Two students, four faculty awarded NOVA Fellowship FuTUre Fund innovation prizes
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Two students, four faculty awarded NOVA Fellowship FuTUre Fund innovation prizes

The NOVA Fellowship at The University of Tulsa has awarded FuTUre Fund innovation prizes to two students and four faculty. This funding will support their projects aimed at boosting the culture of innovation at TU.

Since 2013, TU has hosted the NOVA Fellowship program, which puts students and faculty in charge of a project of their own creation. These projects have covered diverse topics, such as politics, community outreach programs, investments and human biology.

The current director of the NOVA Fellowship, Professor of Marketing Charles Wood, says that NOVA’s FuTUre Fund prizes are important for supporting TU’s innovation ecology: “Our university has so many amazing students and faculty. The NOVA innovation prizes are a simple way to encourage those who want to create and implement innovative projects. Recognizing these students and faculty as NOVA Fellows celebrates interdisciplinary innovation, something TU is known for and which is a key part of our new strategic plan.”

Inaugural FuTUre Fund recipients

young man with black hair and a blue open-collar shirtGhulam Haider (MSE ’18) is a doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering. His areas of research are fluid mechanics, erosion modeling and erosion control. Haider is passionate about learning, exploring and teaching. “Working as a teaching assistant has shown me that teaching is one of the best ways to give back to the community, as you get to directly impact lives,” Haider said. Outside of his studies, Haider loves trying new cuisine and cooking. He also describes himself as a “fitness freak and a crazy dog lover!”

“I am honored to be a recipient of a NOVA FuTUre Fund award,” remarked Haider. “My NOVA Fellowship has given me a community of innovators who support and encourage one another, a platform to dream big and a FuTUre Fund to make these dreams a reality. With my passion for learning and improving, I’m determined to make a meaningful and measurable difference in our university’s learning environment in my humble capacity.”

young man smiling while wearing glasses and a white polo shirtSuraj Nayan Vodnala is majoring in business management. He is also a pre-med student minoring in society, law and policy, and he conducts research under the supervision of professors Tim Hart and Robert Sheaff. “College students are constantly working on amazing projects that often never leave campus,” Vodnala noted. “I love the NOVA Foundation’s dedication to launching and introducing these projects to the community.” Currently, Vodnala is contributing business insights to a team of senior engineering students creating a newly designed small, unmanned aircraft system (sUAS). He is also part of the Love’s Cup Business Plan competition, presenting a novel chemotherapeutic scanning process developed by Sheaff.

“The NOVA innovation prize offers a unique opportunity to fund projects and promote their growth past campus,” Vodnala said. “The sUAS design has numerous applications within midstream oil. I look forward to assisting several senior engineering students to bring this design to market.”

man with facial hair wearing striped grey and black sweaterAssociate Professor of Political Science Matt Hindman plans to build a new block course with his NOVA funding. “This new course will be centered on those areas of our political system that appear ripe for reform,” said Hindman. “The NOVA FuTUre Fund prize will help keep me up to date on the explosion of recent scholarship on things like gerrymandering, the Electoral College and the rigidity of our two-party system. I’m already looking forward to this fall course and to the personal research agenda that I hope will result as well!”

man wearing glasses, a red tie and a checked blazerThe course Chapman Clinical Professor of Athletic Training Greg Gardner proposed “really began from an idea that was a final exam question in a previous course. The question was, simply, ‘explain the therapeutic rationale of using an ankle foot orthosis as opposed to a cast for a severe ankle sprain.’ As I dug into the ‘perfect response,’ it became apparent that most clinical decisions in athletic training and orthopedics can be justified by applying the basic principles of rigid body mechanics to human tissue as it recovers from injury.”

man smiling and wearing an open-collar blue-and-green tartan shirtChapman Professor of Athletic Training Eric Wickel is the chair of TU’s Department of Kinesiology and Rehabilitative Sciences. “My future course will take a deep dive into ubiquitous terms like physical activity and sedentary behavior to challenge what we know (or think we know) about our daily pursuits and their influence on health,” Wickel explained. “Unique opportunities will be provided to work with research-grade wearable devices and also to establish and disseminate science-based messaging about physical activity and/or sedentary behavior.”

man wearing a polka dot tie, white shirt and black blazer“Across the world, the demand for energy continues to grow,” noted Genave King Rogers Assistant Professor of Energy Law and Commerce Buford Pollett. “Emerging economies globally and in the United States continue to drive this demand as the global population continues to increase. However, the energy mix is undergoing a transition. Many institutions and industries are considering options concerning the upcoming changes in the energy mix. Successful energy projects generally require engagement with a variety of stakeholders.” Drawing on his NOVA funding, Pollett plans to develop a course focused on sustainability and engagement with stakeholders (including capital markets, workforce, technological advancement and external communities) on enhancing the relationship between the energy industry and society.”

Do you have an idea for an innovative project within your field of study? Learn more about the NOVA FuTUre Fund and how it could help you further TU’s culture of innovation!