Texas A&M Engineering News The Look College is one of the largest engineering schools in the country, ranking third in undergraduate enrollment and sixth in graduate enrollment by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) in its 2011 survey. The Look College also ranked seventh in the number bachelor's degrees awarded, 13th in master's degrees awarded and 10th in doctoral degrees awarded. And our college consistently ranks among the nation's top public undergraduate and graduate engineering programs, according to U.S. News & World Report. http://engineering.tamu.edu Thu, 04 Feb 2016 00:00:00 CST Thu, 04 Feb 2016 00:00:00 CST Laura Byrd of graduate services awarded meritorious service award Kristina Ballard <kristina.ballard@tamu.edu> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/04/laura-byrd-of-graduate-services-awarded-meritorious-service-award <p><img width="152" height="200" src="/media/2850959/byrd_152x200.jpg" alt="Image of Laura Byrd" class="leftalign"/>Laura Byrd, program assistant in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering graduate office, was recently awarded the President's Meritorious Service Award along with 24 other individuals and two teams.</p> <p>Byrd is a well-known face around the department. She came to Texas A&amp;M University in 2010 and began working in civil engineering in 2011. An “army brat” born in Japan, Byrd relates to the somewhat transplanted feeling one can experience with higher education. She prides herself on knowing and maintaining a relationship with the students from check-in on day one through graduation.</p> <p>“They are not just a number to me. I like when they drop by for a piece of candy and tell me bits of their lives outside of school,” said Byrd. “This award is most humbling because I was nominated by students. I love my job and I love helping and interacting with each student or any other person that asks me for assistance.”</p> <p>When the graduate students arrive on campus, their first stop is the graduate office. Waiting for them is a bowl of candy and support as they prepare to settle into the department.</p> <p>“In the two years that I have been a graduate student in the civil engineering department, it has been the graduate student services office that has given me the most support and most defined my experience working with administration,” said Juliana Cammarata, civil engineering graduate student. “Ms. Laura Byrd has resolved every issue I have come to her with swiftly and effectively, even when they were outside of her purview.”</p> <p>“We have close to 500 graduate students in the department and Laura knows each and every one of them,” said Dr. Yunlong Zhang, associate professor and assistant department head for graduate programs in civil engineering. “She is resourceful, knows or can quickly find the solution to problems, and is always ready to help.”</p> <p>The President's Meritorious Service Awards began in 1986. Currently, these awards are presented to recognize 25 outstanding individuals and two outstanding teams for their meritorious service to the university. Nominations are typically called for during the fall; an anonymous committee appointed by the president selects the recipients.</p> <p>Awards are presented at a special award ceremony. Each individual recipient receives a $1,000 cash award, a commemorative plaque, and a lapel pin. The teams will be recognized with a plaque for departmental display. Each member of the team receives a cash award of $200, a lapel pin and a framed certificate of recognition.</p> <p>The President's Meritorious Service Awards Program is sponsored by the Office of the President and The Association of Former Students. The program is coordinated by Texas A&amp;M Human Resources.</p> <p> <img width="697" height="287" src="/media/3309324/laura-byrd-header_697x287.jpg" alt="Laura Byrd afs Header" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"/></p> <p> </p> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/04/laura-byrd-of-graduate-services-awarded-meritorious-service-award http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/04/laura-byrd-of-graduate-services-awarded-meritorious-service-award Thu, 04 Feb 2016 00:00:00 CST Needleman chairs program committee for 2016 TAMEST Annual Conference Shraddha Sankhe <shraddha@tamu.edu> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/04/needleman-chairs-program-committee-for-2016-tamest-annual-conference <p>Dr. Alan Needleman, TEES Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&amp;M University, chaired the program committee for the 2016 annual conference of The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST). The program was held in Dallas and the theme was challenges and opportunities in materials science and engineering in the 21st century.</p> <p>Founded in 2004 and with 260-plus members, TAMEST is composed of the Texas-based members of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the state’s Nobel Laureates. TAMEST brought the state’s top scientific, academic and corporate minds together to further position Texas as a national research leader.</p> <p>This year’s event marked the 10<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards.  Established in 2006 to recognize the state’s most promising young researchers, the O’Donnell Awards have honored a total of 44 individuals for their achievements in medicine, engineering and science.