This Is Auburn


Eight innovative projects receive 2024 internal awards

6/11/2024 12:52:04 PM      

Eight innovative projects have been named recipients of Auburn University’s internal research and creative works funding awards programs for 2024.

The Research Support Program (RSP) and the Creative Work and Social Impact Scholarship Funding Program (CWSIS) were established by the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research and Economic Development. Both programs provide a competitive internal funding source to support faculty members’ research and creative scholarship as they refine their projects before competing for larger, external awards.

“The CWSIS and RSP provide applicants across all disciplines with the opportunity to participate in a competitive funding program,” said Christine Cline, associate director of Proposal Services and Faculty Support, the unit administering the programs. “The programs support a wide variety of research initiatives from creative work through STEM-focused projects. We appreciate the opportunity to engage with the participants from the initiation of the application cycle through the successful completion of their projects.”

The RSP is intended to foster the development and growth of innovative and transformational research activities. It builds on faculty expertise, stimulates interdisciplinary collaborations and strengthens seed research activities. It is a strategically focused Auburn investment that promotes promising and impactful new lines of research as well as the growth of collaborative and interdisciplinary teams to build the foundations of science, to overcome scientific and societal challenges and to promote and enhance the quality of life and well-being of individuals, groups and communities.

The CWSIS funding program fosters innovation and discovery and builds faculty reputation and competitiveness. Disciplines associated with CWSIS include design and the arts, humanities and applicable areas within business, education, social sciences and health and well-being.

This year’s recipients are:

Research Support Program

James Gillespie, College of Veterinary Medicine, “Development of Bacteriophage Nano/Microparticles for Nasal Delivery of Species-specific Immunocontraceptives”
Co-Investigator: Constantinos Kyriakis, College of Veterinary Medicine

Suhasini Gururaja, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, “Integrated Manufacturing for ‘Tuned’ Microstructures for Targeted Enhanced Lightweight Structural Performance and Autonomous Damage Sensing (IMADS)”
Co-Investigator: Virginia Davis, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

Junshan Lin, College of Sciences & Mathematics, “Computation-assisted Optical Imaging towards Sub-Nanometer Super-resolution”
Co-Investigator: Siyuan Dai, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

Binita Mahato, College of Liberal Arts, “Urban Resilience and Social Vulnerability: The Past, Present, and Future of Climate Change Impacts in Mobile, Alabama”
Co-Investigators: Chandana Mitra, College of Science and Mathematics; Dr. Jake Nelson, College of Science and Mathematics; Rebecca Retzlaff, College of Liberal Arts

Yaoqi Zhang, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment, “Tree Shade on Summertime Electricity Consumption”
Co-Investigator: Wenying Li, College of Agriculture

Creative Work and Social Impact Scholarship Funding Program

Georges Fares, College of Human Sciences, “Bridging Eras: Merging Technology and Tradition in the Study of Bernini’s Works for the Purpose of Cultural Engagement”
Co-Investigator: Anna Ruth Gatlin, College of Human Sciences

Allie McCreary, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment, “Climate Change Resiliency Along the Gulf Coast: How Tourism Providers Perceive Impacts & Adaptation Strategies”

Xavier Vendrell, College of Architecture, Design & Construction, “Site, Construction, Users, My Favorite Movies, and Other Circumstances:  Xavier Vendrell, Architect”

More information about these and other funding support programs supported by the Auburn Office of the Senior Vice President for Research and Economic Development can be found by clicking here.

blue and white flowers with Auburn University's Samford Hall in the background

Categories: OSVPRED, Energy & the Environment, Engineering, Life Sciences, Agriculture, Liberal Arts, Architecture, Design & Construction

Auburn IPX office, innovative patents, aid continued move up NAI top 100

6/5/2024 9:32:00 AM      

Auburn University has been ranked among the top 100 U.S. universities granted utility patents in 2023, according to a report published recently by the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

With 16 new patents issued in 2023, Auburn was ranked 87th on the list, 10 places higher than last year. The list was created to highlight and celebrate American innovation and to recognize those universities that play a large role in advancing the innovation ecosystem within the U.S. and beyond.

A sampling of Auburn’s recent patents demonstrates the wide scope of innovative research ongoing across the university. These include a new aid for use in canine detection training that allows dogs to be taught to alert on extremely hazardous substances without actual risk of exposure to those substances by the dogs or their trainers. Another patent was issued for a low-cost, extremely sensitive sensor — designed to detect a variety of substances — that can be used in a number of inexpensive diagnostic devices. 

According to Patrick Reed, who was named executive director of the AU IP Exchange (IPX) Office at the beginning of 2024, the number of patents as well as Auburn’s NAI ranking should only contin

ue to increase thanks to a renewed emphasis on encouraging and incubating innovation across the entire campus.

The IP Exchange, located in Auburn’s Research Park, supports innovation and connects AU subject matter experts with external partners to help bring new ideas and products to market. IPX also moves beyond the traditional technology transfer role by getting involved earlier in the collaborative research process.

“We bring decades of experience evaluating and cultivating early-stage innovation,” Reed said, “and work daily with faculty, staff and students; patents and copyrights; and business, industry and other external partners. Bringing Auburn innovation to the marketplace for the benefit of the public is at the core of everything we do.”

One example of a 2023 patent that is already being brought to the marketplace to benefit the public is a new method for manufacturing personalized protective gear such as pads and braces based on a body scan of the future wearer. An Auburn-based company, XO Armor, is already using this technique — along with advanced 3-D printing technology — to develop individualized athletic and medical devices for clients nationwide. The company was founded by Michael Zabala, Auburn Alumni Engineering Council Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

And while the university’s STEM areas have traditionally been strong centers of innovation, Reed also noted that the Auburn IPX is increasingly expanding its reach into other colleges and schools campus-wide. The IP Exchange also plans to pursue more federal grant funding opportunities to bolster and increase innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship across the entire campus.

“We are working to grow the innovation tent at AU by approaching other colleges and schools as well as researchers outside of the usual STEM areas,” he said. “Bringing non-STEM areas into the fold will grow our core metrics while also helping to create new areas of interdisciplinary research, such as inclusion of industrial design or psychology into relevant lines of research inquiry.”

Finally, IPX is working to further improve its services to make them ever more user-friendly. The office has added several new staff members in the past 12 months to further improve the client experience. “Our goal is to make working with IPX as easy as possible,” Reed explained. “We want to be seen as a nimble, flexible, and creative research-support unit.”

All these IPX initiatives promise to continue to add to Auburn’s already strong association with the NAI. In addition to its inclusion on the Top 100 U.S. Universities list, AU has seen nine of its faculty members named as NAI fellows and one as an NAI senior member. The prestigious NAI fellows program honors academicians “who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.”

Current and emeritus Auburn faculty members who have previously been recognized as NAI fellows include Fa Foster Dai, J. David Irwin, Joseph W. Kloepper, John Weete, the late S.D. “Dave” Worley, Bruce Tatarchuk and the late Vitaly Vodyanoy. Auburn faculty member Yonhua Tzeng and Mehmet Arik were named NAI fellows in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Jin Wang, the first Auburn faculty member to be named a senior member, is the Walt and Virginia Woltosz Professor in Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Wang’s research innovations center around effectively converting waste into value-added products.

Founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the NAI is a member organization of U.S. and international universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with more than 4,000 individual inventor members and fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide.

Michael Zabala with mannequin displaying orthotic device

Michael Zabala is one of the patent holders whose innovations earned Auburn a spot in the National Academy of Inventors' ranking of top 100 universities granted utility patents in 2023.

Categories: OSVPRED, Security, Engineering, Economic Development

Applications being accepted for Executive Director, AU Applied Research Institute, in Huntsville

3/20/2024 2:51:10 PM      


Auburn University invites nominations and applications for the position of Executive Director, Auburn University Applied Research Institute, to be located at the Auburn University Research and Innovation Campus in Huntsville, AL. As the inaugural Executive Director, this individual will be responsible for providing oversight and leadership for a multi-disciplinary applied research program to serve the defense, aerospace, and biotech sectors. This will include working very closely with the Auburn University Senior Vice President for Research, the Dean of Engineering and other college deans. The Executive Director will be the primary voice for Auburn University in the Huntsville community and in other related sites with significant defense and aerospace efforts. The Executive Director will conduct high level interactions with funding sources in defense, aerospace and biotech sectors; connect funding opportunities to the Applied Research Center within the Institute and to research professionals on Auburn’s main campus; provide leadership to ensure appropriate research staff are available for projects within the Institute; and be responsible for local oversight for operations of the Auburn University Research and Innovation Campus. Ongoing research programs in the Institute includes digital engineering, advanced manufacturing, design for additive manufacturing, cyber and critical infrastructure security, systems engineering, space and missile defense systems. The Executive Director will be expected to provide the following essential functions:

STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP - Develops long-term vision, strategies, and tactics for the Applied Research Institute, ensuring that the Institute gains a prominent role in applied research and innovation among the defense, aerospace and biotech sectors. The Executive Director will work closely with leadership on Auburn’s main campus to maintain alignment and connections with overall university research priorities

RESEARCH MANAGEMENT – Works closely with the Institute personnel to ensure the Institute goals are achieved within budget and time constraints and projects are carried out with high quality.

FUNDING AND BUDGETING – Works closely with leadership on the Auburn University main campus to secure necessary resources for basic operational support of the Institute. Focuses significant efforts on engaging with external funding agencies and identifying research opportunities that can be pursued by the Institute or interdisciplinary teams of researchers on Auburn’s main campus. Manages the Institute’s budget to effectively allocate and utilize resources.

TEAM BUILDING AND MANAGEMENT – Works with the Director of Corporate Relations; the Director of the Applied Research Center; and the Director of Business Operations, Community Relations, & Special Events to recruit, mentor, and oversee a team of professionals to achieve the goals of the Applied Research Institute. Fosters a collaborative environment and promotes continuous growth.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT - Engages with community, industry, and other stakeholders to ensure the Institute's contributions are aligned with their needs and priorities. Facilitates engagement of Auburn University main campus faculty and students with Institute activities and the Huntsville community at large.

REPORTING - Provides regular reports to senior Auburn University leaders and stakeholders about the Institute’s progress, achievements, challenges, and future plans. Conducts activities with input from an advisory council for the Institute. May perform other duties as assigned by supervisors. The successful candidate must manage the direction, coordination, continual growth and assessment of the campus and work with the Huntsville region and Redstone Arsenal on issues and various opportunities related to the campus.

The Executive Director will report to the Senior Vice President for Research and Economic Development and the Dean of the College of Engineering and be housed at the Auburn University Research and Innovation Campus in Huntsville but will be expected to maintain a significant presence at the Auburn University campus in Auburn, Alabama. For more information on the position, visit link.

Auburn University is an R1 institution and one of the nation’s premier public land-grant institutions. In 2023, Auburn was ranked 42nd among public universities by U.S. News & World Report. Auburn maintains high levels of research activity and high standards for teaching excellence, offering bachelor’s, master’s, educational specialist and doctorate degrees in agriculture and engineering, the professions, and the arts and sciences. Its 2023 enrollment of 33,015 students includes 25,379 undergraduates and 6,385 graduate and professional students. Organized into 12 academic colleges and schools, Auburn’s 1,435 faculty members offer more than 150 plus educational programs. In FY22, the university reported total research expenditures of $304 million. The university is nationally recognized for its commitment to academic excellence, its positive work environment, student engagement and beautiful campus.

The city of Huntsville has been named the second-best place to live in the United States by U.S. News & World Report's 2023-2024 rankings. The city's thriving job market, low cost of living and high quality of life were cited as the primary reasons for its top ranking. In the past ten years, Huntsville has watched its star steadily rise to claim top tier placements in numerous national standings ranging from affordability to jobs, quality of life, retirement, education, recreation and more. According to U.S. News & World Report’s data analysis, Huntsville’s diverse economy, excellent educational institutions, and vibrant community were acknowledged as its significant assets. The city’s reputation as a leading center for technological innovation and aerospace industries has created its ranking and the most populous city in the state of Alabama.

The successful candidate will have the following qualifications:

• Demonstrated record of high-level leadership of a complex research organization in the defense, aerospace or biotech sector.

• Demonstrated record of working with federal and state agencies and the private sector and securing extramural funding from these groups in support of applied research efforts.

• Excellent oral and written communication skills.

• Excellent skills in team building, creating alliances, and leading organizations.

• Master’s degree in engineering or science field is desired, plus a minimum of 15 years of experience in applied research or development in defense or aerospace sectors. A PhD would be an asset.

• A record of research scholarship through scholarly publications and presentations to the scientific and technical communities and/or a registration as a professional engineer might be helpful.

• Ability to obtain a DOD security clearance is required.

The candidate selected for this position must be able to meet eligibility requirements to work in the United States at the appointed time and continue working legally for the proposed term of employment.

Electronic submissions of all nominations and applications are encouraged. Those with interest in this position should submit a resume indicating experience as it relates to the position description to:

Search Committee – Executive Director, Auburn University Innovation & Applied Research Institute Email:

Candidate materials will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and until a successful candidate has been appointed.

Auburn University is an EEO/Vet/Disability Employer.

Auburn University Research & Innovation Campus in Huntsville, Alabama

Auburn University Research and Innovation Campus in Huntsville

Categories: OSVPRED

Kerpelman named Auburn University’s associate vice president for research

1/2/2024 7:56:47 AM      

Jennifer Kerpelman, professor and associate dean for research, graduate studies and outreach in the College of Human Sciences, has been named Auburn University’s associate vice president for research, effective January 1, 2024.

In this role, Kerpelman will work closely with the senior vice president for research and economic development to facilitate efforts across the university that will lead to sustained growth in research and creative scholarship. Kerpelman will help promote and develop interdisciplinary, collaborative and team-based research initiatives across campus.

An accomplished researcher in the fields of adolescent development and family studies, Kerpelman brings 30 years of leadership as a faculty member and higher education administrator to the role, including extensive experience in advancing partnerships with external agencies and private-sector organizations.

“Dr. Kerpelman brings a wealth of experience to the role of associate vice president,” said Steve Taylor, senior vice president for research and economic development. “Her many years of administrative leadership coupled with her strong research background make her a great choice to help us successfully cultivate the continued growth of Auburn’s research enterprise.”

Kerpelman, who has served as associate dean since 2011, including a term as Auburn’s interim vice president for research and economic development from 2018-2019, has provided leadership to several initiatives designed to strengthen the university’s culture of discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Building upon a background that included eight years of professional experience as a therapist, Kerpelman joined the university in 1999 as an associate professor and extension specialist in the College of Human Sciences. Following her promotion to full professor in 2006, Kerpelman began serving as an associate dean for research and graduate studies. Since then, Kerpelman has helped to steadily increase research funding in the College of Human Sciences. Working to enhance external research support for faculty, Kerpelman helped foster strategic collaborations with Human Sciences faculty members and researchers across the university.

Kerpelman also provided co-leadership to the university’s Health Disparities Research Cluster, a group of faculty strategically recruited to advance interdisciplinary research addressing critical health disparities among underserved populations. Her experience also includes strategic leadership to the AU Health Sciences Research Initiative steering committee and multiple years of service on organizing committees for Auburn’s faculty and student research symposia and SHOWCASE: The Work of Creative Scholarship events.

Kerpelman holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and therapeutic recreation and a master’s degree in psychology from Old Dominion University, as well as a doctoral degree in human development and family studies from Auburn University. She is author or co-author of more than 200 articles and papers, is a National Council on Family Relations Fellow and is a member of the Society for Research on Adolescence, the International Society for Research on Identity, the National Council on Family Relations and the International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships, among others.

Jennifer Kerpelman

Jennifer Kerpelman

Categories: OSVPRED

OSVPRED opens 2023 Intramural Funding Program

11/14/2023 10:08:54 AM      

The Office of the Senior Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OSVPRED) announces the 2023 call for proposals for Pilot 4 of the Intramural Funding Program. Proposals are solicited for Creative Work and Social Impact Scholarship (CWSIS) and Research Support Program (RSP) projects.

The CWSIS program is a strategically focused investment strategy that supports scholarship in the disciplines of design and the arts, humanities, social impact scholarship (within business, education, social sciences, health and well-being) and interdisciplinary research that connects the Creative Work/Social Impact disciplines with STEM disciplines.

The CWSIS supports projects that promote and enhance the quality of life and wellbeing of individuals, groups and communities and provide aid to overcome societal challenges. Applicants may request up to $20,000 in funding from the OSVPRED with a required minimum 1:1 match.

The RSP is a strategically focused investment strategy that promotes promising and impactful new lines of scientific research that build the foundations of science and help overcome scientific and societal challenges. Building collaborative and/or interdisciplinary teams is also encouraged.

RSP funding disciplines include the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) as well as the medical, life, health, and social sciences. Collaborative roles with creative work and social impact scholarship disciplines are also strongly encouraged.  Applicants may request up to $25,000 in funding from the OSVPRED with a required minimum 1:1 match.

Submitted proposals will undergo a thorough internal review.  Selected proposals will advance to an external evaluation. Funding for awarded proposals is for a two-year period.

Mandatory letters of intent are due by 4:45 p.m., Nov. 29; full proposals are due by 4:45 p.m., Jan. 24.

Additional information for CWSIS and RSP is available. For additional assistance, contact Christine Cline, associate director of Proposal Services and Faculty Support.


pipettes in laboratory

Categories: OSVPRED

Pelham to represent Auburn on Tennessee Valley Corridor Board of Directors

10/30/2023 8:42:13 AM      

Steve Pelham, associate vice president for economic development in the Auburn University Office of the Senior Vice President for Research and Economic Development, was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Corridor (TVC).

The TVC was organized in 1995 to create an “Oak Ridge Corridor,” linking the Department of Energy facilities in Oak Ridge, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville to showcase the wealth of brainpower in the mid-East Tennessee region. Separately, that same year, an annual Science & Technology Summit was convened with representatives from government, academia and business to collaborate on ways to bring greater attention to the economic impact of the U.S. Department of Energy missions in Oak Ridge. These two complementary ideas of a “Corridor and Summit” were eventually merged and resulted in the creation of a new organization, the Tennessee Valley Corridor. The TVC expanded in 2017 to incorporate Alabama’s 3rd congressional district, which includes Auburn University and the City of Auburn. 

The mission of today’s TVC is to promote the valley’s national leadership in science and technology through regional cooperation and to sustain the corridor’s existing federal missions, compete for new federal investments and leverage those investments to increase private sector job opportunities. Members come from within a footprint of 12 congressional districts in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina and include regional research universities and laboratories along with government and military facilities.

Through the leadership of its 35-member board of directors, the TVC convenes an annual national summit, promotes initiatives to advance the TVC’s mission and encourages on-going collaboration in energy, science, environment, space, national security and STEM education.

“The TVC Board provides an opportunity for several key stake holders to be engaged,” said Pelham of his appointment, which includes a three-year term. “Some of these areas are the congressional districts included in the corridor.  I was nominated by Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers to represent his district on the board, which includes Auburn University.”

According to Pelham, the long-standing relationship between Auburn and the TVC is a win-win for both. “Auburn University has a close relationship with the TVC because of our partnerships with NASA Marshall, Redstone Arsenal, Cummings Research Park, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the TVA, the US Army and other organizations along with several other institutions of higher education,” he noted. “In addition, the Auburn leadership has made a strong commitment to reinforce the university’s presence in the Tennessee Valley with the creation of the Auburn University Research and Innovation Center in Huntsville.”

Steve Pelham outdoors

Steve Pelham

Categories: OSVPRED, External Engagement, Economic Development

Faculty Showcase for Undergraduate Research Opportunities to be held Oct. 17

10/10/2023 8:27:19 AM      

The Faculty Showcase for Undergraduate Research Opportunities will be held Tuesday, Oct. 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center Grand Hall. The Showcase aims to connect faculty with students who want to engage in undergraduate research. Faculty will showcase their research with a poster presentation and explore potential opportunities for undergraduate research. Interested students can visit and interact on-site with faculty, post-docs or graduate students.  Over 70 faculty across the campus will present at this Showcase. Interested students should pre-register.  The Showcase preliminary program and student registration can be found on this webpage: 

Undergraduate Research Faculty Showcase Oct. 17 2023 10 AM to 3 PM Brown-Kopel Grand Hall graphic with image of students in lab; Register: ; Auburn University and Auburn Honors College logos

Categories: OSVPRED, Undergraduate Research