Friday, July 13, 2018

2018 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research

Richard A. Moyera Research Scientist at the UC San Diego Center for Energy Research, is one of three people who have been awarded the 2018 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research from the American Physical Society (APS). The other two awardees are Todd E. Evans of General Atomics and Max E. Fenstermacher of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
The citation for their award:
"For the first experimental demonstration of the stabilization of edge localized modes in high-confinement diverted discharges by application of very small edge-resonant magnetic perturbations, leading to the adoption of suppression coils in the ITER design."
Richard A. Moyer is also a senior lecturer of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. His research focuses on understanding and controlling transients in tokamak plasmas that can limit the performance or damage the device, with a goal of developing actuators to suppress or mitigate the consequences of these events
The 2018 John Dawson Award is based in part on research done at DIII-D, a U.S. Department of Energy user facility operated by General Atomics in San Diego. Read more about the award in the General Atomics press release.

Bioengineers reflect on USA Science and Engineering Festival


By Kritin Karkare

UC San Diego bioengineering students at the USA Science and
Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C.

In early April, Washington, D.C. is flooded with science exhibitors, enthusiastic parents, children, and all things science and engineering at the annual United States of America Science and Engineering Festival (USASEF), which drew an estimated 370,000 visitors this year. USASEF is put on by Science Spark, a non-profit science outreach organization that also hosts the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering; the festival is sponsored by organizations such as Lockheed Martin, the Department of Defense’s STEM program, NASA, the U.S. Air Force, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and more.

This year, eight members from the UC San Diego Bioengineering Graduate Society (BEGS) and four members from the undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) flew to D.C. to engage the next generation of scientists and engineers with their model of an extracellular matrix, and learn more about science and engineering outreach on a national scale. The following are excerpts from interviews done with Jacobs School of Engineering undergraduates Julie Yip, Taylor Martin, Reo Yoo and Katherine Nguyen, and BEGS outreach vice president Julia Hardy. They’ve been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Bioengineers teach festival attendees about the extracellular
matrix and drug/fluorescent targeting.


Q: How did you get interested in outreach?

Katherine Nguyen:  I come from a Vietnamese community and a lot of what greatly affects the decisions for what we do is that our parents lived through a war and came over to the U.S. to try to live life and survive. A lot of my life I've been pushed to do something that will get me money. But growing up in America, you can do whatever you want! It felt very different for me. During my senior year of high school I was dealing with the struggle to figure out what major I should choose. I didn't have any clue, but I had an older mentor who also came from Vietnam. She told me do whatever you want to do: if you want to be an engineer, you can be an engineer. I realized that sometimes people only need that one ‘yes’ to push them to do great things. I wanted to relay that same sentiment and tell young children you can do engineering, even if you’re not sure yet that you’ll be successful at it. I wanted to be that one ‘yes.’

Julia Hardy: It was pretty natural for me, I couldn't imagine not doing it. I was involved in a lot of community service work and I got into engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I saw in high school how I was treated when I said I was going to go into engineering and I saw this confused look on peoples’ faces. They see this athlete who's outgoing, going into engineering and think, ‘Why would you want to do that?’ I knew I wanted to do engineering since I was in seventh grade. Why wouldn't I want to do that? I knew that by talking about it I could encourage other girls in my grade and girls younger than me that I mentored in high school to go into engineering. I wanted to continue spreading that word and show girls that they could do whatever they want, especially engineering because they may feel it's not cool to be into science and engineering.

Bioengineering students at their booth at USASEF
What did you expect going in to the USASEF trip, and what was it like in reality?

