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Campus Highlights - August 2018

A new semester means an opportunity to welcome back our returning students and faculty, as well as new faces at each of our four universities. This fall, systemwide, we have 177 new faculty members and 14,871 new freshman, transfer and graduate students. We are so excited to have so many new Tigers, Roos, Miners and Tritons!

UMKC also welcomed a new technology to its campus—CityPost digital kiosks. As the first university in the nation to install these digital bulletin boards, UMKC provides its students, faculty, staff and guests up-to-date information on its services and how to best access the best of Kansas City.

As the semester gets into full swing, I want to share upcoming opportunities to collaborate at two of our universities.

  • Missouri has an opportunity to be part of the first commercial Hyperloop route that will connect three of our universities from Kansas City through Columbia to St. Louis. On September 6, engineers from Virgin Hyperloop One will visit the MU campus to engage students in the planning process and solicit ideas on a number of user-experience issues regarding ground transportation. Registration is free, but required. The event has been opened up to all students from our four universities. On September 18, I will join a group of government and civic leaders to tour the DevLoop, Virgin Hyperloop One’s top-secret test track. I will have more to share about this exciting opportunity.
  • On September 17-18, Missouri S&T is hosting a Research and Technology Development Conference in Rolla. The event will provide opportunities for networking, learning about breakthrough technologies created at Missouri S&T, developing new skills and sharing ideas with colleagues across the entire UM System, as well as other peers in higher education and industry. This event is in partnership with the University of North Dakota.

This summer, our four chief diversity officers worked collaboratively to produce the second issue of TAPESTRY, an e-publication that highlights creative and innovative initiatives that impact diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in our living, working and learning environments systemwide. I encourage you to read and learn more about this enriching activities.

On September 14, I look forward to sharing a University address titled, Excellence through Innovation: A New University of Missouri System. My presentation will share exciting announcements that will provide a roadmap for the future of our University. Be sure to RSVP and join me at the Missouri Theatre.

As always, you will find stories about our talented faculty who continue to advance student success, research and creative works, and meaningful engagement. If you have an update or story to share, please send it to


MIMH Professor David Tate honored for his research on traumatic brain injuries
David Tate, an associate research professor at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, uses diffusion-weighted MRI to study the behavioral effects of traumatic brain injury. In 2017, he served as the primary investigator for three Department of Defense-related grants totaling $793,320 to study such topics as the epidemiology of traumatic brain injury and epilepsy, the impact of high-altitude flying on the brains of U-2 pilots and the effectiveness of cognitive rehabilitation therapies.


New Mizzou company to produce promising spinal muscular atrophy drug
Approximately one out of every 40 individuals in the U.S. is a carrier of the gene responsible for spinal muscular atrophy, a neurodegenerative disease that causes nerves to die and muscles to weaken over time. In 2014, Chris Lorson, an investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center and associate dean of research in the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, and his team developed a molecule that was found to be highly effective in animal models exhibiting SMA. Now, testing of that compound has led to the founding of a new company, Shift Pharmaceuticals, and the possibility of the development of drugs that will improve outcomes for people with SMA.


UMKC discovery could revolutionize solar energy
Just a dollar per gram instead of $100. That’s how much a new material — nicknamed PCA-1 — costs compared to what is currently used in high-performing perovskite solar cells. At the same time, PCA-1 greatly simplifies the fabrication process and improves device performance in terms of both efficiency and stability. This remarkable and potentially game-changing material was developed by chemistry researchers at UMKC. The UMKC team’s discovery, led by Curators’ Professors Zhonghua Peng and Kathleen Kilway, was recently published in a top peer-reviewed journal, Advanced Energy Materials.

Missouri S&T civil engineering professor advocates for Midwest tornado preparation
As director of the Wind Hazard Mitigation Laboratory (WHAM) at Missouri S&T, Assistant Professor Guirong (Grace) Yan conducts research into wind hazard mitigation and computational fluid dynamics, structural health monitoring, damage detection and more. She’s built two small-scale tornado simulators that use toy models to mimic the destruction of high-speed twisters and hopes to build a large-scale simulator that she envisions will make S&T a global leader in her field. According to Yan, S&T would join Iowa State University and Texas Tech University as the only U.S. universities with simulators of similar size and scope, but with the advantage of being a mobile unit. Public safety ─ and preparedness — is central to Yan’s work. That mission is what prompted her to present a TedXMissouriS&T talk on the vitality of tornado preparation earlier this year.

Reviewed 2019-04-18