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Auburn University and NASA sign Space Act Agreement on additive manufacturing

John Mason, Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Auburn University and Patrick Scheuermann, Center Director, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, today sign joint space act agreement on additive manufacturing

John Mason, Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Auburn University and Patrick Scheuermann, Center Director, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, today sign joint space act agreement on additive manufacturing

Auburn University and NASA today signed a Space Act Agreement to explore and advance the applications of additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing.

The signing took place during the university’s forum on additive manufacturing, a process that uses 3-D printing to make a three-dimensional part or instrument, providing substantial technological advances and cost savings over traditional manufacturing methods. The forum was co-sponsored by Auburn University and the City of Auburn Industrial Development Board.

“Additive manufacturing is a major advancement for the future direction for the nation’s industries,” said John Mason, Auburn University vice president for research and economic development. “The partnership with NASA is an excellent opportunity to engage and leverage each other’s capabilities and expertise.”

The Space Act Agreement, in addition to focusing on additive manufacturing, is designed to advance STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – by engaging students and teachers in NASA’s missions and opportunities; investigate and develop technologies; and share facilities, capabilities and technical expertise.

“As we continue developing the agency’s powerful new rocket, the Space Launch System, for deep-space missions to an asteroid and a journey to Mars, additive manufacturing techniques are making it possible to create and test innovative new designs quickly and affordably,” said Patrick Scheuermann, director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “Marshall is also pioneering the use of 3-D printers in space, and the recycling and sustainability of advanced manufacturing materials needed to enable long-term missions. We’re pleased to partner with industry and academia as we focus on technologies that not only are central to the nation’s space mission but also benefit aerospace and other activities on Earth.”

The Marshall Center has used additive manufacturing to build and test rocket engine components and manufacture the first 3-D printed parts aboard the International Space Station. These parts are currently undergoing testing at Marshall.

Auburn’s forum, “Additive Manufacturing, the Next Industrial Revolution,” brought together leaders from the private sector, academia and government to explore opportunities and challenges of using this advanced technology in manufacturing. Greg Morris, general manager of additive technologies with GE Aviation in Cincinnati, gave the keynote address. GE Aviation is bringing high-volume additive manufacturing to its facility in the city of Auburn to manufacture jet engine fuel nozzles.

“We are establishing partnerships with highly innovative businesses and organizations to spur economic growth throughout the state and region,” Auburn’s Mason said. “These relationships benefit our students with learning experiences, while companies benefit from the practical, applied solutions developed through research conducted by faculty and students.”


The Auburn University Shellfish Lab: Putting Science to Work along the Northern Gulf Coast

The Eastern oyster industry in the United States produces 23 million pounds of oysters annually valued at $82.5 M.  The Gulf of Mexico typically accounts for 89% of harvest by volume, but represents only 73% of the total dollar value.  Experts at the Auburn University Shellfish Lab in Mobile County, Alabama are working to change that.

Despite the dramatic growth of oyster farming across the US, in the Gulf of Mexico region, oysters are only farmed extensively on bottom leases with the vast majority of production concentrated in Louisiana. Subject to environmental variability, the supply and quality of extensively farmed oysters varies widely. In contrast, oyster farmers using intensive, off-bottom methods focus on producing a steady supply of consistently premium oysters for the lucrative half shell niche market.

Off-bottom oyster farming, where watermen raise hatchery-reared oyster ‘seed’ in various containers, is an opportunity for a viable near-shore domestic aquaculture industry that can provide a large economic boon to the coastal communities along the Northern Gulf, to the producers as well as to the local  supporting industries, can improve the environment, and can preserve working waterfronts. While substantial industries (over $100 million/year respectively) have been established on the US East and West coasts, a number of hurdles kept this industry from being established along the Gulf coast, including Alabama.

Beginning in 2009, Auburn University’s Marine Extension and Research Center and Auburn University Shellfish Lab’s Dr. Bill Walton, partnered with Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, began to tackle the hurdles to this industry in Alabama, conducting research to identify the most cost-effective methods of raising oysters best suited to the region. Auburn partnered with a number of industry members to share the results and identify research priorities moving forward. This led to additional research into culture methods, marketing aspects, permitting questions and food safety. In addition, Auburn University permitted a 32-acre oyster farm ‘business park’ and conducted a hands-on training program where participants established commercial oyster farms within this park.

