Faculty 2019

Faculty: Dr. Kazunori Hoshino (Department of Biomedical Engineering)

Joule Buddies:
 Soliman Alhudaithy  

Title: Cloud Device for 3D Cell Culture, Observation, and Manipulation

Description: We will design and test a cell culture platform to characterize the growth and formation of microtissues. Specifically, we plan to observe the differentiation of stem cells, the growth of cancer cells, and the development of fish embryos to study the process of tissue/organ development. The platform will be connected to the internet, and 3D development of cells and tissues can be observed from anywhere in the world. We will remotely control a micromanipulator through the internet and study the mechanical characteristics of growing microtissues. Teachers who will participate in this project will be able to use this online platform, including the live cell manipulation system, back in their classrooms.


Faculty: Dr. David Pierce (Departments of Mechanical Engineering/Biomedical Engineering/Mathematics)

Project 1:

Joule Buddies:
Phoebe Szarek

Title: Investigating the biomechanics of collagen networks within human/bovine articular cartilage

Description:  Isolating single components of soft biological tissues for mechanical testing may facilitate the understanding of individual contributions to the total mechanical integrity. Articular cartilage is a highly hydrated tissue composed of an extracellular matrix of collagen fibers and proteoglycans with cells scattered that maintain the matrix. Joule Fellows will optimize a new, novel testing protocol to prepare thin specimens of collagen networks from bovine cartilage. We will first extract cartilage specimens from bovine joints and develop a protocol for cutting samples to the required dimensions and shape.  We will also develop a method to enzymatically digest the proteoglycan complexes to isolate collagen networks from cartilage explants and determine the effectiveness by quantifying proteoglycan content still in the cartilage. We will also perform many other goal-oriented tasks including calibration of force sensors, calculation of predicted error, and evaluation of circuitry for data acquisition, all using custom-made microscale tensile and shear testing devices. We will then perform mechanical tests, generate novel data, and analyze for quantitative conclusions.

Project 2:
Joule Buddies:
Xiaogang (Joe) Wang

Title: Developing a novel platform for teaching programming of models for nonlinear elastic materials

Description: Developing and programming numerical material models is one of the key steps in computational simulations, e.g. for finite element modeling. Using MATLAB, Joule Fellows will develop a teaching platform to test codes implementing material models and then build, test, and validate their own codes for nonlinear, elastic material models. We will review basic solid mechanics concepts and theories, followed with details on the Neo-Hookean material model as a representative example. We will develop an exercise platform as a testing environment for material models. The exercise platform will include a load driver, which can provide input data corresponding to different types of mechanical tests (uniaxial tension/compression, biaxial tension, and simple shear), and a post-processor which reads the data from the model and generates plots of stress versus strain.  We will also derive the material models theoretically, and we will implement them into executable MATLAB codes for use with the exercise platform.


Faculty: Dr. Bin Feng (Department of Biomedical Engineering)

Joule Buddies:
Saeed Siri

Title: The Biomechanics of Visceral Pain

Description: Visceral pain is the cardinal symptom of patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders that affect 15-20% of the world population. Arising from the internal organs, visceral pain has unique clinical manifestations associated with organ biomechanics; it is mechanical distention/stretch of hollow visceral organs – not tissue-injurious pinching or cutting – that reliably evokes the perception of pain from the viscera. In our lab, Joule fellows will first gain hands-on experience on pain as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience in the brain. In particular, we will demonstrate that pain can be evoked in the absence of any tissue injurious stimuli using a thermal grill device. In addition, Joule fellows will participate in our on-going research project that characterizes the tissue biomechanics of mouse colon and rectum via bi-axial tensile testing, nonlinear imaging using second harmonic generation, and measuring local surface strain by digital image correlation. Outcomes of this project will reveal regions of stress concentration in the colon and rectum that are likely to be focal areas for sensory detection of noxious mechanical stimuli and thus ‘initiation zone’ of visceral pain.

http://npr.bme.uconn.edu/


Faculty: Dr. Shalabh Gupta (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Joule Buddies:
Zongyuan Shen

Title: Design and Construct an Autonomous Quadcopter

Description: Design and construct an autonomous quadcopter that can fly inside buildings or urban environment and can perform video surveillance. This project will involve design, development, and testing of a quadcopter that is embedded with a heterogeneous sensor suite (each suite will comprise of multiple sensors and onboard data processing units) that will have the following capabilities: i) heterogeneous sensing (cameras, infrared, ultrasonic, kinect, lasers), ii) data acquisition and iii) data visualization. The applications include smart delivery systems, urban surveillance, bridge monitoring, etc.



Faculty: Dr. Arash Zaghi (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Joule Buddies:
Angela Lanning

Title: Advanced shape-memory alloys for structural resiliency

Description: The Joule Fellow will join ongoing research in the Next-Generation Multihazard Resilient Infrastructure Laboratory (NGMRIL) at the University of Connecticut. They will be involved in research on shape-memory alloys (SMAs), which are unique metals that are able to return their original shape after being deformed. The Joule Fellow will work on a team with graduate students to make small pipes that contain these SMA fibers. We will then perform mechanical tests to see how the pipes behave under a force. These results will be used to improve the design of the pipes. This experience will allow the Joule Fellow to develop a lesson plan for the following school year focused on the steps of design optimization.



