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University of California, Irvine

2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT


FROM THE DEAN

GENIUS is in the IDEA. IMPACT, however, comes from ACTION. SIMON SINEK AUTHOR & MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER

At the Samueli School, engineering involves both ideas and action, and this year we have seen numerous ways in which our faculty, students and alumni are making a significant impact. In this issue, we give you 10 examples of researchers pursuing projects with the public good in mind. From medical breakthroughs to environmental causes to fundamental knowledge, our engineers are taking their research from campus labs into the real world and beyond. On the health care front, we have a biomedical engineer collaborating with an electrical engineer to advance their technology that enables a paralyzed person to walk. Another team is working on a device that functions as a bioartificial pancreas, while others are developing tissue implants to treat a common jaw disorder. When a 7.1 earthquake leveled parts of Mexico City, one of our civil engineers was called to the site to examine the aftermath, and develop strategies and techniques to limit structural damage in the future. Closer to home, a team of mechanical engineers is bringing renewable energy technologies and efficiencies to an underserved neighborhood in Orange County. Also this year, Anteater engineers are looking to outer space for answers. With no earthly constraints, their effort to understand the chemistry of flame in a gravity-free environment has significant implications for combating air pollution. This wide range of impactful activities reflects the diverse interests of our faculty and students.

In my seven years as dean of the Samueli School, we have hired 53 new engineers, including 19 women and eight underrepresented minorities, making it the largest and most diverse cohort in the school’s history. This year, four of those recent hires – all female – received NSF Faculty Early Career Development awards. We are entering our seventh year of offering a freshman experiential learning program. To date, 1,440 undergraduates have taken advantage of the hands-on design, build and test opportunity. Putting those skills to the test, this year several student teams took top honors in competitions. Additionally, six students earned coveted NSF graduate research fellowships for projects ranging from thermoelectricity to synthetic biology. Our alumni, too, are blazing trails as game changers in health care and policymakers in water quality. The Samueli School’s diversity and outreach programs have received recognition for contributing to the next generation of engineering talent. In fact, our Orange County STEM ecosystem has been replicated by more than 50 communities internationally. These successes, and more, contribute to the unique Anteater engineering experience of which I am very proud, but we are not resting on our laurels. We know we must act to make an impact, so we continue to hire enterprising researchers, adding to our already wellestablished faculty ranks. As part of our 2025 strategic plan, we just restructured the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science into two departments: chemical & biomolecular engineering, and materials science & engineering. We are excited to open the new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering building in 2020. All of these endeavors will truly position the UCI Samueli School to impact society in ways we could have never imagined.

Gregory Washington, Ph.D. Stacey Nicholas Dean of Engineering


CONTENTS

18

2 Worth Repeating 5 Getting Social 6 Bravo 8 Quality Indicators 12 Eureka!

22

18 Water is Water 22 The Next Step 26 Extraterrestrial Testing

30 Materials World

32 Exceptional Healing

26

36 Driven

By Data

40 Scientific Foundation 44 Common Disease, Uncommon Approach 48 Race To Rewire 52 Blazing Trails

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Plug In and Play

University of California, Irvine

2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT The award-winning Dean’s Report is published annually in early fall by the Samueli School’s Communications Department.

60 SAMUELI SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING

Director of Communications: Shelly Nazarenus

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UC IRVINE

Communications Manager: Lori Brandt Principal Writer & Editor: Anna Lynn Spitzer Designer: Michael Marcheschi, m2design group Publisher: Mike Delaney, Meridian Graphics

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WORTH REPEATING

Out of This World Materials science doctoral student Katherine Acord won a 2018 NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship. She will receive up to $75,000 per year for three years to cover tuition and fees, a stipend and other expenses. Acord’s research seeks to enhance the performance of solid electrolytes for rechargeable lithium ion batteries that can be used in space. As part of the NASA fellowship program, Acord will spend 10 weeks at a NASA Center, where she will have access to experts in the field and equipment that might otherwise not be available. Acord says she was shocked upon learning she had won the prestigious award. “I had to reread the letter a few times before I finally was able to comprehend what was happening,” she admits. “This opportunity is a great stepping stone toward the accomplishment of my research goals in regard to developing and improving materials for extreme environments.”

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WatchDog Four determined undergraduate engineering students took a promising idea, lots of stamina and the will to succeed to a local hackathon in February, emerging 24 hours later with a top prize. Team members Farah Arabi, Onalli Gunasekara, Kelly Hong and Floranne Ellington designed and built a campus security system called WatchDog, which won the Best Big Data Hack prize, sponsored by Neudesic, at AthenaHacks at the University of Southern California. Their award-winning prototype encompasses an app that can quickly summon police, along with a quadcopter that dispatches simultaneously to the scene, barks like a dog to scare off assailants and records video. The team’s adviser was Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington.

Car Chemistry In a worldwide competition, the Samueli School’s Chem-E Car team finished first among U.S. teams and second overall. The students outmaneuvered 42 other schools in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers 2017 competition, which challenges student teams to design and construct a chemically powered vehicle that starts and stops based on a chemical reaction. UCI’s Model S, equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell, landed nine centimeters past the finish line, losing only to an Indonesian team that ended two centimeters off the line. Cole Johnson, a junior, said that being part of the team has given him real hands-on practical experience in the engineering design process. “What I like about it is that it’s all us. We come up with all the reactions and test the car for months. We work out all the issues on our own.”

2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT


CUSTOM BUILT Graduate student Joseph Bell’s mechanical engineering master’s degree project required him to design and simulate a hybrid electric/ hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Bell accomplished that and more: he constructed a fully operational car. The chassis of a Volkswagen Beetle provided the foundation for the two-seater concept car that was finished with custom, handmade components. The work was supported with research funds and help from local companies. With its electric battery fully charged and with a full tank of hydrogen, the car’s range is approximately 125 miles; Bell hopes to optimize driving range in the project’s next phase.

First Place Finish Recent civil engineering graduates Jessica Yunji Park and Windsor Takashi Lee won a student design contest sponsored by the California Water Environment Association last spring. The challenge was to prepare and present a design that helps solve a water quality issue; entrants had to evaluate alternative ideas, perform calculations and recommend solutions to a panel of judges, both in a written report and in an oral presentation. Park and Lee’s team evaluated the replacement of two existing, but aging, wastewater pump stations in Orange County with a single, new station. The team conducted feasibility studies, drafted process flow diagrams, made civil and mechanical plans and profile sheets for their recommended approaches, and developed cost estimates for each alternative. They will compete at the national Water Environment Federation Student Design Competition this fall in New Orleans.

SAMUELI SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING

Engineered Cartilage Biomedical engineering graduate student Evelia Y. Salinas received a $183,000 three-year NIH diversity supplement fellowship in support of her work in the lab of Distinguished Professor Kyriacos Athanasiou. The fellowship is connected to an NIH R01 grant to Athanasiou for his research on the selfassembling process in tissue engineering of articular cartilage. Salinas evaluates the interdependent effects of combined mechanical stimuli, such as shear and tensile loading, on the engineered neocartilage.

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Policy Wonk Kimberly Duong, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, earned a prestigious fellowship from the National Academy of Sciences, which named her a 2018 Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellow. Duong studies how external factors influence urban water consumption. She spent 12 weeks this spring in Washington, D.C., immersed in a full-time science policy program, attending meetings of the NAS Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate and participating in policy-related briefings.

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6 WINNERS

Wheelchair Wizards

More than 120 Samueli School biomedical engineering students took on a challenge from the Free Wheelchair Mission (FWM), a nonprofit organization that provides free wheelchairs to impoverished people with disabilities in developing nations. Undergraduates had 10 weeks to form teams and design a wheelchair lever driver that would allow users to travel farther and more easily by reducing strain on upper extremity muscles. Students were instructed to design a lever arm that would enable wheelchair users to propel themselves forward and backward, stop and turn around without having to use the push rim. The future engineers learned how to design in CAD software and how to translate those designs into real-world prototypes. The FWM has been collaborating for several years with Professor David Reinkensmeyer and his graduate students. FWM founder and CEO Don Schoenderfer was excited to extend the challenge to undergraduates. His company provided CAD designs and wheelchairs for students to use in developing their prototypes. Schoenderfer was on hand for the final demonstration day. The student teams tested their chairs by traveling 10 meters, up and back, and then spinning in place. “It was cool,” said Schoenderfer. “Lots of creative ideas. And what a great experience for these students; I can imagine them using these skills in their first job.”

