Archives for January 14, 2016

NIH Workshop

On January 13 Dr Meg Bouvier met with 48 researchers and provided a clinic on getting research money from NIH. A short interview was conducted immediately following  the workshop.

NSF: Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems

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Humanity is reliant upon the physical resources and natural systems of the Earth for the provision of food, energy, and water. It is becoming imperative that humanity determines how society can best integrate across thenatural and built environments to provide for a growing demand for food, water and energy while maintaining appropriate ecosystem services.

Factors contributing to stresses in the food, energy, and water (FEW) systems include increasing regional and social pressures and governance issues as result of land use change, climate variability, and heterogeneous resource distribution. These interconnections and interdependencies associated with the food, energy and water nexus create research grand challenges in understanding how the complex, coupled processes of society and the environment function now, and in the future. There is a critical need for research that enables new means of adapting to future challenges.

The FEW systems must be defined broadly, incorporating physical processes (such as built infrastructure and new technologies for more efficient resource utilization), natural processes (such as biogeochemical and hydrologic cycles), biological processes (such as agroecosystem structure and productivity), social/behavioral processes (such as decision making and governance), and cyber elements. Investigations of these complex systems may produce discoveries that cannot emerge from research on food or energy or water systems alone.

It is the synergy among these components in the context of sustainability that will open innovative science and engineering pathways to produce new knowledge and novel technologies to solve the challenges of scarcity and variability.

The overarching goal of INFEWS is to catalyze the well-integrated interdisciplinary research efforts to transform scientific understanding of the FEW nexus in order to improve system function and management, address system stress, increase resilience, and ensure sustainability.

The NSF INFEWS initiative is designed specifically to attain the following goals:
1. Significantly advance the understanding of the food-energy-water system through quantitative and computational modeling, including support for relevant cyberinfrastructure;
2. Develop real-time, cyber-enabled interfaces that improve understanding of the behavior of FEW systems and increase decision support capability;
3. Enable research that will lead to innovative system and technological solutions to critical FEW problems; and
4. Grow the scientific workforce capable of studying and managing the FEW system, through education and other professional development opportunities.

This activity enables interagency cooperation on one of the most pressing problems of the millennium – understanding interactions across the food, energy and water nexus – how it is likely to affect the world, and how humanity can proactively plan for its consequences. It allows the partner agencies – National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA/NIFA) and others – to combine resources to identify and fund the most meritorious and highest-impact projects that support their respective missions, while eliminating duplication of effort and fostering collaboration between agencies and the investigators they support.

Corps: Innovative Water Efficiency and Water Resilience Initiatives

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Proposals are sought for evaluations and demonstrations of innovative technologies that will improve water efficiency, conserve water resources, and improve resilience of water delivery systems. Federal agencies arerequired to meet stringent water conservation targets mandated by Executive Order. In addition, the Army has set challenging goals for Net Zero Water attainment at installations. Products/methods/techniques that will improve overall water efficiency or reduce reliance on potable water sources are of interest. These include but are not limited to: water conservation and ultra-efficient plumbing fixtures and controls, smart landscaping, smart irrigation controls, rainwater and stormwater collection and reuse systems, condensate capture and reuse systems, water efficient energy technologies, graywater reuse systems, wastewater recycling, decentralized wastewater systems, theliving building concept, distribution system leak detection, drain line transport issues, and net zero water. In addition, proposals are sought for products/methods/techniques that will improve the resilience of water delivery systems and reduce the risk of loss of water services due to economic dislocations, depletion of natural resources, and natural or man-made disasters. Proposals are also sought for products/methods/techniques which will facilitate cost effective, reliable, and sustainable water support to deployed forces in underdeveloped regions of the world.

NSF: Structural and Architectural Engineering and Materials (SAEM)

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The overall goal of the Structural and Architectural Engineering and Materials(SAEM) program is to enable sustainable buildings and other structures that can be continuously occupied and/or operated during thestructure’s useful life. The SAEM program supports fundamental research for advancing knowledge and innovation in structural and architectural engineering and materials that promotes a holistic approach to analysis and design, construction, operation, maintenance, retrofit, and repair of structures. For buildings, all components including the foundation-structure-envelope (the façade, curtain-wall and roofing) and interior systems, are of interest to the program. Research in new engineering concepts and design paradigms for buildings that have significantly reduced dependence and interdependence on municipal infrastructure through, for example, self-hydrating (closed-loop water system) and self-heating-cooling-ventilating (energy usage) is encouraged. In addition, the program targets research in the building systems that are reconfigurable for rapid construction, disassembly and disposal, are reliable and resilient, and are less complex.

