2014 News

Before heading to Australia, the students visit the Forge Wetland in Irvine. UCI professor Stanley Grant (far left) explains to Lynze Cheung of UCI, Maddy Walzem of UC San Diego and Clint Rosser of UC San Diego (from left) how the field instrument he’s pointing at (an acoustic Doppler velocimeter) measures water flow. Courtesy of Elena Sy Su Jul 29, 2014
Walkabout for water

Twelve UC undergrads go Down Under to study Aussie approaches to drought, conservation and resource management

Bright undergraduates from UC Irvine, UCLA and UC San Diego spent some of this summer Down Under, immersing themselves in drought solutions, wetlands design and related issues – sometimes literally.

“I thought it was ground, and it wasn’t. It was water, it was cold, and it got way deep,” says Clint Rosser, who’ll be a UC San Diego senior this fall, describing how he accidentally plunged waist-deep into a mucky wetland near Melbourne, Australia, in mid-July.

He and 11 others were part of this year’s Undergraduate Partnerships for International Research & Education Program Down Under, funded by the National Science Foundation. While submerged, Rosser asked his fellow student researchers to pass him a bottle so he could collect a water sample for pollutant analysis.

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Sabee Molloi Jul 24, 2014
Academy of Radiology Research honors Sabee Molloi as Distinguished Investigator

Sabee Molloi, professor of radiological sciences at UCI, has been named a Distinguished Investigator of the Academy of Radiology Research. The honor recognizes imaging researchers for their significant contributions in the field of medical imaging. Molloi, who holds joint faculty appointments in biomedical engineering and electrical engineering, focuses on developing novel diagnostic imaging techniques for breast cancer and cardiac disease.

At UCI, his research group has developed a dual-energy mammography technique that takes images of a breast at different energy levels to measure tissue density, which is important because women with dense breast tissue are four to five times more likely to develop tumors. And partnering with Carlos Iribarren, a research scientist from Kaiser Permanente, he is assessing whether breast arterial calcification detected by mammography can be used to gauge cardiovascular disease risk. For this effort, the two have received a $6.8 million grant from the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute to study mammography-identified calcium buildup in breast arteries in more than 5,000 African American, Latino, Asian and white women at three Kaiser Permanente medical centers in Northern California. The researchers will test whether these calcifications correlate with several cardiovascular disease risk factors. A technique to accurately measure breast arterial calcium mass was developed in Molloi’s laboratory.

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illustration by Matt Woodworth Jul 16, 2014
Squid Skin Protein Could Improve Biomedical Technologies, UCI Study Shows

Conductivity could charge up futuristic disease treatments

The common pencil squid (Loliginidae) may hold the key to a new generation of medical technologies that could communicate more directly with the human body. UC Irvine materials science researchers have discovered that reflectin, a protein in the tentacled creature’s skin, can conduct positive electrical charges, or protons, making it a promising material for building biologically inspired devices.

Currently, products such as retinal implants, nerve stimulators and pacemakers rely on electrons – particles with negative charges – to transmit diagnosis data or to treat medical conditions. Living organisms use protons, with positive charges, or ions, which are atoms that contain both electrons and protons, to send such signals. The UCI discovery could lead to better ion- or proton-conducting materials: for instance, next-generation implants that could relay electrical messages to the nervous system to monitor or interfere with the progression of disease.

Dean Gregory Washington, Engineering Mentee Deysi Alvarado, Dean Hal Stern Jul 15, 2014
Mentorship Program Makes a Strong Impression in its First Year

At a spirited June event in the Student Center’s Pacific Ballroom, a group of students from both the Samueli School of Engineering and the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences gathered with their mentors to celebrate a successful end to the two schools’ inaugural Undergraduate Mentorship Program.

In its first year, the Undergraduate Mentorship Program focused primarily, though not exclusively, on pairing up female engineering and ICS students with mentors in a variety of high-tech businesses. The proportion of women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), both in academia and industry, continues to lag behind that of men. This is why the program began with a focus on women.

Linda Smart — senior director of research and development informatics services at Allergan, a UCI alumna and a member of ICS/Engineering Diversity Committee — was instrumental in the launch of the mentoring program.

“I had a real personal interest,” Smart says. “It’s a way for me to sort of reach back in time, think about who I was as student, and say, ‘How can I give young students the benefit of my experience?’”

