Known as Ike Dike, the proposed project received federal funding from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Photo courtesy

The Galveston’s Coastal Barrier Project recently received federal funding to the tune of $500,000 to support construction on its flood mitigation plans for the area previously devastated by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Known as Ike Dike, the proposed project includes implementing the Galveston Bay Storm Surge Barrier System, including eight Gulf and Bay defense projects. The Bolivar Roads Gate System, a two-mile-long closure structure situated between Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula, is included in the plans and would protect against storm surge volumes entering the bay.

The funding support comes from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and will go toward the preconstruction engineering and design phase of Ecosystem Restoration feature G-28, the first segment of the Bolivar Peninsula and West Bay Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Shoreline and Island Protection.

Coastal Barrier Project - Galveston Projects

The project also includes protection of critical fish and wildlife habitat against coastal storms and erosion.

“The Coastal Texas Project is one of the largest projects in the history of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” says Col. Rhett A. Blackmon, USACE Galveston District commander, in a statement. “This project is important to the nation for many reasons. Not only will it reduce risk to the vulnerable populations along the Texas coast, but it will also protect vital ecosystems and economically critical infrastructure vital to the U.S. supply chain and the many global industries located here.”

Hurricane Ike resulted in over $30 billion in storm-related damages to the Texas coast, reports the Coastal Barrier Project, and created a debris line 15 feet tall and 40 miles long in Chambers County. The estimated economic disruption due to Hurricane Ike exceeded $150 billion, FEMA reported.

The project is estimated to take two years to complete after construction starts and will cost between $4 billion and $6 billion, reports Texas A&M University at Galveston.

The funding announced Monday by the Commerce Department is part of a total investment in the cluster that, with private money, is expected to exceed $40 billion. Photo via Getty Images

Biden administration agrees to provide $6.4 billion to Samsung for making computer chips in Texas

tech development

The Biden administration has reached an agreement to provide up to $6.4 billion in direct funding for Samsung Electronics to develop a computer chip manufacturing and research cluster in Texas.

The funding announced Monday by the Commerce Department is part of a total investment in the cluster that, with private money, is expected to exceed $40 billion. The government support comes from the CHIPS and Science Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in 2022 with the goal of reviving the production of advanced computer chips domestically.

“The proposed project will propel Texas into a state of the art semiconductor ecosystem,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on a call with reporters. “It puts us on track to hit our goal of producing 20% of the world’s leading edge chips in the United States by the end of the decade.”

Raimondo said she expects the project will create at least 17,000 construction jobs and more than 4,500 manufacturing jobs.

Samsung's cluster in Taylor, Texas, would include two factories that would make four- and two-nanometer chips. Also, there would be a factory dedicated to research and development, as well as a facility for the packaging that surrounds chip components.

The first factory is expected to be operational in 2026, with the second being operational in 2027, according to the government.

The funding also would expand an existing Samsung facility in Austin, Texas.

Lael Brainard, director of the White House National Economic Council, said Samsung will be able to manufacture chips in Austin directly for the Defense Department as a result. Access to advanced technology has become a major national security concern amid competition between the U.S. and China.

In addition to the $6.4 billion, Samsung has indicated it also will claim an investment tax credit from the U.S. Treasury Department.

The government has previously announced terms to support other chipmakers including Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in projects spread across the country.

As a researcher, what is more important to you than a record of your research and scholarship? A Digital Persistent Identifier, or DPI, distinguishes you and your work from that of your peers. Graphic byMiguel Tovar/University of Houston

Research notes: Tips for navigating federal funding from the lab to the internet

houston voices

Every researcher needs a Digital Persistent Identifier.

As a researcher, what is more important to you than a record of your research and scholarship? A Digital Persistent Identifier, or DPI, distinguishes you and your work from that of your peers – and having one will be mandated for those receiving federal funding. Let’s take a deeper look at why this number is so important. We’ll also compare the different platforms— ORCID, Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar — so that you can be sure your publications, presentations, peer reviews and even information about who is citing you are being properly stored and accessed.

ORCID

There are many types of profiles and DPIs that can meet your needs, but there’s no silver bullet. Placing your work onto multiple platforms is necessary according to Andrea Malone, Research Visibility and Impact Coordinator at UH Libraries. She cautions researchers to “be realistic about how many identifiers you can maintain.”

The most popular is ORCID, which stands for Open Researcher and Contributor ID. It’s free to set up, and there is no chance of accidentally or on-purpose having multiple ORCID accounts – it’s assigned to you like a social security number and follows you, the researcher. This comes in particularly especially handy for researchers with common names.