</p> <p>Following welcoming remarks by Kenneth Arnold, TAMEST’s 2015 president and Dr. C.D. Mote Jr., president of National Academy of Engineering, Needleman, a member of National Academy of Engineering, introduced the program.</p> <p><img width="700" height="466" src="/media/3309320/tamest2_700x466.jpg" alt="TAMEST1"/></p> <p>“The 2016 TAMEST Annual Conference highlighted recent developments in materials science and engineering that are and will be leading to qualitative changes in the way products are manufactured, in the way medicine is practiced and the way energy is provided to our society,” said Needleman. “It provided a window into materials science and engineering developments that will affect how we will live and how we will do business in 21<sup>st</sup> century Texas.”</p> <p>The program highlighted advances in the fundamental understanding of the behavior of materials and in transitioning that understanding into products and processes that people can use to meet 21<sup>st </sup>century grand challenges in health care, in providing energy, in improving environmental quality and in providing a robust economy.</p> <p>There were presentations by individuals whose work is defining the frontiers of materials science and engineering on new manufacturing technologies, novel materials system design and performance, on earth and in space, materials for sustainable energy, advances in biomaterials, including drug delivery and tissue engineering, and computational modeling that is making the virtual design of materials an emerging possibility.</p> <p>Texas A&amp;M attendees associated with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering included Dr. Dimitris C. Lagoudas, associate vice chancellor for engineering research and University Distinguished Professor, Dr. Ibrahim Karaman, head and Chevron Professor I in materials science and engineering and Dr. Amine Benzerga, associate professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and an affiliated faculty member in materials science and engineering.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/04/needleman-chairs-program-committee-for-2016-tamest-annual-conference http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/04/needleman-chairs-program-committee-for-2016-tamest-annual-conference Thu, 04 Feb 2016 00:00:00 CST STEM Teacher Summit focuses on engaging women Kim Foli <kfoli> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/stem-teacher-summit-focuses-on-engaging-women <p>Research shows the United States is facing a crisis with the shortage of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professionals entering and remaining in the workforce. With STEM job openings on the rise, it is imperative that the number of career-ready scientists and engineers increases to meet the demand.</p> <p><img width="329" height="329" src="/media/3309305/classroom_329x329.jpg" alt="workshop" class="rightalign"/></p> <p>The 2016 STEM Teacher Summit &amp; PK-12 Leadership Forum, held in College Station, Texas, last month, sought to close that gap by giving 150 educators from around the state the tools they need to inspire the next generation of STEM professionals. Through paneled discussions and workshops, the event helped reinvigorate educators and inspire them to inspire their students.</p> <p><strong>Teachers inspire the next generation</strong></p> <p>M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering at Texas A&amp;M University, thanked the educators and administrators in attendance for what they do for the children of Texas.</p> <p>“I consider you to be tending the garden of intellectual curiosity of the state,” she said. “We’re waiting for these students to come and join us at the college of engineering. We need them prepared.”</p> <p>Banks said it’s important for educators to not only stress the importance of being proficient in science and mathematics, but also to be creative.</p> <p><img width="291" height="388" src="/media/3309307/tatiana_291x388.jpg" alt="Tatiana Part II" class="leftalign"/></p> <p>“It isn’t just about doing the calculations,” she said. “It’s about thinking outside of the box. It’s handing the students a blank sheet of paper and saying ‘Go for it.’”</p> <p><strong>Women bring something new to the table</strong></p> <p>The summit’s theme was “Women in STEM,” and Tricia Berry, director of the Women in Engineering Program at The University of Texas at Austin, was the event’s keynote speaker. An engineer, Berry stressed the importance of increasing the diversity of engineers working in the industry, particularly the number of women.</p> <p>“If we were to ask a girl, or any kid, what does an engineer or scientist look like, what do you think they would say?” she asked the audience.</p> <p>The consensus was an older Caucasian man holding a beaker.</p> <p>One of Berry’s colleagues — a female engineer — put this example to practice, asking children to draw an engineer or scientist. The results came as no surprise — most children drew a man in a white lab coat. Then, they had the children interact with a diverse group of scientists before having the children draw a scientist again. The second time around, the drawings were different. The lab coats were gone and some of the drawings illustrated female scientists, African-American scientists, or as one student said, “normal people.”