Taylor Martin: The BEGS president told me it was going to be big. I was like okay, it's going to be bigger than SDFSE.
Katherine Nguyen: That was an understatement.
Taylor Martin: It was huge. There was a flight simulator - you could put 10 people in this little pod and it would move around to simulate an army aircraft. There were multiple convention rooms.
Reo Yoo: Because of how the convention center was setup, there was even an underground component.
Katherine: There was an upstairs too.
Taylor: You'd see at the start of every day this mess of people coming down the escalator. The other thing I hadn't really thought about was the diversity of booths. There were Army, Navy and defense booths plus engineering companies, university labs— so many different things.
Katherine:  All these things were really enjoyable. USASEF is mostly geared toward children, but because of how big the scale was they were able to accommodate for a lot of people. Johns Hopkins University brought a motor so that you could build your own battery motor. It was really fun for college students and parents to go enjoy science as well.
Reo: For me, it really changed the perspective of SDFSE. I feel like when we go as UCSD, we're such a big deal in San Diego. When we went to USASEF, we were this tiny booth— we got some foot traffic, but there was so much more.

What was your favorite memory?

Julie Yip: I had a good conversation with a sophomore in high school. She was really interested in organic chemistry and liked programming and said that she wanted more experience programming.  I talked to her for about half an hour to forty-five minutes just about what she could do to get more experience, trying to motivate her and talking to her. She was cool and passionate.

Katherine Nguyen: There are so many stories about how cute or smart they are. This group of girls asked us some good questions.  I asked them if they were really interested in science.  And they said 'Oh yeah, we have our own booth where we show experiments to people.’ This was a group of three sisters, the oldest was maybe 13, the second was around 10, the third around 8. I was blown away.

Taylor Martin: Their mom was there and they had shirts.  That was so cool.  These girls had taken so much interest in science and were willing to do something that I would have been terrified to do at that age, acting as an authority at this big giant festival. They were so confident and involved.

Reo Yoo: It’s nerve-wracking. It’s not just kids there. There are professors and doctors who are there to present.

Julia Hardy:  My favorite experience at the festival itself was a group of around 15 six-year olds that came to our booth. They were like ’Science!’ They were so excited about science.  One kid was crying that he couldn't touch our demo. He was so sad that he couldn't interact with the demo, since there were too many people in front of it. So we passed it around and he finally got to touch it. It was the little kids that get so excited. That’s what we need to nurture. Give kids the world and they'll do amazing things with it.

Clip from NanoXpo 2018: Rishi Kumar

How does water play a role in degrading a solar cell? Rishi Kumar is finding answers to that question through his research. His research in the lab of Professor David Fenning aims to understand how water causes solar cells to lose efficiency. Kumar is developing a method to measure exactly how much water is inside a solar cell without taking it apart.

Kumar describes his project in this video, taken at NanoXpo 2018 this past May:



Poster title: "Understanding & Overcoming Water-Induced Interfacial Degradation in Si Modules"

NanoXpo is an annual event held by the Graduate Society of Nanoengineers to showcase graduate research in the UC San Diego Department of NanoEngineering.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Adam Feist: Harnessing Evolution as a Tool


Adam Feist, a UC San Diego bioengineering alumnus (PhD) and current Project Scientist, has been awarded the Jay Bailey Young Investigator Award from the Society for Biological Engineering. The journal Metabolic Engineering sponsored the 2018 award, and they put together a nice story about Adam Feist and his work in the Systems Biology Research Group run by UC San Diego bioengineering professor Bernhard Palsson.  

One of the things Feist works on, and discusses in the article, is harnessing evolution as a tool.

Dr. Feist supervises and leads the design, development and implementation of over $1 million worth of equipment for adaptive laboratory evolution studies. ‘The evolution platforms we have are actually tangible things, machines working in the lab, doing different tasks,’ he said. ‘It’s fascinating, instead of modeling, where we predict what we want to engineer, we turn that on its head and ask the cells to figure it out themselves. It’s eye-opening that the cells can do this.’”

Feist is also Senior Researcher and Group Leader at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, Technical University of Denmark (DTU).