Research topics of interest for sustainable structures include the following: strategies for structures that over their lifecycle are cost-effective, make efficient use of resources and energy, and incorporate sustainable structural and architectural materials; mitigation of deterioration due to fatigue and corrosion; serviceability related to large deflections and vibrations; and advances in physics-based computational modeling and simulation. Research is encouraged that integrates discoveries from other science and engineering fields, such as materials science, building science, mechanics of materials, dynamic systems and control, reliability, risk analysis, architecture, economics and human factors. The program also supports research in sustainablefoundation-structure-envelope-nonstructural systems and materials as described in the following report: National Science and Technology Council, High Performance Buildings; Final Report: Federal R & D Agenda for Net Zero Energy, High-Performance Green Buildings. Building Technology Research and Development (BTRD) Subcommittee, OSTP, U.S. Government, September 2008.

Structural health monitoring that focuses on decision-making systems for civil structures is of interest; however, research for new sensor technologies and data collection should be submitted to other programs. Proposals that focus on the performance and mitigation of structures subjected to natural hazards, such as earthquakes, windstorms (tornadoes and hurricanes), tsunamis, and landslides, should be submitted to the Engineering for Natural Hazards Program. Research addressing blast loads and fire effects on building systems and data-enabled science and engineering are not supported by SAEM.

The SAEM program does not support non-fundamental research that is more appropriate for mission oriented federal agencies, such as nuclear power plants and transportation structures. Within this programmatic focus, materialsresearch of interest includes fundamental investigations into new sustainablestructural and architectural materials that are multifunctional and integral to lifetime serviceability of the structure, and extend beyond conventional uses of mature or current infrastructure construction materials such as concrete, steel, and masonry. Examples of research priorities are fundamental studies of biological and bio-inspired materials, materials produced from recycledmaterials and/or are easily recyclable, materials with low embedded carbon footprints, and smart materials that change properties in reaction to environmental changes. Parametric studies of commonly used constructionmaterials are not appropriate for this or other CMMI programs. Materialsresearch not specifically related to civil infrastructure should be submitted to the MEP Program in CMMI or the Division of Materials Research in the MPS Directorate.

The SAEM program encourages knowledge dissemination and technology transfer activities that can lead to broader societal benefit and implementation for provision of sustainable structures.

AFOSR: Aerospace Materials for Extreme Environments

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The objective of basic research in Aerospace Materials for ExtremeEnvironments is to provide the fundamental knowledge required to enable revolutionary advances in future U.S. Air Force technologies through thediscovery and characterization of materials for extreme temperatures (exceeding 1000 degrees Celsius), other extreme environments of stress-, magnetic-, electric-, microwave-, and ultrasound fields. Interest domain includes the fundamental science of single crystals, heterogeneous structures, interface of phases and grain boundaries. Materials of interest are ceramics, metals, hybrid systems including inorganic composites that exhibit superior structural, functional and/or multifunctional performance.

The function within a specific time domain of interest profoundly important and response characteristics defines the material more importantly than generalized properties. The following research concentrations are selected to highlight the aforementioned philosophy about function, environment and state of thematerials that could create disruptive source of transformations.

Predictive Materials Science: Simulation-based materials design has the potential to dramatically reduce the need for expensive down-stream characterization and testing. Currently, we don’t even have a good grasp of how combining materials into particular compounds gives them certain properties, or how these properties give materials functional qualities. Often the modeling approaches make casual inference about the microstructural features. The aim is to explore the possibility for the quantification of microstructure through reliable and accurate descriptions of grain and particle shapes, and identifying sample distributions of shape descriptors to generate and predict structures which might revolutionize the design and performance. The quality of computerized representation of microstructures and models will be measured by its (a) geometric accuracy, or faithfulness to the physical landscape, (b) complexity, (c) structure accuracy and controllability (function), and (d) amenability to processing and high level understanding. In order to satisfy this objective, the approaches may require development of an accurate methodology for the quantification of 3-Dimensional shapes in both experimental and theoretical microstructures in heterogeneous systems, and to establish a pathway for an accurate comparison tools (and metric).

