Discovery: Solving Century-old Mystery Helps Scientist Win Prize, Grant Targets Measuring UAV Group Performance

Researchers across North Texas are making disoveries and conducting research that help make our world better. Here are some of their stories.



Whats new, next, and reimagined in Dallas-Fort Worth ResearchDr. Zhijian “James” Chen has been awarded the 2018 Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences for his discovery of an enzyme, which has significant impact on our body’s immune defense system.

The UT Southwestern Medical Center professor’s discovery solved a century-old medical mystery, according to the school. 

Years before realizing DNA’s function as genetic material, scientists knew it activated the immune system.

In fact, in 1908, UTSW pointed out that a Nobel Laureate acceptance speech described how DNA was used by doctors to enhance patients’ defense against infection. Chen’s recent research has identified the cGAS enzyme, which is the mechanism underlying that response, the school said. 

The Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences is awarded annually by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, and honors outstanding achievement by a promising young scientist in biomedical research. 

You can find out more about Chen’s work here.

Kammesh Subbarao of the University of Texas at Arlington [Photo courtesy of UT Arlington]


A researcher at the University of Texas at Arlington is developing metrics that can be used by unmanned aerial vehicle operators to help predict behavior of multiple vehicles flying at the same time. 

The work by Kamesh Subbarao, associate professor in the UTA Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, is being funded by a four-year, $795,427 Basic Research Grant from the Office of Naval Research.

“We know how to assess the performance of a single vehicle, but not how teaming affects multiple vehicles …”

Kamesh Subbarao

Subbarao — an aerospace engineer — can use the metrics to create a framework to identify system parameters that will guarantee the performance of a group of aircraft, according to the university. 

“We know how to assess the performance of a single vehicle, but not how teaming affects multiple vehicles, so I will work to identify key parameters that affect overall performance and then make recommendations on how they need to be applied,” Subbarao said in the release. 

His reserach will focus on fully autonomous UAVs, but UTA said his findings could be applied to land- or water-based vehicles or groups of multiple types of unmanned vehicles. 

Find out more here.

The superfluids research team includes, from left, doctoral student Junpeng Hou; Kuei Sun, senior lecturer; Chuanwei Zhang, professor of physics; and Haiping Hu, a postdoctoral research associate. [Photo courtesy of UT Dallas]


Here’s a term I’ll bet many of you have never heard before — “superfluid quasicrystal.”

In fact, most people haven’t, because it’s new.

“Superfluid quasicrystal,” is a new form of matter proposed by theoretical physicists at the University of Texas at Dallas.

“If your morning coffee was a superfluid, and you stirred it with a spoon, you could remove the spoon and the coffee would never stop moving.”

Chuanwei Zhang

A study published recently in the journal, Physical Review Letters, explains the team’s findings.

In school, most of us probably learned about the three fundamental states of matter — solid, liquid, and gas. There are many more states of matter including plasma, found inside the sun and other stars, and Bose-Einstein condensates, which exist in the most extremely cold temperatures, UTD noted. 

Because it has zero viscosity, a superfluid can flow across a surface and not slow down — or lose energy — caused by friction with the surface. UTD said that superfluids, such as liquid helium, must be cooled to extremely low temperatures for these unique properties to emerge.

“If your morning coffee was a superfluid, and you stirred it with a spoon, you could remove the spoon and the coffee would never stop moving,” said Chuanwei Zhang, a physics professor in UTD’s School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and an author on the study. “Regular fluids will eventually stop due to friction with the cup.”


Discovery: Scientist Creating 3D Motion Microscope to Examine Heart, New Surface Redirects Water Faster Than Living Organisms

Discovery: Reducing Cancer Risk 1 Cup at a Time, Scientist Seeks Clearer Images of Deadly Tumors

Discovery: Women Lead Sustainable Living Research at AgriLife, UTD Scientists Develop ‘Genetic’ Circuits

Discovery: How Songbirds Could Help With Autism, 3D-Printed Microneedles Offer New, Lower Cost Option

Discovery: New UTSW Protocol Detects Bone Metastases, UTA Startup Gets Funding & Research Agreement

Discovery: Targeting Cancer Stem Cells, UTA Chemist Honored as Distinguished Scientist

Discovery: Aiding a Fragile Mussel, Trial Seeks Multiple Myeloma Patients, 3-D Universe

Discovery: Sway, TCU Partner on Sports Performance Research & UTA Gets $3.3M for Heart Study


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