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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Research Notes: Student breakthrough for chemical mapping

Student breakthrough for chemical mapping

DENTON – Arabidopsis thaliana is a seed so tiny that it can fit into Abraham Lincoln’s eye on a penny. Its small size, rapid life cycle and ability to produce thousands of seeds make this plant perfect for research. Now scientists who use it for studies have a new advantage. Drew Sturtevant, a student from the University of North Texas, had done a complete 3D imaging of the inside of this tiny seed that reveals its chemical mapping for the first time. His breakthrough was recently published in the journal BBA Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids.

“It’s exciting to have access to this technology at UNT and to be at the forefront of plant analytical biochemistry,” said Sturtevant, a doctoral student in the Department of Biological Sciences. “We’re getting a lot of recognition, because we have been able to show scientists why the location of these molecules in plant tissues is important.”

He was able to make his discovery by using technology called MALDI-mass spectrometry imaging. UNT is one of the only universities in the world that is home to a MALDI-mass spectrometer that is used primarily for plant tissues. The instrument is able to generate chemical heat maps, allowing researchers to locate exactly molecules are located in tissues.

“Using this technology, we can direct researchers looking for specific molecules to the exactly the right place and then they can use this information to conduct further experiments,” said Sturtevant. “While we used it to look at seed oils, this technology can be used to map proteins, sugars or plant hormones. The possibilities are pretty endless.”

While this part of Sturtevant’s research focuses on the mapping of lipids or oils, his next goal is to expand his work by looking at these and other chemicals in Arabidopsis and other seeds.

Drone services

A Fort Worth energy services firm is working with a Danvers, Massachusetts-based company to provide drone services to oil and gas industry customers.

Fort Worth’s Pilot Thomas Logistics, a provider of fuel, lubricants and chemicals to the energy, marine, mining and industrial markets, is partnering with CyPhy Works Inc. to provide unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone services.

“This is a great opportunity for Pilot Thomas Logistics. Our relationship with CyPhy Works allows us to expand our service portfolio to include innovative, state-of-the-art drone services that will assist our customers in the day-to-day operations of their business,” said Scott Prince, president and CEO of Pilot Thomas Logistics.

Recently recognized as one of the “Most Innovative Companies in Robotics” by Fast Company, CyPhy Works is a leading drone company focused on developing innovative aerial platforms to support a multitude of industries including energy, defense, public safety, agriculture, logistics, marine, mining power and transportation.

“We are excited to be working with Pilot Thomas Logistics to provide our UAV services to their customers in the oil and gas industry. The applications for our PARC drone in this sector are vast and include, but are not limited to, emergency/incident management, job-site surveillance and security, equipment monitoring and communications,” said Lance VandenBrook, CEO of CyPhy Works.

Pilot Thomas Logistics is a provider of fuel, lubricants and chemicals to the energy, marine, mining and industrial markets.


North Texas ‘Shark Tank’

DENTON – Enterprising students at the University of North Texas can compete in a new challenge putting their business creativity to the test, thanks to funding from an Oklahoma business leader.

The university announced that the Westheimer Business Plan Competition, sponsored by business philanthropist and UNT alumnus Jerome “Bruzzy” Westheimer, gives students the chance to create original business ideas – including enterprises, products and services – and to pitch those proposals to a panel of venture capitalists, consultants, entrepreneurs and executives.

First-, second- and third-place winners will receive $10,000, $5,000 and $1,000, respectively, per team. Remaining finalists will take home $100 per individual.

“This competition provides a special opportunity for students to think critically and get in front of admired business leaders to gain constructive, personalized feedback for their proposals,” Marilyn Wiley, dean of the UNT College of Business, said in a news release.

Westheimer earned his bachelor’s degree in administrative management in 1965, He is currently president of Valbel West, an oil and gas producer and geology business in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and president and CEO of the Jerome Westheimer Family Foundation.

He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the university, and he was inducted into the North Texas Athletics Hall of Fame as a Fred McCain Honoree, both in 2016.

“When you are forced to stand before a board of directors to present your idea, you’re going to find out what the real world is really about,” Westheimer said in the news release. The competition is like a “mini ‘Shark Tank.’ ” that will give students valuable experience in an authentic, business setting.

The Westheimer New Venture Competition is open to all UNT students in teams of three. Up to 12 teams will be chosen to pitch their plans to about a dozen judges during a 15-minute presentation on April 28.

For details or to submit proposals: cob.unt.edu/westheimercomp – FWBP Staff

Send research news to rfrancis@bizpress.net

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