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Research News

OU Research Group Confirm Planet-mass Objects in Extragalactic Systems

Jessica Blanchard

A University of Oklahoma research group is reporting the detection of extragalactic planet-mass objects in a second and third galaxy beyond the Milky Way after the first detection in 2018. With the existing observational resources, it is impossible to directly detect planet-mass objects beyond the Milky Way and to measure its rogue planetary population.

Members of the group include Xinyu Dai, associate professor in the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, OU College of Arts and Sciences, with Ph.D. student Saloni Bhatiani and former postdoctoral researcher Eduardo Guerras.

Jessica Blanchard and Paul Spicer Lead Genomics and Ethics Program for Native Students

$105,285 - U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health

Jessica Blanchard

The Genomics and Ethics Program for Native Students is a new program designed to provide research and training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students interested in ethical, legal and social questions related to genetics research in Native communities. Students participating in the GEN program can expect to connect with Indigenous researchers, community leaders and Native-serving organizations from across the country shaping the fields of genomics and health in ways that promote indigenous experiences. The four main components of the GEN program are 1) an online course; 2) a summer intensive field-based research course; 3) a fellowship program for students to receive training and research experiences both on campus and within a larger network of supporting institutions; and 4) a student research conference designed to showcase the next generation of student achievements in the ethics of genomics research.


A University of Oklahoma research team of biologists and meteorologists will develop and employ advanced methods to monitor birds during migratory flights and assess the atmospheric conditions in which they fly. The project will involve unmanned aerial vehicles as well as novel tracking devices developed by OU researchers. The devices will be attached to migratory birds and will reveal the environments experienced by birds in flight and provide new insights into the dynamics of the lower atmosphere.

Howard Baer Leading Colliding Beam Detector Experiments

$503,000 - U.S. Dept. of Energy

Howard Baer

OU supports an active group working on theoretical and experimental high energy (elementary particle) physics. The five members of the experimental group – Pat Skubic, Phil Gutierrez, Brad Abbott, Mike Strauss and John Stupak – work on the Atlas detector at the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. The LHC collides counter-rotating beams of protons together at 13 trillion electron-volts of energy in an effort to understand the fundamental laws of physics. The theory group, consisting of Howard Baer,Chung Kao and Kuver Sinha, perform theoretical calculations for LHC scattering processes and develops and tests new theories for the underlying laws of physics. Some topics under investigation include the experimental consequences of superstring theory, early universe cosmology, dark matter, baryogenesis, supersymmetry and Higgs boson physics.


K. David Hambright

K. David Hambright, biologist and director of environmental studies, has been elected an AAAS Fellow for contributions to field of freshwater plankton biology.


Daniel Allen To Lead U.S. Stream Drying Study With $3 Million In NSF Grants

Daniel Allen

Daniel Allen (Assistant Professor of Biology) will lead one of the first coordinated ecology research projects to study what happens to streams as they dry across the United States. The National Science Foundation funded the study with a $1.4 million grant to OU and $1.6 million in grants to researchers from the University of California, Berkeley; Northern Arizona University; University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and University of Arizona.

Kaiser Foundation Gift Expands Reach Of OU Social Simulation Program

OU Tulsa Social Stimulation

The Herman and Kate Kaiser Foundation of Tulsa gave a $661,000 gift to continue the groundbreaking work of the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa’s Social Simulation Program and Haruv USA. The gift will provide students and community members with expanded training simulations targeting child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, suicide, mental health, patient and client interactions and adverse childhood experiences.


Professors and Team Are Addressing the Challenge and Critical Need For New Antibiotics


Helen Zgurskaya and Valentin Rybenkov, and team are addressing the challenge and critical need for new antibiotics that can fight infections caused by the multi-drug resistant bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, considered an urgent threat by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chuanbin Mao Elected to AIMBE

Chuanbin Mao

Chuanbin Mao
, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, was elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering College of Fellows. AIMBE is a nonprofit, honorific society of the most accomplished individuals in the fields of medical and biological engineering. Fellows are nominated each year by their peers and represent the top two percent of the medical and biological engineering community. They are considered the life-blood of AIMBE and work toward realizing AIMBE’s vision to provide medical and biological engineering innovation for the benefit of humanity.

