December 2014
Dr. Alexandru Biris
ARA Fellow


Congratulations to Dr. Alex Biris, Director/Chief Scientist of the UALR Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Services! The Arkansas Research Alliance has selected Dr. Biris as one of five inaugural fellows in its newly-formed fellowship program.

Dr. Biris is conducting research on the science of nanostructures that can be used to alter properties of substances at the atomic level. As a new fellow, he will receive a three-year, $75,000 grant in support of his projects.


Dr. Hanan Mahdi
Ground Penetration Radar

Dr. Hanan Mahdi

Hanan Mahdi, Associate Professor of Research in the UALR Graduate Institute of Technology and the Arkansas Earthquake Center, has received a $286,341 grant from the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) to investigate Ground Penetration Radar (GPR) system configurations that will most effectively assist the AHTD in state highway maintenance and management.

“According to the highway administration, it is highly probable that unknown utilities will be encountered when construction begins, resulting in possible project delays and cost overruns,” Mahdi said. “To avoid these delays, the planning and early design phases should include site characterizations of subsurface utilities. While not all utilities are detectable, utility-locating surveys will significantly reduce the uncertainty typically associated with these projects.”

During the two-year grant period, Mahdi and her co-principal investigator Amin Akhnoukh, associate professor of construction management in the UALR College of Engineering and Technology, will assess various GPR configurations. Based on their research, they will give AHTD their recommendation for the most efficient system to purchase.

“The use of a specifically-designed GPR configuration will help AHTD in different projects, such as detecting the location and depth of underground utilities to avoid any destruction of water pipes, gas pipes, drainage systems, electric cables, and sub-pavement cavities,” said Mahdi. “Additional advantages of this project include the investigation of any archeological sites or unmarked graves that AHTD may encounter during the work.”

Mahdi and Akhnoukh will also train AHTD personnel on the use of the new system during field investigations and through workshops. “We’re looking forward to working with AHTD to accomplish the project tasks to benefit the state with these important needs,” Mahdi said.


September 2014
Dr. Kenji Yoshigoe
MRI: Acquisition of Peta-scale Data Storage System for Big Data Exploration in STEM Fields


Dr. Kenji Yoshigoe, associate professor and chair in the Department of Computer Science, has received a $291,908 grant from the National Science Foundation. This is a prestigious and competitive three-year grant is for deployment of a high performance peta-scale storage system, which will be a first at this scale for higher education and research in Arkansas.

This acquisition will expand the ability of the high-performance computing (HPC) systems already available at the UALR Computational Research Center (CRC) for conducting cutting-edge big data research and promote STEM education in Arkansas.

Dr. Yoshigoe and his collaborators are particularly interested in exploring large-scale medical image analysis, complex social network analyses, large-scale entity resolution, and protein structure prediction. However, the requested instrument can impact on research, training, and teaching beyond the proposed research projects. The acquiring system will facilitate a wide range of big data research projects throughout Arkansas including the computational chemistry group and the UALR-UAMS joint bioinformatics program, and open to all UALR researchers and their collaborators. It can also be integrated to the visualization equipment array for the new Emerging Analytic Center. Read more on this grant.

February 2014
Dr. Mengjun Xie and Dr. Kenji Yoshigoe
REU Site: CyberSAFE@UALR: Cyber Security and Forensics Research at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock


This prestigious and competitive three-year grant from the National Science Foundation establishes a new Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site at the University of Arkansas Little Rock, which is also the first REU Site hosted by UALR. Undergraduate students recruited from all over the country will participate in summer research focused on the integration of fundamental security and forensics research with the latest technical advances in mobile computing, cloud computing, and social networks. The research is led by an experienced faculty team that plans to offer a balance of theory, applications, and practical skills as well as mentoring and professional development opportunities for the students.

The intellectual merit of this project lies in strong research basis and the expertise of the faculty. The projects are in research areas that are current and address national priorities. The site will leverage its National Security Agency designated Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education and NSF funded Cloud Computing Research Instrument and Computational Research Center to enhance and enrich participants’ competitive research experiences. The undergraduate student participants will gain a broad and unified picture of the significance of security and forensics through interactions with university professors, professionals, and researchers in forensics labs, practitioners in the IT industry, and security officers in military service. The research has the potential to contribute to the research core of the emerging field of cyber security.

September 2013
Dr. Cang Ye
NRI: Small: A Co-Robotic Navigation Aid for the Visually Impaired


The objective of the proposed research is to develop enabling technology for a co-robotic navigation aid called a Co-Robotic Cane (CRC). The CRC is able to collaborate with its user via intuitive human-device interaction mechanisms in achieving effective navigation in 3D environments. The CRC’s navigational functions include position estimation of the device, wayfinding, obstacle detection, and objet recognition. The use of the CRC will help to improve the independent mobility of the visually impaired and, therefore, improve their quality of life. The project team will develop new computer vision methods that support accurate blind navigation in 3D environments and intuitive human-device interaction interfaces for effective use of device. These methods include: (1) a new robotic pose estimation method that provides accurate device pose estimate by integrating egomotion estimation and visual feature tracking; (2) a pattern recognition method that may recognize indoor structures and objects for wayfinding and obstacle manipulation/avoidance; (3) an innovative mechanism for intuitive conveying of the desired travel direction; and (4) a Human Intent Detection interface for automatic device mode switching. The proposed blind navigation solution can be encapsulated in a miniaturized system and installed on a conventional white cane and enhance its functionality. The resulted CRC will provide advanced navigational functions that are currently unavailable in the existing blind navigation aids.

Dr. Shucheng Yu
MRI: Acquisition of a Cloud Computing Infrastructure for Research and Education

This is a prestigious and competitive 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation for deployment of the first cloud computing instrument in the state of Arkansas for research and education. The awarded instrument, after its installation, will have more than 1000GB RAM and over 100TB storage. Theoretically, the cloud can run over 400 simultaneous virtual machine instances (each with 4GB memory) and is ideal for large-scale parallel tasks in the era of big data.With the awarded cloud instrument, PI Dr. Shucheng Yu and the Co-PIs, all from the Computer Science Department at UALR, will carry out various cutting-edge research projects, spanning areas of social networks, cloud computing security, cryptography, biomedical computing, and data stream analysis. The cloud will be made accessible to the community of UALR and researchers from other universities in the state of Arkansas. This grant also aims to provide unique experiences with cloud techniques to students at UALR.

Dr. Hirak Patangia
SBIR: Hands-free Silent Tactile Obstacle Avoidance System for Blind Travelers.

Congratulations to Dr. Hirak Patangia of the UALR Engineering Technology department. He received a subaward from Fauxsee Innovations through the National Science Foundation for the proposal entitled SBIR: Hands-free Silent Tactile Obstacle Avoidance System for Blind Travelers. With this funding, Dr. Patangia will be able to hire two undergraduate students and one graduate student for the Fall semester.Fauxsee Innovation“proposes to design, develop, evaluate, and specify an ultrasonic blind mobility assistance device[called] ‘Roboglasses™’ that will provide a more effective, affordable, lightweight and intelligent navigation assistant for vision-impaired people.”  Dr. Patangia and his team of students will contribute to this project by providing design assistance, design testing and evaluation, instrumentation, and system simulation.

*This page does not provide a comprehensive list of all awards and only provides a list of awards approved for publication. Please contact us if you would like to announce your award on this page.


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