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Six Samueli School students were among the 26 UC Irvine students winning coveted National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships this year from a field of 12,000 applicants. Each of the 2,000 fellowship winners nationwide receive annual stipends of $46,000 for three years to help finance their studies. Of the Samueli School’s six winners, four were biomedical engineering students. They are Jason Chen, Austin Lefebvre, Tam Vu and Erik Alexander Gonzalez-Leon. The other recipients are materials science engineering student Kenny Huynh and chemical engineering student Sarah Maxel.

Jam Free Civil and environmental engineering graduate student Felipe de Souza is a recipient of the $6,000 Miguel Velez scholarship, which supports students from Latin American countries who show outstanding academic achievement and future promise. A doctoral student in transportation systems engineering, de Souza studies mathematical models of traffic. “If we better understand the dynamics, we can better manage the traffic and, hopefully, this will lead to less wasted time in traffic,” explained de Souza, who is from Brazil.

Crystal Clear David Kok, a fourth-year doctoral student in materials science and engineering, won a $2,500 2018 Ludo Frevel Crystallography Scholarship Award from the International Centre for Diffraction Data. This award supports the education and research of promising graduate students in crystallography-related fields. Kok’s research involves developing a special technique for processing ceramics, called field-assisted sintering, which uses heat and electrical currents to compact and form a solid mass of material without melting.

2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT


GETTING SOCIAL

UCI Engineering @UCIEngineering · May 24

WHAT’S TRENDING

Li Recognized for Mentoring Undergraduate Research http://engineering.uci.edu/news/2018/5/ li-recognized-mentoring-undergraduate-research

We connect with students, alumni, partners and the wider world through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Follow our feed: twitter.com/UCIEngineering facebook.com/ucirvineengineering instagram.com/uciengineering linkedin.com/in/ucirvineengineering

Amir AghaKouchak @AmirAghaKouchak · Jul 16 In our recent paper, we discuss a strategy for seasonally forecasting burned area anomalies through linking seasonal climate predictions with parsimonious empirical climate–fire models: www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-05250-0

UC Irvine @UCIrvine · Apr 12 Could holey silicon be the holy grail of electronics? UCI engineers find that innovative material facilitates effective on-chip cooling. http://bit.ly/2vae9n1 #nanotechnology

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With their wealth of research experience and abundant accomplishments, Samueli School faculty represent the best and brightest in the field of engineering. From national awards to media recognition to international honors and research collaborations, our faculty continue to make an impact.

BRAVO

Efi Foufoula-Georgiou,

Distinguished Professor of civil and environmental engineering, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to those pursuing research, education and applications in engineering and technical fields. The NAE citation noted Foufoula-Georgiou’s contributions to hydrology and hydroclimatology with applications to engineered systems across scales. She has released groundbreaking research findings on topics ranging from regional climate and extreme heat events to river delta dynamics. Additionally, Foufoula-Georgiou was recently named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers has awarded Kyriacos Athanasiou the 2018 Savio L-Y. Woo Translational Biomechanics Medal in recognition of his exceptional contributions to bioengineering. Athanasiou, Distinguished Professor of biomedical engineering, researches musculoskeletal and cartilaginous tissues, and develops clinical instruments and devices. He focuses primarily on regeneration of cartilage, specifically tissue found in knee, hip and shoulder joints, and in the temporomandibular joint. ASME honored him for “inventing intraosseous infusion (injection directly into the marrow of a bone), developing corresponding patented technologies and translating those technologies to clinical use worldwide.”

FACULTY ACHIEVEMENTS 6

Anne Lemnitzer, associate

Xiaoqing Pan, Endowed

14

8

26

Presidential Young Investigator Awardees

NSF CAREER Awardees

professor of civil and environmental engineering, earned the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award to support her work in structural and geotechnical earthquake engineering. Lemnitzer will receive $500,000 to advance her large-scale experimental studies and numerical modeling of deep-foundation systems. She will address the shortcomings associated with current analysis and design recommendations and work toward establishing a next-generation framework, possibly prompting the introduction and implementation of novel instrumentation technologies and sustainable materials – such as green concrete – to reduce the carbon footprint.

National Academy of Engineering Members

Chair in Engineering and professor of chemical engineering and materials science, was one of 16 materials scientists worldwide elected a 2018 fellow of the Materials Research Society for distinguished research accomplishments and outstanding contributions to the advancement of materials research. Pan, who directs the university’s Irvine Materials Research Institute, was singled out for “pioneering the development and innovative application of atomic resolution transmission electron microscopy and in situ techniques, leading to understanding ferroelectricity, domain dynamics and catalytic reactions.”

Tryphon T. Georgiou,

Chancellor’s Professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, received the 2017 George S. Axelby Outstanding Paper Award from the IEEE Control Systems Society. This is the fourth time Georgiou has won the award, a record that only two other academics have attained since the establishment of the honor in 1975. The award recognizes the most outstanding paper published in the past two years in the society’s journal, the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, based on originality, potential impact on the theoretical foundations of control, importance of significance in applications and clarity.

2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT


The American Association for the Advancement of Science named Lizhi Sun, professor of civil and environmental engineering, a fellow in recognition of his contributions to the field of continuum mechanics, particularly his innovative work in the area of heterogeneous composite materials. The AAAS Section on Industrial Science & Technology recognized Sun during the 2018 AAAS Annual Meeting in Texas, last February. The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science and several other journals.

Kristen Davis, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and Earth system science, was awarded a $686,385 Faculty Early Career Development award from the National Science Foundation. The award is for Davis’ project to study waves within the ocean, or “internal waves,” from breaking to dissipation, along the inner continental shelf. The inner shelf is like a swash zone for nonlinear internal waves, and their intermittency and small scales make them hard to observe. Davis hopes that her work will yield insights into the animals and plants living on the ocean floor, the crossshelf exchange of nutrients and pollutants, turbulent mixing, larval connectivity, coastal hypoxia and ocean acidification.

Payam Heydari, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, has accrued two new honors from the IEEE. In January 2018, he officially joined the Administrative Committee, the governing body of the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society, which oversees conferences, publications, education projects, chapters, finances and other society activities. Then, in June of this year, the IEEE selected Heydari a 2019-2021 Distinguished Lecturer for its Microwave Theory and Techniques Society. Heydari formerly served as a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society.

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8

8

4

NIH New Innovators

Endowed Chairs

Distinguished Professors

The National Science Foundation has awarded Assistant Professor Aparna

Chandramowlishwaran

a Faculty Early Career Development award. Chandramowlishwaran, an electrical engineering and computer science researcher, won $500,000 to advance her development of a software program that can help solve large-scale turbulent flow simulation problems in computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Her system, called HiPer, will perform physics-based simulations as well as CFD turbulent flow simulations on massively parallel machines, a feat currently infeasible due to cost and time constraints.

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Assistant Professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering Yoonjin Won has won a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award. She will receive $500,000 from the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems for her investigation of thin-film evaporation using crystalline metallic porous structures called “inverse opals.” Inverse opals, extremely regular structures, can lend improved understanding to the study of novel thermal metamaterials and structure-related evaporation performance. This work could result in innovative materials to address thermal challenges in modern electronics and water-energy applications.

Chancellor’s Professors

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DEGREES GRANTED

QUALITY INDICATORS

2013-14

84

2014-15

89

2015-16 2016-17 2017-18

667

221 324

642

336

63

682

284

87 81

805

261

742

Ph.D M.S. B.S.

