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Researchers

Mary Baker

Mary Baker
Associate Professor
Teaching & Learning
University of North Dakota

Mary’s research interests involve both quantitative and qualitative studies related to mathematics and science education and the use of technology in elementary and middle school classrooms. She is particularly interested in alternative teaching strategies that emphasize the importance of hands-on, minds-on learning. As a teacher educator she works almost exclusively with pre-service and in-service teachers, promoting the integration of mathematics and science with elementary and middle school students and encouraging the exploration of STEM-related careers, e.g., effective teaching strategies, STEM education, and the use of technology in education. Examples of her research include climate change curriculum development for middle school students that utilizes satellite imagery and NASA resources, and culturally specific pedagogy. She is also interested in developing efficient and concrete approaches to teaching mathematics and science content to students on all levels.
mary.baker@email.und.edu

 

Frank Bowman

Frank Bowman
Associate Professor
Chemical Engineering
University of North Dakota

Dr. Bowman received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Brigham Young University in 1991 and his doctorate in chemical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1997. He taught for several years in the Chemical Engineering Department at Vanderbilt University and then in 2005 he joined the UND Department of Chemical Engineering where he is currently an associate professor and serves as Associate Chair for Education and Outreach.

Dr. Bowman is an expert in the field of atmospheric aerosols with a focus on secondary organic aerosol partitioning behavior, mathematical modeling of multicomponent aerosols, and air quality modeling of organic aerosols. He has conducted both modeling and experimental studies of secondary organic aerosol formation. He is currently investigating the hygroscopic behavior of organic aerosols and the influence of aerosol mixing state on semivolatile organic partitioning. Dr. Bowman is also developing an environmental science computer game to help middle school students learn the process of scientific problem solving.
frank.bowman@engr.und.edu

 

Uwe Burghaus

Uwe Burghaus
Department of Chemistry

North Dakota State University

Uwe Burghaus was born in West-Berlin, Germany where he attended the Free University in Berlin. There, he earned a bachelor's and master's degree in physics shortly followed by a doctorate from the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society. Uwe's dissertation focused on physical chemistry and particular surface science (heterogeneous catalysis). After several postdoctoral positions in Italy and the U.S., he returned to Germany and became a lecturer in the Chemistry Department at Ruhr-University and earned tenure. Uwe later accepted a position in the Chemistry Department at NDSU as an assistant professor. He’s published more than 70 peer-refereed papers and is strongly involved in teaching outreach projects such as the Native American NATURE program. In 2008, he won an NSF-CAREER grant and is also the PI of a Department of Energy grant. These projects focus on nanotechnology applied to surface science problems.

Uwe’s SUNRISE research focuses on the catalytic properties of particulate matter model systems, such as graphite and alkaline earth oxide single crystals. This includes kinetics experiments, as well as molecular beam scattering. 
Uwe.burghaus@ndsu.edu

 

Sean Hightower

Sean Hightower
Assistant Professor

Inorganic and Organic Chemistry
University of North Dakota

Our research addresses two separate areas, one that involves alternative energy and the second involving carbohydrate modifications. Our research in alternative fuels centers on the design of new metal ligands for the oxidation of water and carbon dioxide reduction. In the area of carbohydrates, we develop new metal-catalyzed methodologies for the transformation of carbohydrates into new materials. Research projects often involve inorganic, organic and physical chemistries. We are often involved in multidisciplinary multi-investigator projects with both chemical engineers and other chemist.

We are also involved in an outreach program called the Native American Freshman Research Experience (NAFRE). NAFRE brings graduating Native American high school and tribal college students to UND for a two week summer program that includes introductions to university life plus an individually faculty mentored STEM research experience.
shightower@chem.und.edu

 

Mark Hoffmann

Mark Hoffmann
Department of Chemistry

University of North Dakota

Dr. Hoffmann received his baccalaureate from Northwestern University, with a double major in Astronomy and Chemistry in 1980. He went on to the University of California, Berkeley, to study Theoretical Physical Chemistry and received his Ph.D. in 1984. After being a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Chicago for one year and a postdoctoral research associate and faculty intern at the University of Utah for two years, he joined the Chemistry Department at the University of North Dakota in 1988. Dr. Hoffmann has been chair of the Chemistry Department since 2003, and was named a Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor in 2006. Mark is the coauthor on more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and has been an invited speaker at numerous international conferences. He is the coauthor of a book on electronic structure theory that was first published in 2002. He has served as PI on the previous NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement grant to SUNRISE and serves as PI on the current grant.

