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(606 words)MONTICELLO, Ark. -- Forestry researchers and agricultural engineers will be working
together at the nano- and micro- levels as part of the new statewide Center for Advanced
Surface Engineering, or CASE.
Their research will be conducted through a $20 million grant from the National Science
Foundation to Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Science and Technology.
Over five years, about $1.7 million will go to researchers working in partnership
from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, the Arkansas Forest
Resources Center and UAM School of Forestry and Natural Resources.
As director of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, Phil Tappe is a bridge among
the institutions. The center is a collaborative partnership between the Division of
Agriculture and the UAM School of Forestry and Natural Resources, where Tappe also
serves as dean.
“This is an incredible research opportunity for us. The potential applications for
the cellulose-based materials that we expect to develop could open new horizons for
engineering and medicine at the nano- and micro- levels,” he said.
Forestry in Arkansas accounts for more than 24,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in wages
annually, with products including pulp and paper, solid wood products and furniture.
“This is a good example of using our research expertise to develop technologies that
can be utilized by one of the state’s most important industries, adding to the economic
contribution by the forestry sector,” said Mark Cochran, University of Arkansas vice
president-Agriculture and head of the system’s Division of Agriculture.
Clarence Watson, head of the division’s Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station,
said the project will showcase the ability of division’s researchers to find new channels
of innovation that “can support economic development in the state’s significant forestry
industry in a new direction.”
Tappe said that “we envision linking forest science and existing nanotechnology research
and fabrication capacities to develop novel surfaces with changeable permeability
which, for example, will allow for control and release of antimicrobial compounds
or antioxidants. We are prepared to put our unique expertise in forestry to work in
CASE researchers will develop novel lubrication materials, permeable food packing
materials and other novel surfaces that can be fine-tuned for specific applications,
such as selective filtration. The project will strengthen the Science, Technology,
Engineering and Mathematics workforce using a variety of innovative approaches to
train students, teachers, researchers, and practitioners in surface science, material
fabrication, and surface characterization techniques. The project will also emphasize
the development of expertise in technology commercialization, entrepreneurship, and
Those involved in this aspect of the research are:
Ten Arkansas institutions of higher education are collaborating on CASE work to enable
discovery, design, fabrication, and testing of multi-functional surfaces. The CASE
research and educational activities encompass material-science needs in agriculture,
medicine, and industry. Applications include manufacturing, food packaging, and healthcare
The funds will be used to support the ASSET project, Arkansas Advancing and Supporting
Science, Engineering and Technology, a multi-institutional statewide program with
research areas that impact education and workforce, cyberinfrastructure, and engineering
“This award will go a long way in strengthening STEM-based research and workforce
in Arkansas,” Governor Hutchinson said. “All eyes are now on Arkansas because of the
strides we are making in science and technology. We must continue to build on this
momentum to ensure our current and future workforce has the skills they need to succeed.”
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran
status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org