STUDENT ENROLLMENT 900

FALL 2013 FALL 2014

1,046

FALL 2015

1,005

FALL 2016

958

FALL 2017

961 graduate

3,135 3,246 3,332 3,615 3,728

undergraduate

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS FALL 2017 BY DEPARTMENT

482

BIOMEDICAL

8

437

CHEMICAL & MATERIALS SCIENCE

489

CIVIL & ENVIRONMENTAL

1,098

ELECTRICAL & COMPUTER SCIENCE

1,117

MECHANICAL & AEROSPACE 2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT


INCOMING FRESHMEN

FACULTY GROWTH

FALL 2018

AVERAGE SAT

AVERAGE GPA

4.07 1,883 25%

36%

FROM LOW-INCOME FAMILIES

FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENTS

UNDERGRADUATE DIVERSITY

907 935 FEMALE

UNDERREPRESENTED

34%

26%

INCREASE OVER 5 YEARS

INCREASE OVER 5 YEARS

117 128 131 132 139

FALL 2014

FALL 2015

FALL 2016

FALL 2017

FALL 2018

U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT ENGINEERING PROGRAM RANKINGS

21 24 st

PUBLIC UNIVERSITY GRADUATE PROGRAM

th

PUBLIC UNIVERSITY UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM

34% 26%

GRADUATE STUDENTS

140

BIOMEDICAL

138

CHEMICAL & MATERIALS SCIENCE

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FALL 2017 BY DEPARTMENT

174

CIVIL & ENVIRONMENTAL

313

ELECTRICAL & COMPUTER SCIENCE

143

MECHANICAL & AEROSPACE

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RESEARCH EXPENDITURES

RESEARCH EXPENDITURES

2016-17 BY SOURCE

2016-17 BY DEPARTMENT

$38.8M BIOMEDICAL

$75.1M  $50.8M FEDERAL

 $6.2M STATE

 $14.2M INDUSTRY

 $3.9M OTHER

$7.2M

CHEMICAL & MATERIALS SCIENCE

$8.1M

CIVIL & ENVIRONMENTAL

$10.3M

ELECTRICAL & COMPUTER SCIENCE

$10.1M MECHANICAL & AEROSPACE

TOP RESEARCH AWARDS

FOR 2016-17

$1,900,900 $1,150,000 $1,258,741 55 19 9 NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY

“Ultimate Navigation Chip (uNavChip): Chip-Scale Personal Navigation System Integrating Deterministic Localization and Probabilistic Signals of Opportunity” Andrei Shkel, professor, mechanical and aerospace

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

“Managing Sediment for Resilient Infrastructure and Sustainable Coastal Environments in Southern California” Brett Sanders, professor, civil and environmental engineering

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

“Overcoming Propagation Challenges at Millimeter-Wave Frequencies via Reconfigurable Antennas” Hamid Jafarkhani, Chancellor’s Professor of electrical engineering and computer science

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER 2017-18

10

INVENTION DISCLOSURES

PATENTS

LICENSING ACTIVITY 2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT


DONOR SUPPORT CASH DONATIONS RECEIVED $15M

2013-14

$7.2M $7.7M

2014-15 2015-16

$35.8M

2016-17

$16.1M

2017-18

GIFT SOURCE

GIFT PURPOSE

2017-18

2017-18

$16.1M

$16.1M

$10,007,738  FOUNDATIONS

$10,505,000  EMERGING OPPORTUNITIES

$5,339,409  CORPORATIONS $278,876  INDIVIDUALS

$3,840,676  DEPARTMENT AND PROGRAM SUPPORT

$269,241  OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

$1,419,217  RESEARCH AND INSTRUCTION

$170,768  ALUMNI

$247,315  STUDENT SUPPORT

GIVING

2017-18

496 750 NUMBER OF DONORS SAMUELI SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING

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NUMBER OF GIFTS 11


EUREKA!

INNOVATION » CREATING THROUGH STRONG RELATIONSHIPS Academia has long relied on corporate collaborators to advance research and discovery, while corporations have benefited from the resulting innovation. Nowhere is this more evident than in the U.S.’s 76 National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers, one of them co-directed from UCI. Abe Lee, Samueli School biomedical engineering professor and chair, co-directs the Center for Advanced Design and Manufacturing of Integrated Microfluidics – known as CADMIM – along with Ian Papautsky at the University of Illinois at Chicago. CADMIM collaborates with a host of corporate partners and government labs to develop next-generation lab-on-a-chip devices and diagnostic tools for agriculture, health care and pharmaceuticals.

“This collaboration has been very fruitful. It provided a working prototype for a potential microfluidic instrument. The students are amazing and the PIs are writing fantastic grant proposals.” 12

In one of CADMIM’s longest-standing partnerships, DuPont Pioneer, a global agricultural company that applies biotechnology in its research and development programs, is hoping for help with its bottom line. Changing weather patterns and other environmental factors have necessitated the development of new crop varieties that can adapt and thrive in changing conditions, while rapid changes in products and services have created a need for the company to shorten its product-development cycle. DuPont Pioneer conducts genotypic selection to find suitable traits to produce more robust crops, and it has started exploring the potential of microfluidics to accomplish this goal at less expense than conventional industrial assays. DuPont scientist Yue Yun says genotyping with microfluidics can provide much higher throughput and higher quality outcomes. “We are a [crop] breeding company and are processing millions of samples each year,” Yun says. “It is a priority to develop new crop varieties faster, cheaper and with higher quality results.” The collaboration has also yielded trained students and postdocs – at least 10 in the case of DuPont – who can advance the company’s goals. “This collaboration has been very fruitful,” Yun says. “It provided a working prototype for a potential microfluidic instrument. The students are amazing and the PIs are writing fantastic grant proposals.” Stewardship is important, too. “The bigger picture is building a community between collaborators.” Adds UCI’s Lee: “This is a continuous pipeline. We are always coming up with new ideas and concepts, and having the CADMIM ecosystem as a resource has been a major advantage.” 2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT


CORAL REEFS » STRENGTHENING THROUGH SCIENCE Coral reef bleaching is stark evidence of damage inflicted by global climate change on marine ecosystems, but a research team led by Samueli School scientists has found some cause for hope. While many corals are dying, others are showing resilience to increased sea surface temperatures, providing possible clues to the survival and recovery of these important aquatic habitats. “Field observations have shown a heterogeneity or patchiness of the bleaching process at the reef scale, which means that some corals are responding differently to heat stress,” says civil and environmental engineering doctoral student Aryan Safaie, lead author of a study published recently in Nature Communications. “We know that some species are more thermally tolerant than others,” he adds. “But our study shows additionally that certain locations within a reef might be more amenable to allowing corals to persist in the face of increasing water temperature.”

“We found that higher daily temperature variability made corals stronger and more resilient when a thermal stress event came along. This means scientists now have a better way to predict the outcome of coral reef bleaching events, which can lead to better conservation strategies.”

To reach this conclusion, Safaie said it was necessary to examine reefs more closely in terms of both space and time, versus relying solely on satellite remote-sensing products. He and his collaborators analyzed decades’ worth of field data collected at 118 locations spanning five coral reef regions around the world, including the Great Barrier Reef near Australia and sites in the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Red Sea. The team found that in reef locations with more highfrequency temperature variability – water temperature spiking during the day and dropping at night, day in and day out – severe bleaching was less likely to occur. “We found that higher daily temperature variability made corals stronger and more resilient when a thermal stress event came along,” says coauthor Kristen Davis, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and Earth system science. She says this means scientists now have a better way to predict the outcome of coral reef bleaching events, which can lead to better conservation strategies. “As we move into a time when corals are threatened by global warming, if there are some living corals remaining on a reef after a bleaching event, there will be some genetic material to repopulate the reef with corals that are more thermally resilient,” Davis adds.

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» WOUND WARRIORS The founders of medical startup company Syntr Health Technologies have watched loved ones suffer from surgeries, amputations – even death – caused by Type 2 diabetes. So the four of them – three UC Irvine biomedical engineering alumni and a UCI physician – have pooled their expertise to try to make a difference. Ahmed Zobi, Hugo Salas and Justin Stovner, who all graduated in 2016, are working with Dr. Derek Banyard to perfect a device that will quickly and inexpensively process one’s own fat tissue to help heal dangerous foot ulcers.

“We all could have gotten good jobs with industry straight out of college, but I decided to stay with this because I believe in it. I’ve wanted to invent something since high school, and I just want to contribute something to the world.”

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Nearly 30 million diabetic Americans risk death because they can’t feel their feet. Nerve dysfunction and lack of circulation mean that an ingrown toenail or small cut can go undetected, leading to deeply infected wounds that linger for months. Skin substitutes can cost up to $9,000, and many patients are simply told to keep the area clean and stay off their feet, with often disastrous outcomes such as amputation. Half of those who lose a limb die within five years. The company’s “Syntrfuge” technology extracts, activates and reinjects the patient’s own fat cells near the damaged area, spurring the growth of healthy new tissue. The entrepreneurs, funded by a $300,000 NIH grant, have patents pending worldwide for the system, and they are seeking Food and Drug Administration clearance for testing. Syntr’s founders utilized previous research showing that stem cells can be activated to function three to five times better than they normally would. The inventors created a leak-free spinning device on a CD to activate these cells, completing a prototype in about one month. They have started in vivo testing, are working to improve device aesthetics and are confident they will have a market-ready product within three years. “We all could have gotten good jobs with industry straight out of college, but I decided to stay with this because I believe in it,” Stovner says. “I’ve wanted to invent something since high school, and I just want to contribute something to the world.” “We want to save lives,” says Zobi. “Diabetes is a horrible disease.”