Building off this one business park, nine new commercial oyster farms have been established in Alabama, with a 2014 harvest value exceeding $500,000, which is expected to exceed $1 million in 2015, increasing incomes and generating local jobs.

To learn more, check out a couple of short but really great videos: Redefining Gulf Oysters and For the Love of Oysters: Alabama’s Oyster Farmers.

Articles about these efforts can also be found in Auburn Speaks: On Food Systems, Auburn Speaks: On Water, and Auburn Speaks: The Oil Spill of 2010 available from the Auburn Speaks Store.

Auburn Research Advisory Board Member, Dr. Paul Lioy passes away

Dr Paul Lioy

It is with profound sadness that we share the news of the sudden passing of dedicated Research Advisory Board member, Paul Lioy on Wednesday, July 8, 2015.  Dr. Lioy was an active member of the Research Advisory Board and a strong advocate for Auburn Research.  Dr. Lioy was Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Environmental Medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School of Rutgers University.

As many of you in the scientific community may know, Dr. Lioy was a pioneer in air pollution research and was one of the first scientists to take samples from Ground Zero after the Twin Towers collapsed. He was considered one of the world’s leading experts in personal exposures to toxins and was elected a fellow at the Collegium Ramazzini Environmental and Occupational Medicine and Health, Carpi, Italy, in 1999. Since 2002 Dr. Lioy was one of Information Sciences Institute’s most highly cited scientists in the category of environment and ecology. He was the recipient of numerous national and international awards, including the International Society of Exposure Science Jerome Weslowski Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Ellen Hardin Walworth Medal for Patriotism. Among the many books he authored, he was the most proud of “Dust: The Inside Story of its Role in the September 11th Aftermath.”

Dr. Lioy’s obituary may be found here:

A New York Times article concerning his passing and the significance of his work may be found here:

The thoughts and prayers of the Auburn Family are with Dr. Lioy’s family and friends at this difficult time.

Auburn University pharmacy professor helps bring two new drugs to market

Auburn University professor of pharmaceutics Bill Ravis has been instrumental in bringing two new drugs to market – Nesina® to treat type 2 diabetes and Impavido® to treat a parasitic disease that affects people in tropical and sub-tropical climates.  Ravis, in the Department of Drug Discovery and Development in the Harrison School of Pharmacy, collaborated with drug manufacturers on the studies and the FDA approval process.

Nesina is a peptidase-4 inhibitor used to treat type 2 diabetes, a disease that affects more than 29 million people in the United States.

In a project funded by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Ravis served as a principal investigator to conduct the required FDA phase I studies on Nesina to examine the influence of kidney function and how this relates to how the body handles and reacts to the drug. Also investigated was dosing for the drug and its toxicity in diabetes patients. Ravis supervised the study with the assistance of the East Alabama Medical Center and Dr. Thomas Stokes.

Impavido is the first FDA-approved drug to treat cutaneous or mucosal leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease affecting more than 12 million people living in tropical and sub-tropical climates and also a concern for military personnel in these areas.

Ravis studied how the body absorbs, distributes, metabolizes and excretes the drug, along with how factors such as age, gender and lesion size affect the drug in the body. This information was required as part of the new drug application, which then was used to establish the dose regimens to improve the drug’s benefits and limit its adverse effects. Support for miltefosine, Impavido’s generic name, for drug development and the work at Auburn was coordinated by Fast Track Drugs and Biologics and sponsored by Paladin Therapeutics and the Department of Defense.

“It is exciting to be a part of the study and development for new drugs that become approved and can make an impact in people’s lives,” said Ravis. “Interactions and collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry not only are a source of research funding but also provide training, learning and career opportunities for our professional and graduate students in the drug development process. With the expertise and facilities, not only within the Harrison School of Pharmacy but across campus, collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry and Auburn have grown and will continue to grow more in the future.”

Ravis also has been involved in studies of other drugs. The results of a new intravenous product of carbamazepine for epilepsy and convulsions were presented as a “late-breaker” poster presentation at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Epilepsy Society. Ravis assisted in the pharmacokinetic analysis for the product which is due to be available next year from Lundbeck. The presentation was titled “Pharmacokinetic Evaluations of Oral and Intravenous Carbamazepine using a Model-Based Approach” and was authored by Auburn’s Ravis, Dwain Tolbert of Lundbeck and Aziz Karim with AzK Consulting.

For more information about Ravis and his research, go to For more information about the Harrison School of Pharmacy, go to

By Matt Crouch