August 27 - September 2, 2012


August 27, 2012

Faculty News

Awards and Honors:

Chandru Mirchandani (EMSE adjunct professor) has been awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant in engineering education at the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. Under the grant, he will go to Sri Lanka for two weeks in December 2012.

New Faculty:

Dr. Amir Etemadi
Amir Etemadi is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 2012. His research interests include integrating distributed energy resources, realizing microgrids, and developing smartgrid technologies. He is particularly interested in the modeling and control of electronically-interfaced renewable resources such as wind and solar power plants. He is a member of IEEE Power Engineering Society and an active member of the IEEE Taskforce on Microgrid Control.

Dr. Erica Gralla
Erica Gralla is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering. She completed her Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Engineering Systems Division. She studies operations management in disaster response and other urgent, uncertain environments. Her research seeks to combine the strengths of human intuition and mathematical models to create better decision-making approaches.

Dr. Volker Sorger
Volker Sorger is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of California - Berkeley, where he conducted research in the fields of nanoscale opto-electronics and novel materials exploration. His research areas at GW include enhanced light-matter-interactions, opto-electronics, silicon photonics, plasmonics, novel materials, and solar-to-energy conversion. Prior to coming to GW, Professor Sorger was a group leading post-doc at the NSF Nanoscience and Engineering Center at UC Berkeley and gained valuable industry experience in Intel Corporation' s research labs.

Research and Patents:

Prof. Pinhas Ben-Tzvi (MAE) has been awarded U.S. Patent 8,225,892, "A Mobile Robot with Symbiosis of Locomotion and Manipulation." The patent was issued on July 24, 2012.

Prof. Pinhas Ben-Tzvi (MAE) has been awarded a two-year, $244,030 grant from the U.S. Naval Academy to support a research project titled "A Mechatronics Measurement System and Data Processing for Ship Air Wake Studies with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles." He is conducting the project with Prof. Murray Snyder's (MAE) on-going ship air wake studies at the United States Naval Academy (USNA). The studies use a USNA training vessel (YP676) that has been modified to include a flight deck and hangar-like structure similar to that of a modern warship. The research includes: 1) the indirect measurement of off-ship turbulence fields using remotely piloted rotorcraft instrumented with a global positioning system (GPS) and inertial measurement unit (IMU); and 2) the development and integration of a mechatronics system to monitor and record pilot inputs to the rotorcraft and to discriminate between pilot and turbulence induced helicopter flight disturbances.

GW's Cyber Security Policy and Research Institute (CSPRI) has recently been awarded several grants totaling more than $670,000. Prof. Lance Hoffman (CS) and Dr. Carl Landwehr received $87,941 to develop the program for a significant meeting of the principal investigators of the NSF's Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program. Following that, CSPRI was awarded $149,963 to organize and run a workshop to enlarge the pipeline of institutions providing participants in the CyberCorps program and to provide related mentoring for principal investigators at existing and new CyberCorps institutions. CSPRI also received an additional $68,439 to organize and run a workshop that brings together computer scientists, social scientists, and other stakeholders in an attempt to integrate social sciences into the design of future cyber security mechanisms and systems. Lastly, NSF provided another increment of $363,777 for its Scholarship for Service ("CyberCorps") program for students studying cybersecurity. The SFS funds support scholarships that have, to date, placed 49 students in jobs as federal cybersecurity experts. Currently ten students are supported by these SFS scholarships. Principal investigators are Profs. Lance Hoffman and Shelly Heller (CS). More information on the CyberCorps scholarships and cybersecurity are available in the GW Magazine article "Of Mice and Menace". [Editor's note: EMSE cybersecurity programs were mistakenly left out of the GW Magazine article.]