2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT


» TRANSFORMING TRANSPORT A Samueli School alumnus has joined the worldwide race to develop and market autonomous vehicle navigation systems – but with a compelling advantage. Shaoshan Liu ’05, M.S. ’07, Ph.D. ’10 founded PerceptIn in 2016, introducing a product that consumes less computing and electrical power, dissipates less heat and costs a fraction of the price of its competitors’. The company’s methodology, influenced in part by Liu’s doctoral research, was featured in an August 2017 cover story in IEEE Computing, authored by a team that includes Liu and his graduate adviser, Jean-Luc Gaudiot, professor of electrical engineering and computer science. The team’s software doles out computing tasks using a heterogeneous ARM mobile system on a chip that matches individual workloads to specific computing units. This results in a highly efficient system. “We thought, why not start having things that are more tailored to each part of the computation?” says Gaudiot. “So we’ve got specialized architectures, multiple types of cores and we’re doing heterogeneous computing.” Because the system is modular, it is easy to add computing resources as needed.

“I think this is the first effort globally to democratize autonomous driving technologies. Thanks to these technologies, our future vehicles, roads and even the world at large will be safer, run more efficiently and suffer far less from combustion-related pollution.”

The best part: the company can produce the hardware, sensors and software for around $2,000 and a complete autonomous vehicle system, including chassis, for less than $10,000. By comparison, top-of-the-line LiDAR (laser imaging detection and ranging), the backbone of most current autonomous vehicles, can cost $80,000 or more – twice as much as the vehicle itself. (Smaller LiDAR systems are available for less, but they provide far less information.) Dubbed DragonFly, the low-speed prototype is billed as uniquely equipped to make the transportation revolution a global reality. As technology improves, the company will debut higherspeed vehicles, “ultimately having performance equal to that of a human driver in any driving scenario,” says Liu. The company launched a website this summer to help people build their own affordable, reliable and safe autonomous vehicles. “I think this is the first effort globally to democratize autonomous driving technologies,” Liu says. “Thanks to these technologies, our future vehicles, roads and even the world at large will be safer, run more efficiently and suffer far less from combustion-related pollution.”

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YOU SEE IT, » NOW NOW YOU DON’T UCI engineers have created invisibility materials that could provide better camouflage for troops and insulation for spacecraft, storage containers, emergency shelters, clinical care, and building heating and cooling systems. The thin swatches can quickly change how they reflect heat, smoothing or wrinkling their surfaces in under a second after being stretched or electrically triggered. That makes them invisible to infrared night vision tools or lets them modulate their temperatures. “Basically, we’ve invented a soft material that can reflect heat in similar ways to how squid skin can reflect light,” says Alon Gorodetsky, associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science. “It goes from wrinkled and dull to smooth and shiny, essentially changing the way it reflects the heat.”

“We were inspired both by science fiction and science fact – seeing dinosaurs disappear and reappear under an infrared camera in ‘Jurassic World’ and seeing squid filmed underwater do similar things. So we decided to merge those concepts to design a really unique technology.” 16

“We were inspired both by science fiction and science fact – seeing dinosaurs disappear and reappear under an infrared camera in ‘Jurassic World’ and seeing squid filmed underwater do similar things,” says Gorodetsky. “So we decided to merge those concepts to design a really unique technology.” Made of sandwiches of aluminum, plastic and sticky tape, the material transforms from a wrinkled grey to a glossy surface when it is either pulled manually or zapped with voltage. Products that reflect heat, such as emergency blankets, have existed for decades. But in the past several years, inventors in Gorodetsky’s lab and others have pushed to create dramatically improved versions via bioinspired engineering. One focus has been to imitate how squid and other cephalopods can nearly instantaneously change their skin to blend into their surrounding environment. Now, he and his team have done it, creating prototypes that can be scaled up into large sheets of commercially useable material. Patents are pending. “It was hard, especially the first phase when we were learning how to work with the sticky material,” says doctoral student Chengyi Xu, lead author of a paper detailing the research published in Science. After trial-and-error processes involving thousands of attempts, he and postdoctoral scholar George Stiubianu finally saw the mirror-like coating change when they pulled it sideways. “The whole project was so exciting.”

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ENGINEERING » APPLYING TO HEART DISEASE THERAPEUTICS Dr. Arash Kheradvar is attacking heart disease, one innovative technology at a time. The medical doctor, who also has a doctorate in bioengineering, has amassed 15 U.S. and international patents on heart valves and other medical devices and methods. “I was always intrigued by research and the advanced technologies you could work on to elevate the standard of care and affect a larger group of patients,” the Samueli School biomedical engineering professor says.

“We are trying to advance technologies that are eventually going to help patient diagnosis and treatment.”

His first startup, FoldaValve, is commercializing a transcatheter aortic valve. Now in preclinical testing, the device protects the heart’s leaflets during catheterization procedures and transcatheter implants. Kheradvar’s lab, part of UC Irvine’s Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology, also is developing patient-specific hybrid tissue-engineered heart valves, using the patient’s own cells and tissues. This approach reduces the chance of valve failure due to calcification as well as immune system rejection. “It would work like a native organ because we are using the patient’s own cells,” Kheradvar says. He is developing prototypes of transcatheter mitral and tricuspid valves using permanent scaffolds instead of those that are absorbed by the body. Work on several other technologies is ongoing in Kheradvar’s lab as well. They include a 3D echocardiographic particle velocimetry imaging technique, which enables cardiologists to see and measure the heart’s blood pathways and velocity in real time; and a method for measuring energy dissipation, fluid dynamics and other parameters in pediatric heart disease patients. And in a collaboration with electrical engineering and computer science professor Hamid Jafarkhani, Kheradvar is investigating the use of artificial intelligence and deep learning to develop improved techniques for characterizing the unique anatomies of patients with congenital heart defects. “We are trying to advance technologies that are eventually going to help patient diagnosis and treatment,” he says.

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is increasingly Âť Pollution threatening freshwater resources, leaving in its wake a stream of environmental, social, economic and health problems. Sunny Jiang has spent 30 years studying pathogens and pollutants in a quest for answers. Her research has led to some unexpected conclusions and unorthodox solutions.

PROFESSOR

SUNNY JIANG 18

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IS WATER LORI BRANDT

ANNE LEMNITZER

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IS WATER S

unny Jiang’s interest in water quality started with recreational waters (oceans, rivers, lakes). The contamination that seeped into those natural waters inevitably led her to develop an expertise in wastewater, or sewage. With an undergraduate degree in biochemistry and a doctorate in marine science, the environmental microbiology researcher has spent 30 years detecting and tracking bacteria and viruses that find their way into our water as well as contributing to engineering processes that treat water and protect human health. A professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Samueli School, Jiang’s work helps inform standards and policies benefiting all those who play in or drink the vital liquid known as H₂O. According to UNESCO, water quality is one of the main challenges facing society in the 21st century, threatening human health, limiting food production, reducing ecosystem functions and hindering economic growth. Water quality degradation translates directly into environmental, social and economic problems. Additionally, the availability of the world’s scarce water resources is increasingly limited due to worsening pollution of freshwater resources caused by the disposal of large quantities of insufficiently treated, or even untreated, wastewater into rivers, lakes, aquifers and coastal waters. As a graduate student in the late 90s at University of Southern Florida, Jiang’s first field project was in Honolulu, Hawaii. She investigated whether the plume from sewage that was treated and discharged offshore into Mamala Bay in Oahu was making its way to Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. (It wasn’t.) Also in Florida, she began to look at coliphage, a type of virus-infecting bacteria, as an indicator of fecal pollution in groundwater. Current water quality standards throughout much of the world rely on the concentrations of E. coli (a type of bacteria), known as fecal indicator bacteria (FIB). However, officials now recognize that the absence or low concentrations of FIB in water may not adequately reflect the absence of human viruses. Just in the past couple of years, the EPA has begun considering new standards using coliphage instead of FIB. Jiang served on the external peer review workgroup for the EPA’s evaluation of this possible change.