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Clip from NanoXpo 2018: Hui Zheng

Hui Zheng's research aims to make airplanes safer in the future. Zheng is a nanoengineering Ph.D. student in Professor Shyue Ping Ong's Materials Virtual Lab at UC San Diego. Using DFT calculations, Zheng is finding ways to re-engineer materials -- such as those found in the fan blades of airplane engines -- to make them stronger and resistant to cracking.

Zheng describes her project in this video, taken at NanoXpo 2018:

Poster title: "Role of Zr in Strengthening MoSi2 Grain Boundaries from DFT Calculations"

NanoXpo is an annual event held by the Graduate Society of Nanoengineers to showcase graduate research in the UC San Diego Department of NanoEngineering.

Friday, June 22, 2018

B.J. (Byungji) Kim: Materials Science and Engineering graduate student

B.J. (Byungji) Kim is the graduate student who was recognized, in the month of May, by the Jacobs Graduate Student Council at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

B.J. Kim is a PhD candidate in the Material Science and Engineering Program at UC San Diego, working with professor Micheal J. Sailor.

A major portion of her Ph.D. research is focused on developing an immunogene therapeutic strategy to combat against a wide range of bacterial infections. By enhancing the body's existing immune system to fight against infections more efficiently, she aims to minimize the need to develop new antibiotics for each type of bacteria.

B.J. Kim's outstanding contributions have led to publications in leading scientific journals, such as Nature Biomedical Engineering and Nature Communications.

Nature Communications paper:
Immunogene therapy with fusogenic nanoparticles modulates macrophage response to Staphylococcus aureus




B.J. Kim has presented her work at conferences with great reception. At the 2017 Jacobs School of Engineering Research Expo, she was awarded the Katie Osterday Best Poster Award for Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Lea Rudee Outstanding Poster Award (1st out of over 200 posters). Read the press release here.

At the 2018 Porous Semiconductors - Science and Technology (PSST) held in France, she was invited to give a keynote talk, and received the Lehmann Prize. Moreover, B.J. Kim led the writing of and successfully obtained over $4 million from the National Institute of Health to further her project on bacterial infections

B.J. Kim on LinkedIn



Thursday, June 14, 2018

Drones, medical devices and carbon nanotube fabrics: seniors show off their capstone projects

From medical devices to drones, a flying cell phone coverage platform and a detachable intubation device, senior mechanical, aerospace, and environmental engineering students exhibited their capstone projects Thursday at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering's Senior Project Day. Most students were mechanical, aerospace or environmental engineers, though some teams included electrical and computer engineering students as well. The varied projects were completed in just one quarter, but reflected years of hard work. 
Students worked in teams on projects proposed by a sponsor facing a real-world challenge. Seniors said the capstone class taught them lessons about collaboration and documenting their work that will transfer well to their next step, be it an industry job or furthering their education.
Here are just a few examples of the tremendous effort put forth by these graduating students.

Self-generated Lower Body Negative Pressure Device for Deep-space Missions
This team of students has designed and built a device that generates negative pressure in the lower half of the body and allows blood to shift toward the lower extremities. The device doesn’t need an external pump and power source.  The proposal for their device has been recently accepted by NASA. The goal is to eventually send a version of the device to the International Space Station, where it will help control astronaut blood flow. That’s because in Earth gravity, blood pools in the lower body by itself. But when you’re in space, in microgravity, all this blood shifts toward the upper body. Eventually, the body adapts to microgravity, but then astronauts are more likely to feel dizzy and have trouble standing when they get back to earth. So astronauts need to spend some time in a device like the one the students devised.
Team: Joel Bickel, Ross McDonald, Kavin Tangtartharakul, Richard Valle

Sponsors: Dr. Alan Hargens and Dr. Lonnie Petersen and the UC San Diego Department of Orthopedic Surgery

Collapsible Shipping Container

When UTC Aerospace ships thrust reversers—a large piece of equipment that enables aircraft to decelerate-- they also have to pay to ship the very large containers back empty. These containers can be as large as 14’ x 10’ x 12’, so it’s not cheap. Students in the MAE156 Fundamental Principles of Mechanical Design course spent a quarter designing an alternative solution: a collapsible shipping container.

