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Firm sponsoring 11 Saudis signs pact

FAYETTEVILLE -- A formal cooperation agreement has been signed between the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, which currently sponsors 11 Saudi students enrolled at UA this fall.

The petrochemical company, often referred to as Sabic, and UA pledge to "create opportunities for additional educational endeavors and new sponsored research opportunities," according to a university announcement about the agreement.

The agreement, signed in July, also aims to increase the number of sponsored students attending UA, according to the announcement. Comprehensive data on foreign students from fall 2017 showed that Saudi Arabia ranked fourth among all countries in foreign enrollments at UA, with a total of 98 students.

Sabic was founded in 1976, according to its website. The Saudi Arabian government owns 70 percent of the company's shares while the other 30 percent are owned by private investors in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Persian Gulf region who are members of what is known as the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Blockchain center names 1st director

FAYETTEVILLE -- Mary Lacity is the first director of the Blockchain Center of Excellence at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

The technology called blockchain allows for decentralized, encrypted ledgers of events or transactions. University trustees in March approved the new UA center, which is an administrative unit housed within an existing building.

The center's aims include accelerating industry adoption of blockchain technology, according to its website.

Lacity previously worked as a professor at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis. She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Penn State University and a doctorate in business administration from the University of Houston.

In addition to leading the blockchain center, Lacity is also a professor of information systems in UA's Sam M. Walton College of Business. Her hire date was July 1, according to UA. Her salary is $235,000, UA spokesman Steve Voorhies said.

Program's students now eligible for aid

FAYETTEVILLE -- Students in the non-degree Empower program at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville can now apply for federal financial aid.

UA established the program last year for young adults with mild intellectual disabilities. Students pay in-state tuition and fees, plus a $5,000 per semester program fee.

The U.S. Department of Education certified Empower as a comprehensive transition and postsecondary program, allowing students to apply for federal financial aid.

Two other programs in the state -- at South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado and at University of Arkansas-Pulaski Tech in Little Rock -- have the same designation, according to online information from the U.S. Department of Education.

"This is an important achievement," Empower director Ashley Bradley said in a statement, adding that "it shows confidence in our program from the U.S. Department of Education."

Four students are enrolled in the Empower program this fall, said Heidi Wells, communications director for UA's College of Education and Health Professions.

Researcher wins grant for biofuels

FAYETTEVILLE -- A University of Arkansas, Fayetteville researcher has been awarded an $800,000 National Science Foundation grant to study ways of producing biofuels, like ethanol and biodiesel.

Ruben Michael Ceballos, an assistant professor of biological sciences, will use the grant to study how biological catalysts can aid in converting plant material into fuels, according to the university.

Biofuels are described by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as "a small but important component of current fuel consumption in the U.S. transport sector," according to the department's website.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration described biofuels as making up 5 percent of all transportation energy sources in 2017; separately, it reported a total of 1,425 trillion BTU from ethanol and biodiesel were used in the transportation sector in 2017.

Ceballos is working with fellow UA faculty members Lauren Greenlee and Leandro Mozzoni on the research.

Metro on 09/02/2018

Print Headline: Firm sponsoring 11 Saudis signs pact Blockchain center names 1st director Program's students now eligible for aid Researcher wins grant for biofuels

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