Prof. Michael Keidar (MAE) has received a two year, $150,000 NSF grant for "EAGER: Exploring plasma mechanism of synthesis of graphene in arc discharge," a project that explores the advantages of utilizing plasmas for the synthesis of graphene. Graphene is a one-atom-thick planar sheet of carbon atoms that combines aspects of semiconductors and metals and has potential applications in areas ranging from high-speed computer chips and biochemical sensors to ultracapacitors and fuel cells. The utilization of plasma flux is being studied in this project in order to enhance the mobility and reactivity of the carbon species during the synthesis. The ultimate goal of the project will be to utilize the understanding of the fundamental role of plasmas in synthesis.

Books and Papers:

Prof. Matthew Kay (ECE) has been collaborating with colleagues at the University of Washington to study the electrophysiology of human heart cells that have been grown from stem cells. Scientists at the University of Washington grew the cells and transplanted them into an infarcted area in animal hearts. They found that heart function improved and the incidence of arrhythmias was reduced. Prof Kay's analysis of the electrical imaging data provided critical insights for understanding how well the transplanted cells were incorporated into the host tissue. The work was recently published in the journal Nature. "Human ES-cell-derived cardiomyocytes electrically couple and suppress arrhythmias in injured hearts." Shiba Y, Fernandes S, Zhu WZ, Filice D, Muskheli V, Kim J, Palpant NJ, Gantz J, Moyes KW, Reinecke H, Van Biber B, Dardas T, Mignone JL, Izawa A, Hanna R, Viswanathan M, Gold JD, Kotlikoff MI, Sarvazyan N, Kay MW, Murry CE, Laflamme MA. Nature. 2012 Aug 5.

Prof. Kay-along with his post-doc Huda Asfour and graduate students Anastasia WengrowskiRafael Jaimes III, and Luther Swift-has published an article in the Journal of Visualized Experiments. The article describes how total heart function can be restored after the organ has been removed from an animal. This provides many new perspectives for studying heart function (mechanical, electrical, and metabolic) using optical and electrical imaging. "NADH Fluorescence Imaging of Isolated Biventricular Working Rabbit Hearts." Asfour H, Wengrowski AM, Jaimes Iii R, Swift LM, Kay MW. Journal of Visualized Experiments. 2012 Jul 24;(65). pii: 4115.

Conferences and Presentations:

Prof. Pinhas Ben-Tzvi (MAE); his doctoral students, Zhou Ma and Paul Moubarak; and Eric Alvarez, an undergraduate student who participates as a researcher in Prof. Ben-Tzvi's Lab, presented two peer-reviewed conference papers at the 36th Mechanisms & Robotics Conference, held August 12-15 in Chicago, IL. The papers are: 1) Moubarak, P., Ben-Tzvi, P., Ma, Z., Alvarez, E., "Kinematic Synthesis and Dynamic Analysis of the Dual-Rod Slider Crank Mechanism: An Application to Modular Robotics," and 2) Ma, Z., Ben-Tzvi, P., "An Admittance Glove Mechanism for Controlling a Mobile Robot." Both were published in the Proceedings of the 2012 ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, 36th Mechanisms & Robotics Conference.

Prof. Pinhas Ben-Tzvi (MAE) and his post-doc, Dr. Radu Robotin, attended the DARPA Defense Sciences Office Maximum Mobility and Manipulation Conference, held in Philadelphia, PA, July 17-18. During the conference, Prof. Ben-Tzvi's ongoing DARPA-funded project on Autonomous Symbiosis of Mobile Robotic Locomotion and Manipulation on Rough Terrain was presented. Prof. Ben-Tzvi says that GW's participation and presentation was another excellent opportunity to publicize SEAS as a top notch engineering school.

Over the summer, Prof. Howard Eisner (EMSE) presented two-hour workshops/tutorials on the subject "Thinking Outside the Box: Some New Approaches to Systems Engineering and Integration" at the following companies: MITRE; The SI in Laurel, MD; and The SI in Chantilly, VA.