An identifier is federally mandated for those receiving governmental funds. It is not specified that ORCID must be that identifier. For example, according to Malone: “a Web of Science profile also assigns an identifier, which would also satisfy the mandate.” But most researchers choose ORCID because it’s publicly available with no access restrictions.

While an ORCID number is free for researchers, there is a subscription fee for an institution to be associated with ORCID. Information will not pre-populate in an ORCID profile and it doesn’t track citation counts – it only shows what you put in. There are, however, linking wizards that allow you to link from Web of Science and Scopus to your ORCID account. If you choose this option, citations will automatically populate in your ORCID profile. It’s up to the researcher to doublecheck to be sure the information has automated, however.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a profile, not an identifier, so it does not comply with federal funding requirements. It is free, however, and it pulls from the open web. You can choose to have your list of articles updated automatically, review the updates yourself or manually update your articles at any time. Google Scholar also specifies which articles are open access. A PDF or HTML icon will appear on the righthand side of each citation for one to download articles.

Web of Science Vs. Scopus

Scopus is known for covering more journals and a wider range of metrics to evaluate research impact than Web of Science. Different platforms are a go-to for certain disciplines – for example, Web of Science is usually associated with hard sciences, although investigators in the social sciences and humanities also place their work on this platform from time to time. It’s a good idea to check out which platforms others in your discipline are using for their profiles.

Staying up-to-date

Of course, DPIs don’t work as intended unless researchers keep their profiles current. That means you need to check your profile after every publication and every time you switch to a new institution. Just as you would update your CV, you must update your ORCID or other DPI profile.

One tactic Malone suggests is setting a schedule either biweekly or monthly to check all your profiles. “One thing that’s helpful is that with all of them, you can set up alerts and create an alert as often as you want,” Malone goes on. “At that time, the program will scrawl the content within the source and alert you to anytime any of your publications appear in their database.”

The Big Idea

No one tool can paint a complete picture of all your scholarship. Be strategic and intentional about which platforms you use. Consider your audience, the platforms others in your discipline use and make sure you have an ORCID profile to comply with the federal mandate. But be careful not to sign up for more than you can feasibly maintain and keep current.

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This article originally appeared on the University of Houston's The Big Idea. Sarah Hill, the author of this piece, is the communications manager for the UH Division of Research.


The project will focus on testing 5G networks for software-centric architectures. Photo via Getty Images

Rice lands federal funding for new 5G testing framework

money moves

A team of Rice University engineers has secured a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration to develop a new way to test 5G networks.

The project will focus on testing 5G networks for software-centric architectures, according to a statement from Rice. The funds come from the NTIA's most recent round of grants, totaling about $80 million, as part of the $1.5 billion Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund. Other awards went to Virginia Tech, Northeastern University, DISH Wireless, and more.

The project at Rice will be led by Rahman Doost-Mohammady, an assistant research professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Ashutosh Sabharwal, the Ernest Dell Butcher Professor of Engineering and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Santiago Segarra, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and an expert in machine learning for wireless network design, is also a co-principal investigator on this project.

"Current testing methodologies for wireless products have predominantly focused on the communication dimension, evaluating aspects such as load testing and channel emulation,” said Doost-Mohammady said in a statement. “But with the escalating trend toward software-based wireless products, it’s imperative that we take a more holistic approach to testing."

The new framework will be used to "assess the stability, interoperability, energy efficiency and communication performance of software-based machine learning-enabled 5G radio access networks (RANs)," according to Rice, known as ETHOS.

Once created, the team of researchers will use the framework for extensive testing using novel machine learning algorithms for 5G RAN with California-based NVIDIA's Aerial Research Cloud (ARC) platform. The team also plans to partner with other industry contacts in the future, according to Rice.

“The broader impacts of this project are far-reaching, with the potential to revolutionize software-based and machine learning-enabled wireless product testing by making it more comprehensive and responsive to the complexities of real-world network environments,” Sabharwal said in the statement. “By providing the industry with advanced tools to evaluate and ensure the stability, energy efficiency and throughput of their products, our research is poised to contribute to the successful deployment of 5G and beyond wireless networks.”

Late last year, the Houston location of Greentown Labs also landed funds from the Department of Commerce. The climatetech startup incubator was named to of the Economic Development Administration's 10th cohort of its Build to Scale program and will receive $400,000 with a $400,000 local match confirmed.

Houston-based nonprofit accelerator, BioWell, also received funding from the Build to Scale program.
The fresh $3.3 billion for Texas will complement the $1.5 billion in state money that Texas lawmakers recently earmarked to improve broadband access. Photo via Getty Images

Texas secures $3.3B in federal funding to expand broadband internet

major investment

Texas is receiving over $3.3 billion in federal funding — more than any other state — to expand broadband internet access the state.

