students presenting research
"This opportunity will benefit students through the interactions they will have with global mentors and peers," says Dr. Chao Dong.

UT Permian Basin students will soon have the chance to apply to conduct research at the Qingdao campus of Shandong University of Science and Technology in Shandong, China. The opportunity comes after Dr. Chao Dong, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, was awarded funding by the National Science Foundation. The $299,965 project will run from August 2023 to July 2026.

Dr. Chao Dong headshotThis research program will help students develop new methodologies for carbon emission reduction and mitigate the damage done by climate change. The breakthroughs made from this project could significantly impact the improvements in lithium-ion battery efficiency and greenhouse reforming.

The project will allow for four students to participate each academic year until the end of the program funding. Students will be recruited to participate in this opportunity from underrepresented groups in West Texas and Pell Grant-qualified applicants that have an interest in STEM careers.

“I think learning and researching in China is a great opportunity because of the different culture and new ways of thinking that we will be introduced to,” said Robert Funderburg, a biochemistry major in the College of Arts and Sciences, “We will also have to learn how to better communicate with people that speak a different language and we’ll also be able to expand our professional network.”

Dr. Raj Dakshinamurthy, Associate Vice President of Research, states undergraduate students need more exposure to international work environments. "To address this, our faculty colleagues and SUST hosts UTPB students to execute research projects, develop technical communication skills, collaborate in a research environment, and learn new skills from experts for the next three years." Upon returning to UTPB students will complete their research projects and publish their findings.

Dr. Chao Dong has been at UTPB since 2018 and enjoys helping his students develop their research skills. As a first-generation student, Dr. Dong said that having someone there to mentor, share opportunities, and help guide you along the way makes a difference in a students’ success.

“This research opportunity will benefit students through the interactions they will have with global mentors and peers. They will learn to work in international research settings and their confidence will receive a boost. This collaboration between UTPB and Shandong University of Science and Technology could be the beginning of future opportunities for students and faculty,” said Dr. Chao Dong.

Dr. Dong’s research interests include material chemistry and biomedicine. He holds a Master’s degree from China and moved to the United States to pursue his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of New Mexico.

Dr. Chao Dong would like to thank the group of people that supported this project: Dr. Raj Dakshinamurthy and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, Dr. Rick Nader, and Co-Principal Investigators Dr. Milka Montes and Joon Heo. And a special thanks to Dr. Kevin Badgett, Dr. Lorraine Spickermann, and Katylin for their time and insight.

"At UTPB, we prioritize creating impactful opportunities for our students. Congratulations to Dr. Dong, the lead PI, and Drs. Montes and Heo. As always, at UTPB, we prioritize our students first!" added Dr. Raj Dakshinamurthy.