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Dean Washington with will.i.am Jul 8, 2014
UCI engineering dean attends White House Makers Faire

Gregory Washington, dean of UCI’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and a strong advocate for American manufacturing, recently attended the first White House Makers Faire, which spotlighted production innovation at campuses nationwide. UC Irvine showcased its 3-D design and printing capabilities, including the National Center for Rapid Technologies, or Rapid Tech. The nonprofit trains students in 3-D techniques and provides faculty and private businesses with efficiently produced, critically needed product prototypes.

Washington mingled with the host of the “Bill Nye the Science Guy” educational TV show, musical super star will.i.am and other creative minds. What most impressed him were products he saw from schools.

“Students had designed and built items ranging from shoes that can charge your cell phone to a device that make 3-D printed pancakes to a full blown home,” Washington said.  “I was amazed at the level of sophistication of the students nationally.”

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Jul 3, 2014
Research Leads to Novel Inhaler

Asthma sufferers and others with pulmonary disorders are well acquainted with nebulizers.

Jul 2, 2014
Butterworth and Beall competitions reward the best in both hardware and software

To the naked eye, this year’s Butterworth Product Development Competition at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences looked much as it always has.

From left: Satya Atluri, Syed Jafar and Matt Law Jun 25, 2014
Three Engineering Faculty -- Satya Atluri, Syed Jafar and Matt Law -- Among Most Highly Cited Researchers

Three Samueli School engineering professors – Satya Atluri, Syed A. Jafar and Matt Law – have been recognized as among the world’s leading scientific minds, according to the 2014 Highly Cited Researchers list published by Thomson Reuters.

Stacey Nicholas with Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington Jun 20, 2014
The Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UCI receives $9.5 million gift

Donation from Stacey Nicholas’ Opus Foundation will support STEM efforts

Stacey Nicholas’ Opus Foundation has made a $9.5 million gift to The Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UC Irvine. The donation will establish a $2 million endowed deanship; fund student scholarships and graduate fellowships; and support school programs that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach. It will also facilitate an ongoing partnership with St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano.

“I am so happy and so honored to be a part of the engineering school at UCI,” said Nicholas, who established the Opus Foundation to support her interest in the arts and STEM education outreach. “I greatly admire and support Dean [Gregory] Washington’s commitment to outreach, diversity and innovation in STEM education. I am thrilled to be able to make a difference.”

Nicholas is a member of the Samueli School’s Engineering Leadership Council and Diversity Advisory Board, a trustee at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, and a former member of the South Coast Repertory and Pacific Symphony boards. She spearheaded the creation of a summer internship program for high school students at the Samueli School. Nearing its 10-year anniversary this summer, the competitive program places talented high school seniors in engineering labs under the guidance of professors and graduate students for six weeks of intensive, college-level experience.

Ana Papio, Saman Kabiri and Franco De Flaviis Jun 17, 2014
Donation Expands Simulation Opportunity

Design. Test. Adapt. Repeat. For many years, trial and error guided product development. Engineers designed on paper, built a prototype, tested it in the lab, and made changes based on test results. They repeated the process an untold number of times, until the product met specifications. It was costly and time-consuming.

Today, engineers design and test products on their computers with CAD (computer-aided design) and simulation software. And now, thanks to a generous donation from software company ANSYS, Inc., a new generation of UC Irvine students has the opportunity to use the software simulation tools, making them ready and able to compete for jobs after graduation.

ANSYS has donated more than 500 licenses that cover both electrical and mechanical engineering software packages, as well as multi-physics (multidisciplinary) simulations. The donation also includes High Performance Computing (HPC) licenses for cluster computing, so that multiple computers can work together as one supercomputer to solve large-scale problems.

The simulation software predicts how specific devices will react in real-world situations. For example, what happens when you run electromagnetic currents through a printed circuit board? How does the antenna work in the system? What happens when you bend certain materials, drop them, or heat them up?
 
Engineering professor Franco De Flaviis has used the software for years in his research, and has had access to a limited number of licenses to share with his graduate students. He was instrumental in securing the new, much larger donation. “We’re really excited about this partnership with ANSYS,” he says. “Because everybody in industry uses this software, our students will be much more competitive when they graduate.”

