Our faculty and students are working on thousands of projects that will ultimately benefit North Carolina and the nation. Here are just a few examples of cutting-edge research results from the past year.

Dr. Maysam Ghovanlo Dr. Maysam Ghovanloo, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has developed the Tongue Drive system - an innovative assistive device to enable people with severe disabilities such as spinal cord injuries or degenerative diseases to access computers using their tongues. A prototype, which communicates wirelessly with a basic PDA to control a computer, wheelchair, telephone, TV, or other device, will be tested at WakeMed Rehab Hospital in Raleigh.
Dr. Joel Ducoste Associate professor of civil, construction, and environmental engineering, Dr. Joel Ducoste is researching ways to prevent sanitary sewer overflows caused by accumulation of fat, roots, oil, and grease in collection systems. Using computer simulations and pilot-scale tests, Ducoste and his team are analyzing the surface chemistry of pipe materials as well as pretreatment methodologies.
Dr. Gail Jones, professor of mathematics, science and technology education, and her UNC colleague have received a $700,000 grant to study what types of experiences improve students’ ability to conceptualize size and scale. The results will lead to better student understanding of technological developments such as the telescope and the atomic force microscope, as well as future advancements in astrophysics, biotechnology, nanoscale science, and geography.
Dr. Gail Jones
Dr. Gregg Dean Dr. Gregg Dean, professor of immunopathology and an expert on feline and human lentiviruses, is developing novel vaccine strategies for the prevention of human and feline immunodeficiency (HIV/FIV) virus infection. Dean’s lab is investigating the potential of Lactobacillus bacteria, a safe organism used in food processing, as an inexpensive, easy to manufacture, orally delivered vaccine vector.

Tom Banks Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, mathematics professor Tom Banks, statistics professor Marie Davidian, and their colleagues are developing mathematical and statistical models that will aid in designing new treatment strategies for HIV patients. The research could lead to new approaches for treating acutely infected patients based on their personal variables.
Alex Smirnov and Tatiana Smirnova With support from NIH, NSF, and DOE, Professors Alex Smirnov and Tatiana Smirnova are developing novel approaches to studying drug molecular mechanisms. Dr. Smirnov is using his newly discovered lipid nanotube technology to develop a new generation of robust and efficient hybrid nanoscale devices and membrane protein biochips. Dr. Smirnova is using advanced spectroscopic tools to study bonding interactions in membrane proteins and principles governing assembly of transmembrane domains of enveloped viruses to assist in developing novel vaccines.

Alan Tonelli and Richard Kotek
College of Textiles professors Alan Tonelli and Richard Kotek have developed a super-strong aliphatic nylon fiber to be used in ropes, loading straps, parachutes, and automotive tires, or to create composite materials suitable for high-temperature applications. Tonelli says these fibers are as much as 10 times stronger than typical aliphatic nylons and will probably be more economical to produce than high-strength nylons like Kevlar.
Stephen Michielsen Textiles professor Stephen Michielsen and collaborators at Emory University have developed a novel, permanent nano-coating for filters to kill or inactivate most viruses and bacteria when exposed to visible light. Early tests have shown that the coating kills 99.9% of influenza and vaccinia viruses. Potential uses will include hospital areas and waiting rooms, airplanes, businesses, and anti-viral masks for first responders and the military

 Dr. Ann Ross
Assistant professor of anthropology and co-director of the new NC Program for Forensic Science, Dr. Ann Ross is conducting research on the classification of human skulls using modern three-dimensional methods in order to improve current identification standards. Ross was the recipient of the 2005 International Human Rights Award for her work in identifying Hurricane Katrina victims and investigating forced disappearances, tortures, and arbitrary executions in Bosnia and her native Panama.
 

With funding from NIH and the National Academies, assistant professor of genetics Dr. Philip Awadalla and his research team are resequencing the Plasmodium falciparum genome from parasites around the world to discover novel vaccine and drug targets. Plasmodium falciparum is the most lethal agent of malaria, which kills two to four million people each year. Dr. Philip Awadalla
Microbiology Professor Scott Laste Microbiology Professor Scott Laster, working with Erimos Pharmaceuticals, has discovered that a small molecule named EM-1421—currently in clinical trials for treatment of malignant tumors—also reduces the often fatal complications of multiple flu strains, possibly including avian flu. An R&D facility for Houston-based Erimos is located on NC State’s Centennial Campus

Wood and Paper Science professors Hasan Jameel, Hou-min Chang, and Richard Venditti Wood and Paper Science professors Hasan Jameel, Hou-min Chang, and Richard Venditti have developed a process to recover and recycle 60% of the enzymes required during various phases of producing ethanol from wood and other waste paper. This process has the potential to significantly decrease the cost of ethanol production.

>Architecture professor Georgia Bizios Architecture professor Georgia Bizios oversees a partnership with the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina to promote quality home designs and an increase in home ownership among members. Architecture graduate students work with Bizios and tribe members to generate design guidelines and prototypes for affordable, energy-efficient, culturally appropriate homes and neighborhoods. Lumbee Home Designs is part of the College of Design’s Home Environments Design Initiative—a vehicle for helping improve the quality of residential architecture in North Carolina.

Dr. Mark Beasley
As one of the pioneers of an emergent discipline, accounting professor Dr. Mark Beasley is the director of the Enterprise Risk Management Initiative. The Initiative provides leadership in managing the portfolio of risks that face organizations, boards of directors, senior executives, and other stakeholders seeking to preserve and enhance entity value.