Materials Response Far from Equilibrium: The transformative breakthrough has not originated from the investigations of materials in equilibrium state but in contrary at the margins of the disciplines. In this context, this program embraces materials that are far from the thermodynamic equilibrium domain; bulk metallic glasses, highly doped polycrystalline laser materials, adaptive oxides, multiferroics, supersaturated-, frustrated structures (quasi-two-dimensional electron gas of layered structures). The aim is to link an effective property to relevant local fields weighted with certain correlation functions that statistically exemplify the structure and demonstrate clear scientific pathway to create new materials with specific tailorable properties. This subtopic area require elucidation of complex interplay between (first order) phase transitions for electronic/magnetic phase separation and untangle the interdependence between structural, electronic, photonic and magnetic effects. Realization of the multi-component systems that are far from equilibrium may also require new approaches to how computation itself is modeled or even an entirely new understanding of computation.

Combined External Fields: This portfolio stresses a fundamental understanding of external fields and energy through the materials microstructure at a variety of time scales and in a variety of conditions. This area includes a wide range of activities that require understanding and managing the non-linear response ofmaterials to combined loads (i.e., thermal, acoustic, chemistry, shear or pressure fields) under high energy density non-equilibrium extremities. One example of this this objective is the interest to expand the scientific understanding of high electrical field applications through the incorporation of the new mathematical enterprises that captures the dynamic relationship between structure and properties across the space and time scales that exist at the hetero-interface. Another example is the discovery of new techniques for modeling, measuring, and analyzing thermal phenomena at multiple time and length scales in emerging novel material systems with the ultimate goal of exploiting these phenomena to design future materials and components that break the paradigm of today’s materials where the boundaries of performance/failure are defined by thermal conduction, convection, and radiation physics. As a whole, this subtopic also aims to expand the scientific base for understanding the formation, control, and mitigation of structures in external fields and use this scientific base to design and build materials far from equilibrium as well as thermodynamically stable structures.

NSF: Materials Engineering and Processing (MEP)

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The Materials Engineering and Processing (MEP) program supports fundamental research addressing the processing and mechanical performance of engineering materials by investigating the interrelationship of materialsprocessing, structure, properties and/or life-cycle performance for targeted applications.

Materials processing proposals should focus on manufacturing processes that convert material into useful form as either intermediate or final composition. These include processes such as extrusion, molding, casting, deposition, sintering and printing. Proposed research should include the consideration of cost, performance, and feasibility of scale-up, as appropriate. Novel processes for the production of nanoscale materials (nanotubes, nanocrystals, etc.) are of interest. Process optimization studies without a fundamental scientific contribution are not supported.

Research proposals related to mechanical performance should be driven by a targeted application(s). Structural materials that, in service, bear mechanical load are of interest. These include materials such as metals, polymers, composites, biomaterials, ceramics, hybrids and cement, intended for applications ranging from the microscale (e.g., MEMS) to the macroscale (e.g., civil infrastructures). Research related to the deterioration of performance during service (e.g., corrosion and degradation) is also of interest.

In some cases, the performance of functional materials is also of interest. This includes materials that possess native properties and functions that can be controlled by external influences (e.g., temperature, light and pH) as well as responsive materials (e.g., piezoelectric, chromogenic, shape memory and self-healing). Research proposals on performance of electronic materials to be used for energy storage or conversion (e.g., fuel cells, batteries and PVs) are not appropriate for the MEP program. One exception to this would be for proposals related to multifunctional (versus a single function) material performance that include a consideration of mechanical performance. Proposals on this topic are encouraged.

Research plans driven by scientific hypotheses are encouraged. Material structures across length scales ranging from nano to meso to macro are of interest. Research on materials in the bulk or in special configurations such as surfaces or interfaces is appropriate as are research proposals related to surface engineering or tribology. Analytical, experimental, and/or numerical studies are supported. Collaborative proposals with industry (GOALI) are encouraged.

