College of Engineering awards five Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grants


By Tessa M. Woodring

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State College of Engineering awarded the 2020 Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grants to five faculty research teams across the College of Engineering, the College of Medicine and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

“We have funded some very exciting projects,” said Chris Rahn, J. “Lee” Everett Professor of Mechanical Engineering and associate dean for innovation, who oversees the Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grant Program. “All of the projects are great ideas in new research areas that have excellent potential to engage funding agencies and industry.”

The Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grants support research projects that will increase the competitiveness of faculty in attracting high-impact multidisciplinary and center-level research funding from the state and federal government, industry or foundations. These seed grants will support the awardees’ projects for one year.

“We hope to seed some new collaborations within the College of Engineering that will lead to externally funded research grants,” Rahn said. “I am very excited about these collaborations that will build research connections across the University.”

With the submitting principal investigators listed first, the grants were awarded to the following teams:

  • Huanyu Cheng, assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics; Jian Yang, professor of biomedical engineering; and Dino Ravnic, assistant professor of surgery, for “Biodegradable antimicrobial smart wound dressing with a closed-loop control.” The researchers will develop a wearable sensor device to assess wound environment and enhance wound healing.
  • Qiushi Chen, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, and Guodong Liu, associate professor of public health sciences and psychiatry and behavioral health, for “Improve early intervention in children with autism: A system engineering and data-driven modeling approach.” Their project proposes a novel modeling framework that integrates health predictive analytics and system modeling to improve early diagnosis for children with autism.
  • Xingjie Ni, assistant professor of electrical engineering, and Sri-Rajasekhar Kothapalli, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, for “Ultracompact functional brain imaging with metalens-integrated fiber photoacoustic endoscope.” They plan to use the grant to develop a miniaturized endoscopy device for imaging blood vessels or contrast agents such as nanoparticles and fluorescent dyes targeting cancer cells or cerebral spinal fluid.
  • Timothy Simpson, Paul Morrow Professor of Engineering Design and Manufacturing, and Allison Beese, associate professor of materials science and engineering and mechanical engineering, for “Machine learning identification of process-structure-property links in additively manufactured Ti-6Al-4V.” The researchers will use the grant to advance the technology behind metal additive manufacturing, commonly referred to as 3D printing, by studying small variations in the printing process and the ultimate impact on the performance of printed components, with a specific focus on Ti-6Al-4V, a common alloy used in aerospace, defense and medical applications.
  • Parisa Shokouhi, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics, and Daniel Kifer, associate professor of computer science, for “A wave physics-informed deep learning framework for acoustic data.” They will develop a framework to integrate complex wave physics into machine learning prediction models that use acoustic sensory data, such as systems used for geophysical surveys, non-destructive evaluations and medical diagnostics.

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Megan Lakatos