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Steve Chapra, Professor and Berger Chair in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was recently invited to China and Peru to present three plenary lectures on his specialty: water quality modeling and management. On November 10, he addressed the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Science in Beijing on “The role of water quality models in environmental management and control.”
Chapra then travelled to Wuxi to speak at the Second Conference of Global Chinese Scholars on Hydrodynamics, on “The roots, evolution, and future of water-quality modeling with emphasis on the impact of physics on aquatic biochemistry.” On December 1, he visited Arequipa, Peru to address the Seminario Internacional en Modelamiento de la Calidad de Agua en Presas, on an “Overview of management-oriented impoundment water quality models.”
Both trips reflect the growing commitment on the parts of China and Peru to attack their serious water quality problems. Chapra was invited due to his 45-year experience in applying water quality models to develop sustainable management strategies for remediating natural bodies of water such as the Great Lakes.
Professor Robert J.K. Jacob has been elected a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) for his contributions to human-computer interaction, particularly new interaction modes and novel user interface software formalisms.
The title of fellow is the ACM’s highest honorary grade of membership, reserved for members who have exhibited professional excellence in their technical, professional, and leadership contributions. At most, 1% of the ACM membership may be fellows.
“Fellows are chosen by their peers and hail from leading universities, corporations, and research labs throughout the world. Their inspiration, insights and dedication bring immeasurable benefits that improve lives and help drive the global economy,” says ACM President Vicki L. Hanson.
Mitochondria are able to change function and shape, according to the needs of the cell. When these mitochondrial dynamics go wrong, though, they can contribute to a number of human diseases. Early detection of these abnormalities can lead to faster diagnosis and treatment. A team of researchers, including engineers from the Tufts Department of Biomedical Engineering, has shown that these signs of mitochondrial dysfunction can be seen in living human skin by monitoring the mitochondrial metabolic coenzyme NADH. This represents a significant step from current techniques, which rely on mitochondria-specific dyes or are invasive.
With this new technique allowing for near real-time assessments of mitochondrial organization, researchers were able to differentiate healthy skin from melonoma and basal cell carcinoma.
Read the full paper in Science Translational Medicine.
Authors included Dimitra Pouli, Carlo Alonzo, Zhiyi Liu, Kyle Quinn, and Associate Professor Irene Georgakoudi from the Tufts Department of Biomedical Engineering, working alongside colleagues from the University of Malaga and the University of California, Irvine.
Civil and environmental engineering M.S. candidate Sam Gaeth won first place in a student poster competition for his research titled “Syngeristic Effects of Utilizing Abiotic and Biotic Degradation Pathways Simultaneously for Chlorinated Solvents Remediation,” conducted with his advisors, Research Assistant Professor Natalie Cápiro and Professor and Chair Kurt Pennell.
Gaeth presented the research at the Association for Environmental Health and Sciences (AEHS) Foundation’s 32nd Annual International Conference on Soils, Sediments, Water, and Energy, on October 17-20 in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Diane Souvaine, professor of computer science, has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Souvaine was elected as part of the computing and communication section, and cited for her “contributions to the field of computational geometry and for exemplary service on behalf of the computing community, including serving on the National Science Board.”
Tufts University engineers have developed new, non-destructive techniques to evaluate tissue healing following a heart attack. These techniques, described in a paper recently published in Nature Scientific Reports, could be used to evaluate current treatments for aiding cardiac repair and to provide a basis for evaluating heart disease progression.
Every year, about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these cases, 525,000 are a first heart attack.* After a heart attack, or myocardial infarction, the body quickly attempts to replace damaged cardiac tissue with new collagen scaffolding to provide support to withstand the forces associated with a normal heartbeat. The body can sometimes overbuild this scaffolding, or extracellular matrix (ECM), or expand the remodeled ECM into heart tissue not initially adversely affected by the heart attack. The altered heart tissue resulting from ECM remodeling is often responsible for functional deterioration, leading to heart failure.
Though scientists have studied some elements of how remodeled tissue structure affects function following heart attack, little is understood about the relationship between ECM composition of the scar tissue and its mechanical properties in the earliest stages of remodeling. By using a process called decellularization—the removal of cells from the heart tissue structure—and pairing this with 3D multi-photon microscopy, the tissue’s mechanical properties and structure remains intact and can be studied. As a result, the Tufts biomedical engineering team has uniquely identified structure-function relationships specific to the myocardial ECM. Specifically they have found that the ECM that is newly remodeled/deposited, following infarction, is weaker than healthy tissues, most likely due to alterations in the chemical connections within and between fibers called“crosslinks.” This weaker ECM may be contributing to the expanding scar by adversely signaling cells in the remodeling tissue to continue to make more ECM.
Tufts Computer Science Exchange hosted the annual Tufts Polyhack hackathon on October 14 and 15, in the Collaborative Learning and Innovation Complex at 574 Boston Avenue. Nearly 300 students participated, spending a whirlwind 20 hours developing computer science projects of their choosing. There were 34 projects submitted. This year, 20 mentors also participated. A mix of current students and alumni, mentors led workshops and helped students troubleshoot questions and problems with their projects.
One outstanding design for a hackathon team came from Julie Sanduski, A17, who worked on Streetspot, an app conceptualized as the equivalent of Rate My Professors for landlords. Other winners included Linda Cameron, E19, Jake Rochford, A19, and José Lopez, A17, who won Polyhack’s design war sprint competitions, which were created as a way to encourage more designers to attend hackathons and collaborate with developers. Cameron, Rochford, and Lopez designed everything from logos to wireframes within short time constraints. All four students were among the winners chosen to have their portfolios sent to Polyhack’s sponsors for review.
On October 29, mechanical engineering major Stan Barlow, E17, and Ph.D. candidate Xiao Xiao attended the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. They received the Best Poster – Young Investigator Award from the NASA Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).
Xiao and Barlow won the award for their poster titled “Density Measurement for Industrial Turbine Blade Superalloys,” which they worked on with Associate Professor Douglas Matson and Ph.D. candidate Justin Rodriguez.
In late October, a group of Tufts students and faculty attended the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) in Houston, Texas. GHC is the world’s largest technical conference for women in computing, where women technologists and leaders in computing convene to highlight the contributions of women to computing. Named in honor of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, GHC is co-presented by the Anita Borg Institute and the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM).
This year, Tufts attendees included 16 undergraduates, two graduate students, and one faculty member. Students were able to make connections across the industry, from engineers at Otto, Uber’s self-driving semi-truck company, to Google X project leads, computer science Ph.D. students, and recruiters hiring for open positions.
“Most valuable was meeting people on specific teams at companies I’m interested in, because that’s how I want to think about potential,” says Alice Lee, a senior who’s interested in programming languages and embedded systems. “I was inspired by the women who are actively breaking glass ceilings and ready to talk about just how they did it.”