Dr. Hoffmann's principal areas of research interest and expertise include the development and application of new theoretical and computational methods for molecular electronic structure, and the application of these to elucidating the potential energy surfaces of molecules in their ground and excited electronic states. Recognized contributions have been made on methods based on hybrid variational-perturbational frameworks, such as quasidegenerate or multireference perturbation theories. Algorithms that take into account high performance computer architectures have received special attention in recent years. A variety of types of concrete systems have been studied, with particular attention on chemical reactions in which nonadiabatic couplings of surfaces are major effects, including metal-containing molecules, catalysts, and combustion reactions. Recent progress has been made on extending quantum chemical approaches to the understanding of molecules in intense laser fields.
mhoffmann@chem.und.edu

 

Khwaja Hossain

Khwaja Hossain
Department of Biology

Mayville State University

Khwaja Hossain, a Bangladesh native, received his bachelor's and master's in Agricultural Sciences. He is a commonwealth scholar and completed his Ph.D. in Plant Molecular Biology from University of Wales, U.K. in 1995. He worked as a rice breeder and a faculty member in one of the Agricultural Universities in Bangladesh for several years. After successfully completing his research appointment in Chiba University, Japan, he came to NDSU in 2000 to work on wheat genomics. Dr. Hossain is a biology faculty at Mayville State University and is involved in teaching and research in different aspects of genomics. He has authored more than 20 peer-reviewed journal articles, 30 abstracts, reports and other publications. 

Dr. Hossain is working to develop soybean feedstock with high oleic acid content with higher amount of 16-carbon long saturated fatty acid. Fatty acids are the major component of oil and its compositions varies greatly. Soybean feedstocks with high oleic and 16-carbon-long fatty acid content are expected to increase the yield of aromatic-based chemicals and polymers during cracking. 
K_Hossain@mayvillestate.edu

 

Burton Johnson

Burton Johnson
Department of Plant Sciences

North Dakota State University

Dr. Johnson is a production agronomist with a research emphasis regarding improvement of best management practices for sunflower, alternative, and new crops. In the case of new crops best management practices are typically limited or may not exist due to the newness of the crop. Dr. Johnson's research with traditional crops and new crops for the region provides the opportunity to evaluate crop management and environment as they relate to agronomic performance. Dr. Johnson teaches an undergraduate crop production class and advises both undergraduate and graduate students in crop production.

Approximately 12 oilseed crops are grown in North Dakota and the surrounding region providing feedstock for edible, industrial, personal hygiene, spice, and biofuel applications. Dr. Johnson's research with oilseed crops provides an opportunity to demonstrate the impact production practices have on crop performance and identify environments and practices that optimize production. Identifying environments and agronomic practices that optimize production of oilseed crops for an intended end use is of high research interest since crop management may differ depending on environment and end use.
burton.johnson@ndsu.edu

 

Evguenii Kozliak

Evguenii "Jenya" I. Kozliak
Professor
Physical Chemistry

University of North Dakota

Evguenii is an experimental physical chemist with a focus on application of fundamentals of physical chemistry, e.g., partitioning, kinetics and spectroscopy, to deciphering the mechanisms of complex multistage and multicomponent processes. Examples include speciation of toxic trace elements during coal combustion, mechanism of triacylglyceride thermal and catalytic cracking, penetration of chemical mixtures into wood and concrete, and biodegradation/bioremediation on the liquid-gas interface. Due to his broad background in both physical and biological sciences, Evguenii is often involved in multidisciplinary multi-investigator projects with both chemical engineers and analytical chemists. He is also interested in developing efficient and concrete approaches in teaching physical chemistry to chemistry students on all levels.
jkozliak@chem.und.edu

 

