RTI International launched the RTI University Scholars Program in 2014 as a catalyst for promoting research collaborations between the institution and North Carolina’s top academic scholars. The program provides support for distinguished academic researchers to spend a year of scholarly leave time from their home institutions to participate in projects that will form the basis of ground-breaking research in the future.

In its inaugural year, 2014-15, RTI hosted two University Scholars, and seven in the second year. Three NC State faculty were among the six selected for the 2016-17 academic year.

The program is currently open to faculty members from Duke and all 16 campuses of the University of North Carolina System. Applications for the 2017-18 RTI University Scholars Program is now open.

NC State 2016-17 Scholars

Owen Duckworth, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Soil Science
RTI Collaborator: James Harrington, PhD
Research Focus: Novel biotechnologies to improve water and food safety

Abstract: Society is faced with the daunting challenge of providing food, fiber, energy, and water to a global population estimated to exceed nine billion in the next 35 years. Although there are a number of obstacles to meeting these goals, one of the primary physical constraints on our ability to support the population is the limited availability of clean soil and fresh water. The objective of the proposed collaboration is to conduct research that will lead to the development of new technologies for water purification and environmental remediation to help reclaim and maximize these limiting resources. During the proposed eight month residency at RTI, I will build upon existing collaborations within the Analytical Sciences department to pursue two projects that directly address the RTI priority areas of food and agriculture, resource management, and human health. We also will pursue opportunities to increase the impact of the work by developing programs to communicate the science to students and the public. These topics also align closely with the mission of NCSU, the strategic plan of NCSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), and the vision of the NCSU Soil Science Department. The aim of the visit is not only to produce publishable data but also lay the foundation for collaborative projects with RTI that will extend beyond the residency.

Owen Duckworth

Sylvia Nassar-McMillan, PhD

Professor, Department of Curriculum, Instruction & Counselor Education
RTI Collaborators: Eric Johnson, PhD and Peter Joyce, EdD
Research Focus: Career counseling, particularly in the MENA region

Abstract: Youth populations represent the future capacity of the world, and globally inter-dependent economies rely on healthy citizens to support these labor markets. Concurrently, youth world-wide face increasing challenges resulting in spiraling gaps in educational achievement, earning potential, and other heightened psychosocial risks, thus perpetuating their marginalization within society. Interdisciplinary scholar-leaders across research, practice, and policy domains recognize the criticality of effective career interventions, yet there remains much to be learned in terms of what elements facilitate effectiveness and thus, should be central to funding and policy initiatives. Moreover, there is a notable need for empirically supported interventions as well as clearer connections between practice and policy. To address these issues, the primary goal of this collaborative research project is to identify relevant indicators of success in global career development through (1) developing culturally-appropriate career and psychosocial support interventions; (2) creating capacity building infrastructure for knowledge sharing; and (3) disseminating knowledge to relevant stakeholder groups.

Sylvia Nassar

Nagui Rouphail, PhD

Professor, Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering
RTI Collaborator: Alan Karr, PhD
Research Focus: Transportation data

Abstract: This collaborative research between the Dr. Nagui Rouphail at the Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) and by Dr. Alan Karr, Director of the Center of Excellence for Complex Data Analysis (CoDA) at RTI, and will focus on the area of transportation data science. There is a long history of successful research collaboration between Drs. Karr and Rouphail in the area of transportation data analytics, dating back to the mid 1990’s. At that time Dr. Karr resided at NISS and Dr. Rouphail started at NC State. Funding for those collaborations was derived from such sources as the USDOT IDEA Program, BTS, NSF and the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP-2). Currently, both Rouphail and Karr are collaborating on a FHWA funded research on the development of transportation data visualization tools at the network and connected vehicle (probe) levels. The proposed collaboration builds on previous joint research which had focused on fixed infrastructure generated data. Mobility data sources are shifting from aggregated infrastructure sensing, to monitoring individual vehicles (probes) and now individual travelers. This is in line with the anticipated safety and mobility measurements generated from connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV). The proposed collaboration will focus on high resolution (1 Hz) vehicle dynamics data that are locally generated from a continuously monitored fleet of 15-20 ITRE-instrumented vehicles for which mobility and safety data have been archived since April 2014. To date nearly 30 million detailed data records of thousands of trips in the Triangle region have been archived. We will explore those rich data to characterize human driving behavior as it relates to safety, mobility and environmental impacts with consideration of the driving context.

Nagui Rouphail