</p> <p> “This is the power of changing the image,” Berry said. “This is what we need when we talk about bringing kids into STEM.”</p> <p>Berry said it’s also important to change the language, urging educators from using words like “nerdy” and “geeky” to describe engineers and scientists.</p> <p><img width="350" height="350" src="/media/3309308/teacher_350x350.jpg" alt="teacher" class="rightalign"/></p> <p> “I want to put myself out of business, so please help me do that,” she said.</p> <p><strong>The takeaway  </strong></p> <p>For Palacios High School science teacher, Christopher Page, learning ways to incorporate more engineering into all of his classrooms was his driving factor. He also wanted to learn tips on how to engage his female students.</p> <p>“We’re laying the foundation, so our job is one of the most important ones,” he said.</p> <p>Dr. Robert M. Capraro, co-director of the Aggie STEM Center, echoed a similar sentiment. </p> <p>“The other colleges focus heavily on creating STEM professionals, and we focus heavily on preparing teachers to induct the next generation of STEM professionals into higher education,” he said.</p> <p>In the end, it’s all about working together to change the face of STEM.</p> <p><img width="407" height="268" src="/media/3309309/teachers_407x268.jpg" alt="teachers" class="leftalign"/>“We need women in STEM, and all the underrepresented groups,” said Shelly Tornquist, director of PK-12 Engineering Education Outreach. “What that brings to the table for engineering is a better look at a problem. If you get everybody thinking the same thing then nobody’s thinking at all.”</p> <p>For more information about the 2016 STEM Teacher Summit, <a href="http://stemsummit.tamu.edu">click here</a>.</p> <p>This event was made possible by the Dwight Look College of Engineering, the College of Education and Human Development, the College of Science, the Texas A&amp;M Engineering Experiment Station and Chevron Phillips Chemical.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/stem-teacher-summit-focuses-on-engaging-women http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/stem-teacher-summit-focuses-on-engaging-women Wed, 03 Feb 2016 00:00:00 CST Ferris develops new course on human error and resilience in biomanufacturing systems for NCTM Stephanie Jones http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/ferris-develops-new-course-on-human-error-and-resilience-in-biomanufacturing-systems <p class="leftalign rightalign"> </p> <p><img width="550" height="NaN" src="/media/3309303/Bioman-Environ_700x467.jpg" alt="Bioman Environ" class="rightalign"/>Dr. Thomas Ferris, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&amp;M University, has developed a new two-day course for the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing (NCTM) that examines the impact of human error on the safety and quality of operations in biomanufacturing systems.  The course applies well-practiced human factors theory and methods to the emerging and growing field of biomanufacturing.  Ferris’ course is unique to the field in the way it combines the topics of biomanufacturing systems, human cognition, human error analysis and systems design.</p> <p> Human error can be described as a “system failure” in which a human activity contributes to an unintended system outcome.  Different types of errors tend to occur when humans are operating under different cognitive or behavioral “modes.” For example, a person performing well-practiced, highly “automated” tasks tends to have little conscious engagement in those activities, and errors are caused by failures in attentional focus.</p> <p> When people encounter a relatively unfamiliar set of circumstances, they are consciously-engaged in the task to a greater extent than with well-practiced activities, and errors tend to be expressed more so in the decisions of which actions to take or how to perform them rather than in a failure in the execution of the selected actions.</p> <p> “Human Error and Resilience in Biomanufacturing Systems” teaches students how to recognize and analyze errors when they occur, and to recognize system design components that may increase the likelihood of an error occurring eventually. Students learn about cognitive functions such as attention, memory and perception, and how errors emerge as a result of breakdowns in these functions.</p> <p> As when teaching Texas A&amp;M engineering students, Ferris wants the students in this course to acquire knowledge and skills that can be directly applied in the biomanufacturing workplace, but also to feed an interest in the workings of human cognition in everyday life.</p> <p> “My teaching philosophy is to inspire an appreciation for not only what the problems (errors) are, but how they occur as a result of basic human tendencies, because I think this helps immensely when students then go to try to solve the problems,” Ferris said.  “I also find that the basic science of human cognition, illustrated through common examples in familiar contexts, is interesting to a lot of people, as it is of course to me. Additionally, having deeper insight into how people, including the student learners themselves, think and act in everyday situations can be advantageous in many types of social interactions.”