Alena Kubatova

Alena Kubatova
Associate Professor
Analytical Chemistry
University of North Dakota

Alena’s research interests are mainly in chromatographic/ mass spectrometric (MS) method development and applications targeting a variety of sample matrices including atmospheric particulate matter, biofuels, soils, wood, and biological materials. This interest resulted in a number of studies targeting the fate of organic species of interest including reactions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the air, pollutant degradation in soils, fate of preservatives in wood, etc. Alena’s analytical expertise includes sample preparation methods addressing matrix-analyte interactions, e.g., solid phase microextraction, solid phase extraction, subcritical water extraction, supercritical extraction. The chromatographic methods employed represent both gas and liquid chromatography coupled with MS; covering a broad range of MS instruments, such as quadrupoles with electron ionization, ion traps and high resolution time of flight (HRTOF) with electrospray and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization sources.
akubatova@chem.und.edu

Soizik Laguette

Soizik Laguette
Department of Earth Systems Science and Policy

University of North Dakota

Soizik Laguette earned a doctorate in Agricultural Engineering at the ENGREF – a French Institute of Forestry, Agricultural and Environmental Engineering in Paris, France. Dr. Laguette has been at UND since 1999, and was a founding member of the Earth System Science and Policy program where she currently serves as an assistant professor and Chair of the Department. Dr. Laguette's research interests involve the use of switchgrass as a bioenergy crop in the Northern Great Plains and the adoption of switchgrass into the traditional cropping system; the rapid integration of remote sensing data into in-field management decisions and the use of satellite data in crop modeling. She also helps end-users integrate remote sensing data and technology as a tool in land management practices. This research is conducted through two main aims: 1) by characterizing switchgrass spectral signature throughout a cultural cycle; and 2) by analyzing switchgrass seasonal patterns in relation with low satellite time series and correlating switchgrass agronomic parameters with collected remote sensed information.
Laguette@aero.und.edu

 

Steven Light

Steven A. Light
Department of Political Science and Public Administration

University of North Dakota

Steven A. Light (B.A. Yale; Ph.D. Northwestern) is an associate professor of Political Science and Public Administration and co-director of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy at the University of North Dakota. He teaches in the areas of American government, constitutional law, civil rights and civil liberties, and race politics. He has published widely on Indian gaming, as well as affirmative action, environmental policy, and voting rights. Light is the co-author of three books: Indian Gaming and Tribal Sovereignty: The Casino Compromise, Indian Gaming Law and Policy, and Indian Gaming Law: Cases and Materials, and currently is writing "The Law is Good: The Voting Rights Act, Redistricting, and Black Regime Politics". He has twice testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. and was featured on C-SPAN's Book TV. As one of the nation's foremost experts on Indian gaming, Light is quoted regularly in the national media, including the New York Times, Boston Globe, and San Diego Union-Tribune.

Light's specialty fields within SUNRISE focus on the interface of public and private sectors through public law and public policy, policy analysis, and policy implementation. Relevant issues include fostering understanding of policy issues for a sustainable economy, such as exploration of the social, political, and economic consequences of society's transition from an oil-based economy to one that is substantially supported by sustainable sources. Light's relevant expertise includes public administration and regulatory policymaking; socioeconomic impact analysis; impact of judicial decisions on public policy; federal, state, local, and tribal intergovernmental relations; and pedagogy in relation to underrepresented/underserved groups. 
steven.light@business.und.edu 

 

Michael Mann

Michael Mann
Department of Chemical Engineering

University of North Dakota

Dr. Mann is a professor and chair of the Chemical Engineering Department. He earned a Ph.D. in Energy Engineering and has more than 25 years of experience in energy related research. Dr. Mann is the recipient of the 2006 Thomas J. Clifford Faculty Achievement Award for Excellence in Research - the highest honor offered by UND to recognize academic research accomplishments. He is also the recipient of the 2003 Olson Professorship, which recognizes the outstanding teacher and researcher within the UND School of Engineering and Mines. Under his leadership, the Department of Chemical Engineering was awarded two of UND’s highest departmental honors: the 2007 UND Departmental Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 2005 UND Departmental Award for Excellence in Research. He has authored or coauthored more than 90 peer-reviewed publications and 200 publications in total. Dr. Mann currently holds three patents advancing the use of clean coal technology. 