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Jiang also studied the Sunshine State’s practice of disposing sewage by discharging partially treated wastewater into injection wells or septic tanks in the ground. Florida’s geology of limestone bedrock, especially in the Florida Keys, presents particular challenges because limestone is highly porous. Jiang’s research showed that wastewater injected into the subsurface could make its way rapidly to surface marine waters, where it could contribute to water quality deterioration. When she moved to California in 1998 to become an assistant professor at UC Irvine, Jiang continued studying pathogens and pollutants in the oceans and bays, including in the Newport Bay watershed, an ecological reserve and an important Southern California estuary for water recreation. Steve Weisberg, executive director of the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, a local public agency that works to develop a scientific foundation for informed water-quality management in Southern California and beyond, calls Jiang a leader in the field. “She develops the microbiology methods that measure viruses and assesses the health risks to determine if our water is safe.” Her research, along with that of many others, contributed to some of the Environmental Protection Agency’s coastal water quality guidelines, including the BEACH Act. Passed in 2000, the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act amended the Clean Water Act and sought to reduce the risk of disease to users of the nation’s coastal recreation waters. It was in California that Jiang began looking at treated sewage, or wastewater, not only for discharge into the oceans, but also for drinking. She sat on the National Research Council’s Committee on the Assessment of Water Reuse as an Approach to Meeting

2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT


Future Water Supply Needs, which contributed to a book published in 2012 by the National Academies of Science. “I am proud to have had the opportunity to contribute to this book as a committee member and to provide guidance to the nation on water reuse,” says Jiang. With water safety a top priority, engineering technologies and processes are important. Jiang says there already are engineering technologies that can remove trace amounts of contaminants and even salt from the water. However, detecting pathogens with current laboratory procedures takes a couple of days. What she would like to see now is some type of real-time sensor system that will detect a dangerous level of pathogens and signal to a computer to take action. “We need a smart water-treatment system,” she explains. “We should have a sensor connected to a computer system that, when we identify a problem, either issues a warning, adjusts the treatment or shuts it down. This is our next challenge.” Jiang believes we are making progress. She already is actively exploring the use of a flow cytometer (FCM) technique as a rapid monitoring tool for the evaluation of microbial indicators, and hopes to collaborate with others to develop this smart system. Whether it is sourced from the ocean, rain or sewage, Jiang says people need to understand that water is water. “You don’t have to call it wastewater or natural water. We need the water utility community to recognize this. Engineering technology has the ability to purify sewage water into very high quality drinking water.”

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“WHETHER IT IS SOURCED FROM THE OCEAN, RAIN OR SEWAGE, PEOPLE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT WATER IS WATER. YOU DON’T HAVE TO CALL IT WASTEWATER OR NATURAL WATER. WE NEED THE WATER UTILITY COMMUNITY TO RECOGNIZE THIS. ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY HAS THE ABILITY TO PURIFY SEWAGE WATER INTO VERY HIGH QUALITY DRINKING WATER.”

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living with » Patients paralysis caused by spinal cord injury have good reason to think they might walk again. Engineers, scientists and doctors working on an implantable braincomputer interface believe the device can circumvent the damaged portion of the spinal cord and send the brain’s signals directly to a patient’s legs. Preliminary results are promising.

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The

Next Step ANNA LYNN SPITZER AND BRIAN BELL

STEVE ZYLIUS

PROFESSOR

ZORAN NENADIC PROFESSOR

PAYAM HEYDARI

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“SPINAL CORD INJURIES ARE DEVASTATING AND HAVE A PROFOUNDLY NEGATIVE IMPACT ON INDEPENDENCE AND QUALITY OF LIFE OF THOSE AFFECTED. THESE RESULTING DISABILITIES COST THE U.S. ROUGHLY $50 BILLION PER YEAR IN PRIMARY AND SECONDARY HEALTH CARE EXPENDITURES, SO WE HOPE THAT OUR WORK CAN SOLVE A MAJOR NATIONAL PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEM.”

I

magine being one of nearly 300,000 people in the U.S. living with a spinal cord injury and learning that you might walk again – and experience sensation in your paralyzed limbs.

An apparatus being developed in a UC Irvine lab could enable just that. Its creators believe the small, implantable braincomputer interface will restore walking ability and sensation by circumventing the damaged portion of the spinal cord and sending brain signals directly to the patient’s legs. A consortium led by UCI, which includes collaborators at California Institute of Technology and University of Southern California, last year received a five-year, $8 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Cyberphysical Systems Frontier program to pursue device design and testing. The award was the largest NSF award received by faculty researchers in the UCI engineering and medical schools. Principal investigator Payam Heydari, Samueli School professor of electrical engineering and computer science, is designing the new device’s novel integrated circuits and systems, while co-principal investigator Zoran Nenadic, biomedical engineering professor, focuses on neural signal processing. Along with their UCI co-PI, neurology professor Dr. An Do, they are improving and miniaturizing brain-computer interface systems, shrinking them from the size of a desktop computer to that of a pacemaker. “Professor Heydari’s lab, which specializes in low-power, nanoscale electronics, designed and implemented several critical integrated circuits that make scaling to this small size possible,”

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Nenadic says. “Since these systems are fully implantable, they will be inconspicuous, work around the clock and access much stronger brain signals, facilitating highly accurate control of movement.” The team is building on Nenadic and Do’s previous proof-ofconcept study, which implemented an external brain-computer interface to enable a paraplegic man to walk a short distance. The device encompasses two parts. The first component, smaller than a business card, will be implanted surgically in the skull, in the cavity between the left and right brain hemispheres. It consists of an electrode grid, containing 32 sensing electrodes, connected to an extremely low-power 4x4-square-millimeter brain-signal acquisition circuit. The electrodes sense the brain signals, while the brain-signal acquisition circuit receives them, eliminates excess “noise” and amplifies them, ultimately serializing the 32 signals into one. This serialized signal is sent via a tunneling cable, implanted under the skin from the skull to the chest, to the second part of the device: a low-power transmitter/ receiver implanted in the chest cavity much like a pacemaker. “All the decision-making is done here,” says Heydari of the chest device. “It’s like a small computer that we’re shrinking down to about half the size of your cellphone.” After crunching numbers and using algorithms to analyze the brain signals, the transmitter will send information wirelessly to an exoskeleton strapped onto the patient’s legs; that in turn will translate commands into movement, enabling the patient to walk at the speed and in the direction he or she is thinking about.

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Eventually, Heydari and Nenadic say, the goal is to send the brain signals directly to a muscle stimulator implanted in the legs.

IMPLANTABLE BRAIN COMPUTER INTERFACE (BCI) COMPONENT

Motor Electrode Grid

Sensory Electrode Grid ling Cable Tunne

“The present approach develops a technological solution to paralysis by creating a new path for the brain to interact directly with the external environment,” says Dr. Charles Liu, a USC neurological surgeon who collaborates on the research. Heydari calls the project a huge undertaking. “The systems we design in our lab are very customized. No one has achieved what we have achieved, both at the level of system design and algorithm development.” The researchers have accomplished several important milestones. They have designed and fabricated the ultralow-power components, which can operate while protecting tissue. They have conducted measurements on the integrated transmitter/receiver device and the sensing amplifier array, successfully recording brain signals from the electrode grid. Do has completed the prototype chest-wall unit and is implementing software to perform the necessary brain-computer interfacing. The unit will be encased in a waterproof container and will undergo FDA-required safety testing for eventual implantation in humans. Perhaps more impressively, researchers have collected preliminary brain wave data by piggybacking on the surgical implantation of FDA-approved electrodes in the brains of two patients with epilepsy. Their findings indicated that information related to the human gait is found in the brain’s leg motor cortex and is sent over the gamma band. Researchers also discovered that certain parameters – including the intention to walk and the desired walking speed – can be deciphered from these brain waves with unprecedented accuracy.

“Spinal cord injuries are devastating and have a profoundly negative impact on independence and quality of life of those affected,” Heydari says. “These resulting disabilities cost the U.S. roughly $50 billion per year in primary and secondary health care expenditures, so we hope that our work can solve a major national public health problem.”

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nds ma

om ss C ele Wir

Lastly, they learned how to mitigate extremely strong brain interference signals generated by artificial neural stimulation, a dilemma Nenadic compares to listening to whispers in a very loud room. Using both hardware and software components, he and Heydari developed a way to simultaneously stimulate and record the brain.

W Sen irele sor ss Dat a

“We now have compelling evidence that those signals, directly recorded from the brain’s surface, carry a lot more information than the non-invasive signals we got from [our previous work],” says Nenadic.

Wea ra BCI ble

A UCI-led consortium is designing and testing a fully implantable device that could help those paralyzed by spinal cord injury walk again. The device will circumvent the damaged spinal cord and send brain signals directly to the patient’s legs.

