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Research Spotlights

Contact with contaminated surfaces is one of the most common ways for illness to spread. A person carrying a pathogen touches something, like a doorknob, then another person touches that object and they can be infected by that pathogen. In between these contacts, the pathogen has to survive on the object, and in a large enough quantity to infect another person. Dustin Gilbert, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, wants to make it impossible, or at least unlikely, for pathogens to survive on a surface.

“If you come into contact with a surface containing pathogens, you could get sick from it, so it’s important to have surfaces that are inhospitable environments for pathogens so they just die quickly rather than being picked up and infecting another person,” said Gilbert. Continue reading

Subhadeep ChakrabortyDriver inattention is the leading cause of traffic accidents in the U.S., resulting in thousands of deaths per year. Inattention can be the result of driver fatigue, texting, loud music, or even daydreaming. Whatever the cause, when a driver’s focus strays, lives are put at risk. Associate Professor of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering Subhadeep Chakraborty’s work with biometric sensing could help minimize that risk.  Continue reading

Francisco BarreraNeuromorphic computing is the use of the human brain as design inspiration for computer systems, and has been steadily gaining interest since the 1980’s. Its potential to improve both speed and energy efficiency in computing, and subsequently supercomputing, make neuromorphic computing a thriving area of interest. 

While not attempting to directly copy the human brain, neuromorphic computing draws inspiration from neurons and synapses to develop new means of computation and information transfer. Innovation is an important part of the field of neuromorphic computing, and Francisco Barrera, associate professor of Biochemistry & Cellular and Molecular Biology, is bringing a new approach to chip development.  Continue reading

Sindhu JagadammaCarbon is the foundation of all life on planet Earth and is a central component of climate, food production, and energy creation. Carbon cycling is the way carbon is recycled or moved around from the atmosphere, into organisms and soil, and back out again. Changes to each of these components have the ability to impact the carbon cycle, but the potential effects of soil composition are not well understood. Assistant Professor of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science Sindhu Jagadamma hopes to improve that understanding. 

Plants pull carbon dioxide from the air and, through photosynthesis, convert it to plant biomass, which ultimately ends up in soil as soil carbon. Soil carbon is critical to sustainable food production, playing a vital role in soil, water and air quality. Securely storing carbon in soil is also important for reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.    Continue reading

Hugh MedalThe Materials Genome Initiative, MGI, was announced in 2011 as a multi-agency initiative intended to increase the speed of advanced materials development and production. Since that time the federal government has invested more than $250 million in new research and innovation infrastructures to help achieve that goal. Assistant Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering Hugh Medal hopes his StART project will also contribute to the goals of the MGI. 

The Materials Project was announced as a key program of the MGI with the goal of providing open access to a registry of known and predicted materials. Since it’s inception, the Materials Project has amassed a database of hundreds of thousands of materials with their predicted properties, information that would normally require repeated experimentation to discover.  Continue reading