Dr. Mann's principal areas of interest and expertise include performance issues in advanced energy systems firing coal and biomass; renewable and sustainable energy systems with a focus on integration of fuel cells with renewable resources through electrolysis; production of fuel and specialty chemicals from crop oils; and development of energy strategies coupling thermodynamics with political, social, and economic factors. 
michael.mann@engr.und.edu

 

Nuri Oncel

Nuri Oncel
Department of Physics and Astrophysics

University of North Dakota

Dr. Oncel is an assistant professor (tenure-track) in the Department of Physics and Astrophysics at The University of North Dakota. He received his B.Sc. in Physics from the Department of Physics at Bilkent University in 2003 and proceeded to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Twente in the Netherlands in 2007. After obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Oncel held a two-year postdoctoral research position in the Department of Chemistry at Princeton University. Dr. Oncel and his group are interested in novel properties of low dimensional systems, such as quantum dots, nanowires and self-assembled molecular structures.
nuri.oncel@email.und.edu

 

David Pierce

David T. Pierce
Department of Chemistry

University of North Dakota

After completing his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at McGill University (Montréal ) in 1985, Dr. Pierce studied Electroanalytical Chemistry at the University of Vermont until earning his Ph. D. in 1991. While his dissertation work at Vermont centered on the use of ultramicroelectrode (UME) techniques to study of complex redox reactions, Dr. Pierce expanded his repertoire of UME methods over the next year as a post-doctorial fellow with Professor Allen J. Bard at the University of Texas at Austin. Following a short research exchange at the Technical University in Budapest, Dr. Pierce joined UND’s Department of Chemistry in 1992 and currently serves as full professor. While at UND, Dr. Pierce has authored more than 15 peer-reviewed journal articles, four patent applications and more than 50 national or regional research presentations.

Dr. Pierce contributes a broad expertise in electrochemical and analytical science to the SUNRISE effort. His work is currently focused on the development of ultrasensitive analytical methods to determine trace elements in coal and other environmental samples, the development of new nanomaterials for analysis and fuel-cell catalysis, and the modification of traditional atomic spectroscopy to study release of trace elements during coal combustion.
dpierce@chem.und.edu

 

Hossein Salehfar

Hossein Salehfar
Department of Electrical Engineering

University of North Dakota

Hossein Salehfar received his B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, and his M.S. and Ph.D degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. After graduating from Texas A&M University, he joined the Electrical Engineering Department at Clarkson University in New York as an assistant professor. Since 1995 he has been with the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, where he is now a full Professor, Department Vice-Chair, and the Director of Engineering Ph.D. Programs. Dr. Salehfar has worked as a consultant for the New York Power Pool in New York, electric utilities and coal industries in the State of North Dakota, and the North Dakota Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC). Dr. Salehfar has active and externally funded multidisciplinary research projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and others. Some of the projects that he has worked on include alternative and renewable energy systems, fuel cell and electrolysis technologies, power electronics, electric drives, neuro-fuzzy intelligent systems, electric power and energy systems, power systems reliability, engineering systems reliability, power systems production costing, energy and load management, and energy efficiency. 

He has supervised several Ph.D. and master’s level graduate students and has published his research work extensively in various journals, conferences, and books. Dr. Salehfar is an active reviewer of proposals and manuscripts for the NSF, journals of the Power and Energy Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and various other international journals, conferences, and publications. He is a professional member of the UND Campus Representative to the American Society for Engineering Education.
hossein.salehfar@engr.und.edu

 

Wayne Seames

Wayne S. Seames
Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor
Chemical Engineering

University of North Dakota

Wayne’s research interests are in sustainable energy technologies including the invention and development of fuels and chemicals from biomass, crop oils and coal; the environmental impact and remediation technologies of both organic and inorganic chemicals especially from combustion systems; the remediation of semi-volatile organics from heterogeneous materials; applied process engineering including: process development and analysis, project management, design engineering, technical, environmental, and commercial feasibility analyses. More specifically he studies the fine fragmentation region of combustion ash, has developed improved coal ash digestion methods, unique methods to evaluate the mobility of trace inorganic chemicals from combustion ash, and the use of AAS/GFAA for trace inorganic analyses. He also investigates novel biological and nonbiological reaction pathways for the conversion of triacyl glycerides and lignocellulosic biomass into valuable fuel and chemical constituents.
wayne.seames@engr.und.edu