Their container reduces the volume of the original container being shipped back by 75 percent via quick-release pins. The pins don’t require tools and are attached to the box, so no screws or bolts will get lost in the process. With a few simple pulls, employees can fold the shipping container down significantly, reducing the costs of shipping back the empty container.
Team: Robbie Corpuz, Joey Sun, Hyunwoo (Paul) Park, Steven Salazar, Yu (Alexis) Su
Sponsors: UTC Aerospace Systems






Human- powered medical devices

Home health care services in the U.S. have been growing alongside the increasing elderly population, but many medical devices today require electricity or batteries. Undergraduate students designed a human-powered O2 Scope that combines an otoscope to check inside a patient’s ears with a opthalmoscope to check eyes. These are normally two separate devices, but the students combined them into one, using LED lights to check the ear and eye.
The O2 Scope is powered by a linear alternator which creates an induced electromagnetic force: the user just needs to shake it back and forth for five seconds to power the LED at max brightness for 30 seconds, which is long enough for an examination.

Team: Charmaine Castillo, Andrew Chen, Ariyan Rahmanian, Christopher Wiggins
Sponsors: Khai Nguyen, MD, Clinical Services Chief of Geriatrics

Project Laputa—A Flying Base Station for Disaster Recovery Scenarios


A team of engineering students designed, built and tested a flying platform that can be used to provide cell phone coverage in areas hit by a disaster. The main goal was to build an unmanned flying vehicle that can stay aloft for hours, as opposed to the 30 minutes that most can fly. Students built a cylindrical vehicle with a rounded lip, inspired by a machine gunnery platform used in WWII. It’s controlled by four rudders, which are each independently controlled by a servo motor. By the way, the project’s name is a reference to a flying island described in Gulliver’s Travels. It also appears in the movie “Castle in the Sky” by Hayao Miyazaki.
Team: Raymond Silver, Chengta (Dale) Lei, Charles Knight, Brynn Hall
Sponsor Professor Xinyu Zhang, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UC San Diego

Shellfish Biosensor

Shellfish like oysters close their shells when they’re stressed. In order to determine when and how stressed they are, students designed a biosensor system using a magnet to wirelessly monitor when shellfish’s shell is open, and for how long and how wide.

By laying existing data such as oxygen level and temperature on top of this data, researchers could find correlations between when the organisms are stressed and what environmental factors may be contributing to that.

A magnet is attached to one side of the shell with the sensor on the other. Voltage values will change as the shell opens and the magnet gets farther from the sensor, showing how wide the shell is open, and for how long.
Team: Adrian Urrea, Claudio Coleman, Emma Schoenthal, Hsing-Han Chung, Marika Hale
Sponsor: Dr. Sarah Giddings and Dr. Jeff Crooks

Pelvic Girdle


When a woman has cervical cancer, she may receive external radiation, as well as brachytherapy, or radiation from inside the pelvis, which is an effective way to apply targeted radiation.

To do this today, the patient sits or lies on a heavy wooden board equipped with an arm that has the radiation source on it, which is inserted into her vagina. She sits there for an average of three hours, but has to be careful not to move, or the radiation won’t be applied to the correct area. This is uncomfortable and can make the procedure less effective.

Students designed a pelvic girdle that attaches to the patient, so the arm with radiation is attached to them and moves with them. This makes it less uncomfortable and more precise, since the device will move with the patient.

The team of students was able to use their device in two patient trials, and received positive feedback. They plan to continue developing the device over the summer.