Much of that money undoubtedly will be pumped into the Houston metro area, where a little over 180,000 (about 7 percent) of the more than 2.6 million households have no internet access.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced June 26 that the 50 states plus the District of Columbia and U.S. territories will share nearly $42.5 billion in broadband internet funding allocated under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The law went on the books in 2021.

“This is a watershed moment for millions of people across America who lack access to a high-speed Internet connection. Access to Internet service is necessary for work, education, healthcare, and more,” Alan Davidson, assistant secretary of commerce for communication and information, says in a news release.

Previously, the federal government had announced more than $20 billion in separate broadband funding.

The fresh $3.3 billion for Texas will complement the $1.5 billion in state money that Texas lawmakers recently earmarked to improve broadband access. This November, Texans will vote on a constitutional amendment that would set up a state-run fund for the $1.5 billion.

All of the money will be geared toward bringing Texas’ internet infrastructure up to date. State data shows 7 million Texans in 2.8 million households lack broadband internet access.

The Federal Communications Commission says broadband internet access delivers a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps and minimum upload speed of 3 Mbps. Those are considered adequate speeds for a family of three or a business with five to 10 employees.

“Although that’s enough speed for basic internet use, it’s actually a bit slow by today’s standards, since many internet service providers offer 100Mbps speeds as basic-level plans,” HighSpeedInternet.com points out.

The Texas Broadband Development Office, which oversees the state’s broadband internet program, says high-speed internet access “is increasingly seen as a requirement for modern life.” State Comptroller Glenn Hegar, whose agency oversees the office, has said it will take $10 billion to deliver full broadband internet access in Texas.

The Broadband Development Office will oversee distribution of the broadband funding in Texas. It plans to start accepting grant applications in 2024.

Hegar says Texas received more broadband funding than any other state “because the challenge facing our state is unique.”

“Texas has a large population with a significant share of unserved areas spread over a vast and geographically diverse landscape. The bipartisan legislation that appropriated these funds recognized the importance of giving states the flexibility to meet the needs of their unique populations,” Hegar says in a news release.

U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, a Houston Democrat, has proposed legislation (the Broadband Incentives for Communities Act) that would help state and local governments take advantage of the infusion of broadband cash. She says these governments need money — in the form of federal grants — to hire and train employees, install software, and make other improvements so they can handle an expected flood of requests for broadband funding.

“Many of the communities that need broadband access the most have the fewest resources to implement these projects. We must ensure that they are not left behind while we make this monumental investment in the country’s broadband infrastructure,” Fletcher wrote in a June 14 letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

The White House aims to connect every American to affordable high-speed internet service by 2030. Today, an estimated 24 million Americans lack access to high-speed internet. Millions more deal with limited or unreliable service.

“High-speed Internet isn’t a luxury anymore; it’s become an absolute necessity,” President Joe Biden said at a White House event announcing the $42.5 billion in federal broadband funding.

“I’ve gotten letters and emails from across the country from people who are thrilled that after so many years of waiting, they’re finally going to get high-speed Internet,” Biden added.

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Houston organization selects research on future foods in space health to receive $1M in funding

research and development

What would we eat if we were forced to decamp to another planet? The most immediate challenges faced by the food industry and astronauts exploring outside Earth are being addressed by The Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Space Medicine’s newest project.

Earlier this month, TRISH announced the initial selection for its Space Health Ingress Program (SHIP) solicitation. Working with California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Baylor-based program chose “Future Foods for Space: Mobilizing the Future Foods Community to Accelerate Advances in Space Health,” led by Dr. Denneal Jamison-McClung at the University of California, Davis.

“TRISH is bringing in new ideas and investigators to propel space health research,” says Catherine Domingo, TRISH operations lead and research administration associate at Baylor College of Medicine, in the release. “We have long believed that new researchers with fresh perspectives drive innovation and advance human space exploration and SHIP builds on TRISH’s existing efforts to recruit and support new investigators in the space health research field, potentially yielding and high-impact ideas to protect space explorers.”

The goal of the project is to develop sustainable food products and ingredients that could fuel future space travelers on long-term voyages, or even habitation beyond our home planet.

Jamison-McClung and her team’s goal is to enact food-related space health research and inspire the community thereof by mobilizing academic and food-industry researchers who have not previously engaged with the realm of space exploration. Besides growing and developing food products, the project will also address production, storage, and delivery of the nutrition created by the team.

To that end, Jamison-McClung and her recruits will receive $1 million over the course of two years. The goal of the SHIP solicitation is to work with first-time NASA investigators, bringing new minds to the forefront of the space health research world.