</p> <p> The course also teaches how to design a system that can be “resilient” to human error by first admitting that error is inevitable. “Error proof is a fantasy,” Ferris said. “As long as a human is involved in either the design or operation of a system, there will be sources for error to emerge.” Instead of identifying every possible way errors might be expressed in a biomanufacturing system and designing safety systems to make each individual error less likely, Ferris champions the approach of building resilient systems that assume human errors will be a natural occurrence and to focus safety design on ways to tolerate human errors, weaken their consequences and prevent sequences of cascading errors that could contribute to a catastrophic system failure. </p> <p> “We received positive feedback from the participants, most of whom were from contract biomanufacturing organizations,” said Jenny Ligon, assistant director of NCTM. “They were excited to implement the resilience engineering tools they learned to mitigate, or even eliminate, human error in their automated manufacturing systems.”</p> <p> Ferris said he looks to be a pioneer for human factors science, as well as practice, in the emerging biomanufacturing domain, and hopes to make a positive impact on biomanufacturing operations for current and aspiring practitioners in that domain as well as scientists and researchers in bioprocessing fields. He is also excited to bring the domain knowledge being gained through interactions with members of the biomanufacturing industry back into his classes for Texas A&amp;M students, providing a new set of real-world case studies and anecdotes in which to illustrate the concepts, tools and techniques he teaches for building stronger, more resilient systems and managing human error.</p> <p><em>NCTM is a joint center of Texas A&amp;M and the Texas A&amp;M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES).</em></p> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/ferris-develops-new-course-on-human-error-and-resilience-in-biomanufacturing-systems http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/ferris-develops-new-course-on-human-error-and-resilience-in-biomanufacturing-systems Wed, 03 Feb 2016 00:00:00 CST Hanson to receive President’s Meritorious Service Award Deana Totzke <deana@ece.tamu.edu> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/hanson-to-receive-presidents-meritorious-service-award <p><img width="98" height="140" src="/media/676201/debbie.jpg" alt="Debbie" class="leftalign"/>Debbie Hanson, engineering organizational services manager in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&amp;M University, has been selected to receive the 2015-16 President’s Meritorious Service Award.</p> <p>The President's Meritorious Service Awards recognize and reward staff for their commendable service to Texas A&amp;M. Recipients of this highly prestigious award have demonstrated their commitment to the Aggie core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service.</p> <p>Hanson will receive her award during a ceremony on Feb. 29. Nominations for the award were submitted in the fall, and an anonymous committee comprised of representatives from across campus selected the winners.</p> <p>Hanson received her bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics in 1984. She joined the department upon graduation. Other honors she has received include the department’s Outstanding Staff Award and the Dean’s Staff Achievement Award from the college of engineering.</p> <p>Each individual recipient receives a $1,000 cash award, a commemorative plaque and a lapel pin. Awards are funded through the generosity of The Association of Former Students and the program is coordinated by Texas A&amp;M Human Resources.</p> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/hanson-to-receive-presidents-meritorious-service-award http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/hanson-to-receive-presidents-meritorious-service-award Wed, 03 Feb 2016 00:00:00 CST International team developing tool for more effective diagnosis of oral cancer Ryan Garcia <ryan.garcia99@tamu.edu> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/jo-qatar-grant <p><img width="550" height="448" src="/media/3309300/jo-wi-device-web.jpg" alt="Jo with FLIM device" class="rightalign"/>A noninvasive device that enables doctors to quickly and accurately identify cancerous tissue in a person’s mouth is a step closer to reality thanks to an international collaboration between Texas A&amp;M University and Qatar aimed at more effective diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer.</p> <p>The collaboration is supported by a three-year, $800,000 grant from the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) that will enable development and deployment of a handheld device for detecting oral cancer that will be tested at Rumailah Hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) in Qatar, says Javier Jo, associate professor in Texas A&amp;M’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. Jo, who is lead researcher on the project, is working with colleagues from Texas A&amp;M at Qatar, Qatar University and HMC to develop the potentially life-saving tool that makes use of technology known as “fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM).” </p> <p>Using FLIM, Jo explains, his team can measure and visualize the biochemical changes that occur in oral epithelial tissue as it turns cancerous. Measuring these specific changes, the technology, Jo says, can assist physicians in detecting and differentiating precancerous, cancerous and benign lesions in a patient’s mouth. Jo presented his research at last year’s World Molecular Imaging Congress, a venue where scientists and clinicians discuss cutting-edge advances in molecular imaging. His work with the Qatar team will focus on the continued refinement of the technology. </p> <p>The primary goals of this phase of the project, Jo explains, are to scale down the device so that it is easier to use and increase the speed at which the device captures images from the oral cavity. In addition, the team is working to create and refine the algorithms needed to process the image information so that physicians can be provided with accurate information about the tissues they are examining in real time. </p> <p>This type of instrument, Jo says, could make a significant impact at home and abroad. The National Institutes of Health estimates more than 8,000 people in the United States will die from oral cancer and another 37,000 new patients will be diagnosed this year alone. In Qatar, the disease is rapidly growing and could soon form up to a third of all cancer cases, according to the Qatar National Cancer Strategy. </p> <hr /> <h3>“The successful completion of this research will result in a working prototype of a clinical tool for noninvasive real-time detection of epithelial precancerous and cancerous lesions in the oral cavity.”</h3> <hr /> <p>Even more troubling, identification of oral cancer can be challenging, Jo says. Doctors typically rely on the naked eye to look for problematic areas in a patient’s mouth that warrant a biopsy, but identifying these areas can be difficult because a patient’s mouth can manifest lesions that may be both benign and precancerous/ cancerous, he explains. These different types of lesions are indistinguishable to the naked eye, and even some imaging tools experience difficulty distinguishing between them, resulting in false positives and triggering unnecessary and painful biopsies, Jo adds. Furthermore, tissue from a biopsy may register as benign, but the surrounding tissue that was not biopsied can be cancerous and remain undiagnosed. </p> <p>Jo’s device, which is essentially a small, handheld microscope, employs the FLIM technique to noninvasively evaluate tissue for the structural and molecular changes that serve as key indicators in determining if tissue is precancerous or cancerous. With the tool, Jo can observe distinct fluorescence signatures – molecular fingerprints of a sort – that are specific to benign, precancerous and cancerous tissue. </p> <p>This enhanced identification is critical to early detection, Jo explains, but it also is an important tool during the surgical removal of cancerous tissue from a patient’s mouth. During surgery, physicians are tasked with the challenge of removing all cancerous tissue from the oral cavity while leaving intact as much surrounding healthy tissue as possible. </p> <p>The current practice is to remove a 10 mm normal-looking border around the cancerous lesion, if anatomically possible, Jo says. However, the high rate of recurrence of carcinomas at the primary site indicates the inadequacy of this approach, he notes. In other words, trace amounts of cancerous tissue can get left behind, but Jo’s technology would provide surgeons instantaneous visual feedback about the tissues they are removing for a more directed, accurate extraction.</p> <p><img width="650" height="336" src="/media/3309301/flim-device-web.jpg" alt="FLIM device" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"/></p> <p>“The successful completion of this research will result in a working prototype of a clinical tool for noninvasive real-time detection of epithelial precancerous and cancerous lesions in the oral cavity,” Jo says. “Such a tool could potentially be used to assist at every step involved on the clinical management of oral cancer patients, from early screening and diagnosis, to treatment and monitoring of recurrence.” </p> <p>The grant is made possible by the National Priorities Research Program (NPRP), the flagship funding program of QNRF. It is intended to foster a research culture in Qatar by encouraging the local population to embrace research and development. Grants awarded through the program are aimed at building human capital in Qatar; funding research to benefit the nation, the region and the world; and raising Qatar’s profile within the international research community. </p> <p>Joining Jo in this research are Beena Ahmed, a signal processing expert from Texas A&amp;M at Qatar; Nasir Rajpoot, an image analysis expert from Qatar University; and Zeynel Dogan and Hussain al-Enazi, senior otolaryngology surgeons at HMC. </p> <p><strong>About the Department of Biomedical Engineering<br /></strong>Committed to solving the world’s greatest health problems through the exploration of new ideas, integrated research and innovation, the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&amp;M is producing the next generation of biomedical engineers, developing new technologies and new jobs, and achieving revolutionary advancements for the future of health care. The department has unique strengths in regenerative engineering, medical augmentation, molecular diagnostics/theranostics, tele-health, and precision medicine, and its faculty members are internationally recognized with collaborative relationships that span engineering, physical and natural sciences, medicine and veterinary sciences.