Hua Sun with Henry Samueli Jun 17, 2014
UCI student is finalist in global Broadcom competition

UC Irvine graduate student Hua Sun presented innovative engineering research June 4 at the Broadcom Foundation University Research Competition. He was awarded $1,000 for his work on how to provide efficient, reliable wireless networks in the future. Sun, who’s seeking a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, was among 12 student finalists from 11 universities competing in a poster session at Broadcom’s annual Technical Conference. They shared insights into their projects and discussed how eventual applications of their research could improve lives and contribute to society.

"Hua Sun's enthusiasm for research is truly infectious," says Syed Jafar, an associate professor and Sun's Ph.D. adviser. "He is not intimidated by hard problems. He has the ability to quickly recognize the most meaningful aspect of a challenge and works tirelessly with great ingenuity to solve it. Collaborating with him is always a great pleasure."

More than 400 distinguished engineers judged the entries. “This competition, spearheaded by Broadcom co-founder Henry Samueli, celebrates academic excellence and social awareness among students who perform extraordinary research at the doctoral level,” said Paula Golden, executive director of the foundation. “The intellectual power of the finalists, who come from universities across the world, is profound, and we are honored to have them compete.”

Jun 16, 2014
UC Irvine Hosts 15th Annual UC Bioengineering Symposium

More than 300 bioengineering students and faculty from 10 University of California campuses will congregate at UC Irvine this week, June 18-20, for the 15th annual UC Bioengineering Symposium.  The event brings these engineers together to share knowledge and best practices and to forge stronger relationships and collaborations.

Hosted by the Samueli School’s Biomedical Engineering Department, this year’s event features four keynote speakers, including Masimo Corporation Founder and CEO Joe Kiani, Edwards Lifesciences Corporation Vice President Stanton Rowe and biomedical engineering professors Nimmi Ramanujam (Duke University) and Bruce Tromberg (UCI and Beckman Laser Institute).

A special highlight will be the student and junior faculty “Shark Tank,” modeled after the popular television show in which budding entrepreneurs pitch their new business ideas to a panel of potential investors. Six student teams and six faculty members will pitch to a panel of judges for a chance to win cash prizes. Broadcom co-founder Henry Samueli will be amongst the “sharks” questioning the faculty. See here for a schedule.

“The focus of this symposium is unique and timely,” says conference organizer and UCI Associate Professor Michelle Khine. “It is focused on medical technology innovations: how to translate our ‘ah-ha’ moments into real world solutions to the most difficult medical challenges. Bioengineering is the No. 1 growth profession in Southern California. By bringing industry together with all 10 UC campuses, we hope to synergize our efforts to create effective medical technologies and a pipeline of new innovators.”

Turning a special day into a historic event, President Barack Obama addressed more than 6,000 graduating UC Irvine students and 30,000 family members and friends at a commencement ceremony Saturday, June 14, at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. photo: Steve Zylius/UC Irvine Communications Jun 16, 2014
Congratulations Class of 2014!

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering sent 695 Anteater Engineers with bachelors degrees, 240 with Masters degrees and 92 with Doctorate degrees out into the world this past weekend, after a full slate of graduation activities, that included a UCI-wide commencement with President Barack Obama at Angel Stadium on Saturday and a school celebration with the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the Bren Events Center on Sunday. Students and their family and friends attended a graduation celebration Friday that included a display of senior design projects and a ceremony in which students pledged the Order of the Engineer.

President Barack Obama greeted more than 6,000 members of UC Irvine’s class of 2014 and 30,000 family members and friends at a special commencement ceremony Saturday at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

Obama encouraged graduates to take on the challenges of climate change in the same way the nation answered the call to reach the moon in the 1960s.

Obama gave kudos to UCI for being “ahead of the curve” on the issue.

Nasrin Nasrollahi Jun 10, 2014
Engineering Doctoral Student’s Dissertation Selected for Special Publication

Nasrin Nasrollahi’s dissertation has been selected by scientific publisher Springer for its Springer Theses series. Nasrollahi has finished her doctorate in civil and environmental engineering working with Distinguished Professor Soroosh Sorooshian and Associate Professor Kuo-lin Hsu in the Center for Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing (CHRS). Theses in this annual publication are selected for their scientific excellence and impact on research. They must be nominated and endorsed by two recognized specialists.

