The Engaged University
elcome to the 2006 edition of UND Discovery, the research magazine of the University of North Dakota. In the past two years, our theme has been the “engaged research university,” in which engagement implies partnerships marked by reciprocity and synergisms. For example, as an engaged research university, UND aims to partner with the community in which we live by crafting initiatives that are marked by shared goals and agendas, by outcomes that are meaningful to both the University and the community, and by collaborative leveraging of university, public, and private funds. The aim is to focus largely on research that is receptive to societal needs by forming partnerships based on a culture of engagement.
In this edition, we extend the focus to include UND’s engagement at the global level. Thus, we showcase the University’s international research partnerships and give examples of the global consequences of UND research. I am pleased to say that we are actively building international research collaborations, particularly in India and China, across a number of disciplines that we intend to highlight in future editions of UND Discovery.
The lead article is a great example of how UND research is paving the way for the benefit of our universe toward greater use of renewable and sustainable energy sources. Dr. Wayne Seames from the School of Engineering and Mines and his colleagues have developed terrific new technologies to convert North Dakota crops into biojet fuels, that, given the extreme cold temperatures at which jet aircraft operate, represent a significant increase in complexity compared to the generation of biofuels in general. The biojet fuel project is part of a UND research consortium called SUNRISE, staffed primarily with faculty from the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. In addition to creating transportation fuels from renewable sources, SUNRISE projects include the development of novel technologies for future wind and hydrogen economies.
UND researchers in the medical and life sciences continue to make significant discoveries that affect health and wellness of people around the world. For example, Dr. Roxanne Vaughan is conducting National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research on the relationship between dopamine regulation, drug addiction, and neuropathologies such as Parkinson’s disease. Drs. Van Doze and James Porter have received National Science Foundation and NIH funding to investigate the neuroetiologies underlying seizure-type neurodegenerative diseases. And Dr. Julia Zhao, from the Department of Chemistry, utilizes cutting-edge bionanotechnologies to better understand human disease. Another first-rate researcher at UND involved in nanotechnologies is Dr. Juana Moreno from the Department of Physics. Her work has international bearing on material sciences, computer engineering, as well as biomedical sciences.
UND faculty are conducting research around the world. The Department of History’s Dr. William Caraher is involved in archaeological research in Cyprus, a crucial trade and political crossroad since the time of the Romans. Dr. Joseph Hartman of the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering returned recently from fieldwork in India and London. His research involving a rare mollusk could yield insights into the changing geological patterns of the planet. UND political scientist Dr. Paul Sum returned this summer from Romania where he extends his studies on the democratization in post-communist societies. And the English Department’s Dr. Michael Beard continues to receive international acclaim for his work in Middle Eastern literature, particularly for his translations of Persian and Arabic poetry into English, as a means to enhance cultural awareness and understanding.
Achieving research milestones
UND achieved a number of research milestones in fiscal year 2006. Under a program championed by Gov. John Hoeven, UND was awarded funding for three North Dakota Centers of Excellence for Economic Development: the Center of Excellence in Life Sciences and Advanced Technologies for $3.5 million, the Center of Excellence for Hydrogen Technologies for $2.5 million, and the Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and Simulation Applications for $1 million.
Research awards reached $95 million and research expenditures reached $83 million, the highest the institution has ever recorded. Indeed, the UND research enterprise has doubled in the past five years and increased 244 percent since 1999. We have seen a significant parallel increase in intellectual property protection and management with the increase in research activity, with 18 invention disclosures and 17 patent filings in the past year.
The economic impact of UND research continues to be significant. UND research generated an additional $164 million in economic output in our five-state north central region, created 1,593 jobs, and created $6 million in state and local taxes, and $26 million in federal taxes. These numbers do not include the revenue and resultant economic impact that will accrue with commercialization of UND inventions.
While UND Discovery offers only a glimpse of our comprehensive research programs, I trust you will see that the research enterprise at the University of North Dakota is definitely on the move. Our research programs span an impressive number of disciplines which bring resources to bear on the problems facing North Dakota, our country, and the world. We’re proud to say that UND has emerged as a fully engaged research university at the global level.
Peter Alfonso, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research