LU News Archive

facebook twitter Linkedin Email

Five ‘Visionary Projects’ selected for $1 million total funding

In September 2015, Lamar University administrators put to the faculty and staff a new opportunity to advance the university’s scholarship in both teaching and research.  After soliciting and reviewing a number of proposals, the university administration has selected five “Visionary Projects” to receive a total of $1,080,000 in funding over the next three years.

With resources resulting from the 84th Texas Legislature, the adoption of a new strategic plan, and recent SACS reaffirmation of accreditation, campus leaders felt the university was uniquely poised to capitalize on these events to benefit future students, increase its offerings, elevate the research/creative activity produced and better serve the many communities in the university’s spheres of influence.

Leaders sought ideas for advancing the university’s mission across all facets of instruction, scholarship and service in ways that advance the priorities detailed in the recently completed strategic plan. Initiatives that built on existing strengths, were distinctive, could secure additional resources, and fostered collaboration across disciplines were encouraged.

Faculty and staff prepared letters of intent and full proposals meeting an array of requirements for the selection process. Selected initiatives could be supported up to $100,000 per year for three years. Funds could be used for faculty stipends approved by the provost, graduate assistants, supplies, travel, and other Visionary Initiative related expenses important to advancing the proposed objectives.

 “We received 49 letters of intent 13 of which focused on instruction, 28 addressed research projects and 8 involved possible service initiatives,” said James Marquart, provost for Lamar University.  Each of the proposals was submitted to review committees for feedback and recommendations. Ultimately, five were selected for funding and are or will soon be underway, Marquart said. 

Selected for funding were:

The Mirabeau B. Lamar Center for the Study of Southeast Texas and the Upper Gulf Coast (The Lamar Center)

Located less than two miles from the original Spindletop Lucas gusher, The Lamar Center will promote the creation, preservation and transmission of knowledge of Southeast Texas, particularly the role of energy and its impact on the area. It will also serve to attract visitors from across the nation.

The interdisciplinary, multicultural center will promote public engagement through publications, exhibits and cultural performances, sponsorship of lectures and symposia, innovating curriculum, and support of faculty and students in their research. The Lamar Center offers LU the opportunity to establish a regional identity.

The proposal, put forward by Mary Scheer, professor and chair of the Department of History, together with colleagues Jim Sanderson, Terri Davis, Donna Meeks, Stuart Wright, Jim Westgate, Penny Clark, Troy Gray, and Dennis Kiel, will be funded for $210,000.

Lamar University Center for Digital Learning

Due to the success of the College of Education and Human Development’s online programs, the college will create a new Center for Digital Learning (CDL) that provides necessary management and administrative skills to implement and maintain an effective digital learning environment. Participants in the CDL will perform research studies, write and public research papers, collaborate with technology companies, and provide professional development.

The proposal, developed by Robert Spina, dean of the College of Education and Human Development, with colleagues Diane Mason, Kaye Shelton, and George Saltsman, will be funded for $300,000.

Interdisciplinary Freshman Experience at Lamar University

The all-university Interdisciplinary Freshman Experience brings together students of diverse backgrounds and interests — from disciplines that do not typically interact in the undergraduate curriculum— to work as groups toward a common goal. Their teamwork will help them develop crucial professional skills such as problem solving, time management, innovation, and interpersonal communications. Through this experience, students will be better prepared for real-world problem solving as they become aware that most tasks in industry and society are interdisciplinary in nature.

This program, which teaches students to value diversity, will provide Lamar University with a competitive advantage over other Texas universities helping make LU a “destination” school.

The proposal, developed by Paul Latiolais, director of the Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship and Ben J. Rogers Director of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, with colleague Mahdi Safa, will be funded for $120,000.

A Center for Applications of Digital Technologies in Health and Disability (CADT)

The aim of this project is to create a “center of excellence for the applications of digital technologies in the care and management of health and disability.” The Center will develop digital products and applications for healthcare providers, caregivers, and those with health conditions and disabilities and their families through three means: research (developing new evidence-based procedures), teaching (through student involvement in research), and service (product development that brings measurable positive health outcomes).

The initial partners of this project are the departments of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Computer Science, and Nursing, but investigators anticipate that the wide scope of the Center will grow to involve other disciplines. The Center is designed to be self-sustaining within 4 years, helping to bridge gaps in current healthcare service and further branding LU across the globe. The establishment of CADT will create a focused niche for teaching, research and service. LU’s brand will be associated with accessible, affordable, and evidence-based healthcare solutions recognized nationally and worldwide. The main goal of CADT is to develop evidence-based healthcare for target populations.

The proposal, developed by Monica Harn, Stefan Andrei, Vinaya Manchaiah, Ashley Dockens, Jamie Azios, and Elizabeth Long, will be funded for $240,000.

Cybersecurity, infrastructure and abnormal situation management for the process industry

The objective of this project is to develop “novel cost effective/profitable” flaring minimization (FM) and emission reduction technologies and software with commercial applications. Energy losses during flaring emissions in abnormal situations cause economic, material and environmental harm. Though current flare minimization practices exist, they lack controllability, optimality and profitability.

The project will focus on: the development of new strategies and technologies; explore cost-effective solutions for petroleum and chemical process industries by synergizing the perspectives of plant design, supply-chain management, and process control; Flare operation modeling and optimization; study abnormal situation management by detecting equipment failures early on with available data; and commercialize the technological achievements.  Relatedly, researchers will also examine the integrity and security of regional infrastructure that can be compromised due to cybersecurity threats, the destructive effects of extreme environmental changes, and tropical storms, and weather hazards, This project will also enhance graduate and undergrad research and education within engineering, computer science and chemistry.

The proposal, prepared by Qiang Xu, Daniel Chen, Srinivas Palanki, Thomas Ho, Harley Myler, Hsing-Wei Chin,  Xuejun Fan, Ruhai Wang, Sujing Wang, Christopher Martin, Xianchang Li and Paul Latiolais, is funded for $300,000.