Category Archives: Faculty

Chapra invited to speak in Peru and China

Professor Chapra addresses the Second Conference of Global Chinese Scholars on Hydrodynamics.

Professor Chapra addresses the Second Conference of Global Chinese Scholars on Hydrodynamics.

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.

Jacob elected ACM Fellow

Professor Robert J.K. Jacob of the Department of Computer Science

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.

View the full list of ACM fellows.

Sanayei and Collaborators Receive NSF Grant for Structural Health Monitoring

Sanayei and Collaborators Receive NSF Grant for Structural Health Monitoring
Professors Masoud Sanayei and Rich Vogel, along with Professor Alva Couch in Tufts Engineering Department of Computer Science, and alumna Erin Bell, EG03 of the University of New Hampshire, received a National Science Foundation grant to develop a Fatigue Health Portal (FHP), an advanced technology for real-time fatigue life prediction of in-service bridge structures. The FHP will feature variable fatigue stress ranges, operational measured strains, unknown vehicle information, hypothesis testing for damage assessment, and use of an alert system to improve system safety. The project will leverage methodology using statistical hypothesis testing of Survival Distribution Functions at Six Flags New England. In addition, as a proof of concept, the project will leverage planned strain instrumentation of the Memorial Bridge in New Hampshire. The final product would fill an existing need to monitor and assess the conditions of aging U.S. infrastructures.

Memorial Bridge New Hampshire

Mitochondria expose tumors’ misbehavior

Mitochondria cancer researchMitochondria 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.

M.S. candidate wins student poster competition

M.S. candidate Sam Gaeth receives the award.

M.S. candidate Sam Gaeth receives the award.

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.

Souvaine elected AAAS Fellow

Professor Diane Souvaine

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.”

Read more about Souvaine and her election as an AAAS Fellow.

Tissue healing after a heart attack

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.

The team of Tufts researchers included Kyle Quinn, Kelly Sullivan, Zhiyi Liu, Zachary Ballard, Christos Siokatas, Associate Professor Irene Georgakoudi, and Associate Professor Lauren Black.

Read the full paper in Nature Scientific Reports.

* Source: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2014/12/18/CIR.0000000000000152

Tufts attends Grace Hopper Celebration

The 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration kicks off in Houston. Photo courtesy of Sara Amr Amin.

The 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration kicks off in Houston. Photo courtesy of Sara Amr Amin.

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.”

Islam wins international prize for water research

Professor Shafiqul Islam

Professor Shafiqul Islam

Professor Shafiqul Islam of Tufts School of Engineering’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and professor of water diplomacy at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, was awarded the Creativity Award for the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW). The award, given to Islam and his team member Rita Colwell, University of Maryland at College Park, was presented at a ceremony held November 2, 2016 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. It was hosted by the U.N. Friends of Water and presided over by the U.N. General Secretary H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, and by PSIPW Chairman H.R.H. Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdualziz.

Islam and Colwell received the Creativity Award for developing and testing a model that uses chlorophyll information from satellite data to predict cholera outbreaks at least three to six months in advance. Colwell and her team were the first to use remote satellite data to develop a predictive model for cholera outbreaks in East Asia. Islam applied Colwell’s findings to relate chlorophyll information obtained from NASA satellites and cholera outbreaks in the Bay of Bengal. The team is currently working on testing the satellite-based model with ground-based observations.

Islam, who directs the Water Diplomacy program, received his Sc.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the director of the Boston Water Group, a diverse group of researchers and practitioners from academia, industry, and civil-society, who are based in the Greater Boston region but who work across the United States and around the world to address problems that involve water.

Students participate in annual bridge competition

CEE22 students watch as weights are loaded onto one team's bridge.

CEE22 students watch as weights are loaded onto one team’s bridge.

Every year, Professor Masoud Sanayei‘s class on structural analysis, CEE22, holds a competition. Students are asked to build bridges using rudimentary materials in a short period of time, and then the carrying load of their bridges is tested with weights.

Last week, the class held its 2016 competition in Anderson Hall. Sanayei says, “[The bridges] carried about 800 to 900 times their self weights. This shows the power of good design with accurate structural analysis and good construction.”

Check out a slow-motion video on the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Facebook page.