Team: Megan Elliott, Keenan Finney, Cameron Hutton, Shichen Li
Sponsors: Dr. Jyoti Mayadev and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Research Center


Anchor for Shoulder Instability


This team of students designed and built a new type of anchor for shoulder surgery that is made of rigid components but is flexible. The anchor would eventually be used in surgery to reattach cartilage to shoulder bones. The students used CAD and conducted fine element analysis on their designs. They iterated through various 3D printed prototypes before machining the final prototypes from titanium. Further steps are required before the anchors can be used in the clinic.
Team: Bryan Brenna, Delta Caraulia, Darren Deng, Helen Tat
Sponsors: Sameer Shah, associate professor, Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering and Dr. Adam Hsieh, UC San Diego School of Medicine


Portable deformation testing using carbon nanotube fabrics
Students designed a portable device to test deformities in a variety of materials using carbon nanotube fabric. This thin fabric can be used to gauge the strain of a material using a process called electrical impedence tomography. This is done today on a desktop computer in a lab, and isn’t portable.

The mobile device designed by a team of undergraduate students enables this testing in a variety of situations—for example, deployed warfighters could use it to ensure their protective clothing is still effective and hasn’t been critically damaged during an event; structural engineers could embed the fabric in concrete or bridges, for example, and use the portable device to quickly monitor the amount of damage done after an earthquake; the device could detect if a prosthetic limb was implanted improperly or deformed and is applying too much pressure on the user at a certain point.
Team:Aaron Gunn, Jacob Rutheiser, Maxwell Sun
Sponsor: Ken Loh, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Structural Engineering at UC San Diego and director of the Active, Responsive, Multifunctional, and Ordered-materials Research (ARMOR) Laboratory

Boomerang Gyroscope Demonstration Device
How does a boomerang fly? The answer to this question is surprisingly complex and involves precession—the process which causes the boomerang to always come back—and nutation—the process that causes the boomerang to tilt from the vertical to the horizontal. This team of students built a gyroscope that models both precession and nutation of a boomerang in flight. The device will be used for outreach and education.  
Team: Chuanyue Xia, Akinari Ohashi, Steven Teixeira, Kangchun Wang
Sponsor: Prasad Gudem

Cough simulation apparatus
Mechcanical and aerospace engineering students were tasked with creating a breathalyzer that can detect pathogens Austin Swafford, Director of Research for the UC San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation.
“After talking with Dr. Swafford, we realized that there are no controlled ways to test a breathalyzer for pathogens—we can’t just ingest them for testing purposes—so we shifted the focus of our project to a cough simulator,”said student Mandy Nichols.
The device the students built looks mostly like a garden hose. To test it, a mixture of sugar and water is loaded into one end and spewed out the other to simulate a cough.
“The ‘cough’ is sprayed at a glucose strip,” said Kang. “We can measure the size of the droplet under a microscope and the concentration on the glucose strip.”
The idea is to provide laboratory researchers with a safe and effective way to test pathogen breathalyzers.
Team:Donghyun Seo, Ziliang Zhang, Emilee Kang, Mandy Nichols, Gaoge Xu, Dingran Lu
Sponsor: Austin Swafford

Detachable Intubation Device

If a patient is under anesthesia and needs assistance breathing, a medical professional will place an endotracheal tube in their airway in order to connect them to a ventilator. The endotracheal tube itself gets placed over an insertion tube that contains a bronchoscope which lets the nurse or doctor see inside the airways to navigate the tube where it eneds to go. Once it’s in place, the endotracheal tube is slid down into place, and the insertion tube is removed.
However, in some cases the pateint’s trachea is too small, and the insertion tube and endotracheal tube both need to be removed to replace the existing tube with a smaller endotracheal tube. Students designed a detachable bronchoscope that would allow the insertion tube to remain inside the patient while it’s disconnected from the bronchoscope for a smaller endotracheal tube to be swapped in. This means the tube only has to be placed once, instead of potentially multiple times.
Team: Mark Olesco, Rogelio De Guzman, Fengyuan Hu, Matthew Kohanfars
Sponsor: Frank Talke and Jaspreet Somal