ECSU profs get $1M in grants


left to right: Bob Pippen, Rotary District Governor and Elizabeth City Morning Rotary Club Member, Theo Bohn, Elizabeth City Morning Rotary Club President, Bonnie Thrift, John Manley, Jr., Dr. Vann Newkirk, and Pedro Holley, Elizabeth City Morning Rotary Club member and sponsor for new member John Manley, Jr.


From staff reports

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Elizabeth City State University faculty members have received three U.S. Department of Defense grants totaling more than $1 million.

The announcement comes as ECSU officials announced earlier this week their intention to increase the university’s research funding from federal and private foundation sources.

The awards will be used to purchase new equipment and hire faculty in materials science and engineering. The federal funding will enhance ECSU’s ability to provide numerous educational opportunities to students, and increase collaborative efforts between ECSU, other academic institutions, and the Department of Defense, according to university officials.

“We are truly excited about the innovations and educational activities that will result from these DoD awards, not to mention the potential for future research collaborations,” said Annemarie Delgado, ECSU’s director of sponsored programs, contracts and grants. “These awards are a testament to the high-caliber research faculty at ECSU.”

ECSU Provost Vann Newkirk told university trustees at their Sept. 12 meeting that the university is working not only to increase its research funding through traditional grant programs but also to expand its involvement in federal and private contracting.

In this current round of Department of Defense grant funding, Professor Kuldeep Rawat was awarded, and Newkirk will manage, an award of $99,904 from the Office of Naval Research for a project titled, “Faculty Start-up Package to Strengthen Materials Research at ECSU.” The initiative will put ECSU on the road toward establishing a Materials Research Center to promote basic and applied science research as well as collaborative and innovative research training in areas used by the Department of Defense.

ECSU will support a new faculty member to develop a long-term targeted research program in materials science and engineering that will be well-funded by governmental agencies and industry. 

Gloria Payne, professor and chairwoman of the Department of Natural Sciences, was awarded $597,283 from the Army Research Office for a project titled “Digitalization of Planetarium Enhances Education and Research.” The project’s research focus will be an integration of solar system analysis as it relates to changes in the earth’s polar regions.

The grant will allow ECSU to purchase a Digistar 6 full dome 3D projection system. It will provide for real-time analysis opportunities for identifying solar markers and patterns that could possibly answer questions related to sea level changes. Students who are majoring in science and math education will be trained on equipment that will enable them to create learning activities for students.

ECSU faculty who be included in the project include Harry Bass of the Department of Natural Sciences; Sultana Kahn of the Department of Chemistry and Physics, Rawat of the Department of Technology; and Jinchun Yuan, of the Department of Biological Sciences.

Adetayo Adedeji, associate professor of physics in the Department of Natural Sciences, was awarded $311,430 from the Army Research Office for a project titled “Acquisition of Instruments to Develop and Characterize Patterned Micron-Sizes Thermochromic Vanadium Dioxide to Study the Size and Edge Effect on Semiconductor-Metal Characteristics.”

The grant will enable ECSU to acquire equipment for use investigating the impact of sample size, shapes and edge terminations on the semiconductor-metal transition characteristics of thermochromic vandium dioxide (VO2) thin films. 

Undergraduate student research assistants will be involved, using the instruments to achieve research goals. The grant will also provide for outreach activities with science teachers and students from area schools.

Newkirk reported to trustees that ECSU has started a research foundation that’s been approved by the Secretary of State’s Office. Additional paperwork is required before the foundation becomes operational, he explained.

The university needs to identify contracts that can provide seed money to grow the foundation, according to Newkirk.

University departments and professors submitted more than $40 million in proposals in 2016-17. Right now university officials are working to improve the development process to increase the number of of competitive proposals submitted.