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COEN Online News 9/21/16

COEN Online News 9/21/16

Project Aims to Stabilize Expansive Soils Beneath U.S. Roadways | $907,000 NSF Award Funds Engineering, Computer Science Scholarships | Solid-State Nanopores Unravel Twisted DNA Mystery | Engineering in Action | ITS News | COEN News |

Project Aims to Stabilize Expansive Soils Beneath U.S. Roadways

By: Kathleen Tuck

Image of Roadwork

Every year, the United States spends billions of dollars repairing and maintaining roadways built on expansive soils, including transportation corridors in northern and parts of southwest Idaho. Civil engineers have devised several methods to deal with the problem over the years, including pre-wetting, moisture barriers, mechanical compaction, chemical stabilization and innovative pavement design.

Bhaskar Chittoori, assistant professor of civil engineering, is working on an innovative — and more sustainable — approach to the problem called microbial-induced calcite precipitation, or MICP. The technique stimulates bacteria in the soil to produce calcite, which then strengthens the soil. While the technique has been used in the past, mostly in sandy soils by introducing bacteria into the soil, Chittoori’s approach is unique.

View the full “Project Aims to Stabilize Expansive Soils Beneath U.S. Roadways” article.

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$907,000 NSF Award Funds Engineering, Computer Science Scholarships

By: Kathleen Tuck

Image of Dave Estrada, Janet Callahan and Donna Llewellyn.

NSF Grant, Dave Estrada, Janet Callahan and Donna Llewellyn, Albertons Stadium, John Kelly photo

The National Science Foundation has awarded $907,000 to Boise State University to launch a new scholarship program designed to increase the retention, success and graduation of academically talented students from underserved populations. The project consists of financial support and the implementation and adaptation of high quality, evidence-based curricular and co-curricular activities.

“This program helps level the playing field for students who may not have had a chance in high school to take advanced math,” said Janet Callahan, chair of the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering and principal investigator for the project at Boise State. “Students with SAT or ACT scores that place them in pre-calculus (Math 143 or Math 144 at Boise State) and who demonstrate financial need are eligible “

The award is part of the “Redshirt Consortium,” a group of six universities including Boise State University; University of California, San Diego; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; University of Washington; Washington State University; and University of Colorado, Boulder. Established in 2009, the program will award a total of $5 million across the consortium.

View the full “$907,000 NSF Award Funds Engineering, Computer Science Scholarships” article.

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Solid-State Nanopores Unravel Twisted DNA Mystery

By: Kathleen Tuck


Cancer thrives when mutated cells undergo frequent division. Most anti-cancer drugs work by inserting themselves in between the DNA base pairs that encode our genetic information. This process is known as intercalation, and it can result in subtle changes to the DNA molecule’s geometric shape or tertiary structure. These structural changes interfere with the DNA’s transcription and a cell’s replication process, ultimately resulting in cell death.

While intercalating agents used in chemotherapy drugs are highly effective in fighting cancer, they also may kill important cells in the body and lead to other complications such as heart failure. Therefore, researchers are always searching for faster, cheaper and more accurate tools to aid in the design of next-generation anti-cancer drugs with reduced side effects.

A paper published in ACS Nano, one of the top nanotechnology journals in the world, explores this topic. “Modeling and Analysis of Intercalant Effects on Circular DNA Conformation,” (LINK TO focuses on the effect of the intercalating agent ethidium bromide (a mimic for many chemotherapy drugs) on the tertiary structure of DNA.

View the full “Solid-State Nanopores Unravel Twisted DNA Mystery” article.

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Engineering in Action

image of Bhaskar ChittoriBhaskar Chittoori, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering, recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation to instill sustainability and resiliency concepts into the civil engineering curriculum. The $297,343 grant will fund a project to address the increased expectation that graduates have a firm grasp of these concepts. Existing solutions tend to address individual classes; this project will redesign the syllabi for 12 selected courses that build from freshman to senior years. Students will gain an improved understanding of sustainability and resiliency concepts as they related to real-world projects and building economical and long-lasting infrastructure. The project leverages the university-wide NSF WIDER program that is changing the culture of teaching and learning across disciplines.

Other faculty working on the project include Deb Mishra, Robert Hamilton, Sondra Miller and Jairo Hernandez, civil engineering; and Noah Salzman, electrical engineering.

