By Janet Perez
A New Way Home
Researchers from around the world are finding NMSU a great place to land
Opportunity – to work with some of the top scientists in the country, to conduct cutting-edge research, to pursue professional passions – is a major reason why researchers from around the world are calling New Mexico State University home.
NMSU’s reputation helped a faculty member decide it was the best place for his research endeavors.
“When I visited the university for my interview in February (2011), I found strong evidence for continuous growth and discovered collaboration opportunities,” said Yuho Jin, an assistant professor of computer science. “I am happy to conduct my ongoing research on computer architecture and multicore processor systems and teach relevant courses at NMSU.”
Jin is one of the newest international faculty members to join NMSU. The South Korean native came to the U.S. in 2003 and started his work at NMSU in August.
He has a Ph.D. in computer engineering from Texas A&M University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in computer science from KAIST in Korea. In 2009, he was nominated for a National Science Foundation/Computer Research Association Computing Innovation Fellow award. Jin conducted his research project as a postdoctoral research associate in the computer engineering division of the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California.
He is currently working on the development of holistic resource management solutions for improving performance of parallel programs in large-scale multicore systems.
In multicore systems, Quality of Service is important because many cores reside in a single chip and many concurrently executing applications have different resource demands. Achieving parallelism in hardware determines performance and power efficiency. As a result, any load imbalance across different threads in a parallel application will cause performance degradation and energy inefficiency in the system.
At NMSU, Jin is exploring acceleration of parallel program execution on multicore systems by classifying the execution of each thread into two Quality of Service modes: guaranteed service and best-effort service. Resource allocation is then regulated for each mode. According to Jin, having a mechanism that isolates performance of critical threads and “silently sacrifices” performance of non-critical threads decreases execution time and increases system throughput.
“I hope my research work flourishes with support from the department and the school,” Jin said.
In attracting some of the best minds from around the world, the university can offer its students a rich opportunity to learn from and interact with faculty members who bring an international perspective.
“Beyond their tremendous expertise in their fields, the life experiences our international faculty members bring to NMSU is beyond measure,” said Vimal Chaitanya, vice president for research. “Our students are extremely lucky to have educators with such a wealth of diverse backgrounds and knowledge.”
Chemical engineering professor Shuguang Deng joined the NMSU faculty in 2003. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. In 1992 Deng moved to the U.S., where he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Cincinnati. He worked as a research engineer in the private sector for seven years before coming to NMSU.
The main focus of Deng’s research is advanced materials for sustainable energy and clean water. Deng’s group has worked on a variety of projects, including hydrogen storage for fuel cell applications; separation of nitrogen from natural gas on natural zeolites; kinetic separation of methane and carbon dioxide for biogas upgrading; supercritical process for algal biofuel production; microwave-assisted conversion of algal biomass; brackish water desalination for enhanced oil recovery; removal of arsenic, uranium and fluoride from groundwater; and carbon nanotube-based membranes as smart sensors for the detection of pathogens in drinking water.
For Deng, coming to NMSU was a chance to work with top scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.
“I was hoping to do research projects on hydrogen and fuel cells and to have a chance to collaborate with scientists from Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories,” Deng said. “I had a few collaborations with scientists from both national labs and am still looking for an opportunity to work with them on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.”
Like Deng, Hongmei Luo also hails from China. The assistant professor in chemical engineering arrived at NMSU in 2009 after spending three years as a postdoctoral research fellow in the materials physics and applications division at Los Alamos. She received her Ph.D. at Tulane University in New Orleans.
At NMSU, Luo is researching new ways to create metal oxide films. Metal oxides are chemical compounds containing at least one oxygen atom and one metal element. Oxide films are chemical compounds containing oxygen that form a thin layer on metal surfaces when exposed to air. The film increases the metal’s resistance to chemical attack. For example, aluminum foil has an oxide coating that protects it from corrosion. Most metal surfaces consist of oxides and hydroxides in the presence of air.
One particular form of metal oxide films Luo is researching is epitaxial thin films –single crystal-like films on single-crystal substrates. Epitaxial thin films are routinely used as active layers to build high-performance electronic and optical devices, as they usually exhibit improved physical properties compared to polycrystalline films.
Luo’s other major area of research is nanotechnology, chiefly nanostructured materials for biofuel catalysts, photocatalytic water splitting, lithium-ion batteries, supercapacitors and photovoltaic applications. The photovoltaic applications include carbon nanotubes, graphene, mesoporous materials, quantum dots and monodisperse oxide nanocrystals.
Coming to NMSU was an easy decision personally –her family liked New Mexico – and professionally.
“The office of the Vice President for Research, the College of Engineering and my department are very supportive of new faculty and provide a really encouraging environment for performing cutting-edge research,” Luo said.
NMSU’s international faculty isn’t limited solely to the high-tech field. As a land-grant university, NMSU also successfully recruits international researchers to its agricultural endeavors.
One of those recruits is Sangamesh “Sangu” Angadi, an associate professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and a crop physiologist at NMSU’s Agricultural Science Center at Clovis. He came to NMSU in 2005 after spending several years working in Canada. He is a native of Karnataka in southern India.
Angadi’s research focuses on reducing water stress on existing crops and examining the potential of new alternative crops. Currently, Angadi is working to evaluate sunflowers as a potential crop for small-acreage farmers in the region. The flowers’ seeds are processed for cooking oil and have the potential to produce biofuel. Angadi has studied the minimum amount of water needed to raise the crop. He also has conducted oilseed workshops that have provided local farmers with information on the production and marketing of oilseed crops such as sunflowers.
“We are holding these workshops because a lot of people are becoming more interested in oilseed and its importance in the production of biofuel and for human consumption,” Angadi said. “We want to continue to conduct research on oilseed and present to the public what it is and how oilseed is used in the High Plains and in different areas of the country.”
Hailing from the Transylvania region of Romania, assistant marketing professor Mihai Niculescu arrived at NMSU in 2009. He first came to the United States in 2005 when he began pursuing his doctorate in business administration at the University of Cincinnati.
“My general research interest is in human decision-making when available information is risky, uncertain or missing; the applied contexts span from marketing, e.g. product choices or product evaluations, to public policy to psychology,” he said. “In a way, the goal is to identify irrational behaviors in humans in order to ultimately find ‘cures,’ i.e. help people make better decisions as consumers, voters, employers or employees.”
No doubt utilizing his own research, Niculescu based his decision to work at NMSU on such key factors as weather, friendly and supportive faculty and proximity to an international airport. As with other NMSU international faculty members, the opportunity to pursue research in his field also played a major role in his decision.
“It was a research university with a Ph.D. program in marketing – this was important for future research that I was planning to develop,” he added. “Time proved me right, as now (two years later) I work on projects with more than half of the faculty and several Ph.D. students in the marketing department.”
In the arts, professor of Spanish literature Jesus Barquet has pursued his passion for Spanish literature and poetry since arriving at NMSU in 1991.
“NMSU has helped my research in different ways through grants, flexibility in course designing and library facilities,” he said.
Barquet’s life story is worthy of its own epic poem. He arrived in the U.S. from Cuba during the chaotic Mariel Boatlift between April and October 1980. The mass exodus from Cuba’s Mariel port resulted in about 125,000 Cubans reaching Florida’s shores. Once in the U.S., Barquet relocated to New Orleans, where he received his master’s and doctoral degrees in Spanish from Tulane University.
Barquet has published several books on literary criticism and his poems have appeared in numerous anthologies. Currently, he is researching Cuban poetry and theater of the 1960s and contemporary Hispanic literature in the U.S.