Business, industry leaders join UNT advisory boards to provide insight and advice in key research areas

Thursday, March 31, 2016 - 21:39

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Top industry leaders and nationally recognized scholars are set to consult with faculty researchers in the Institutes of Research Excellence at the University of North Texas to provide critical insight on market-centric research, national funding opportunities and industry partnerships.

The individuals will make up the membership for each institute's Board of Advisors and will help identify opportunities for faculty to expand their solutions-based research in meaningful ways to have greater impacts in the market and on society. There will be five advisors on each institute's board.

This is the next step in the progression of the institutes, which launched in October to bring together a critical mass of knowledge and faculty collaborating on projects designed to create a stronger platform for interdisciplinary research and partnerships with industry to create solutions and further contribute to the North Texas region's economic growth. To learn more about the institutes, visit

"I am grateful that these important partners have agreed to collaborate with our faculty – who also are well-known experts in their fields – on ways to move their research out into the marketplace," says Tom McCoy, vice president for research and economic development at UNT. "Our institutes are helping us to better meet the growing demands of the dynamic marketplace and our nation's critical need for more applied research while helping us achieve greater success in securing federal funding to support research efforts.

"Our researchers are conducting innovative research and making important discoveries that are improving lives and creating solutions."

The Board of Advisors will meet with the institute team quarterly and will spend time with individual institute members on key projects as determined. Members, who will be appointed to serve three-year terms, also may participate in public forums in the future.

Here's a look at the Advisory Board membership for each institute:

  • Advanced Environmental Research Institute, led by Samuel F. Atkinson, Regents Professor of biology, facilitates and conducts interdisciplinary basic and theoretical environmental research. Board of Advisors members are:
    • Mary Barber, senior scientist, RTI International.
    • Allen Burton, professor and director, Cooperative Institute for Limnology & Ecosystems Research, University of Michigan.
    • Elizabeth C. Fleming, director, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center Environmental Laboratory.
    • Josh Lipton, division vice president for environment and natural resources, Abt Associates Inc.
    • Brian Trusty, executive director, Audubon Texas.
  • Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Processes Institute, led by Rajiv S. Mishra, Distinguished Research Professor of materials science and engineering, brings together a diverse group of faculty members focused on structural materials, functional materials, computational tools and advanced manufacturing processes. Board of Advisors members are:
    • Diran Apelian, Alcoa-Howmet Professor of Engineering and director of the Metal Processing Institute, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
    • Subhash Mahajan, distinguished professor of materials science and engineering and special adviser to the chancellor, University of California – Davis. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
    • Kevin T. Slattery, chief scientist of metals, ceramics and mechanical parts, Boeing Research & Technology.
    • James Withers, chief executive officer, Materials and Electrochemical Research Corp.
    • Jeffrey Zabinski, chief of ARL's Materials and Manufacturing Division of the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md, Army Research Laboratory.
  • BioDiscovery Institute, led by internationally lauded plant scientist Richard Dixon, Distinguished Research Professor of biology, delivers research solutions to underpin the utilization of plants for production of biopolymers, new construction materials, bioactive small molecules with applications in both agriculture and healthcare, and biofuels. Board of Advisors members are:
    • Ken Keegstra, distinguished professor of plant biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, Michigan State University – East Lansing. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
    • Toni Kutchan, Oliver M. Langenberg Distinguished Investigator and vice president for research, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, Mo.
    • Rob Last, Barnett Rosenberg Professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and plant biology, Michigan State University – East Lansing.
    • James Liao, Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Professor of chemical engineering and chair of chemical and biomolecular engineering, University of California – Los Angeles. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.
    • Robert C. Richardson, director of business development, Lubrizol Corporation's Advanced Materials business.
  • Jim McNatt Institute for Logistics Research, led by Terrance Pohlen, Associate Professor of logistics and director of UNT's Center for Logistics Education and Research, provides the capability to develop effective solutions to complex problems confronting industry and government in a wide array of areas. Board of Advisors members are:
    • Steve Boecking, vice president, Hillwood Properties.
    • Jim Corrigan, president, Trinity Logistics Group, Inc.
    • Diana Hill, general director of marketing support for consumer products, BNSF Railway.
    • John Larue, executive director, The Port of Corpus Christi Authority.
    • Dinesh Verma, dean of the School of Systems and Enterprises and Professor in Systems Engineering, Stevens Institute of Technology.

For more information about research institutes at UNT, visit

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