The CHRS provides global, near real-time rainfall information using remote sensing technology. With a mathematical modeling approach, the center processes different electromagnetic signals picked up by satellites from clouds and storm systems and converts them into rain estimates. Used primarily by government officials and climate researchers for flood forecasting around the world, the information is also accessible to the public via the Internet.

Nasrollahi’s dissertation research involved improving the quality of precipitation estimation information that is provided by the center. She applied a multi-satellite, multi-spectral approach, incorporating data on clouds and rainfall from two recent NASA satellites and using machine learning techniques to develop a better estimate of rainfall. She also added a filter to reduce false rain signals in the data, which significantly improved the results.

Air Force Office of Scientific Research Jun 6, 2014
Air Force Selects Two UCI Engineers as Young Investigators

Alon Gorodetsky and Allon Hochbaum have been awarded Young Investigator Research Program grants from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Both are assistant professors in the Samueli School’s Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Department.

The Air Force gives young investigator awards to scientists and engineers at research institutions across the U.S. who show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research. The program’s objective is to foster creative basic research in science and engineering, enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators, and increase opportunities for the young investigators to recognize the Air Force mission and the related challenges in science and engineering.

Gorodetsky and his research group are currently exploring the electrical properties of reflectin, a protein found in the skin cells of cephalopods, or squid. The goal of this project is to use protein engineering principles to understand and enhance the conductive properties of this material.

Through funding of this award, Hochbaum is investigating electrically conductive materials inspired by bacterial fibers. In addition to studying their function in organisms, the Hochbaum lab is characterizing their physical properties and integrating them into devices for applications in medical sensors and renewable energy technology.

From left: Professor Scott Samuelsen, Fulbright Scholar Dustin McLarty, Associate Professor Jack Brouwer May 28, 2014
UCI Engineering Postdoc Receives Prestigious Fulbright

Dustin McLarty, a postdoctoral researcher at the Advanced Power and Energy Program, will take what he’s learned working on UCI’s micro-grid power supply to Italy, on a Fulbright scholarship.

Sponsored by the U.S. government, the Fulbright Program offers highly competitive, merit-based grants for students and young professionals to study, conduct research or exercise their talents abroad. Founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946, the Fulbright today is the largest U.S. international exchange program. It currently awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and people of other countries.

“UCI has one of the most cutting edge micro-grids in the world,” says McLarty. “It provides the campus electricity, cooling and heating with close to 99 percent self-generated power, almost none of the energy is coming from Southern California Edison.”

A micro-grid is a similar but smaller version of the traditional power grid and consists of power generation, distribution and controls such as voltage regulation and switch gears. Micro-grids integrate renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind power, hydrology, geothermal, waste-to-energy, and combined heat and power systems. They can operate on their own or be connected to the traditional grid, and they have a closer proximity between the power generation and the power user. UCI’s micro-grid integrates solar, fuel cell, thermal and natural gas to serve the campus’s needs.

McLarty’s research has to do with leveling out the intermittencies involved with a grid that relies on renewable sources of energy. “We put all these new energy sources on the grid and they don’t behave like our old ones, so we have to come up with a mix of new technologies that can interface, store and deploy the renewables in a way that levels out the power supply.”

Alma Carrillo and Andrew Timothy gather transportation data at Joshua Tree National Park May 20, 2014
Student Transportation Engineers Examine Joshua Tree Congestion

UPDATE 5-22-14: UCI transportation engineers win ITE Student Chapter of the year for Southern California section, besting Cal Poly Pomona and UCLA for the top spot.

UCI’s student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) heads to the ITE Southern California Section Student Competition this week where the students will present results from their Joshua Tree National Park Transit Feasibility Study.

The National Parks Conservation Association commissioned the UCI students, primarily civil and environmental engineering seniors, to study the feasibility of establishing a shuttle transit system to alleviate traffic and parking congestion for visitors to Joshua Tree. The students were mentored by ITE faculty adviser Professor Stephen Ritchie and doctoral student Sarah Hernandez.

“This is the most ambitious project yet undertaken by our student chapter, and it provided an outstanding opportunity for students to work on complex real-world problems and gain skills that will be invaluable for their future careers,” says Ritchie. “ Our chapter has placed first and second in the annual ITE Competition in the last three years, and while we’re naturally hoping for a place on the podium this year, most of all I’m extremely proud of the dedication, professionalism and team effort of our chapter.”