Thomas Fenn Focuses Research on Trade Patterns Around the Indian Ocean

$93,463 - National Science Foundation

OU Tulsa Social Stimulation

The focus is to understand ancient trade and exchange in South Asia and around the Indian Ocean, and their relationships to the development of social complexity in South Asia. Different industries around the Indian Ocean that fueled trade conducted in this region and beyond had to adapt (in terms of location, nature and volume of production) to shifts in the networks connecting the different actors of the trade. Through the study of the ancient glass production in India, Fenn and collaborators will study how such an industry responded to changes in trade patterns around the Indian Ocean starting around the mid-first millennium BCE to the late Medieval Period. At a time when India is witnessing the collapse of its traditional glass industry in favor of a more automated and less labor-intensive alternative, this project will provide new information about the roots of an activity on the brink of extension and will create parallel to understand the consequences of moving industrial landscapes in the modern world.

Nathan Kaib Earns NSF CAREER Award for Next Generation Models of Planet Formation and Evolution

Nathan Kaib

This CAREER award will be used to study a number of aspects of the evolution of our own solar system as well as other planetary systems. In particular, researchers will perform computer simulations modeling the formation of our rocky planets in the inner solar system and Pluto-like objects in the outer solar system. In addition, it will model how the planet formation process is altered in systems that, unlike our own solar system, possess more than one star. Finally, portions of this research will be integrated into classroom education programs offered at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History



Jizhong Zhou (Professor of Microbiology) and his team have completed a new study on the effects of climate warming on soil microbes in a long-term climate change experiment at a tallgrass prairie ecosystem. The new study shows that climate warming will affect microbial communities in the future, and future community states will be more predictable under warmed climate. Eventually, microbial communities will produce different functions and feedbacks to climate warming.

Collaborative Research Values Creativity in Calculus

Milos Savic

Milos Savic is part of the Creativity Research Group, which received funding to both help calculus instructors teach to foster mathematical creativity and investigate the effects of focusing on creativity in teaching. The group believes that when an instructor fosters creativity in the classroom, students will gain confidence, persistence and math appreciation. Since calculus is crucial for many other fields, this may ultimately lead to retention and recruitment in STEM. Mathematicians need to be creative in their research, CEOs across the world believe that creativity is an essential skill for their employees, and math organizations are requesting that creativity be involved in the undergraduate classroom.


Signature Initiatives From College's Strategic Plan For 2017-20

Medicine Wheel

Becoming a nationally recognized leader in research and teaching related to America's Indigenous peoples. Departments researching Indignous Peoples include:

  • Anthropology
  • English
  • Film and Media Studies
  • History
  • Native American Studies
  • Social Work
icon for medical care

Addressing the health needs of our state and our nation. Departments researching health-related topics include:

  • Anthropology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Communication
  • Health and Exercise Science
  • History of Science
  • Microbiology and Plant Biology
  • Social Work
  • Sociology
icon for environmental issues

Advancing the study of water, natural resources and the environment. Departments researching environmental issues:

  • Anthropology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Economics
  • Environmental Studies
  • Microbiology and Plant Biology

