has been designated by the National Security Agency as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations, Cyber Defense and Information Assurance. This unique three-fold designation allows the Auburn University Cyber Initiative to engage at the highest levels with national agencies and industries working in the cyber domain.

On October 24, 2014, Auburn University hosted a world affairs forum where some of the security challenges related to the cyber domain were discussed. Panelists included Admiral Michael S. Rogers, ’81, Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and Director of the National Security Agency and Senator Jeff Sessions, United States Senator from Alabama, Senior Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The panel was moderated by Lt. General Ronald L. Burgess (Ret.), Senior Counsel for National Security Programs, Cyber Programs and Military Affairs at Auburn University.

Topics included the balance of diplomacy and military force in a global crisis; military restructuring and budget constraints; the roles of the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command; the ISIS threat; and foreign policy in the Middle East. Check out an excerpt here:

http://youtu.be/V6Lk4u1Rnwo?list=UU5BE7kfbJPu9-AnZR9G4FKA