Proposals related to additive manufacturing, laser processing or bonding/joining processes are welcome in CMMI and should be submitted to the Manufacturing Machines and Equipment (MME) program, even if the focus of such proposals is on the materials for those processes. Proposals addressing the manufacture (scale up, quality, reliability, etc.) of nanoscale materials, structures, devices and systems should be submitted to the Nanomanufacturing (NM) program. Proposals addressing atomic/molecular scale synthesis or thin film synthesis (as opposed to manufacturing) are not appropriate for the MEP program. Research proposals on electronic materials to be used for energy storage or conversion (e.g., fuel cells, batteries, PVs) are not appropriate for the MEP program unless there is new science being proposed about manufacturing processes for these materials. Research on the mechanics of solid materialsshould be directed to the Mechanics of Materials (MoM) program. Investigators with proposals focused on design methodological approaches and theory enabling the accelerated development and insertion of materials should consider the Design of Engineering Material Systems (DEMS) program. In response to the Materials Genome Initiative, there is a special initiative for research on a combined theoretical and experimental approach to acceleratematerials discovery and development; such proposals should be directed to the Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer Our Future (DMREF) opportunity.

Manufacturing Innovation Institute

A gilt-edged opportunity for S&T research ambitions has been announced. Here are a few notes extracted from RFI-AFRL-RQKM-2016-0009. Could this be turned into the big break for a signature area or center>

  • Contracting Office: Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) – Wright-Patterson
  • RFI is not a request for competitive proposals but to consider input from industry, academia, prospective non-profit leads, and other stakeholders as part of an effort to select and scope the technology focus areas for as many as two more Manufacturing Innovation Institutes (MIIs) beyond the six established or being established by the DoD.
  • Institutes are regionally based public-private partnerships enabling the scale-up of advanced manufacturing technologies and processes with the goal of successful transition of existing science and technology into defense and commercial manufacturing applications. Each Institute will be led by a not-for-profit organization and focus on a specific technology area.
  • Submit 25 pages by 3:00 PM Local Time, 16 February 2016
  • Give opinions to these questions: What are the common manufacturing challenges within the TRL/MRL 4-7 area for the technology that are beyond the investment risk of industry and what are the opportunities for investment that would make a significant national impact? • What evidence is there of critical technical mass for building upon an existing regional hub(s) of excellence to create a national center of expertise as an MII? • What is the likelihood that the technology could generate at least $75M in cost share to match a similar government investment? • What is the current state of U.S. manufacturing capability associated with this technology and what strategies may be required to ensure a successful domestic industrial base? Are there key areas which the U.S. has a significant lead? Are there areas where U.S. is trailing foreign capabilities? If so, what are they? • What are the domestic and the global markets for the technology? (please address defense as well as non-defense applications) • Within any technical focus area suggested, is there a subset of the technology that you would focus the institute on in order to achieve market potential? • What would be the potential business case/benefits as well as the national economic impact if an institute were launched in the technology area (i.e. jobs, gross domestic product, etc.)? 5 • What would be the potential impact on national security if an MII were launched in the technology focus area? • What evidence would indicate that the institute could be self-sustaining (i.e., no need for federal sustaining funding) after 5-7 years? • What is the likelihood that you would bid (as a prime or as a team member) on a future government solicitation to lead or be part of an institute in the technology area you are suggesting? • What workforce education or skills must be substantially developed to support successful transition to production in the U.S. in this technology focus area? • If the technology focus area you are suggesting is substantially defense unique, what opportunities for commercial breakthroughs are there? • What is the potential market failure(s) being addressed by this topic? • Within this technology focus area, what type of capital equipment is needed, how much of it is available to support a manufacturing commons, and where is it?

Free Webinar iRLPD: UPTiM, and iCCL

What: Free Webinar iRLPD: UPTiM and iCCL

Why: Review findings from tests conducted by Pavement Systems, LLC for binders and mixtures for fatigue performance and material property characterization.


Test connection if unfamiliar with Avaya Web Conferences.  It opens from 9:30 am until noon cdt, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016.

Webinar open at 9:30 am and starts promptly at 10 am and lasts until noon cdt, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016

If you experience problems connecting or want to see what options are available, see the Avaya manual:

How: Connection Details for (a) and (b) are shown at the end.

Who: Kenneth Hobson (Oklahoma DOT).  Presenters: Alaeddin Mohseni and Haleh Azari (both with Pavement Systems, LLC)


Pavement Systems will present Unified Performance Testing using incremental Methodology (UPTiM).  UPTiM is a breakthrough in asphalt materials testing that covers asphalt binder, mastic and mixture.  So far, several tests have been developed and verified for low, intermediate and high temperature characterization of asphaltic materials as well as a moisture damage test for mixture.