2018 Faculty Publications

 BooksBook ChaptersConference ProceedingsJournal ArticlesOther
In Press206009619

Faculty Awards

NameDepartment/CenterFunding AgencyProject TitleAmount
Laura BartleyMicrobiology and Plant BiologyU.S. Department of Commerce, Small Business AdministrationSBIRxOK$125,000
Laura BartleyMicrobiology and Plant BiologyState of Oklahoma, Center for the Advancement of Science and TechnologySBIRxOK$150,000
Marshall CheneyHealth and Exercise ScienceU.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of HealthThe Influence of Vaper and Smoker Identities on Young Adult Smokers Who Use Electronic Cigarettes$118,544
Jack FriedmanCenter for Applied Social ResearchU.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationUsing Vulnerability as Empirical Data to Improve Forecast and Warning Services$200,000
Karl HambrightBiologyState of Oklahoma, Wildlife Conservation DepartmentGenetic Analyses in Support of ODWC Fisheries Programs: Largemouth Bass Microsatellites and Golden Algae-related Fish Kills$20,000
Nathan KaibPhysics & AstronomyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignExploring the Evolution and Characterizing the Chaos of the Terrestrial Planets$50,000
Jeremy RossOklahoma Biological SurveyState of Oklahoma, Wildlife Conservation DepartmentManagement and Cave Protection for Federally-listed Bats and Co-occurring Stygobitic Fauna in Oklahoma$22,500
Hank Jenkins Smith &
Carol Silva
Political ScienceThird WayCoding, Tracking, and Analyzing Nuclear Debates on Social Media: OU/Third Way Collaboration$50,000
Paul SpicerAnthropologyHealth Sciences CenterStephenson Cancer Center Disparities Program Leadership Support$14,794
Joseph SuflitaMicrobiology and Plant BiologyUniversity of CalgaryManaging Microbial Corrosion in Canada's Offshore and Onshore Oil Production Operations$288,421
NameDepartment/CenterFunding AgencyProject TitleAmount
Daniel AllenBiologyState of Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation DepartmentTargeted Surveys for Peppered Shiner in the Kiamichi, Little, Glover and Mountain Fork Rivers$11,967
Marshall CheneyHealth and Exercise ScienceU.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of HealthThe Influence of Vaper and Smoker Identities on Young Adult Smokers Who Use Electronic Cigarettes$118,544
Edward CokelyPsychologyMedscape, LLC.Risk Literacy CME Partnership$20,500
Shane Connelly and Michael MumfordPsychologyBinghampton UniversityCollective Leadership and Collective Planning for the U.S. Army$124,902
Michael PattenOklahoma Biological SurveyState of Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation DepartmentPopulation Biology and Landscape Ecology of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken$32,551
Indrajeet SharmaChemistry and BiochemistryAmerican Chemical Society, Petroleum Research FundSynthetic Utility of Cascade Reactions Involving Diazo Synthons$110,000
Carol Silva and Hank Jenkins SmithPolitical ScienceSandia LaboratoriesAnalysis of Public Perceptions and Preferences for Nuclear Security Programs and Policies: 2017$40,000
NameDepartment/CenterFunding AgencyProject TitleAmount
June AbbasLibrary and Information StudiesInstitute for Museum and Library ServicesNavigating Screens: Libraries as Community Hubs for Teaching Positive Screen Media Practices$528,874
Noel Brady, Keri Kornelson, Deborah Moore-Russo, and Milso SavicMathematicsAssociation of Public and Land Grant UniversitiesStudent Engagement in Mathematics through an Institutional Network for Active Learning$93,298
Gregory BurgeEconomicsLincoln Institute of Land PolicyLocation-based Development Impact Fees and New Business Location Decisions$15,000
Amy Sue GoodinPolitical ScienceState of Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation DepartmentOklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Department$12,000
John TobinPhysics and AstronomyUnited Space Research AssociationOutflow Energetics in the Heart of NGC 1333: FIFI-LS Spectroscopy of the SVS13/HH 7-11 Region$91,700
Ying WangMathematicsNational Science FoundationCareer Award Mathematical Analysis and Numerical Methods of Underground Oil Recovery Models 
Steven WellsSocial WorkHealth Sciences CenterOklahoma Lend: MCH Interdisciplinary Core Faculty Member$10,307
School of Library and Information StudiesWGBH Educational FoundationPublic Broadcasting Preservation Fellowship$229,772
NameDepartment/CenterFunding AgencyProject TitleAmount
Tassie HirschfieldAnthropologyNASA

