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Monthly Archives: October 2015

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Inaugural Auburn University Research Advisory Board Advancement of Research and Scholarship Achievement Award presented to Dr. Geoffrey Hill

From L to R, Charles Pick, Chair of the Auburn University Research Advisory Board, Geoff Hill, Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, Lori St. Onge, Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee of the Research Advisory Board

At the recent, “This is Research: Faculty Symposium” Dr. Geoffrey Hill, a professor in Auburn’s Department of Biological Sciences, was presented with the inaugural Research Advisory Board Advancement of Research and Scholarship Achievement Award in recognition of the significant accomplishments and innovative research that span his 22 year career at Auburn.

The Auburn University Research Advisory Board is a group of more than 40 industry professionals from across the country who actively support Auburn’s efforts to grow a fully-robust research and scholarship culture in which faculty discover new knowledge, support economic development, and enrich the lives of others. In the Spring of 2014, the board created an award to recognize high quality, competitive research and scholarly activity that exemplifies and advances Auburn’s research and scholarship mission. The Research Advisory Board Advancement of Research and Scholarship Achievement Award is recognized as Auburn’s most prestigious research award.

Through the Research Advisory Board’s Academic Affairs Committee and the efforts of its Chair, Dr. Lori St. Onge, a process was established whereby Auburn faculty could describe their research activity and compete for an annual $25,000 grant to be used to further their research efforts. Submissions were accepted during the Fall of 2014 and formed the basis for a multi-phase review process. The review committee sought to identify a faculty member who had distinguished him or herself through activity which served to advance Auburn’s research and scholarship mission, and who had significantly impacted his or her field of study with extraordinary scholarship and/or notable research findings.

Research Advisory Board members were impressed with each applicant, but particularly with noted ornithologist, Dr. Geoff Hill whose achievements include a distinguished record of publication in top international journals, publication of five books with leading science publishers, 17 continuous years of extramural funding, a top executive position at the National Science Foundation and the development of a preliminary patent for a valuable new biochemical process for producing a valuable carotenoid (organic) pigment. Dr. Hill is among the most cited and published ornithologists and behavioral ecologists in the world, and was recently recognized with the 2014 Brewster Award for lifetime achievement in ornithology, the world’s highest honor for an ornithologist.

“I am grateful to the Research Advisory Board for their support and pleased that they chose to honor Dr. Hill with this significant award,” Auburn’s Vice President for Research and Economic Development John Mason said. “His efforts exemplify the high quality, competitive research and scholarly activity that increases understanding, provides solutions, and improves lives at home and around the world.”

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Student Space Program receives NSF funding to design, build and launch satellites

Auburn Student Scientists

With a National Science Foundation grant secured by Auburn University faculty, undergraduate students at Auburn will design, build and test two CubeSat satellites that will launch into space in 2018.

CubeSats are small satellites that come in multiples of 4-inch cubes. The grant marks the first time the National Science Foundation has awarded a grant for the construction, space launch, and operation of two, three-unit, CubeSats – a project that provides invaluable workforce development experience to Auburn’s undergraduate students.

“To receive this kind of funding from NSF is a real feather in our cap,” said J-M Wersinger, professor emeritus in the Department of Physics and Auburn University Student Space Program director. “The Auburn University Student Space Program is now recognized as offering one of the most prestigious CubeSat programs in the nation.”

Wersinger, along with Mike Fogle, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, will submit a proposal to NASA to obtain a rocket launch that will carry the CubeSats into low Earth orbit for a mission that will last approximately 18 months. The two satellites will undergo many tests and reviews before launch, which will take place in about three years.

“CubeSats are great for research because they are inexpensive to build, you can fly a lot of them at the same time and receive more information and you can look at data in almost real time,” Fogle said.

The student and faculty researchers will ultimately study the structure of powerful gamma-ray flashes associated with thunderstorms in the tropical regions of Earth. Auburn launched its first, single-unit CubeSat, AubieSat-1, into space in October 2011. The two, three-unit CubeSats for the NSF-funded mission are named TRYAD 1 and TRYAD 2. “TRYAD” stands for Terrestrial RaYs Analysis and Detection.

The two CubeSats are currently being designed, built and tested solely by undergraduate student members of the Auburn University Student Space Program under the guidance of faculty in the Department of Physics and the College of Engineering. More than 30 students this semester alone are balancing their classroom obligations with 15 to 20 hours per week working in the lab on TRYAD 1 and TRYAD 2.