The test for determination of rutting resistance of asphalt mixtures, which was the first test of the series,  is referred to as iRLPD (incremental Repeated Load Permanent Deformation) for rutting and is now AASHTO TP 116. There is also a counterpart iRLPD-rutting test for asphalt mastic recovered from mixture. The tests for determining fatigue resistance, referred to as iRLPD-cracking, apply to asphalt binder, mastic, and mixture. The iRLPD tests for mixtures are performed by a AMPT machine and the iRLPD tests for binder and mastic are performed with a DSR. A brief review of the iRLPD tests and the results of testing ETG mixtures for rutting and ALF materials (mixture, mastic, and binder) for fatigue will be presented.

A newest test from UPTiM series is called iCCL (incremental Creep for Cracking at Low temperature)- pronounced icicle, which is for low temperature characterization of asphalt binder and mastic using a DSR.  Results of iCCL test for over 180 binders from 20 states will be presented.  iCCL determined same PG grade as BBR; however, this test is significantly faster, more repeatable and practical than BBR and can be used as a screening tool for accepting binders.  iCCL test is also used for testing binders that are aged significantly longer than PAV in order to simulate near surface condition that causes Top-down and block cracking.

In addition, the results of tests on asphalt mastic for high and low temperature characterization of over 100 mixtures from more than 10 states will be presented.  This test can be utilized for high and low temperature grading of the mixtures with RAP, RAS, Rubber, and other additives. The tests on mastic eliminate the need for extracting asphalt, which is use currently used for determining changes in grade from additives.

Connection Details:

For the voice connection to listen and to perhaps ask questions at the end, phone (405) 521-4496.  Please mute your phone after connecting.

For the test connection: Phone (405) 521-4496. Enter the conference code number when prompted:  593408#

The URL for the data connection is:

For the webinar: Phone (405) 521-4496. Enter the conference code number when prompted:  570095#

The URL for the data connection is:


  1. No PDH certificates will be issued.
  2. Unfortunately, the phone number is not toll-free.
  3. The Avaya manual link may help you view how Avaya works and help with any trouble-shooting issues.  The latest version of Java may be required but though required, some web browsers may be able to view the webinar without significant problem.  Web browsers Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and perhaps Microsoft Edge though not officially supported may work fine for participants.


If you have questions or want a reminder for (A) or (B) in a calendar invitation with a copy of these instructions, please send Kenneth Hobson,, your email address.   It is strongly encouraged that you try the (A) test connection in preparation for the (B) webinar.  Feel free to forward this email to others that may have an interest in this work.

I hope that you will enjoy listening, viewing presentations, and participating in this free webinar.


NIH: an insider blogs

Dr. Michael Lauer is NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research, serving as the principal scientific leader and adviser to the NIH Director on the NIH extramural research program. And he blogs a couple of times per year with “Open Mike”Dr. Michael Lauer

Here is just one pearl.

Work with Me Here (Really!)

Are you someone who is interested in making an impact on the future of the biomedical research enterprise? If so, we may have the perfect opportunity for you! We are hiring a deputy director to work with us to lead the NIH Office of Extramural Research (OER). In addition to being the second authority for the OER, the deputy director serves as the director of the OER Office of Planning, Analysis and Communication as well as NIH’s extramural research integrity officer.

This is an opportunity to be part of one of the most interesting offices in NIH. Truly. Instead of focusing on a particular area of science, OER looks at the entire research enterprise, how we know it is working and how we can make it work better. Our focus on public accountability, program stewardship, scientific integrity, and providing the infrastructure for NIH’s extramural research programs allows for the broadest of impacts. If you want to join a team who is thinking strategically about results-based accountability and new and transformative ways of doing business, look no further. Applications are due by January 19.

Xiaodong Yang scores with NSF CAREER award

See full article.  Alright Xiaodong – SWEET!

Professor Xiaodong Yang works on optical metamaterials that have wide applications in daily life, such as cellphone displays and solar cells.

Dr. Xiaodong Yang, Assistant Professor 227 Toomey Hall Missouri University of Science and Technology 400 West 13th Street Rolla, MO 65409-0050 Phone: (573) 341-6273 Fax: (573) 341-4607