END-EFFECTOR COMPONENT 25


EXTRATER

– the burning of fuel – is used to process materials, » Combustion create fertilizer, power transportation and heat buildings. The process, though, produces common pollutants like carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide that can foul the air and harm the environment. UC Irvine engineers are exploring ways to reduce pollution by seeking deeper understanding of the chemistry of flame. It’s something they can’t accomplish on Earth. 26

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RESTRIAL

TESTING ANNA LYNN SPITZER

STEVE ZYLIUS

PROFESSOR

DEREK DUNN-RANKIN PROJECT SCIENTIST

ALICE CHIEN

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W

hen SpaceX launched a resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) last year, two UC Irvine engineers watched with more than passing curiosity. Among the nearly 6,000 pounds of scientific research, supplies and hardware hurtling toward space aboard the Falcon 9 rocket was equipment that would run a UCIdesigned combustion experiment nearly 20 years in the making. The experiment, called E-FIELD Flames (Electric-Field Effects on Laminar Diffusion Flames), is the long-awaited culmination of mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Derek Dunn-Rankin and project scientist Yu-Chien (Alice) Chien’s efforts. Since 1998, Dunn-Rankin and a succession of graduate students, Chien among them, have pursued an electricfield-and-flame-interaction experiment in space. E-FIELD Flames is part of NASA’s ACME (Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments) program, a set of six experiments designed to enhance understanding of combustion by studying flames in a microgravity environment. Combustion – the burning of fuel – produces about 85 percent of the energy used on Earth. Combustion heat processes materials, creates fertilizer for food, and powers cars and airplanes. A deeper understanding of the process could help scientists develop more efficient and less polluting combustion methods.

(top) Detail of the ACME chamber insert with the coflow burner and retracting hot-wire igniter. (middle) Flame at 0.16 kV/ cm. (bottom) Flame at 0.92 kV/cm.

can better understand the flame’s chemistry, why it behaves as it does and how to better control it. E-FIELD Flames focuses specifically on how electric fields affect the burning behavior of two fuel gases: methane and ethylene. Both positive and negative electric fields in varying strengths and at varying intervals are applied to burners operating with different concentrations of the two fuels. “Our project is to see if we can get a better feel for where naturally occurring charged particles called chemi-ions are coming from and how we can manipulate them to make flames more efficient and less polluting,” Dunn-Rankin says. Eleven non-consecutive trial days occurred from March to May aboard the ISS in Phase I (Phase II is scheduled for later this year). Chien and Dunn-Rankin developed all the parameters for multiple test runs on each of those days – including flow combinations, electric field strengths, camera settings, ignition conditions and size of the flame – submitting them to NASA 48 hours in advance. A maximum of 999 seconds of fuel was available each day to support approximately eight to 12 different tests in an average eight-hour period.

On Earth, however, that understanding is nearly impossible to come by. Gravity and buoyancy affect the way flames behave, so scientists look to zero-gravity or microgravity environments for an unadulterated view.

Astronauts set up required components and kept watch on the progress, but the experiment itself was completely automated, running remotely from the NASA Glenn Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and directed by NASA scientist Dennis Stocker. Each testing day, a conference call linked NASA Glenn to Chien and Dunn-Rankin, while live video streaming from the ISS brought the research directly into their lab.

There is a miniscule amount of gravity at the altitude of the ISS, which orbits approximately 250 miles above Earth. By conducting flame experiments in that environment, researchers

The live video feed ran on one screen while another displayed processing data. A couple of days later, a downlink from the ISS sent the full dataset to UCI.

“WHILE SIGNIFICANT ADVANCES ARE BEING MADE WITH WIND AND SOLAR ENERGY, COMBUSTION WILL CONTINUE TO BE AN IMPORTANT SOURCE OF ENERGY FOR DECADES. MY HOPE IS THAT THE EXPERIMENT WILL LEAD TO REDUCED POLLUTANT PRODUCTION AND IMPROVED EFFICIENCY IN PRACTICAL TERRESTRIAL COMBUSTION.” 28

2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT


View of Paolo Nespoli, Expedition 53 Flight Engineer, installing Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments (ACME) Chamber insert into the Combustion Integrated Rack. Photo was taken by Expedition 53 crew.

There have been some surprises, says Chien, and some success. “From the Space Station, we actually are seeing soot eliminated … under the influences of the electric field.” Dunn-Rankin explains that when a flame is burning properly, it emits the fewest pollutants, adding that incandescent soot in the flame can be controlled by burning it at exactly the right temperature for a specific amount of time in the right region of the flame. “One of our datasets shows quite clearly that you can eliminate soot in some flames by changing the electric field,” he says. NASA’s Stocker says the results could lead to stabilizing flames under fuel-lean conditions, thus creating less pollution. “That’s important because of humanity’s extensive use of combustion for energy production,” he says. “While significant advances are being made with wind and solar energy, combustion will continue to be an important source of energy for decades. My hope is that the experiment will lead to reduced pollutant production and improved efficiency in practical terrestrial combustion.”

Flight Engineer Joe Acaba consults procedures during Igniter Tip alignment operations for the Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments (ACME). Photo was taken in the Harmony Node 2.

Those results could be years down the road, however. For now, the goal is enhanced fundamental knowledge about how flames react to various stimuli. Datasets generated by the trials contain unique information that will allow modelers to develop simulations; one day those simulations may inform design tools for combustion systems of the future. “It’s the capability for tuning the environment and controlling the flame that makes the electric body force an interesting one for us to pursue,” Dunn-Rankin says. “Gravity gets in the way of understanding, and we had to get into an environment where we could study only the effects of these electric fields on the flames. That’s why I am really excited to be part of the ACME experiments.”

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MATERIAL WORLD ANNA LYNN SPITZER AND BRIAN BELL

2013, two UCI chemistry » Inprofessors wrote a proposal to purchase a state-of-the-art transmission electron microscope. In the years since, UCI has invested more than $25 million, and with the opening this summer of IMRI, the campus has become a local and national hub for groundbreaking materials research.

STEVE ZYLIUS

PROFESSOR

XIAOQING PAN 30

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M

ore than 15 years of planning, recruiting, space allocation and equipment acquisition culminated this summer in the grand opening of UC Irvine’s newest research facility – one that has the capacity to launch materials characterization to dizzying heights and advance a seemingly endless variety of fields. The Irvine Materials Research Institute and JEOL Center for Nanoscale Solutions is equipped with powerful tools for examining the structure of matter and revealing its functional properties. It is devoted entirely to the characterization of materials, biological samples and devices from sub-angstrom to macroscopic scales. “IMRI gives a wide array of researchers from many disciplines a place for focused study of the materials that are going to help them make breakthrough discoveries in the coming months and years,” says IMRI Director Xiaoqing Pan, UCI chemical engineering and materials science professor, and Henry Samueli Endowed Chair in Engineering. Among IMRI’s sophisticated tools is one of the most powerful transmission electron microscopes in the world, according to Pan, who says it allows researchers to see atoms, molecules and chemical bonds, as well as the structure and dynamic evolution of materials when force is applied. Using the TEM, Pan’s research group devised a new method for dynamically forming a platinum shell on a metallic alloy nanoparticle core, a development that could lead to better materials for oxygen reduction reaction in fuel cells that power some cars and electronic devices. “We induced the formation of new shell layers on an existing platinum particle and viewed the entire process in atomic resolution,” Pan says. “This sort of thing was not possible even five years ago.” The center also houses an advanced surface catalyzation instrument, an X-ray diffraction facility, scanning electron microscopes and a focused ion beam system. IMRI traces its roots to 2004, when UCI began the effort to establish an atomic-scale materials characterization facility.

The result was the opening of the campus’s Laboratory for Electron and X-ray Instrumentation. That facility fueled the university’s quest to become a hub for both local and national materials science research. In 2013, two UCI chemistry professors wrote a proposal to purchase a state-of-the-art transmission electron microscope, and the campus committed $15 million to the initiative. Since 2014, the university has invested more than $25 million on instruments and renovations that strengthened IMRI’s foundation and led to its grand opening in June 2018. UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman is committed to UCI’s contribution to knowledge production in a wide range of fields. “The instrumentation and expertise available through IMRI will support a broad spectrum of interdisciplinary research, including the synthesis of molecules and materials, structural characterization, device engineering, environmental science, energy materials and nanotechnology, all aimed at improving the quality of human life,” Gillman says. The new research center provides platforms that can also benefit life sciences, energy and advanced electronics, cancer research, molecular and systems biology and biomedical engineering, to name a few. “We have come to realize more and more in recent years the necessity of having a fundamental understanding of materials in many fields of science and engineering,” says Pan. “Our mission is to build UCI into a world-renowned institution in materials research. We aim to provide an innovative environment for future talent by offering state-of-the-art tools for solving today’s challenges. “Furthermore, as an interdisciplinary institute,” he adds, “IMRI provides a perfect platform for the collaboration of researchers in different fields. It will not only lead to the discovery of chemical bonds between elements, it will also create bonds between people.”