“The work pays off because people in industry recognize the program creates future leaders,” Wersinger said. “The students are given a unique, work-force development experience where they work in teams to complete a space experiment, understand the importance of deadlines and gain a basic understanding of management and systems engineering. Also we have worked and continue to work with several NASA partners like Goddard Space Flight Center, Ames Research Center and Marshall Space Flight Center.”

In addition to designing and building TRYAD 1 and 2, Auburn students will be responsible for commanding and controlling the CubeSats in space using the NASA Near Earth Network of ground stations. Through communication with the two satellites, students will also test PULSAR, a new high-bandwidth radio developed by NASA engineers, capable of transmitting 150 million data bits per second.

The project represents a collaboration with University of Alabama Huntsville, and the funding was secured by a team of scientists from UAH and Auburn University, including faculty members Wersinger and Fogle, as well as Daniel Harris, associate professor in Auburn’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Professor Saad Biaz of Auburn’s Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering. The grant is in the amount of $893,873 for a project titled, “Collaborative Research: CubeSat: Observing Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flash (TGF) Beams With A Pair Of CubeSats.”

UAH representatives on the project are responsible for developing the science instrument used to detect the gamma-rays while on orbit. They will also collect and analyze the science data, but Auburn University will have access to the data before it is distributed to the scientific community at large.

The Auburn University Student Space Program is part of the College of Sciences and Mathematics. For more information about the college, go to http://www.auburn.edu/cosam/.

Published: 10/08/2015

By: Candis Birchfield

Auburn University celebrates Olympic designation

Elite athletes from across the nation can now train and receive science-based assessments and personalized feedback from kinesiology experts at Auburn.

The College of Education unveiled signage on Sept. 25 marking Auburn University’s official designation as a U.S. Olympic training site by the United States Olympic Committee, or USOC, following a ceremony at the School of Kinesiology. Auburn is one of 18 Olympic training sites in the country and one of only five universities nationwide to receive the designation.

The Kinesiology Building, Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum and Watson Fieldhouse were designated U.S. Olympic training sites as the university assists Team USA on its journey to the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympic Games.

“USA Team Handball is one that competes at the highest level in the Pan American Games and Olympic Games,” said retired Brig. Gen. Harvey Schiller, president of USA Team Handball and USOC representative. “I think it’s a unique opportunity for the community and the university to have an Olympic sport housed in its environment.”

auburn designated olympic training site

The ceremony, which was hosted in conjunction with the College of Education’s centennial anniversary celebration and the Auburn University Board of Trustees’ quarterly meeting, included remarks from Jay Gogue, Auburn University president; Betty Lou Whitford, dean of the College of Education; David Benedict, chief operating officer for Auburn University Athletics; Schiller; Sarah Gascon, doctoral candidate in the School of Kinesiology; Sarah Newton, member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees; and Dave Pascoe, a Humana-Germany-Sherman Distinguished Professor and the assistant director of the School of Kinesiology.

Administrators from the university and USA Team Handball, along with several athletes were also honored on Sept. 26 before the Auburn vs. Mississippi State football game.

“This designation brings together the recognizable logos of the USOC, Auburn University and USA Team Handball,” said Pascoe. “People across the country will want to connect with this unique collaboration of spirit, science and top training facilities.”

Since the summer of 2013, Auburn has hosted elite training and competition for the men’s and women’s USA national team handball programs.

The USA Team Handball members are also a part of a long-term residency program at Auburn through the School of Kinesiology. This program allows the school to provide expertise in assessment and performance of human movement, including biomechanics, basic and applied physiology, neuroscience, behavior, conditioning, health and motor learning and development.

“The Auburn School of Kinesiology has been instrumental in providing a new home for USA Team Handball athletes and we appreciate the support of the Auburn-Opelika community in welcoming our athletes and coaches,” said Alicia McConnell, USOC director of training sites and community partnerships. “We look forward to a fruitful relationship with Auburn University as an official U.S. Olympic training site.”

For more information about the United States Olympic Committee, go to www.teamusa.org. For more information about USA Team Handball, go to www.teamusa.org/USA-Team-Handball.

Published: 09/25/2015

By: Sarah Phillips