Engineers Receive NSF CAREER Awards for Research to Improve Wireless Devices and Fight Heart Valve Disease
Engineers Jing Yang and Kartik Balachandran have been awarded Faculty Early Career Development Program grants through the National Science Foundation.
Yang received a $500,000 grant to continue developing
sensing and transmission systems for energy-harvesting, wireless sensor networks.
Energy-harvesting, wireless sensor networks are systems that include collaborating embedded devices, such as sensor nodes, that are capable of sensing, computation and communication. They are often used for application-specific analysis, such as environmental monitoring in homes or factories. The sensors perform long-range communications that are impossible or impractical to implement with the use of wires.
These networks use energy from the ambient environment – including solar power, but also sources such as vibration and wind – to collect and transmit vast amounts of data. However, they struggle to maintain reliable collection, transmission and analysis of data because the energy supply for this process can be random, scarce and inconsistent.
Yang is working on a set of algorithms that will lead to the design of new systems that can dynamically and intelligently allocate scarce energy to collect and transmit the most informative data samples.
Balachandran received a $500,000 grant to further his research in heart valve disease.
Balachandran’s research focuses on understanding the
multi-scale relationship between structure, architecture and mechanics related to the biological behavior of cells and tissues
in disease processes.
The award will allow him to study the role mechanical forces and cell shape play in dictating endothelial-mesenchymal transformation, a process involved in fetal development and also in diseases such as heart valve disease and cancer.
Balachandran will focus on the role of endothelial-mesenchymal transformation in causing heart valve pathologies, and insights from this project are expected to yield new therapeutic strategies to treat valve disease.
The grants, better known as CAREER awards, are one of the highest honors given by NSF to junior faculty members. Recipients are selected based on high-quality research and the integration of that research with education initiatives in the context of the university’s mission.