Category Archives: Research News

Dorfmann Researches the Dynamics of Chameleon Tongues

Chameleon with fly on tongue

Chameleon with fly on tongue

Associate Professor Luis Dorfmann contributed to research that built a mathematical model to explain the dynamics of the quick release of a chameleon’s tongue. The model could potentially have applications in designing elastic materials. Read the article from BBC News and the full paper as published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A.

 

$3M Grant Awarded to Mass Nanotech Consortium

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced $3 million in state support of the Cluster for Advanced Nanomanufacturing of Smart Sensors and Materials (ANSSeM) — a consortium of Massachusetts businesses and universities led by Northeastern University that includes Tufts University School of Engineering and University of Massachusetts Boston. Associate Professor Sameer Sonkusale in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Professor Igor Sokolov in the Department of Mechanical Engineering will purchase equipment for developing nanoscale sensors and for measuring nanomechanical properties, respectively.

Scheutz Talks Robot Cognition with The Conversation

Professor Matthias Scheutz (CS) wrote about robot cognition and morality in a piece for The Conversation called “Why robots need to be able to say ‘No.’”

“In general, robots should never perform illegal actions, nor should they perform legal actions that are not desirable. Hence, they will need representations of laws, moral norms and even etiquette in order to be able to determine whether the outcomes of an instructed action, or even the action itself, might be in violation of those principles,”  Scheutz writes.

 

Kemmerling Talks 3D Modeling and Mechanics in The Conversation

Assistant Professor Erica Kemmerling, Mechanical Engineering

Assistant Professor Erica Kemmerling, Mechanical Engineering

Assistant Professor Erica Kemmerling writes for The Conversation about fabricating physical models to study how cardiovascular devices affect blood flow. Now 3D printing technology is advanced enough to build realistic models of human blood vessels, and pulsatile-flow pumps can drive flow through these vessels to mimic the heart’s pumping. Since the vessel models are synthetic, there are no ethical issues associated with damaging them to take flow measurements.

Kuchma Speaks at 2016 Wind Energy Research Workshop

Professor Dan Kuchma, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Professor Dan Kuchma, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Professor Dan Kuchma discussed offshore installations and siting as part of the 2016 Wind Energy Research Workshop, sponsored by National Science Foundation, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Tufts University, and UMass Lowell which was held March 15-17.

Xu’s PNAS Paper Demonstrates Efficient Delivery of Genome-Editing Proteins Using Lipid Nanoparticles

Qiaobing Xu, Biomedical Engineering

A central challenge to the development of protein-based therapeutics is the inefficiency of delivering proteins across the cell membrane. Assistant Professor Qiaobing Xu is the co-author on a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that demonstrated delivery of genome-editing proteins into cultured human cells with 70% efficacy comparable with or exceeding other commercially available systems. Xu and Ming Wang, postdoctoral scholar and first author, and collaborators also demonstrated that these lipids are effective for functional protein delivery for murine gene recombination in vivo. Xu’s lab will now pursue studies to better assess toxicity.

Pennell Researches Enhanced Nanoparticle Mobility

Kurt Pennell, Professor and Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Kurt Pennell, Professor and Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Engineered nanoparticles could improve oil and gas recovery by acting as contrast agents to detect, image, or modify subsurface conditions of oil and gas reservoirs. However, nanoparticle mobility can be limited by saline solutions and porous materials. Chemistry Views magazine reports on Professor Kurt Pennell and colleagues’ examination of the ability of polymers and surfactants to enhance the mobility of polymer-coated magnetite nanoparticles.

Improved Mobility of Magnetite Nanoparticles at High Salinity with Polymers and Surfactants,
Anthony A. Kmetz, Matthew D. Becker, Bonnie A. Lyon, Edward Foster, Zheng Xue, Keith P. Johnston, Linda M. Abriola, Kurt D. Pennell, Energy Fuels 2016.
DOI: 10.1021/acs.energyfuels.5b01785

 

Griffiths Speaks with Mother Jones about Lead Contamination and Testing

Dr. Jeffrey Griffiths

Dr. Jeffrey Griffiths, a professor Tufts University School of Medicine, adjunct professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and former chair of the EPA’s Drinking Water Committee, Science Advisory Board, says when it comes to tracking lead, he says, “there’s no way you can say we’re doing an adequate job.”

The Environmental Protection Agency requires utilities to test water for high levels of lead, but “what’s clear to us now is that the amount of lead testing that’s being done isn’t enough, and the method itself isn’t very good,” Griffiths says. “Things can fall through the cracks when it comes to what the state has the capacity to do.”

Read more about lead contamination and testing in Mother Jones.

Chapra Wins 2016 Wesley W. Horner Award

Professor Steven Chapra, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Professor Steven Chapra received the ASCE Environmental and Water Resources Institute’s 2016 Wesley W. Horner Award for his paper “Sed2K: Modeling Lake Sediment Diagenesis in a Management Context.” Chapra also received this award in 2015, making him only one of two first-author recipients who has received the award in consecutive years. The paper, co-authored with Rasika K. Gawde, Martin T. Auer, Rakesh K. Gelda, and Noel R. Urban, was considered to have “the most valuable contribution to the environmental engineering profession” in the past year.

New Scientist Interviews Jacob and Yuksel about BACh System

Computer Science Professor Rob Jacob and doctoral student Beste Filiz Yuksel’s BACh System — Brain Automated Chorales – helps beginners learn to play Bach chorales on piano by measuring how hard their brains are working. It only offers a new line of music to learn when the brain isn’t working too hard, avoiding information overload. BACh estimates the brain’s workload using functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS), a technique that measures oxygen levels in the brain. Read more of the story in New Scientist magazine.

Their paper “Learn Piano with BACh“, including co-authors Remco Chang, Kurt Oleson, Lane Harrison, Evan Peck, and Dan Afergan, won the CHI2016 Best Paper Award.