Other News:

Prof. Pinhas Ben-Tzvi (MAE) has been invited to serve as an associate editor of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society's Conference Editorial Board for the 2013 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2013). ICRA is the flagship conference in robotics and automation and continues to be the most prestigious in this area. Prof. Ben-Tzvi has also been invited to serve as the co-chair of the Technical Program Committee for the 2012 IEEE International Symposium on Robotic and Sensors Environments (ROSE 2012), to be held in Magdeburg, Germany, November 16-18.

Prof. Pinhas Ben-Tzvi (MAE) was recently invited to join the ASME Design Engineering Division's Mechanisms and Robotics Technical Committee.

A new company called LuxCath has been formed to build a medical device from technology developed in Prof. Matthew Kay's (ECE) laboratory. The device will provide real-time assessment of the formation of a lesion created by radio frequency ablation, a procedure used to treat cardiac arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation. Prof. Kay's co-inventors are Marco Mercader, MD, and Narine Sarvazyan, PhD. Charanjeet Guron, PhD, of the GW Office of Technology Transfer, has lead the effort to commercialize the technology. Allied Minds, a technology investment firm, has invested $500,000 to build and test a clinical prototype.

Prof. Joost Santos (EMSE) completed a five-week science fellowship this summer from the Philippine government ('Balik' Scientist Program). Under this fellowship, Prof. Santos offered disaster preparedness training workshops to Philippine universities (University of the Philippines and De La Salle University) and key government agencies (Department of Science and Technology, National Institute for Geological Sciences, National Computer Center, and Advanced Science and Technology Institute, among others). He also led the publication of a disaster preparedness news article, which appeared in a leading newspaper in the Philippines.

Student News:

Shuo Gu, a doctoral candidate advised by Profs. Lawrence Bennett and Edward Della Torre (both of ECE), gave an invited talk on July 23 at the 2nd International Conference on Advanced Polymer Matrix Composites in Harbin, China. The title of his talk was 'Size dependence of critical behavior near ferromagnetic to paramagnetic phase transition in monodispersed EuS nanoparticles.'

Paul Moubarak and Zhou Ma, doctoral students of Prof. Pinhas Ben-Tzvi (MAE), received student travel awards from NSF to attend the 36th Mechanisms and Robotics Conference, which took place in Chicago, IL, August 12-15. The conference was part of the 2012 ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference (IDETC/CIE 2012). The awards covered their travel and accommodation costs and conference registration fees. Paul Moubarak, won second place in the ASME Graduate Student Mechanism & Robot Design Competition at the conference. His project, titled 'A Tri-state Rigid Reversible and Non-Back-Drivable Docking Mechanism for Modular Robotics Applications,' ranked second out of five finalists selected worldwide from many entries. Paul also presented his work during the poster session that preceded this competition.

Other News:

The GW Institute for Biomedical Engineering (GWIBE) announces the call for proposals for this year's Interdisciplinary Research Fund. Faculty interested in receiving internal funding from GWIBE to conduct pilot research may apply until October 1, 2012. 

Guest Vignette:

The design of sustainable and resilient buildings, bridges, power plants, dams, and other civil infrastructure systems requires detailed consideration of a variety of environmental loading such as earthquakes, wind-induced vibrations, and chemically or thermally induced degradation in the material performance. Led by CEE Professors Majid Manzari and Pedro Silva, researchers at the GW Earthquake Engineering and Structures Laboratory (EESL) are working on a number of projects that seek to develop new and enhanced technologies for seismic design of structural and geotechnical systems. Current projects include shake table testing and computational modeling of water-front retaining structures and power plants, seismic performance of slender bridge piers, and verification and validation studies of advanced constitutive models for geomaterials subjected to dynamic loading conditions. In addition to the lab's graduate students, several CEE undergraduate students have also conducted research during the past few years, working as summer interns on projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The EESL is continuing to attract additional undergraduate students to participate as interns throughout the academic year. (Provided courtesy of Prof. Majid Manzari, chairman of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering)