OVPR News


Auburn Engineering faculty participating in NSF’s STEM for All Video Showcase

May 17, 2018 @ 10:51 a.m.

Alice Smith and Jeff Smith, faculty members in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, are featured in the 2018 STEM for All Video Showcase funded by the National Science Foundation. The event is being held online through May 21 at stemforall2018.videohall.com.

The presentation, entitled “NASA Academy of Aerospace Quality,” highlights work conducted by the two faculty members to create an open-access Internet-based quality assurance training platform for those involved in aerospace research, technology development and space payload design and development. The project is funded by NASA.

“NASA AAQ is an innovative platform that teaches critical aspects of quality engineering and quality assurance through 50 educational modules available to academics, students and commercial space service providers,” said Alice Smith, the Joe W. Forehand/Accenture Distinguished Professor.

Now in its fourth year, the annual showcase will feature more than 200 innovative projects aimed at improving STEM learning and teaching, which have been funded by NSF and other federal agencies. During the weeklong event, researchers, practitioners, policy makers and members of the public are invited to view the short videos, discuss them with the presenters online and vote for their favorites.

The theme for this year’s event is “Transforming the Educational Landscape.” Video presentations cover a wide range of topics including science, mathematics, computer science, engineering, cyberlearning, citizen science, maker spaces, mentoring, informal learning, professional development, research and evaluation, Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core. The videos highlight initiatives for students of all ages - kindergarten through graduate school, as well as those for adult learners.

Last year’s STEM for All Video Showcase is still being accessed, and to date has had more than 51,000 unique visitors from more than 189 countries.

BY ENGINEERING COMMUNICATIONS AND MARKETING STAFF

Media Contact: Chris Anthony, chris.anthony@auburn.edu, 334.844.3447                                            

NSF Stem for All 2018 logo featuring images of scientists at work


Auburn University researchers study longleaf pine drought resilience

April 05, 2018 @ 2:11 p.m.

Longleaf pine ecosystems may be the key to creating more drought-resilient forests, according to a study that Lisa Samuelson, Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station researcher and Alumni Professor in Auburn’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, is conducting.

“Due to the challenges related to climate and water availability, a better understanding of ecosystem behavior is needed to improve the management and conservation of our forests,” Samuelson said. “The goal of this study is to gain a better understanding of longleaf pines’ role in creating resilient forests for the future.”

Longleaf pine once was one of the most extensive forest ecosystems in North America, covering an estimated 90 million acres. Today, due to overharvesting or forestland conversion to farming or development purposes, less than 4 percent of longleaf pine forests remain.

Samuelson, who is also director of Auburn’s Center for Longleaf Pine Ecosystems, an entity dedicated to the species’ restoration, conservation and management, said the reduction in the amount of longleaf communities has incurred many ecological consequences including loss of plant and wildlife species. Besides preserving these species’ habitats, rejuvenation of the once-abundant pine also may improve overall forest health due to its ability to withstand drought.

“There is increased interest in the restoration of longleaf pine forests, not only for forest products but for a variety of important ecosystem services and, more recently, as a species resistant to disturbances associated with changes in climate,” Samuelson said. “Our research will provide information on the current and future vulnerability of longleaf pine to drought.”

The study site is an 11-year-old longleaf pine plantation owned by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and managed by The Nature Conservancy. Samuelson’s objective is to explore the longleaf pine’s drought adaption patterns and its resilience in relation to its ecosystem. Basically, she and her research team are manipulating drought to study its effects.

“Our study is unique in that we are removing precipitation to study drought effects,” she said. “Whereas most studies utilize irrigation to remove drought effects, we are creating drought.”

To remove about 40 percent of the water that typically would hydrate ground in the experimental plots, the researchers have installed rainfall exclusion troughs that catch precipitation and transport it away from the trees’ roots.

Keeping detailed records of soil moisture dynamics, the scientists then use extensive monitoring equipment, including sap-flow probes and 30-foot-tall scaffolding, to examine above- and below-ground mechanisms that control tree growth and survival. The team monitors total tree health in the absence of hydration, including stand transpiration, leaf physiology, soil and ecosystem carbon fluxes, needle and shoot phenology, photosynthesis and phenology.

Once collected, the soil moisture data will be used to create predictability scales for regional and seasonal drought patterns, and the tree-growth/health data will contribute to the development of parameters and models that simulate longleaf pine growth under varying climate and fire regimes.

Ultimately, the research data will benefit the overall effort to improve the management of Southern forests, Samuelson said.

Dr. Lisa Samuelson, director of Auburn’s Center for Longleaf Pine Ecosystems and Alumni Professor in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences (photo by Rebecca Long)


Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine conducting clinical trial on new melanoma drug

April 05, 2018 @ 3:30 p.m.

Dogs, like their human companions, can be susceptible to skin cancer, and the Oncology Service at Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine could use the help of man's best friend in launching a clinical trial to test a new melanoma treatment drug.

"This study is designed to test a new drug that may be useful in treating melanoma, or skin cancer, which most commonly occurs in the mouth in dogs," said Dr. Bruce Smith, a professor in the Department of Pathobiology and director of the Auburn University Research Initiative in Cancer, or AURIC.

"The drug, called MMX, is a peptide, which is a chain of amino acids, the basic building blocks of all proteins," Dr. Smith said. "This study seeks to measure the effect of this drug on these tumors. We are currently taking patients to participate in the clinical trial."

Dog owners who are interested in enrolling their pets into this clinical trial must do so through the Oncology Service at the college's Wilford and Kate Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital.

They can be referred by their primary veterinarian, according to Dr. Smith. The treatment, as well as surgery to remove any tumor left at the end of the trial, will be provided at no cost to the owner.

The trial initially is about a five-week program, Dr. Smith said. It involves the dog owner bringing the animal in for an initial evaluation.

"The melanoma is measured, the drug is administered, and we begin a series of treatment and monitoring the tumor to measure its response," Dr. Smith said. "The dog will need to visit Auburn weekly for five weeks. In addition, owners will administer the peptide daily at home and keep a logbook about their dog while it is being treated."

Dr. Smith said this drug is not chemotherapy, but rather, a protein-based medication that has been tested on dogs in a clinical setting with no known side effects.

"It appears to act quickly to shrink the tumors," Dr. Smith adds. "It has been under testing in a clinical setting for about 10 years and now, it is ready to be tested for FDA approval."

Dog owners who believe their pet might be a candidate for participating in this clinical trial can contact the Oncology Service at the Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital at 334-844-6000. More information about this clinical trial can be found on the Oncology Service website.

The study is an example of Auburn faculty working toward life-changing solutions to meet pressing global health issues.

BY MITCH EMMONS

Dr. Annette Smith, left, the Robert and Charlotte Lowder Distinguished Professor in Oncology with the Department of Clinical Sciences, and Dr. Bruce Smith, a professor in the Department of Pathobiology and director of the Auburn University Research Initiative in Cancer, or AURIC, are shown with a canine patient in an exam room at the Wilford and Kate Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital.The Oncology Service at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine is launching a clinical trial to test a new melanoma treatment drug for dogs. Dr. Annette Smith, left, the Robert and Charlotte Lowder Distinguished Professor in Oncology with the Department of Clinical Sciences, and Dr. Bruce Smith, a professor in the Department of Pathobiology and director of the Auburn University Research Initiative in Cancer, or AURIC, are shown with a canine patient in an exam room at the Wilford and Kate Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital. (Photo by Mitch Emmons)


Auburn professor plays role in mapping peanut genome

February 22, 2018 @ 11:40 a.m.

Professor Charles Chen in his lab, displaying peanuts

Auburn Professor Charles Chen was part of the Peanut Genome Consortium—an international team of scientists—that unveiled the map of the cultivated peanut’s entire genome, marking the completion of a rigorous five-year research project.

 

New and improved peanut varieties could be coming growers' and consumers' way more frequently in the future with the successful mapping of the crop's genetic code.

The Peanut Genome Consortium—an international team of scientists that includes Auburn University's Charles Chen—unveiled the map of the cultivated peanut's entire genome in January, marking the completion of a rigorous five-year research project.

The genetic breakthrough will allow scientists to pinpoint beneficial genes in cultivated and wild peanuts and use those in breeding new varieties. These traits can lead to greater yields, lower production costs, lower losses to disease, improved processing traits, improved nutrition, improved safety, better flavor and virtually anything that is genetically determined by the peanut plant.

"This project gives us the tools to accomplish a lot of different things," said Chen, a plant breeder and geneticist in the College of Agriculture's Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences and head of Auburn's peanut breeding and genetics program.

"Genetic improvement will now occur more quickly and more efficiently, and farmers will benefit greatly from the gains this research allows," Chen said. "This advancement gives scientists around the world a map that can be used to unlock the genetic potential of the peanut plant."

The discovery is a significant boost for Auburn's peanut breeding program, the youngest of its kind in the Southeast. The program's first runner peanut variety—AU-NPL 17—was officially released in 2017 and is already winning accolades for its high yields, resistance to disease, longer shelf life and healthy traits.

Limited supplies of AU-NPL 17 seed should be available to U.S. farmers in 2019. Alabama is the second largest peanut-producing state in the U.S., with 225,000 acres planted in 2017.

"We're working on new varieties that will incorporate improved disease resistance and drought tolerance, and the mapping of the genome helps tremendously with the basic science," Chen said.

An added advantage of the project is that it increases Auburn's capability to train graduate students, providing more resources and advanced technology, he said.

In 2012, The Peanut Foundation, with industrywide support, launched the International Peanut Genome Initiative, the largest research project ever funded by the industry. Peanut growers, shellers and manufacturers footed the $6 million bill.

Peanuts are a staple in diets across the globe, from the Americas to Africa and Asia. They are also a key ingredient in ready-to-use therapeutic foods that treat severe acute malnutrition and a crop that farmers in developing countries rely on for personal and community economic well-being.

"Mapping the genetic code of the peanut proved to be an especially difficult task, but the final product is one of the best [genome maps] ever generated," Steve L. Brown, executive director of The Peanut Foundation, said. "We now have a map that will help breeders incorporate desirable traits that benefit growers, processors and, most importantly, the consumers that enjoy delicious and nutritious peanut products all over the world."

Bob Parker, National Peanut Board president and CEO, agreed.

"Peanuts are already more sustainable and affordable than any nut available today, and consumers choose them for their flavor and familiarity," he said. "I don't know that any of us can fully articulate what this advance means to our ability to grow more peanuts with fewer resources to feed the world. But I'm excited just thinking about the promises ahead of us."

The Peanut Genome Consortium was comprised of scientists from the U.S., China, Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, India, Israel and several countries in Africa. In addition to Auburn's Chen, the U.S. research team included University of California-Davis, University of Georgia, Texas A&M University, North Carolina State University and University of Florida researchers, along with scientists at USDA–Agricultural Research Service labs in Tifton and Griffin, Georgia; Stillwater, Oklahoma; Ames, Iowa; and Stoneville, Mississippi and from the National Center for Genome Resources in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Researchers with the Huntsville-based HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology coordinated the assembly of the final peanut genome.

The entire report is available on the Peanut Foundation website at www.peanutfoundation.org.

BY PAUL HOLLIS


Auburn University expands research engagement with state, regional and national partners

December 01, 2017 @ 11:01 a.m.

Auburn University President Steven Leath has launched a new research and development program to drive collaboration with leading businesses, industries and government agencies.

The Presidential Awards for Interdisciplinary Research, or PAIR, will provide $5 million in the next three years to support Auburn researchers in building competitive teams that will advance major technology developments, scientific discoveries or scholarly advances with broad economic, health or societal impact.

“PAIR is one of our first steps in a more aggressive strategy as a partnership university,” said Leath, whose background is in research. “By fueling cross-discipline research and scholarship, we’re sending a signal to industry and government that Auburn is open for business.”

Auburn researchers seeking PAIR funding will define an integrated interdisciplinary research effort distinguished by intellectual excellence, scholarly advances, innovative discoveries or technological developments.

“By boosting our internal investment, we’re helping Auburn scientists, engineers and researchers engage on a larger scale with those who want and need university expertise,” said John Mason, vice president for research and economic development.

A similar program, launched while Leath was president of Iowa State University, successfully funded research and partnership collaboration in such areas as health sciences and food security. Proposal criteria and other program information are available at https://cws.auburn.edu/ovpr/pm/pair.

Auburn University President Steven Leath has launched the Presidential Awards for Interdisciplinary Research, or PAIR, that will provide $5 million in the next three years to support Auburn researchers in building competitive teams that will advance major technology developments, scientific discoveries or scholarly advances with broad economic, health or societal impact.

 


Auburn University to host 2018 SEC Academic Conference: Cyber, a Shared Responsibility

November 29, 2017 @ 3:43 p.m.

The conference, entitled Cyber Security: A Shared Responsibility, is scheduled for April 8-10, 2018, and will explore computer and communication technology; the economic and physical systems that are controlled by technology; and the policies and laws that govern and protect information stored, transmitted and processed with technology.

“This year’s SEC Academic Conference is a great opportunity for us to help enrich collaboration among SEC students, faculty and administrators in a critical area of national importance,” said Greg Sankey, SEC Commissioner. “Auburn leaders have worked tirelessly to develop a program that will challenge and encourage those in this field, and I commend them for their efforts.”

In its second year, the SEC Academic Conference provides an opportunity to showcase SEC faculty and student research in an area of significant scholarly interest to a range of academic, legislative and other stakeholders. It features keynote speakers as well as presentations from individuals representing each of the SEC’s 14 member universities.

“We welcome our SEC colleagues and cyber professionals to Auburn for dynamic, serious discussions,” said Auburn University President Steven Leath. “The nation is facing more and more data breaches that affect all facets of daily life. Strategic partnerships among universities and industry are vital in developing the technology and policies to protect private information.”

Lt. General Ronald L. Burgess, Jr. (U.S.A. retired) is leading the Auburn organizing committee. Commissioned in Military Intelligence by the Auburn ROTC Program in 1974, he’s held a variety of key staff and command positions throughout his 38 years in the military. Lt. General Burgess currently serves as the Senior Counsel for National Security Programs, Cyber Programs and Military Affairs at Auburn.

“The schools that make up the SEC are home to a tremendous array of talent in the cyber arena,” said Lt. General Burgess. “The 2018 SEC Academic Conference will showcase some of the best and brightest minds in the country. It’s a great opportunity for faculty and students from around the Conference to connect and collaborate, and for government and industry to get a sense of the resources available to them in the SEC.”

The conference will start with the SEC CyberChallenge where students from each SEC university will compete in a problem-solving activity. Other undergraduate and graduate students will also have the opportunity to showcase their research during a poster exhibition.

The SEC Academic Conference is supported by the SEC under its SECU banner. SECU serves as the primary mechanism through which the collaborative academic endeavors and achievements of SEC universities are supported and advanced.

To learn more, visit: http://ocm.auburn.edu/sec/

SEC Symposium CYBER SecurityAuburn University will host the 2018 SEC Academic Conference that will focus on cyber security, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced eariler in November.


El-Sheikh receives 2017 Research and Economic Development Advisory Board Advancement of Research and Scholarship Achievement Award

November 28, 2017 @ 1:31 p.m.

At its recent fall meeting, Auburn University’s Research and Economic Development Advisory Board presented Dr. Mona El-Sheikh, a professor in the College of Human Sciences, with the 2017 Research and Economic Development Advisory Board Advancement of Research and Scholarship Achievement Award.  The award recognizes El-Sheikh’s contributions to public health, and particularly to sleep research, over the course of her 27-year career at Auburn.

Composed of more than 40 industry professionals from across the country who actively support Auburn’s research efforts, the board established the award in 2014 to recognize significant research and scholarly activity that exemplifies and advances Auburn’s research and scholarship mission.  The recipient of the annual award receives a $25,000 grant to further his or her research.

“I am thrilled that Dr. Mona El-Sheikh has been named the recipient of the 2016-2017 Advancement of Research and Scholarship Achievement Award.  Noted for being one of the world’s leading scholars in the area of sleep regulation and its physiological and socio-cultural correlates, Dr. El-Sheikh continues to advance the field with her transdisciplinary lines of creative inquiry, continuous pursuit of excellence, and commitment to mentoring the next generation of scholars,” said Dr. June Henton, dean of the College of Human Sciences.

El-Sheikh, the Leonard Peterson & Company, Inc. Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, was honored for innovative research that links socio-economic adversity, family risks and well-being, with physical health, sleep processes, and brain function.  Supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation among others, El-Sheikh and her colleagues’ groundbreaking work on the role of sleep and sleep problems in child development has expanded to include sleep regulation in adults and adolescents. Her findings help identify and address insufficient sleep as an important public health issue.

“Dr. El-Sheikh is one of Auburn’s most accomplished health science researchers and has earned this recognition through her strong track record of impactful research,” said Dr. John Mason, vice president for research and economic development.

 

BY LESLIE PARSONS

Dr. Mona El-Sheikh holds a plaque recognizing her as recipient of Auburn University's 2017 Research and Economic Development Advisory Board Advancement of Research and Scholarship Achievement Award. Also pictured: Dr. John Mason, vice president for research and economic development; Dr. Lori St. Onge, board member; and Charles Pick, board member.

Dr. Mona El-Sheikh receives Auburn University's 2017 Research and Economic Development Advisory Board Advancement of Research and Scholarship Achievement Award at the board's fall meeting.  Also pictured:  Dr. John Mason, vice president for research and economic development; Dr. Lori St. Onge, board member; and Charles Pick, board member.


Study shows climate change pushing Greater Bamboo Lemur closer to the brink of extinction

November 14, 2017 @ 2:17 p.m.

Human disturbance of tropical rainforests in Madagascar including wildfires, burning and timber exploitation, have led to reduced rainfall and a longer dry season, further pushing the already critically endangered Greater Bamboo Lemur to the brink of extinction.

Auburn Professor Sarah Zohdy, along with primatologist and lemur expert, Patricia Chapple Wright of Stony Brook University, evolutionary biologist Jukka Jernvall of University of Helsinki in Finland and other colleagues published the new study titled “Feeding Ecology and Morphology Make a Bamboo Specialist Vulnerable to Climate Change,” in the Oct. 26 online edition of Current Biology.

Researchers have evidence to suggest that, as the climate changes, Madagascar’s Great Bamboo Lemur will gradually be forced to eat culm, the woody trunk of the bamboo, for longer periods of time throughout the year. Based on an analysis of anatomical, behavioral, paleontological and climate data, they suggest that ultimately this dietary constraint will impact the Greater Bamboo Lemurs’ ability to thrive and reproduce and will shorten its lifespan.

Zohdy, an assistant professor of disease ecology, along with Wright, a primatologist, anthropologist and conservationist, and colleagues including Jernvall and Stacey Tecot, associate anthropology professor at University of Arizona, first showed that the Greater Bamboo Lemurs are equipped with highly complex and specialized teeth, just as giant pandas are—the only other mammal capable of feeding on culm. Those teeth make it possible for them to consume and survive on woody culm for parts of the year.

“Many animals are highly specialized in their diets and habitats, and this typically provides them with an evolutionary advantage,” Zohdy said. “However, it also makes them particularly vulnerable to any shifts in equilibrium, such as those brought on by climate change, which can throw off adaptations that have been evolving for millennia.

“What we see here with the greater bamboo lemur is a great example of what could happen, and is probably happening to specialized species all over world.”

To find out more about the Greater Bamboo Lemurs’ feeding habits, the researchers spent hours watching them in their natural habitat in Madagascar’s Ranomafana National Park over a period of 18 months, collecting more than 2,000 feeding observations in all. Those data showed the lemurs spend 95 percent of their feeding time eating a single species of woody bamboo. But they only eat the culm from August to November, when dry conditions make tender shoots unavailable.

“The culm of the bamboo is very tough and therefore mechanically taxing to consume. It is because of this that feeding on the culm for prolonged periods of time during the extended dry season would wear down all of the dental nooks and crannies that these lemurs need to eat bamboo,” Zohdy said. “Without those dental tools they will not be able to eat the following season.”

“We think that this is what has driven the range contraction of the greater bamboo lemur, and why they can only be found in the places on the island of Madagascar where the dry season is the shortest,” Zohdy said.

According to the research findings, Madagascar rainfalls are changing annually. Over the past two years, Wright says, there has been a three-month delay in the rainy season and new tender shoots that Great Bamboo Lemurs use for sustenance are appearing in January and February—14 days after the first rainfall. Since new offspring are born in November, the delayed rainy season is dangerously affecting the survival of the baby lemurs because of lack of nutrition available for both the mothers and offspring.

“This is why, for extreme feeding specialists like the Greater Bamboo Lemur, climate change can be a stealthy killer,” Wright said. “Making the lemurs rely on a suboptimal part of their food for just a bit longer may be enough to tip the balance from existence to extinction.”

A characteristic of bamboo-feeding mammals is that most are considered threatened by extinction. In Asia, both giant and red pandas have much diminished geographical ranges and similarly, in Madagascar, the two larger bamboo lemurs, the Greater Bamboo Lemur and the Golden Bamboo Lemur, have highly restricted distributions within the island. In fact, once the most broadly distributed lemur in existence, the Greater Bamboo Lemur is now one of the most critically endangered of all lemurs, with only an estimated 800 in the wild.

“By studying specialists like the Greater Bamboo Lemur, we can identify the different ways that climate change can cause extinction,” Jernvall said. “And if we do not study these endangered species now, they may go extinct before we know all the reasons why, and we’ll be less able to protect what remains.”

Still, the researchers remain hopeful. “The maps generated in this manuscript take into account the length of the dry period, and may be used to identify locations where remnant populations of this critically endangered species may exist and where they are most likely to be viable in the future,” Zohdy said. “Information that is critical for their long-term survival.”

BY JAMIE ANDERSON

A greater bamboo lemur eats the tough culm (trunk) of bamboo.

Similar to the giant panda, the greater bamboo lemur eats the tough culm (trunk) of bamboo, and only does so during the dry season, but it prefers bamboo shoots which are more nutritious. (Photo by Jukka Jernvall)


Two Auburn professors honored with faculty enhancement awards from Oak Ridge Associated Universities consortium

August 18, 2017 @ 1:41 p.m.

A pair of researchers from Auburn University—Majid Beidaghi, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, and Bridgett King, assistant professor of political science—have been named recipients of the 2017 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards, given annually by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities consortium, or ORAU.

The awards are intended to provide seed funding and enhance the research and professional growth of junior faculty at ORAU member institutions. Each winner receives a one-year, $5,000 research grant from ORAU, which is matched by the faculty member’s institution.

"It is a great achievement for Auburn University to receive two Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards from ORAU," said John Mason, Auburn’s vice president for research and economic development. "It speaks very highly of Dr. King and Dr. Beidaghi and their promising research programs that ORAU has selected them for this honor."

Beidaghi, who came to Auburn in 2015, conducts research on the synthesis of advanced materials and the development of devices for energy storage applications. For his Powe Award project, Beidaghi will collaborate with researchers from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to examine potential cathode materials for aluminum batteries, which show promise as an alternative to the traditional lithium-ion batteries used in many portable electronic devices.

King, who joined Auburn’s faculty in 2014, will work with colleagues from the University of Kentucky to study the impact of felony disenfranchisement laws and policy on community voter turnout among citizens who are still legally able to vote. The team will utilize geographic information system technology in combination with data on felony convictions, precinct-specific election data and information from the U.S. Census for a comprehensive precinct-level analysis.

by JONATHAN CULLUM

ORAU Award Recipients

Majid Beidaghi, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, and Bridgett King, assistant professor of political science, are recipients of the 2017 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, given annually by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities consortium.


Auburn University’s Warrior Research Center collaborating with U.S. Army Game Studio to develop aviation-training technology for FAA

June 06, 2017 @ 4:03 p.m.

Auburn University is collaborating with the U.S. Army and the Federal Aviation Administration to develop innovative aviation learning and training modules using virtual, interactive and multimedia technology. The partnership seeks to develop gaming modules that can be implemented into the FAA's current curriculum for air traffic controllers.

A cooperative research and development agreement signed on Tuesday, June 6, enables Auburn's Warrior Research Center to join forces with the U.S. Army Game Studio, which is part of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, or AMRDEC, at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. The project is through the FAA's Air Transportation Center of Excellence for Technical Training and Human Performance, of which Auburn serves as a core team member.

The team will develop air traffic controller training technology using research and science-based knowledge on training adult learners and the use of gaming to improve learning and retention. The modules will demonstrate team capabilities to provide realistic, engaging and effective training.

AMRDEC's Army Game Studio has established unmatched capabilities in the development of virtual, interactive and multimedia technology used for outreach, recruiting, education and training. The studio brings together artists, soldiers and gaming experts to create virtual environments for soldiers to train in without putting them at risk in combat. Rapid prototyping of gaming technology tools ensures that the computer-generated training environments are user-friendly and customizable to the soldiers. The studio is best known for developing the free online U.S. Army video game, "America's Army."

"The Army Game Studio is my go-to place for any training, animation, augmented learning or virtual environment that I need," said JoEllen Sefton, director of the Warrior Research Center and associate professor in Auburn's School of Kinesiology. "I know that the talented team there can take anything we develop, or anything I can imagine, and make it real."

A cross-disciplinary effort, the Warrior Research Center is led by Auburn's School of Kinesiology in the College of Education and includes research from engineering, industrial design, psychology, business, veterinary medicine and human sciences. Collaborators also include Auburn's ROTC program, MRI Research Center, Center for Disability Research and Policy Studies and the Gastrointestinal Research Center, as well as the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine on Auburn's campus.

Warrior Research Center investigations include the effects of military vehicles on a body's skeletal system, blood flow and muscles; consequences from prolonged helicopter sitting; evaluation of neck injuries from prolonged wear of helmets; reducing injury and improving warfighter performance. Studies also explore the design of a universal cockpit, controllers and pilot seats to improve mission efficacy and decrease pilot fatigue and injury.

by MORGAN S. MARTIN

Jeff Langhout, left, acting technical director of the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, signs a cooperative research and development agreement with John Mason, Auburn’s vice president for research and economic development.

Jeff Langhout, left, acting technical director of the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, signs a cooperative research and development agreement with John Mason, Auburn’s vice president for research and economic development. The organizations will develop innovative aviation learning and training modules using virtual, interactive and multimedia technology.