“OUR MISSION IS TO BUILD UCI INTO A WORLD-RENOWNED INSTITUTION IN MATERIALS RESEARCH. WE AIM TO PROVIDE AN INNOVATIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR FUTURE TALENT BY OFFERING STATE-OF-THE-ART TOOLS FOR SOLVING TODAY’S CHALLENGES.”

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Athanasiou (Kerry, » Kyriacos to his friends) has spent more than 25 years devising novel medical instruments and devices to repair damaged knees, jaws, hips, shoulders and other musculoskeletal ailments. Instead of becoming a multimillionaire biotech entrepreneur, though, he found another, more satisfying way to contribute to society’s wellbeing.

LORI BRANDT WITH CONTRIBUTORS BRIAN BELL AND JANET WILSON

STEVE ZYLIUS

EXCEPTIONAL 32

HEALING 2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT


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t’s likely that Kyriacos Athanasiou could have made multiple millions by now if he had continued the path of biomedical technology entrepreneur. The senior academic has spent his career inventing medical products, including biomimetic tissue for treating damaged knees, jaws, hips, shoulders and other joints. Companies that he co-founded in the 1990s produced 15 FDA-approved products before being acquired by large medical companies for over $300 million. He sat in the corner office and became an authority on translating engineering innovations into commercially available medical instruments and devices. “But my heart was and always will be in academics,” says the UC Irvine Distinguished Professor of biomedical engineering. “I’ve never been interested in creating products solely for making money. To me it’s about the excitement and passion of coming up with solutions to some of the most difficult problems that afflict humans.” To the benefit of people with joint problems everywhere, that’s what Athanasiou has proceeded to do. Of Greek ancestry, the Cyprus native earned a Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1989. He was on the faculty at the University of Texas, then Rice University in Houston, each for a decade, before moving to UC Davis as chair of the biomedical engineering department in 2009. He finally arrived at UCI in 2017.

DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR

KYRIACOS ATHANASIOU

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It was at the University of Texas in the 90s, where he began inventing biomaterials to make cartilage heal and repair itself. “There weren’t a lot of remedies for people suffering with joint ailments in those days,” says Athanasiou. “The doctor would give the patient painkillers until the

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“THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT COGENT HEALING HAS BEEN SHOWN IN THE TMJ AREA AND, I DARE SAY, THE FIRST TIME ANYONE HAS SHOWN SUCCESSFUL BIOMECHANICAL HEALING IN ANY JOINT.”

25%

OF ADULTS WORLDWIDE HAVE TMJ PROBLEMS

time came for a knee or hip replacement with implants made out of metal or plastic. We viewed the problem of a small defect in cartilage as a purely mechanical issue involving stress concentrations, which intensify in areas in and around tiny defects in joints. That’s how we came up with biodegradable implants that we would use to fill in the cracks, allowing for the return of smooth joint movement.”

rib tissue, isolated its cartilage cells and utilized them to tissueengineer jaw disc cartilage via a “self-assembling” process they created. They then surgically inserted the new cartilage into the faulty hinge point of the jaw joint. The approach was allogeneic, meaning that the rib cells were taken from one individual and the new cartilage was implanted into another. Two months later, the defects were completely gone.

He also co-invented an intraosseous infusion device to deliver drugs and other vital substances through bones, instead of veins. The device is a drill that helps health care personnel insert IV lines directly into the bones of people whose veins are inaccessible due to severe dehydration or shock. It saved countless lives in the cholera epidemic that swept Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. Emergency response and ambulance teams all over the world carry variations on the technology, and it’s been featured on popular television shows such as “ER,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Inside Combat Rescue,” on the National Geographic channel.

“We were able to show that we could achieve exceptional healing of the TMJ area after eight weeks of treatment,” says Athanasiou, senior author on the study, published in Science Translational Medicine. The next steps will be to ensure longterm effectiveness and safety of the implant in the animals, followed by clinical trials.

Athanasiou’s most recent invention draws on more than 20 years of research with teams at multiple universities. It tackles the problem of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, a common jaw defect. About 25 percent of adults worldwide – 90 percent of them premenopausal women – have difficulty eating and talking, chronic mouth pain, arthritis and other issues due to degeneration in the cartilage disc that hinges together two key jawbones. Athanasiou’s research group has successfully tested a first-ever tissue implant to safely treat TMJ dysfunction. Using animal models, scientists at UCI, UC Davis and the University of Texas School of Dentistry in Houston removed a tiny bit of existing

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Athanasiou says the results might also apply to the treatment of hip, knee and other joint problems. “This is the first time that cogent healing has been shown in the TMJ area and, I dare say, the first time anyone has shown successful biomechanical healing in any joint. It’s key that we can achieve regeneration of an ailing tissue with our engineered implant, one that’s mechanically suited to withstand stresses,” he says. “So we believe this represents an important first in all joint healing studies.” Lori Setton, the Lucy and Stanley Lopata Distinguished Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, says that Athanasiou has made an enormous impact on cellular approaches to musculoskeletal tissue regeneration and repair. “He advanced an understanding of single cell mechanics and mechano-biology at a time when tools were barely emerging, and he developed novel approaches to promote tissue formation from cellular self-assembly.

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“He also has seeded the academic field with trainees who’ve emerged as strategic leaders in the field,” continues Setton, who serves as president of the Biomedical Engineering Society. “Professor Athanasiou will be seen as a father of musculoskeletal tissue engineering, and his legacy will be long-lived.”

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PROFESSOR

STEPHEN RITCHIE

anyone who has ever » As driven in California knows, its roadways are usually jam-packed with trucks, cars, buses and assorted other vehicles, most of which emit a steady stream of pollutants. A UCI research institute is dedicated to transforming transportation by crunching numbers that can yield important information. ITS provides insight that can influence policy, improve efficiency and reduce traffic’s carbon footprint.

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2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT


DRIVEN BY WILLIAM DIEPENBROCK

STEVE ZYLIUS

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ore than 7.5 million trucks ply California’s crowded highways, moving over $3 trillion in goods annually. Many of those trucks travel to and from the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles in Southern California, where almost 40 percent of all U.S. import containers enter the country. Moreover, about 80 percent of all California communities depend exclusively on trucks as a critical lifeline to move their goods. But diesel trucks spew greenhouse gases and particulate matter into the air, contributing to potential health risks, and compete for roads with millions of private travelers. That’s where UC Irvine’s Institute of Transportation Studies lends a hand. ITS-Irvine fosters interdisciplinary research on contemporary transportation issues. Initially the focus was on Southern California, but over the years, it has broadened to address many of society’s most pressing transportation problems, regardless of location. ITS-Irvine has established a reputation as one of the world’s leading centers of transportation research and education.

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A key element of that work is freight vehicles. “There are massive energy, air quality and health implications associated with our current freight transportation,” says Stephen Ritchie, ITS-Irvine director and professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Creating a more sustainable system will be critical as freight traffic continues to grow.” The institute works with multiple state agencies on forecasting models to track freight traffic and reduce its carbon footprint. For example, the institute developed California’s Statewide Freight Forecasting Model (CSFFM), which is used by agencies as a planning tool. The forecast takes into consideration interdependencies between industries, land use and social demographic information across all 48 contiguous states as it tracks delivery of 15 different groups of commodities throughout California. “Knowing freight flows is critical to future investment decisions,” says Ritchie. “You’re talking many billions of dollars – such as expanding the capacity of the 710 freeway from the ports – and getting a handle on energy use and emissions.” Because private companies transport freight, there’s been little data publicly available – so the institute also focuses on ways to gather data. “We generally don’t build widgets at ITS,” Ritchie says. Rather, the institute is a systems group focused on transportation models that can generate insight. “We collect data, analyze data, create models and try to help guide policy decisions.” In short, ITS-Irvine was all about Big Data before the term was even conceived. For example, the Truck Activity Monitoring System – TAMS – is an operational statewide testbed that measures detailed

A SAMPLING OF OTHER ITS-IRVINE EFFORTS TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY AND DECREASE TRAFFIC’S ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS:

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truck classification counts and axle weights. The system feeds into modeling efforts for the state’s freight forecasting model and can potentially provide information for emissions analysis. Caltrans is combining the freight forecast data with passenger car information to create a comprehensive California statewide traffic model, allowing for unified forecasting of traffic needs. Officials at Caltrans’ Division of Transportation Planning praised ITS-Irvine’s contribution to the state’s planning efforts, noting the effectiveness of the CSFFM and other institute tools in guiding capital and operating investments in California’s freight systems. This work assists Caltrans in meeting its strategic goal of improving freight system efficiency, an agency representative said. The institute also gets high marks from the Orange County Transportation Authority. “UCI’s ITS group is known to educate the best engineers in the nation by engaging them in communities to help discover knowledge that leads to a better society, and OCTA is known for delivering transportation solutions that enhance the quality of life in Orange County and the region,” says Kurt Brotcke, OCTA director of Strategic Planning. “These complementary goals are served by ongoing collaborative work between UCI and OCTA that link UCI’s exemplary research skills to OCTA’s need for practical solutions.” Ritchie noted that every project the institute oversees – from campus-centered mobility efforts to its statewide forecasting – has national and even international impact. “Several leading universities worldwide are engaged in this kind of research, but few have the advantage of a campus-based testbed and a collaborative forward-thinking administration, as we do at UCI,” Ritchie said. “Connected vehicles and shared mobility will be a big part of our efforts to reduce carbon footprints and better manage traffic as we move into the future.”