</p> <p align="center">-30-</p> <p>Contact: Javier Jo, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&amp;M at 979.458.3335 or via email: <a href="mailto:javierjo@tamu.edu">javierjo@tamu.edu</a> or Ryan A. Garcia, communications manager at 979.847.5833 or via email: <a href="mailto:ryan.garcia99@tamu.edu">ryan.garcia99@tamu.edu</a>.</p> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/jo-qatar-grant http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/jo-qatar-grant Wed, 03 Feb 2016 00:00:00 CST Two biomedical undergrads nominated for Goldwater Scholarships Ryan Garcia <ryan.garcia99@tamu.edu> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/biomed-goldwater <p><img width="259" height="401" src="/media/3309296/barry-mikayla-web.jpg" alt="Barry, Mikayla" class="leftalign"/>Mikayla Barry and Kendal Ezell, undergraduate students in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&amp;M University, each have been selected to represent the university in the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program.</p> <p>Barry and Ezell are two of four total students endorsed by the university to move forward in the scholarship competition. The scholarship program honoring Sen. Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. </p> <p>If named a scholar this spring, Barry and Ezell each will receive a two-year scholarship that covers the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. </p> <p>Goldwater Scholars are selected on the basis of their commitment to a career in research within the math, science or engineering discipline, with the average awardee having a 3.9 GPA. Goldwater Scholars have impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 86 Rhodes Scholarships, 123 Marshall Awards, 123 Churchill Scholarships and numerous other distinguished fellowships.</p> <p>Barry is the first member of Texas A&amp;M’s Beckman Scholars program. She conducts research in Associate Professor Melissa Grunlan’s Polymeric Biomaterials Laboratory, developing coatings for silicone to prevent blood clots. This project could allow devices like catheters to remain implanted longer with a lower risk of infection and clot formation. After earning her undergraduate degree, she intends to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science and mentor undergraduates as a faculty member at a research university. </p> <p><img width="300" height="357" src="/media/3309295/ezell-kendal-web.jpg" alt="Ezell, Kendal" class="rightalign"/>Ezell is conducting research in the Biomedical Device Laboratory headed by Professor Duncan Maitland. Working with Maitland and graduate student Landon Nash, Ezell is researching surface modification techniques for shape memory polymer foams (SMPs) used to treat brain aneurysms. In addition, she serves as an undergraduate research assistant at the Texas A&amp;M Institute for Neuroscience, under the direction of Professor Mark Packard. After earning her undergraduate degree, she plans to pursue an M.D.–Ph.D. in biomedical sciences so that she can embark on a career that enables her to work in the clinic while also conducting laboratory research to develop new medical technologies.</p> <p>The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established in 1986. Since its first award in 1989, the foundation has bestowed more than 7,400 scholarships worth approximately $48 million. The trustees plan to award about 200 scholarships for the 2016–2017 academic year.</p> <p><strong>About the Department of Biomedical Engineering<br /></strong>Committed to solving the world’s greatest health problems through the exploration of new ideas, integrated research and innovation, the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&amp;M is producing the next generation of biomedical engineers, developing new technologies and new jobs, and achieving revolutionary advancements for the future of health care. The department has unique strengths in regenerative engineering, medical augmentation, molecular diagnostics/theranostics, tele-health, and precision medicine, and its faculty members are internationally recognized with collaborative relationships that span engineering, physical and natural sciences, medicine and veterinary sciences.</p> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/biomed-goldwater http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/biomed-goldwater Wed, 03 Feb 2016 00:00:00 CST Nuclear research team develops methodology for tracing illegal nuclear material to source Robert (Chris) Scoggins <rcscoggins@tamu.edu> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/nuclear-research-team-develops-methodology-for-tracing-illegal-nuclear-material-to-source <p><iframe width="700" height="400" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/YduMjvktNMU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Researchers at the Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute (NSSPI) in conjunction with the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&amp;M University, and Professor Charles M. Folden III at the Cyclotron Institute, have developed a new method in nuclear forensics research to determine the reactor origins of weapons-grade plutonium. This methodology gives investigators and other government entities the ability to track the production source of black market nuclear materials, specifically plutonium.  </p> <p>“The goal is forensics,” said Professor Sunil Chirayath, the project’s principal investigator and interim director of NSSPI. “If somebody is smuggling plutonium to the United States and if it is confiscated, we need to attribute who did this and we have to put together several pieces of this puzzle. One of the pieces of the puzzle we specifically deal with is determining which type of nuclear reactor produced the confiscated plutonium.”</p> <p>In the neutron spectrum of nuclear reactors, Chirayath explains that there are two extremes: thermal reactors and fast reactors, with some variants between. Based on a number of variables, different reactor types leave different signatures in the plutonium that is created from spent nuclear fuel. Once investigators are able to determine what kind of reactor the material came from, it becomes a game of elimination between the different countries where these reactor types operate. Using this information, government agencies will look at possible countries in which the material could have been produced and attempt to track how the plutonium may have been transported and illegally acquired.</p> <p> <img width="700" height="397" src="/media/3309317/screen-shot-2016-02-03-at-24913-pm_700x397.jpg" alt="Image 2" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"/></p> <p>According to Chirayath, the method for tracing the source of the nuclear material shares some similarity with modern criminal forensics. In the same way criminals might leave fingerprints or DNA evidence at a crime scene, the process for creating the weapons grade plutonium leaves its own type of characteristics on the nuclear material.</p> <p>“Some specific elements, when you separate plutonium, go with that plutonium as trace contaminants,” Chirayath said. “When you touch something you don’t leave just your fingerprint behind, you leave some characteristics behind with that print that leaves an indelible mark. We want to know if there is any trace contamination in that plutonium where these specific elements are, and we can then tell through that element where this material was created.”</p> <p>The researchers use a radiochemistry process known as plutonium uranium redox extraction (PUREX) to separate the plutonium from the trace elements created from spent nuclear fuel. This process, which has been replicated at Texas A&amp;M, makes Texas A&amp;M the only university within recent times that has the appropriate radiochemistry lab setup to refine irradiated fuel samples through this unique process. These trace contaminants that are attached to separated plutonium through the PUREX process are isotopes that are identifiable to investigators as indicative of specific reactor types.</p> <p> <img width="699" height="399" src="/media/3309318/screen-shot-2016-02-04-at-91105-am_699x399.jpg" alt="Image 3" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"/></p> <p>“There are certain isotopes that we know as trace elements that point directly to specific reactor types,” Chirayath said. “For example, Sm-150 is an isotope that is produced in a thermal reactor in a quantity 100 times greater than if this same isotope was produced in a fast reactor when normalized to plutonium production. Even if we were to somehow mess up by 10 to 20 percent in our measurements, it’s still a factor of 100, which means that if we find this isotope in an abundance as a trace element, it leads to certain identification of a thermal reactor.”</p> <p>The project, which is currently in it’s fourth year, has trained six graduate students from the Department of Nuclear Engineering, three who work on the experimental PUREX process and three who work on the computational aspect of the research to model the different reactor types. According to Folden, the project has had a broader impact in helping to increase the number of students who work in radiochemistry, which is beneficial because there are so few radio-chemists in the United States. In total the project is a six-year endeavor, and the team is hoping to get the project funded for two more years, with current funding ending in August of this year. The team hopes to look at different plutonium separation processes apart from the PUREX method and to further diversify the method to identify more reactor types across the spectrum.</p> <p>“I knew that the ability to use radiochemistry in our forensic research is something that has been lacking in NSSPI,” Chirayath said. “Our goal is to study this and develop a methodology using this PUREX process so that the methodology that we develop can be applied, like a technology, for forensics specialists and others to use. We set out to prove both computationally and measurement wise, that this methodology is effective. We hope it becomes the standard methodology and it can be used by anyone at the lab level.”