Image of Tim AndersonTim Andersen, Professor and Department Chair, Department of Computer Science, College of Engineering, is principal investigator on a $119,544 NSF Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) grant titled “Stream500: A New Benchmark and Infrastructure for Streaming Analytics.” Working with Richard Murphy from Micron, the goal is to develop a new benchmark application for high-performance computing (NPC) systems.

Large-scale data analytics is essential to the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) and NSF’s scientific discovery mission. Data-intensive supercomputing applications are increasingly important for HPC workloads. Current benchmarks and performance metrics do not provide useful information on suitability of computing systems for data-intensive applications. This research effort will produce a new Stream500 benchmark, complementary to Graph500, that replicates streaming analytics workload. The current benchmark capabilities will be expanded by enabling the exiting web-based infrastructure to accept submissions for multiple benchmarks.

The EAGER funding mechanism can be used to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches.

Image of Krishna PakalaKrishna Pakala, faculty in residence for the Engineering and Innovation Living and Learning Community, was featured in a story on KIVI Channel 6 about the benefits of students living with faculty and with other students who share a common interest. Pakala said the program gives students a strong advantage because the academic work sinks in better. See the full story here



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COEN IT Services News

Adobe software

Adobe software products are not free (including Adobe Acrobat Pro).  Each Adobe purchase requires receipt of a quote from Dell, the authorized reseller for Boise State.  Processing the order is completed by scheduling a call with a vendor representative.

To address processing time and efforts required for these orders, COEN IT Services is bundling Adobe requests into increments of three.  When multiple requests for the software are received, we’ll submit the quote request to Dell and then complete the transaction.  Departments may wish to consult with new faculty or staff hires prior to arrival to expedite this process, or submit orders in multiple increments to have a few spare installations on file (we document each transaction and which departments/individuals are to receive the software).

Feel free to contact if you have any questions or concerns about this.

Microsoft Imagine (Formerly Known As “DREAMSPARK”) And VMWARE Academic Program (VMAP): Legit Subscriptions (Not Phishing!)

College of Engineering faculty, staff, and students are enrolled in two separate (and
distinct) software programs:

  • Microsoft’s Imagine***
  • VMWare’s Academic Program (VMAP)

***Effective September 7th, the DreamSpark program will  be renamed “Microsoft Imagine.” 
Membership provides free access to Microsoft software (with the exception
of Office applications) and VMWare virtualization software (VMWare
Workstation – Windows, Fusion – Apple OSX). Program members may
download and install software on personal computers.  Email invitations
sent from Imagine (administered by Kivuto) and VMAP distribution stores
are legitimate (not phishing schemes).
Notifications will be sent from a site/domain called “On the Hub” (the
service provider for both programs).

Notifications Come from Kivuto (not Boise State University).

It is always prudent to question and/or delete messages you suspect are
SPAM or phishing attempts.
During the fall, registration with the Imagine and VMAP programs can
take up to two weeks after the semester starts, as current student
enrollment files must be imported into the system to deliver automated

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Updating your Personnel Profiles on the COEN Directory

Go to and login with your BroncoWeb username and password. This will take you to the dashboard. Next, on the left hand navigation go down to COEN Faculty/Edit Personnel Profile. This will take you to you profile where you can edit your bio, research etc.

If you have any questions please contact Michele Armstrong at

Upcoming Events

  • September 21 – ECE Seminar, 10:30am – 11:30am, MEC 106
    Devinder Saini of Fiberguide Industries
    Fiber optic sensors
  • September 23MBE Seminar, 12:00-1:00 pm, MEC 106
    Alex Gutierrez and Leandra Aburusa – Boise State University
    Search and Discover.  How do you find the perfect job, and what do you need to do NOW to position yourself for it?
  • September 23MSMSE Seminar, 10:30-11:20 am, ENGR 110
    Dr. Clare Fitzpatrick – Boise State University
    Utilizing Computational Models to Aid in Surgical Decisions and Implant Design
  • September 23 – CS Seminar, 12:00pm – 1:15pm, City Center Plaza (CCP) 221
    Dennis Patterson
    Business Ethics: Idaho National Lab Case Study
  • University Events Calendar: Boise State Events

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