North Carolina Central University (NCCU) proposes to establish a CREST Computational Center for Fundamental and Applied Science and Education (CCFASE) to provide the framework required for the conception and execution of interdisciplinary research and education in the College of Science and Technology (CST). The center will combine state-of-the-art research and development with an infrastructure essential to address some of the most important questions in modern physics and materials science through five projects: 1) Computer modeling, design, and formation of novel nanostructured materials and nanodevices; (2) Low-energy few-nucleon interactions: computer simulations for experimental development, data analysis, and rigorous calculations for three nucleon models; (3) Study of hyperon-hyperon and hyperon-nucleon interactions; (4) Intelligent systems and robotics; and (5) Integrative Geophysical Investigation of the New Madrid Seismic Zone. The proposed Center will enhance the participation of minority students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas, where they are critically underrepresented. In addition to fundamental advances in science, the CREST will train a qualified technology work force of highly-skilled people from minority and socially underrepresented groups. The Center involves 17 senior investigators from five NCCU STEM departments and scientists from Duke University, Cornell University, and the Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis, and Jefferson National Laboratory. The investigators propose to create an HBCU computational science network will that will increase the opportunities for student participation in advanced research and will facilitate the collaboration among HBCU faculty and students with research institutions and industry.
The vision of the CREST Computational Center for Fundamental and Applied Science and Education (CCFASE) at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) is to establish a sustainable, nationally recognized, computationally driven center with outstanding scientific and educational programs featuring active collaborations with academia, industry, government and international partners. The goal of this dynamic research program is to lead NCCUâ€™s transformation into a research intensive institution. Using computational science as a focus, the center developed strong, interdisciplinary, integrative research and research-based educational training programs that have enhanced existing undergraduate and graduate STEM degree programs at NCCU. This accomplishment has persuaded NCCUâ€™s administration to select computational science and CCFASE as one of the signature projects in the Universityâ€™s strategic development plan, and to identify the establishment of the degree programs in computational science across all STEM departments as a critical strategic priority. Intellectual Merit: To achieve the Center's objectives and to meet a confluence of needs in computational science and education, several cross-disciplinary research, educational, and outreach activities were initiated or enhanced. The Center is built on exceptionally strong, complementary and closely interwoven research and extensive collaborations with domestic and international partners. The research projects are internationally recognized and have the potential for large positive impacts in their respective scientific fields. The computational structures developed by CCFASE resulted in significant new contributions in all center research areas, and thereby positioned NCCU closer to establishing a National Center in Applied Computational Sciences. Significant research results were achieved in all 5 CREST projects comprising of: 1) Computer modeling, design, and formation of novel nanostructured materials and nanodevices; (2) Low-energy few-nucleon interactions: computer simulations for experimental development, data analysis, and rigorous calculations for three nucleon models; (3) Study of hyperon-hyperon and hyperon-nucleon interactions; (4) Intelligent systems and robotics; and (5) Integrative geophysical investigations of intraplate seismic zones. The research over the five year period of the award is impressive in terms of both quality and productivity, resulting in 5 patents, 200 peer reviewed publications including 142 in journals, 10 book chapters, 69 proceedings papers, and 223 conference presentations. Significant breakthroughs include few body calculations with Coulomb interactions, development of the most intense positron beam at Jefferson National Laboratory using novel methods, contributions to localization, mapping and path planning in robotics, issues in energy-efficient wireless communication and application of computer-vision system, nanotechnology, and geophysics. Broader Impacts: In addition to the fundamental advances in science listed above and cutting-edge research that impacted general knowledge, CCFASE developed novel cross-disciplinary undergraduate and graduate programs that had striking impacts on the academic success of critically underrepresented minority students in STEM areas. Matriculation and graduation rates were improved, especially among African American students, women, and socially and economically disadvantaged students as a results of these programs, which included mentoring, a STEM tutoring center, seminars, additional infrastructure and educational programs available through collaborations, and newly developed curricula. During the current award period, 51 students supported by CREST received MS degrees. This represents over 2/3 of all MS students graduating in STEM disciplines, excluding pharmaceutical science. CCFASE was thus crucial for supporting two newly established graduate programs in the Computer Science and Physics departments. CCFASE also sharply increased the number of students pursuing advanced degrees, as 46 of these 51 MS recipients (90%) were admitted to Ph.D. programs with full scholarships or to professional schools. This is significantly above the university average of 30%. Another significant result is that 90% of graduate students completed their MS degree in 2 calendar years. CCFASE also supported 55 students who received a STEM BS degrees; 80% of them (44/55) were accepted to graduate programs with full scholarships, and the remaining 20% found employment in their fields of study. CREST supported students were 84% Black, 6% Caucasian, 6% Hispanic, and 4% Asian; 55% of CREST supported students were female. CREST supported graduate and undergraduate students have a 100% retention rate; 85% of CREST undergraduates completed their degree in 4 years in comparison with 15% for NCCU. The research-oriented training provided graduates of the program with an interdisciplinary training that resulted in flexibility in career choices and increased job opportunities. The Center enhanced research support across multiple disciplines at NCCU and collaborations in science throughout the region. An HBCU computational science network was created that increased the opportunities for student participation in advanced research, and facilitated the collaboration between HBCU faculty / students and research institutions and industry. Some of the important outcomes are improvement of science outreach activities, which resulted in higher enrolment, and high school and summer research activities. The research programs and infrastructure developed through CCFASE advanced student education and training which significantly enabled the university to establish the first campus Ph.D. program in Integrated Biosciences, which includes bio-oriented programs in all STEM departments (Biology, Chemistry, Environmental, Earth and Geospatial Sciences, and Mathematics and Physics).