The University of Arkansas at Little Rock and its spinoff company, NuShores Biosciences, received a visit from Sen. John Boozman Oct. 29 to check out the ongoing research and scientific advancements at the institutions.
Sen. Boozman first visited NuShores Biosciences to get a firsthand look at innovative labs and projects underway in central Arkansas. NuShores CEO Sharon Ballard and Dr. Alex Biris, director of the Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences, gave the senator a tour of the facility and reviewed the initiatives to commercialize the bone and tissue regeneration technologies.
“I’m grateful for Sen. Boozman’s support of NuShores and our licensor UA Little Rock,” Ballard said. “He asked great questions and enjoyed discussing our science and manufacturing efforts with our team. It was quite the energy boost to have a sitting senator take such interest and encouragement in our work!”
Sen. Boozman also learned about the manufacturing processes for the NuCress Bone Scaffold that has been developed at NuShores with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Army Medical Command.
“NuShores is doing groundbreaking work to help improve bone regeneration technology, and I enjoyed getting to learn more about its operation and research, which could ultimately help prevent amputations,” Sen. Boozman said.
At UA Little Rock, the senator toured the Collaboratorium for Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies (COSMOS), the Emerging Analytics Center (EAC), and the Cyber Arena in the Donaghey College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics to see the amazing projects taking place in information science, computer science, cybersecurity, and augmented and virtual reality.
“Sen. Boozman’s visits are always a delight,” said Dr. Lawrence Whitman, dean of the Donaghey College of STEM. “We appreciate his support of the vital research at UA Little Rock and the manner in which he engages us to ensure that we are providing impact for all Arkansans.”
Sen. Boozman and his staff have worked with the university for the last several years in helping secure federal funding for many of UA Little Rock’s research projects focused on national security.
“The important research conducted at UA Little Rock is leading to breakthroughs and discoveries that enable us to better safeguard our country against emerging threats,” Sen. Boozman said. “I’m proud to support the development of innovative strategies advanced by UA Little Rock researchers that offer solutions to enhance our national security and preparedness.”
In COSMOS, Dr. Nitin Agarwal, Jerry L. Maulden-Entergy endowed chair and distinguished professor of information science and director of COSMOS, shared how his research team is using social media analysis to defend against global disinformation threats. One example is COSMOS’ recent work finding COVID-19 disinformation campaigns and scams in partnership with the Arkansas Attorney General’s office. COSMOS’ research is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Defense and National Science Foundation.
“We deeply appreciate Sen. Boozman for his unwavering support to the research conducted at COSMOS for strengthening the social and cognitive security apparatus that is furthering the U.S. Department of Defense’s mission, particularly enhancing force protection and operation security against adversarial information operations,” Agarwal said. “During the visit, Senator Boozman inspired and encouraged our students to keep up the groundbreaking research that is of national and strategic importance.”
In the Cyber Arena, Sen. Boozman met several students enrolled in UA Little Rock’s new cybersecurity degree program, which is working to fill the gap of qualified cybersecurity professionals needed to protect network security throughout the country.
“We appreciate Sen. Boozman’s work to bring cybersecurity workforce development and research opportunities to Arkansas. Our students have tremendous talent and creativity in developing solutions to defend the nation, and the senator works hard to continue providing them with opportunities to make use of those talents.” said Philip Huff, assistant professor of cybersecurity.
UA Little Rock has received numerous grants and created partnerships for workforce education and cybersecurity. These grants are helping UA Little Rock to provide K-12 cybersecurity education to students in Arkansas, the country’s first graduate certificate in cybersecurity education, and a Cybersecurity Workforce Certificate Program for first responders.
“The State of Arkansas is providing outstanding support for research and teaching in computer science and cybersecurity,” said Dr. Albert Baker, chair of the Department of Science. “The federal support Sen. Boozman has secured for productive research programs at UA Little Rock is producing actionable results for the state and the nation. We are genuinely appreciative that the senator took the time to review the funded research projects.”
Dr. Jan Springer, director of the Emerging Analytics Center, discussed the work the center is doing to enhance the nation’s border security.
“Our team in the Emerging Analytics Center showcased their work on automated detection of organic threats in x-ray scans for Sen. Boozman,” Springer said. “Throughout this project, the senator has emphasized the importance of innovating border security and has helped us tremendously in securing funding for developing tools and techniques to meet this national priority.”