 

Irina Smoliakova

Irina Smoliakova
Department of Chemistry

University of North Dakota

Dr. Irina Smoliakova received a Diploma degree from Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia in 1983 and a doctoral degree in Organic Chemistry from the Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Science in 1989. Two years later she joined Professor Caple’s research group at the University of Minnesota, Duluth as a postdoctoral fellow. In 1995, Dr. Smoliakova became a faculty member at the University of North Dakota where she is presently a Professor of Chemistry. She has co-authored 46 peer-reviewed papers and a book chapter. Her research interests include stereoselective organic and organometallic synthesis, stereochemistry and organic spectroscopy.

Members of Dr. Smoliakova's research group carry out transformations of organic compounds and perform spectroscopic identification of obtained substances using the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Infrared Spectroscopy.
ismoliakova@chem.und.edu

 

Dean Webster

Dean C. Webster
Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials
North Dakota State University

Dean Webster’s expertise lies in the area of polymer synthesis, with a particular focus on the synthesis of thermosetting polymers for applications in coatings and composites. Recent projects have included the synthesis of novel high performance thermosets from non-isocyanate polyurethane crosslinking chemistry, novel fouling-release marine coatings, and UV curable hybrid nanocomposite coatings and films. The synthesis of novel highly functional bio-based resins is currently being explored. Due to their high functionality, when crosslinked these resins have exceptional modulus and strength properties, comparable to current petrochemical systems at high bio-based content.
Dean.Webster@ndsu.edu

 

Xiangfa Wu

Xiangfa Wu
Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering
NDSU

Xiangfa’s research interests are mainly in synthetic and natural micro/nanofibrous materials and related mass fabrication techniques, processing and property modeling, and applications in structural composites (e.g., high-strength self-healing composites), energy (e.g., electrodes for Li-ion batteries, supercapacitors, solar cells, etc.), and environmental protection (e.g., gas/liquid filtration, oil-water separation, etc.). His research is at the interdisciplinary fields of materials science, polymer engineering, solid mechanics, applied physics and applied mathematics. Xiangfa is good at both experimentation (e.g., electrospinning, composite processing, mechanical, rheological, thermomechanical, impact and fatigue and electrochemical characterization of structural and functional materials at nano to macro scales) and theoretical modeling (including highly nonlinear multi-physics, multi-phase phenomena such as the entire electrohydrodynamic, mass-transfer and phase-separation process of electrospinning, etc.). He has published one monograph, one book chapter, 68 peer-referred journal papers, 4 recent U.S. and international patents in the above areas, and over 30 conference presentations and proceeding papers. Xiangfa is teaching Mechanics of Materials, Mechanical Design, Nanocomposites, Applied Mathematics, etc.
xiangfa.wu@ndsu.edu

 

Julia Zhao

Julia X. Zhao
Associate Professor
Analytical Chemistry
University of North Dakota

Dr. Zhao’s research group is interested in the development of various functional nanomaterials and applications of the nanomaterials in biomedical and environmental studies. Fluorescent nanomaterials are one of their major interests. Fluorescent nanoparticles have shown great potential for use as efficient bionanomaterials. A number of new developed fluorescent nanomaterials have been used as labeling regents for ultra-sensitive bioanalysis and bioimaging. Currently, Dr. Zhao’s research is focused on the development of various near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) nanomaterials. The NIR region favors low background signals and deeper penetration of radiation for biological species. Therefore, biological samples under NIR conditions have low autofluorescence, absorption, and scattering. Nonetheless, challenges for traditional NIRF probes remain; namely, low signal intensity, poor water solubility and overlap of excitation and emission bands. The new developed NIRF nanomaterials are targeting to overcome these limitations.
jzhao@chem.und.edu