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MSI Fellow Efi Foufoula-Georgiou (Civil Engineering) has been named by President Barack Obama to serve on the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board. The Board is an independent agency whose purpose is to provide independent scientific and technical oversight to the DOE’s program for managing and disposing of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. More information can be found in the University’s news release.
Professor Foufoula-Georgiou has been an MSI researcher for many years, and she has been an MSI Fellow since 1996. Her research group uses MSI resources to support their work studying precipitation and water systems. Using data received from a number of sources, the group is analyzing and modeling rainfall across large portions of the earth’s surface. The datasets for both the precipitation measurements and for geological features (river networks, channels, etc.) are very large, necessitating the use of powerful computing capabilities and parallel computational capacity. Professor Foufoula-Georgiou is on the faculty at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory and is the director of the National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics.
The University of Minnesota announced recently that discoveries by University researchers were used to launch 12 startup companies in fiscal year 2012. This is a record number. You can read the news story describing the companies on the Office of the VP for Research (OVPR) Business blog.
Several of the researchers are MSI Principal Investigators:
- Michael Tsapatsis (Chemical Engineering and Mechanics) – uses MSI supercomputers for computational studies of zeolite nanosheets used for gas separation, catalysis, and other applications
- Gregory Beilman (Surgery) – uses MSI’s web- and data-hosting services to process, analyze, and display data from research concerning identification of changes in the metabolme during traumatic shock
- Michael Sadowsky (Soil. Water, and Climate) – MSI is supporting the Minnesota Mississippi Metagenome Project, including the creation of an extensive database cataloging the biodiversity of microbial life in the Mississippi river in Minnesota using metagenomic analysis
- Simo Sarkanen (Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering) – uses MSI resources to support research into applications for lignin, the second most abundant biopolymer
- Walter Low (Neurosurgery) – uses software available at MSI to help apply novel bioinformatic and systems-biological approaches for elucidating novel molecular pathways associated with different physiological and pathophysiological states
- Martin Saar (Earth Sciences) – uses supercomputers to model groundwater flow for various projects, including research into using sequestered CO2 in brine as a heat-transport medium in porous rock basis to provide geothermal energy
The OVPR’s Office of Business Relations provides an interface between businesses and University research and researchers. The OVPR’s Office for Technology Commercialization oversees all technology commercialization efforts at the University.
MSI Principal Investigators Robert Patterson (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation), Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos (Computer Science and Engineering), and Ned Mohan (Electrical and Computer Engineering) were among University faculty who were awarded patents during the past quarter.
MSI researchers Professor Larry Wackett (Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics) and Professor Michael Sadowsky (Soil, Water, and Climate) are two of the principal investigators on a project to develop innovative biotechnology to purify hydraulic fracturing (fracking) wastewater. The project has received a $600,000 grant under the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for Innovation (NSF-PFI) program, which creates partnerships between academic researchers and companies to produce new technologies for public benefit. This is the first NSF-PFI grant awarded in Minnesota. More information can be found at the UMNews website.
Professor Wackett’s research group uses MSI resources for research into novel biocatalysis. Professor Sadowsky’s team is producing a database cataloging the biodiversity and functions of microbial life in the Mississippi River.