Faculty: Dr. Georgios Matheou (Department of Mechanical Engineering)

Project 1:
Joule Buddies:
Oumaima Lamaakel

Title: The Life Cycle of Trade-wind Cumulus Clouds

Description: The representation of clouds is currently the largest source of uncertainty in climate projections. Clouds forming near the surface, such as trade-wind cumulus, have a large effect on the amount of energy absolved by our planet. Clouds reflect solar radiation to space (they are white and bright), thus, providing the necessary cooling effect to maintain the present climate. The characteristics of clouds are expected to change in a warming climate. However, the change in the overall cooling effect of clouds depends on many competing factors. One of these factors is the lifespan of individual clouds because clouds that live longer can reflect larger amounts of solar energy. We will analyze results from simulations of trade-wind cumulus clouds to characterize and quantify the life span of individual clouds. The results will inform the development of improved climate models. We expect that the Joule Fellow will develop rich visual material (images and movies) to assist in the teaching of Earth science topics. All software and data will be provided to the Joule Fellows to use in their classrooms. Some computer and very basic familiarity with computer programing is required.

Project 2:
Joule Buddies: Oumaima Lamaakel
Title: The Social Life of Raindrops

Description: The atmospheric boundary layer, the lowest layer of the atmosphere, is host to a plethora of physical processes that support life on Earth and strongly affect the planetary energy balance. Moisture (water vapor) enters the atmosphere at the surface through evaporation, and it is carried aloft by thermals in the atmospheric boundary layer. Then, moisture helps drive the planetary circulation, weather patterns, and large storms. Eventually, after traveling vast distances, water vapor will condense to form precipitation (rain, snow, etc.) and return to the surface. Following the “journey” of water vapor in the atmosphere is key to our understanding of the Earth’s climate. A significant quantity of water returns to the surface before reaching the free troposphere because of rain formation in small cumulus clouds in the atmospheric boundary layer. Only large enough raindrops will make it to the surface, therefore understanding the process of droplet collision and coalescence, which creates larger drops, is an important parameter in estimating the amount of rain. We will use a simple computer model that calculates the motion of several raindrops to understand how raindrops interact with their neighbors. That is, when they are attracted and merge to form bigger drops and when they avoid collisions. We expect that the Joule Fellow will develop rich visual material (images and movies) to assist in the teaching of Earth science topics. All software and data will be provided to the Joule Fellows to use in their classrooms. Some computer and very basic familiarity with computer programing is required.


Faculty: Mu-Ping Nieh (Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)

Project 1:
Joule Buddies:
Donyeil Hoy

Title: Designing Nanocarriers for Carbon-Derived Materials

Description: At the Self-Assembled Functional Nanomaterials (SAFN) Lab, the Joule Fellows will learn concepts related to lipid self-assembly and the role of lipid self-assembly in drug delivery. Through hands-on experience, they will start with the self-assembly of lipid nanocarriers, such as liposomes and bicelles as well as nanostructural characterization. We will introduce the advantages of using nanoparticles for biomedical applications and show them how the nanoparticles can be used as drug delivery carriers through the encapsulation of therapeutics. The Joule buddy, Donyeil Hoy will work with the Joule fellows to apply this platform for encapsulating carbon-derived materials such as graphene, fullerene and carbon quantum dots. The Joule fellows are expected to learn the structural characterization tools and principles to make these nanoscale materials. The content will include the following.

  • Fabricate liposomes and bicelles
  • Encapsulate hydrophobic fluorescence dye (e.g., Nile Red) – using fluorescence as an indicator for encapsulation.
  • Encapsulate carbon nanomaterials (graphene, fullerene, and graphene quantum dots) inside of liposomes and bicelles
  • Characterize nanomaterials using light scattering and spectroscopic techniques
  • Analyze the diagnostic and therapeutic effect of drug delivery systems
  • Translate their experience in the lab into a lesson plan for their students

Project 2:
Joule Buddies:
Chung-Hao Liu

Title: Lipid Nanocomplex Enhancing Fluorescence

Description: At the Self-Assembled Functional Nanomaterials (SAFN) Lab, the Joule Fellows will learn concepts related to lipid self-assembly and the role of lipid self-assembly in drug delivery. Through hands-on experience, they will start with the self-assembly of lipid nanocarriers, such as liposomes and bicelles as well as nanostructural characterization. We will introduce the advantages of using nanoparticles for biomedical applications and show them how the nanoparticles can be used as drug delivery carriers through the encapsulation of therapeutics. A fluorescent supramolecule, HW, is emergent research for its high antimicrobial activity. Because of the hydrophobicity, HW can be encapsulated in the lipid self-assemblies, increasing its solubility in aqueous solutions. Surprisingly, the fluorescence of HW is enhanced which is different from the emission behavior of regular fluorophores – quenching at higher fluorophore concentration. The morphologies of lipid complex can be determined by the dynamic light scattering, X-ray scattering and transmission electron microscopy.  This project will be divided into two sections: the functionality and the structural characterization of HW/lipid complex.

The project includes:

  • Prepare lipid nanoparticles (bicelles and liposomes).
  • Investigate fluorescence quenching from regular fluorophore (e.g., Nile Red) due to increase of fluorophore concentration.
  • Calibrate the concentration of supramolecule HW by UV-vis measurement.
  • Show Aggregation-Enhanced Enhanced of the HW in bicelles.
  • Characterize the structures of HW/lipid by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
  1. Polymerization inside the lipid bilayered structures

The lipid can be used as template to polymerize. Firstly, we will prepare the lipid particles in water and then the monomers (styrene) and crosslinkers are added in the water solution. The polymerization will occur under the UV-lamp. The goal for this idea is that the size and shape of polymer can be well controlled by the lipid nanoparticles with different percentage charge lipid. Furthermore, we would like to know whether that the polymers are formed at the rim of lipid nanoparticles or not.

Teachers and students will learn:

  • How to do the literature survey for the research topics.
  • The concepts of polymer chemistry (radical/ emulsion polymerization/ co-polymerization).
  • How to calculate the molar ratio among surfactant/ monomers/ catalyst.
  • How to design the experiments for synthesis.