</p> <p><img width="698" height="398" src="/media/3309316/screen-shot-2016-02-04-at-91735-am.png" alt="Image 5" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"/></p> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/nuclear-research-team-develops-methodology-for-tracing-illegal-nuclear-material-to-source http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/nuclear-research-team-develops-methodology-for-tracing-illegal-nuclear-material-to-source Wed, 03 Feb 2016 00:00:00 CST Demkowicz joins Materials Science and Engineering Shraddha Sankhe <shraddha@tamu.edu> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/demkowicz-joins-materials-science-and-engineering <p><img width="597" height="398" src="/media/3302294/img_2157-1-_597x398.jpg" alt="Demkowicz announcement"/></p> <p><em>Demkowicz demonstrating a hydrogen analyzer in his laboratory</em></p> <hr /> <p>Dr. Michael J. Demkowicz has joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&amp;M University as an associate professor.</p> <p>Demkowicz specializes in computational materials design and fundamental physics of material behavior, especially mechanical properties and radiation response. He currently leads several projects in these areas. One of them is a National Science Foundation-supported effort to design and synthesize nano-metallic materials (NMMs) with superior mechanical properties. NMMs are composites made up of nano-scale elements.</p> <p>“When feature sizes in a material are that small, its properties are markedly different,” said Demkowicz. “We are trying to understand how we can design materials where nanometer scales yield unprecedented improvements in materials performance.”</p> <p>Another project led by Demkowicz investigates the effect of hydrogen on metals. Since hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements on earth, materials are commonly exposed to it.</p> <p>“Hydrogen is very small, so it easily diffuses into many materials,” said Demkowicz. “Once inside, it usually degrades the performance of the material. How that change happens is very much a mystery. We are conducting experiments to figure that out”.</p> <p class="rightalign leftalign"><em> </em></p> <p>Demkowicz cites the rising stature of Texas A&amp;M and its materials science and engineering department among his reasons for moving to Texas. Prior to his arrival, he had several ongoing research collaborations with Texas A&amp;M faculty. He is also interested in leading outreach activities that promote the Aggie post-doctoral community through recognition, networking and mentoring.</p> <p>“We are entering into an era of materials engineering where we design materials from the bottom up,” said Demkowicz. “It is an exciting time to be a materials scientist”.</p> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/demkowicz-joins-materials-science-and-engineering http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/03/demkowicz-joins-materials-science-and-engineering Wed, 03 Feb 2016 00:00:00 CST Shuler delivers 2016 Distinguished J.D. Lindsay Lecture at Texas A&M Shraddha Sankhe <shraddha@tamu.edu> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/02/shuler-delivers-2016-distinguished-jd-lindsay-lecture-at-texas-am <p><img width="846" height="564" src="/media/3302288/img_00671_846x564.jpg" alt="Shuler2 2016"/></p> <p>Dr. Michael Louis Shuler, a leading authority on modern biochemical engineering, delivered the spring’s first Distinguished Lindsay Lecture at the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&amp;M University.</p> <p>Shuler, the James M. and Marsha McCormick Chair of Biomedical Engineering and Samule B. Eckert Professor of Chemical Engineering at Cornell University, joined the list of internationally recognized researchers who have been invited to discuss groundbreaking ideas with students and faculty.</p> <p><img width="369" height="246" src="/media/3302289/img_0039_369x246.jpg" alt="Shuler4" class="rightalign"/>Shuler, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, presented his speech, “Building a Body-on-a-Chip”: Applications to Drug Development.”</p> <p><img src="#" alt="No Media"/>He discussed the development of a human-based in vitro system that could possibly eliminate dependency of animal testing and make better predictions of human response to drugs.</p> <p>“With a combination of cell cultures and microfabrication, a human surrogate can be constructed,” said Shuler. “These devices have been referred to as body-on-a-chip systems. Such chips should be relatively low cost to contract and have the potential for broad application in drug development and potentially to evaluate the toxicity of chemicals.”</p> <p>Schuler’s research has helped lay the foundation of modern biochemical engineering and has led to commercial processes for production of the anticancer agent, Taxol, in addition to tools to produce proteins from recombinant systems.</p> <p>The J.D. Lindsay Lecture Series enables outstanding speakers from industry and academia to visit Texas A&amp;M and the Department of Chemical Engineering to exchange ideas on teaching and research with students and faculty.</p> http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/02/shuler-delivers-2016-distinguished-jd-lindsay-lecture-at-texas-am http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2016/02/02/shuler-delivers-2016-distinguished-jd-lindsay-lecture-at-texas-am Tue, 02 Feb 2016 00:00:00 CST