Land Use Patterns and Political Instability as Predictors for the Reemergence of Malaria in the Caucasus


Rodet Rodriguez, Ingo SchluppBiologyNational Geographic Society

Discovering Speciation Patterns in Livebearing Fishes of Limia (Teleostei: Poeciliidae) in Cuba and Hispaniola


Helen Zgurskaya, Valenti RybenkovChemistry and Biochemistry U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, NIH

Optimization of Efflux Avoidance and Inhibition for Antibiotic Development 


NameDepartment/CenterFunding AgencyProject TitleAmount



Alberto Marino



NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program Award


"CAREER: Control of Spatial Quantum Correlations for Enhanced Quantum Networks$500,000
Lori Snyder, Joy Pendley, Paul SpicerPsychology, Center for Applied Research, Anthropology U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, NIH 

Factors Influencing Scientific Research Careers Among American Indians


$1.7 Million, Five-year
NameDepartment/CenterFunding AgencyProject TitleAmount


Alberto Marino



NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program Award


CAREER: Control of Spatial Quantum Correlations for Enhanced Quantum Networks$500,000
NameDepartment/CenterFunding AgencyProject TitleAmount
Robert CichewiczChemistry and BiochemistryCFD Research CorporationProducing Biosynthetic Therapeutics from Extreme Microbiomes$50,000.00


Chongle Pan 


Microbiology and Plant Biology 

UT - Knoxville


High-Performance Bioinformatics Workflow for Integrative "-Omics" Data Analytics


Jeremy RossOklahoma Biological SurveyState of Oklahoma, Wildlife Conservation DepartmentWinter Habit Use and Seasonal Movements in the Three Longspur Species$34,728.35
NameDepartment/CenterFunding AgencyProject TitleAmount
Howard BaerPhysics 

U.S. Department of Energy


OU High Energy Physics: Experimental Physics Investigations Using Colliding Beam Detectors at Fermilab and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) (TASK A) 2013-2016$503,000
Jessica Blanchard, Paul SpicerCenter for Applied Social Research, Anthropology

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health


Programs for the Training and Advancement of the Next GENeration of Native Researchers in Genetics, Ethics and Society



K. David Hambright, Lee Krumholz Biology and Environmental Studies, Microbiology and Plant Biology National Science FoundationCyanobacterial Bloom Microbial Interactome as a Model for Understanding Biogeographical and Seasonal Patterns in Functional Biodiversity$2 million, five-year project


Ian Sellers


Physics U.S. Department of EnergyHot carriers Dynamics in Low-Dimensional Systems$225,485.00
Michael Wenger U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of HealthIron Status at Perimenopause: Effects on Brain and Behavior$240,502
NameDepartment/CenterFunding AgencyProject TitleAmount


Michael Ashby


Chemistry and Biochemistry

Univ. of Southern California

Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science$23,334
Charles RiceChemistry and BiochemistryU.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of HealthAntibiotic Potentiators Targeting Biofilms of MRSA and MRSE (not Small Molecule Inhibitors of Bacterial Condensins)$71,078
NameDepartment/CenterFunding AgencyProject TitleAmount
Adam FeltzPsychology Animal Charity Evaluators"Knowing What You Eat: Measuring the Effectiveness of Educational Interventions on Animal Consumption$11,122.50


Thomas Fenn




Collaborative Research: Elemental and Isotopic Characterization of Raw Materials for Ancient Glass from South Asia - Understanding Changing Trade Patterns Around the Indian Ocean




Nathan KaibAstronomyNSF CAREER: Next Generation Models of Planet Formation and Evolution



Si WuChemistry and BiochemistryU.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of HealthQuantitative Analysis of Serum Autoantibody Repertories in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus$463,254