Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Innovation in Arts & Sciences
Ramkumar & Lou Remove Toxic Dyes From Wastewater
Seshadri Ramkumar (above right), a professor in the Department of Environmental Toxicology, and doctoral candidate Lihua Lou (above left) have found a way to remove toxic dye from textile wastewater. Their method decays the dye by filtering the water through special nanofiber webs and exposing it to visible light—a process called "photodegradation." Previously, the process of decaying the dye has used predominantly ultraviolet (UV) rays. Ramkumar is director of Texas Tech's Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory, which specializes in technical textiles. He says there are several reasons using visible light is superior to using UV rays. "It is green, renewable and environmentally friendly," Ramkumar said. "Using visible light for photodegradation is not harmful, and it's cost-effective and easy to operate. It makes the color removal in the industry economical." For this study, Lou added nanoparticles into a polymer solution, which was then electrospun into nanofibers. When the composite nanoparticle/nanofiber webs were immersed in water containing a reddish dye called Rhodamine B (RhB), a chemical reaction occurred. The research team, including scientists from the departments of chemical engineering and mechanical engineering, found that 80% of RhB was degraded within six hours, and the remaining 20% degraded slowly, completely disappearing after 49 days. "The research focused on toxic dye removal because it is a persistent challenge for the textile industry," Ramkumar noted. An in-depth article on Ramkumar and Lou's dye removal research can be found by following this link.
Chatterjee Offers Novel Theory for Origin of Life
Sankar Chatterjee, a Horn Professor in the Department of Geosciences and Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of Texas Tech University, has created a simulation showing how the genetic code may have evolved—thus building upon his groundbreaking theory on the beginning of life on Earth he originally released six years ago. Based on theories of chemical evolution and evidence from the Earth's early geology, Chatterjee's earlier proposal—where a young Earth, bombarded by icy comets and carbon-rich asteroids, was pockmarked with craters that became the cradles for the first simple organisms—still left one gaping question unanswered: exactly how these primordial organisms developed information systems. As Chatterjee explained, the genetic code was deciphered in the 1960s, and the many scientists responsible for cracking the code were awarded Nobel Prizes. But since that time, there has been no comprehensive theory about why the genetic code evolved in the first place, before the origin of DNA and the first life. Until now. "The question of the origin of the code is the greatest challenge in modern molecular biology and origin-of-life research," Chatterjee said of his latest research, which he is pursuing in collaboration with Surya Yadav, a professor of information systems in the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business. "We have provided a novel model: how the genetic code might have evolved gradually with the improvement of the translation machine during protein synthesis." To read the in-depth account of Chatterjee's evolutionary research, follow this link.
Nagihara Builds Moon Probe for NASA
Seiichi Nagihara, an associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, has been working for more than a decade to design an instrument that could sit on the surface of the moon and accurately measure the amount of heat coming out from its interior. Now, thanks to a nod from NASA, Nagihara will actually get to build his instrument and watch it in action, according to a July 2 report in Texas Tech Today. Through a program called Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS), NASA is selecting instruments for future missions. Nagihara's lunar heat flow probe was announced July 1 as one of these instruments. "Each CLPS landing mission is expected to have only 8-10 Earth days of work time on the moon, so each of the payload instruments must complete its work very quickly," explained Nagihara. "For the last couple of years, my team has been developing a lunar heat flow probe that can be deployed quickly in order to meet the CLPS landers' requirements." A complete report of Seiichi Nagihara's lunar probe may be found by following this link.
Guengerich Receives Travel Grant for Bolivia
Sara V. Guengerich, an associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, received a research travel grant from TTU Office of Research & Innovation to conduct archival research at the Bolivian National Archive in Sucre, Bolivia, in July 2019. She also received the Publication Subvention Award from the Texas Tech Humanities Center. That award is earmarked toward publication expenses for her upcoming book, "The Cacicas of Colonial Latin America, 1492-1825."
Korzeniewski Receives NSF Grant
Carol Korzeniewski, a professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, is Principal Investigator (PI) on a new National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. Shelley Minteer of the University of Utah is a co-PI. The grant project, entitled "Advancing Strategies for In-Situ Determination and Spatial Mapping of Components within Membrane Systems for Energy Conversion," represents a total award of $558,362 for three years, with $302,300 of that amount coming to Texas Tech. Yehia Mechref, Horn Professor and department chair, said the project supports the construction a confocal Raman microscope with oil-immersion optics to enable high spatial resolution imaging and measurements on single, micron-scale particles in Korzeniewski's lab.
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