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RTI International Names 2019-2020 Class of RTI University Scholars

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — This year’s class of RTI University Scholars includes researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The four scholars who will spend up to one academic year at RTI working on strategic research projects are David Gotz, PhD (UNC-Chapel Hill); Roger Narayan, MD, PhD (NC State & UNC-Chapel Hill); Shu Wen Ng, PhD (UNC-Chapel Hill); William Vizuete, PhD (UNC-Chapel Hill).

 “University collaborations at RTI have been a part of our DNA from the beginning,” said E. Wayne Holden, RTI president and CEO. “As we celebrate our 60th anniversary, we are at a point where university collaboration is clearly a core aspect of what we do, generates high value for the Institute, and will continue to evolve and expand over time.”

The RTI University Scholars Program supports highly talented academics who take scholarly leave from their home institutions to collaborate with RTI researchers. RTI’s investment in the program has enabled 25 scholars to work on projects across a myriad of domains while making contributions to the scientific and research community.

The Scholars represent a variety of specialties and will work with RTI researchers on the following projects:

  • Gotz, an associate professor in the School of Information and Library Science and assistant director of the Carolina Health Informatics Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will collaborate with Gayle Bieler, MS, director of the Center for Data Science. The collaborative project will leverage ontologies and hierarchies to support visual analysis of high-dimensional event data and develop interactive machine learning techniques to model mappings of free form text to structured event types.
  • Narayan, a  professor in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, will collaborate with Dave Dausch, PhD, to evaluate microneedle-based devices as wearable sensors for health monitoring.
  • Ng, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and a faculty fellow at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will partner with Thomas Hoerger, PhD, and Jonathan Blitstein, PhD. The collaborative project will focus on designing and evaluating incentives and interventions that alter food affordability and choices to help improve nutrition, health outcomes and resultant cost savings, and aid economic and human development.
  • Vizuete, an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will collaborate with Prakash Doraiswamy, PhD, and Anthony Hickey, PhD, to evaluate the importance of the ultrafine particle fraction on toxicological impacts and to evaluate the application of an in vitro technology for the evaluation of efficacy of aerosolized drug particles. This project will complement the recently awarded IMPACT seed fund project, Toxicity of Complex Aerosols from Wood Burning Cook Stoves.

Each academic year since 2014-2015, RTI has hosted University Scholars. Two scholars participated in the program’s inaugural year, seven in 2015-2016, six in 2016-2017, five in 2017-2018, and four in 2018-2019.

“Spending the year as an RTI University Scholar has been an amazing experience,” said Hollylynne Lee, RTI University Scholar from NC State working with RTI researchers John Vavricka and Peter Baumgartner. “I have loved working with RTI researchers on our data science education project and being immersed in the RTP campus. The close interaction has generated many planned and impromptu discussions that have brought forth new ideas and opportunities for collaboration on future initiatives that may help to contribute to the in-depth and broad portfolio of research and development at RTI.”

The program is currently open to faculty members from Duke and all 16 campuses of the University of North Carolina System and is administered by the RTI University Collaboration Office.