A number of UCO faculty were recently awarded a $1,187,961, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation as part of its Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. This project titled “Master Teachers Conducting STEM Practices and Action Research” will create a new partnership among the University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Public Schools, and the Central Oklahoma STEM Alliance to serve the national need of developing highly effective biology and mathematics teacher leaders in secondary education in Oklahoma.

The Noyce program supports talented STEM undergraduate majors and professionals to become effective K-12 STEM teachers and experienced, K-12 teachers to become STEM master teachers in high-need school districts. Fourteen central Oklahoma high school biology and math teachers will become Master Teaching Fellows. They will conduct STEM research and educational action research, do leadership training, and continue professional development and community building with each other while teaching in high-need schools. The program will orient these teachers to effectively support and mentor other teachers, especially those with emergency and alternative certifications.

Program organizers include UCO’s: Allyson Fenwick, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology; Liz Lane-Harvard, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mathematics & Statistics; Elizabeth Allan, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology, and Mike Nelson, Ph.D., Professor and Assistant Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies. The program evaluator is Cynthia Murray, Ph.D., Professor of Mathematics and Statistics. Additional UCO faculty are senior personnel on the project and will mentor Fellows.

Dr. Ben Tayo, Associate Professor of Engineering & Physics was awarded a National Institutes of Health, R-15 grant. The grant, a three-year, $425,928 research grant will bring deeper insights on a new class of materials for DNA detection. The ability to detect and discriminate DNA bases by reading it directly using simple and cost-effective methods is an important problem whose solution can produce value for areas such as cancer and human genetic disorder research. Despite progress in sequencing techniques, there are still several challenges to be overcome. Because of the challenges, the need for cheaper and faster approaches for automated sequencing is crucial. This research will employ high-performance computing and machine learning resources to investigate the potential of several two-dimensional crystalline materials for DNA sequencing. The knowledge gained from this research will provide deeper insights that will help guide the integration of these materials as active components of electronic devices for fast, direct-read, and affordable DNA sequencing. This award will strengthen the research environment at the University of Central Oklahoma and engage students in computational research.

Dr. Emily Hendryx from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics was awarded a three-year, $410,515 grant from the National Institute of Health. Titled “Summarizing Cardiac Data: An Automated Approach for Identifying Representative Heartbeats in the Clinical Setting,” this project involves a collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital to use applied mathematics and data science in removing noise and summarizing pediatric electrocardiogram data recorded at hospital bedsides. This project will provide a way to present a representation of a patient’s recent cardiac health history to clinicians and deliver clinical decision support toward improving patient outcomes. Co-advised by Dr. Tyler Cook from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, this project will also offer undergraduate students an opportunity to participate in innovative interdisciplinary research.

Dr. John Rhee from the Department of Computer Science received a $87,873 grant from Sandia National Laboratories as part of his effort to build better cybersecurity services for cloud-based software systems. Once completed, the tools developed in his project titled “TelScope: Discovering Blind Spots of Telemetry Diagnosability” will be used to reveal gaps between telemetry requirements and implemented telemetry collection for cloud services.

Dr. Morshed Khandaker from the Department of Engineering and Physics received an Oklahoma Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) grant for his project “Anti Corrosion Behavior of Mg and Zn nanoparticle incorporated nanofiber membrane.” This $5,000 award will be used to evaluate the structural efficacy of magnesium- and zinc-loaded nanofiber membrane coating on steel in reinforced concrete.