Professor Derek Dunn-Rankin builds music box tower May 16, 2014
UCI Engineers Make Music with Class Project

Who knew that making music would become essential to the mechanical engineering curriculum?

For six years now, all UCI mechanical engineering seniors have taken a required course that has them designing, building and testing a music box. Not your ordinary jewelry-storing, ballerina-twirling, dresser-adorning music box, but a geometrically shaped, painted, stackable module that, with the drop of a metal ball, plays two seconds of original music. When the boxes are placed on top of one another in a tall tower, they are designed to play as a round. The first year, the assigned song was “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

Professor Derek Dunn-Rankin came up with the idea. Students in his class often start by deconstructing a thermo-electro-mechanical device, a hair dryer for example, to see how it works. As they move on to the musical box stack project, students are grouped into teams of four or five and assigned a number. Teams receive a set of parts that are sufficient to build a minimally functioning music box – some plywood, dowels, a microprocessor, an amplifier, wires, a switch, a servomotor and a speaker – but they are free to modify or replace any of the parts to improve the box’s performance. Although each person in the group is responsible for one element of the device, the students must all work together to create a functioning music box. Typically, there is a structures person, a programmer, one who works on lighting and servos, and someone who creates the sound and mounts components. There is overlap, but everyone has a core responsibility.

Dunn-Rankin chose this challenge for three reasons. First, it’s cooperative rather than competitive. “All of the head-to-head design competitions are great for energy and enthusiasm, but they can mistakenly encourage secretive design rather than expansive design, and it is the latter that leads to high performance,” says Dunn Rankin, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department chair. “In this class, students are free, even encouraged, to learn best practices from their colleagues and to implement them.”

Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington May 16, 2014
Broadcom MASTERS International Students Visit the Samueli School, Calit2

Twenty-three middle school students from around the world visited the Samueli School of Engineering in May as part of the 2014 Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars) International program.

The student delegates represented more than a dozen countries including Australia, Canada, China, Finland, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States. Broadcom MASTERS International provides a unique opportunity for select 6th, 7th and 8th grade students to spend a week in Southern California, participate in fun and engaging hands-on science and engineering activities and attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. These students were selected based on their excellence in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington welcomed the students to UCI, encouraging them to continue pursuing their interest and study in STEM fields. He also explained Anteater Engineering pride and taught them the Anteater “Zot!” hand sign and chant.

Xiaoqing Pan May 15, 2014
Prominent Materials Science Physicist to Join UCI Faculty

Xiaoqing Pan will oversee new $20 million research institute

Xiaoqing Pan, an internationally recognized researcher in the physics of materials, will join the UC Irvine faculty and lead a $20 million initiative to establish a world-class electron microscopy and materials science research facility.

The Irvine Materials Research Institute will help foster discovery of new properties in potentially lifesaving and technologically important materials through characterization - probing the internal structure of a material's atoms. The institute will serve as an interdisciplinary nexus for the study and development of these materials, enabling such advances as better solar cells, sustainable batteries and semiconductors, and treatments for bacterial and viral infections.

The transmission electron microscopes to be set up at the IMRI use beams of electrons instead of light waves to image a specimen with atomic resolution. This method produces a more detailed view at substantially greater magnification than with any optical microscope. UC Irvine researchers will utilize these microscopes to examine biological materials (such as microorganisms and cells), large molecules, medical biopsy samples, metals, minerals, ceramics and the characteristics of various surfaces.

"UC Irvine is making an investment of $20 million to develop cutting-edge capabilities in transmission electron microscopy," said Howard Gillman, provost and executive vice chancellor. "Bringing Professor Pan here to lead this institute is a real triumph for us in the materials science area. The research facility will establish our national prominence in this field and broadly benefit our programs in engineering, physical sciences, biological sciences and medicine."

"The electron microscopy initiative and the IMRI at UC Irvine will provide me with new tools and great opportunities for potential collaborations with the many researchers on campus," said Pan, a physicist. "I am grateful for the chance to help shape the university's future development through a combination of assisting students, developing departments, establishing the institute and moving forward in my own research."

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