“As we look to enable safer space exploration and habitation for humans, it is clear that food and nutrition are foundational,” says Dr. Asha S. Collins, chair of the SHIP advisory board, in a press release. “We’re excited to see how accelerating innovation in food science for space health could also result in food-related innovations for people on Earth in remote areas and food deserts.”

Clean energy nonprofit CEO to step down, search for replacement to begin

moving on

Greentown Labs, which is co-located in the Boston and Houston areas, has announced its current CEO is stepping down after less than a year in the position.

The nonprofit's CEO and President Kevin Knobloch announced that he will be stepping down at the end of July 2024. Knobloch assumed his role last September, previously serving as chief of staff of the United States Department of Energy in President Barack Obama’s second term.

“It has been an honor to lead this incredible team and organization, and a true privilege to get to know many of our brilliant startup founders," Knobloch says in the news release. “Greentown is a proven leader in supporting early-stage climatetech companies and I can’t wait to see all that it will accomplish in the coming years.”

The news of Knobloch's departure comes just over a month after the organization announced that it was eliminating 30 percent of its staff, which affected 12 roles in Boston and six in Houston.

According the Greentown, its board of directors is expected to launch a national search for its next CEO.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I want to thank Kevin for his efforts to strengthen the foundation of Greentown Labs and for charting the next chapter for the organization through a strategic refresh process,” says Dawn James, Greentown Labs Board Chair, in the release. “His thoughtful leadership will leave a lasting impact on the team and community for years to come.”

Knobloch reportedly shifted Greentown's sponsorship relationships with oil companies, sparking "friction within the organization," according to the Houston Chronicle, which also reported that Knobloch said he intends to return to his clean energy consulting firm.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

Houston college lands $5M NASA grant to launch new aerospace research center

to infinity and beyond

The University of Houston was one of seven minority-serving institutions to receive a nearly $5 million grant this month to support aerospace research focused on extending human presence on the moon and Mars.

The $4,996,136 grant over five years is funded by the NASA Office of STEM Engagement Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Institutional Research Opportunity (MIRO) program. It will go toward creating the NASA MIRO Inflatable Deployable Environments and Adaptive Space Systems (IDEAS2) Center at UH, according to a statement from the university.

“The vision of the IDEAS2 Center is to become a premier national innovation hub that propels NASA-centric, state-of-the-art research and promotes 21st-century aerospace education,” Karolos Grigoriadis, Moores Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of aerospace engineering at UH, said in a statement.

Another goal of the grant is to develop the next generation of aerospace professionals.

Graduate, undergraduate and even middle and high school students will conduct research out of IDEAS2 and work closely with the Johnson Space Center, located in the Houston area.

The center will collaborate with Texas A&M University, Houston Community College, San Jacinto College and Stanford University.

Grigoriadis will lead the center. Dimitris Lagoudas, from Texas A&M University, and Olga Bannova, UH's research professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Space Architecture graduate program, will serve as associate directors.

"Our mission is to establish a sustainable nexus of excellence in aerospace engineering research and education supported by targeted multi-institutional collaborations, strategic partnerships and diverse educational initiatives,” Grigoriadis said.

Industrial partners include Boeing, Axiom Space, Bastion Technologies and Lockheed Martin, according to UH.

UH is part of 21 higher-education institutions to receive about $45 million through NASA MUREP grants.

According to NASA, the six other universities to received about $5 million MIRO grants over five years and their projects includes:

  • Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage: Alaska Pacific University Microplastics Research and Education Center
  • California State University in Fullerton: SpaceIgnite Center for Advanced Research-Education in Combustion
  • City University of New York, Hunter College in New York: NASA-Hunter College Center for Advanced Energy Storage for Space
  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee: Integrative Space Additive Manufacturing: Opportunities for Workforce-Development in NASA Related Materials Research and Education
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark:AI Powered Solar Eruption Center of Excellence in Research and Education
  • University of Illinois in Chicago: Center for In-Space Manufacturing: Recycling and Regolith Processing

Fourteen other institutions will receive up to $750,000 each over the course of a three-year period. Those include:

  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Alabama in Huntsville
  • Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge
  • West Virginia University in Morgantown
  • University of Puerto Rico in San Juan
  • Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada
  • Oklahoma State University in Stillwater
  • Iowa State University in Ames
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks in Fairbanks
  • University of the Virgin Islands in Charlotte Amalie
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu
  • University of Idaho in Moscow
  • University of Arkansas in Little Rock
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City
  • Satellite Datastreams

NASA's MUREP hosted its annual "Space Tank" pitch event at Space Center Houston last month. Teams from across the country — including three Texas teams — pitched business plans based on NASA-originated technology. Click here to learn more about the seven finalists.