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Surveys of fleet operator attitudes toward alternative-fuel heavy-duty vehicles is in the works. The surveys will feed into a new mathematical model for understanding the demand for alternative-fuel heavy trucks, helping the state to structure incentives and other policies to promote development of a more sustainable freight transportation system.

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“UCI’S ITS GROUP IS KNOWN TO EDUCATE THE BEST ENGINEERS IN THE NATION BY ENGAGING THEM IN COMMUNITIES TO HELP DISCOVER KNOWLEDGE THAT LEADS TO A BETTER SOCIETY.”

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The Institute is teaming with the city of Anaheim to deploy a testbed of connected vehicle technology – initially linking 15 signals with connected vehicles – an effort that could mean improvements in safety and efficiency for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

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A collaboration with the city of Irvine is creating a similar testbed, initially with seven signals, along the busy Campus Drive adjacent to the UCI campus. The project will include the campus shuttle system, experimenting with transit signal priority that will reduce delays for approaching shuttles as a way of looking at shared mobility impacts.

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The institute helped determine where to locate refueling stations for California’s nascent “hydrogen highway,” a network for zero-emissions, hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

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ITS leads the state’s natural gas vehicle incentive program. This $24 million project includes freight and other heavy-duty vehicles.

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disasters – earthquakes, fire, flooding – can cause economic, » Natural environmental and emotional hardship. The safety and integrity of structures during these events depends on sound construction analysis and design methods. Anne Lemnitzer’s research gives engineers and public policymakers insight and scientific data that can improve structural stability.

SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATION LORI BRANDT

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ANNE LEMNITZER

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ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR

ANNE LEMNITZER

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U.S., especially on the West Coast, everything is designed for seismic loading, something I never really learned in Germany.” This focus on understanding how the soil-structure interaction responds to stress (i.e., earthquakes or other hazards) and then using that information to design and build better structures fascinated Lemnitzer. She completed a master’s degree in geotechnical engineering at California State University, Long Beach, then went on to UCLA for a master’s and doctorate in structural and earthquake engineering. Armed with this combination of expertise, her research helps experts understand the mechanics of structure damage and failure. Lemnitzer disseminates her findings in academic journals, participates in code panels, and works with boards that develop, recommend and publish research findings to improve current practice. Her work provides stakeholders in engineering and public policy with a scientific foundation for making recommendations and decisions that keep buildings, bridges, levees and other important infrastructure safe and intact during dangerous events.

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ext time you drive across a bridge or walk into a tall building, look down to where the structure enters the ground. Underneath is the deep foundation, where the architecture interacts with the soil. It’s an area where Anne Lemnitzer really digs in. The associate professor of civil engineering grew up in a family of engineers (her mother, mechanical; her father, civil and structural) in a small town in East Germany, before reunification. She received her own hands-on training on the job sites of her father’s structural engineering firm. From the time she was 16, Lemnitzer says, she spent summers around construction, often the only girl on location. “I learned to tie rebar, pour concrete, lay brick, hang drywall, [and understand] masonry, tile and molding. Whatever I could learn, I had to do,” she says. After earning her degree in applied sciences in Leipzig, Germany, she came to the U.S. as a Fulbright scholar. “In the

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“Today, with the increasing demands of loading coming from natural hazards, such as earthquakes, rainstorms, fires and any combination of these, there is a need for improved analysis and design methods,” Lemnitzer says. “Research in the field of soilstructure interaction looks at the behavior of the structure and the underlying soil as a system – not as separate components.” Lemnitzer combines small- and large-scale experiments, dynamic testing, numerical simulations and case history observations to study impacted areas. She traveled to Maule, Chile, after a magnitude 8.8 earthquake in 2010; to Tōhoku, Japan, after a magnitude 9.0–9.1 undersea megathrust earthquake in 2011; and to Mexico City, after a magnitude 7.1 temblor in 2017. In each location, she was part of a team charged with reconnaissance efforts, assessing and collecting data on the structural and geotechnical performance of various building types and infrastructures. She also examined the seismic hazard and failure potential of levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the source of more than 40 percent of Southern California’s water supply. A levee failure would have devastating consequences for the state, including flooding of agricultural farmland, a breakdown of the

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“I BELIEVE WE CAN LEARN FROM SUCCESS AND FAILURE STORIES AROUND THE WORLD.”

water-supply system, draw-in of saline water from the ocean, destruction of the ecological environment, and potential loss of life and commerce. Lemnitzer’s doctoral student, Riccardo Cappa, presented their findings to the U.S. Congress and to California state legislators in April 2015.

improving the design of drilled foundations, especially with respect to seismic aspects and structural details that can be more effective and simpler to construct. “It is great to have an academic perspective from someone so talented who also has an appreciation for the practical aspects of construction,” he says.

Lemnitzer has also traveled to Miki, Japan, to conduct testing on the world’s largest multidirectional shake table, called the E-Defense. Working with Japanese collaborators, she developed an innovative multiapplication pressure-sensor system. She used the novel instrumentation to experimentally assess dynamic soil pressure distribution on flexible vertical underground structures.

Lemnitzer’s research group has established the largest online database to date for deep foundations subjected to lateral loading. A collaboration with the Deep Foundations Institute, www.findapile.com, includes the results of 50-plus full-scale lateral-load tests of reinforced concrete and steel foundation piles conducted in the past 30 years all over the world.

With deep foundation systems, Lemnitzer has provided powerful experimental and modeling tools that address limitations of current design approaches, many of which have not been updated since the ’60s and ’70s.

“This resource provides load test data for a wide range of ground conditions that is accessible to anyone who needs it for day-to-day design of deep foundations,” says Brown. “It allows engineers to benefit from the experience of others and improve their design.”

Dan Brown, president of the Deep Foundations Institute and founder of Dan Brown Associates, an engineering consulting firm specializing in deep foundation construction, design and testing, says that Lemnitzer’s work has contributed to

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Anne Lemnitzer traveled to central Mexico last fall after a 7.1 earthquake collapsed buildings, killed 370 people and injured more than 6,000. She was part of an NSF-sponsored Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance Association (GEER) team tasked with assessing the damage. The team looked at buildings, landslides, soil settlement, infrastructure damage, slope instabilities, and dam and embankment performance, with a goal of an improved understanding of why certain structures failed while others resisted.

“I believe we can learn from success and failure stories around the world,” Lemnitzer says.

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PROFESSOR

ELLIOT BOTVINICK DOCTORAL CANDIDATE

RACHEL GURLIN

ANNA LYNN SPITZER

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COMMON DISEASE, UNCOMMON APPROACH STEVE ZYLIUS

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1 diabetes affects as many as 40 million Âť Type people worldwide. Patients diagnosed with the autoimmune ailment, which prevents the pancreas from producing insulin, have had few options: injecting themselves several times a day, wearing a cumbersome insulin pump or attempting organ transplantation. An implantable device now under development in a UC Irvine lab could one day provide a welcome remedy for the debilitating disease.

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hen Samueli School doctoral candidate Rachel Gurlin was 11 years old, her younger sister was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and Gurlin watched as she injected herself several times each day with insulin to regulate her blood sugar. Now Gurlin, who works in the lab of biomedical engineering professor Elliot Botvinick, is helping create an implantable device that could enable her sister – and 20-40 million other Type 1 patients worldwide – to permanently eliminate difficult treatments. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The body attacks beta cells in the pancreas, preventing the organ from producing the insulin needed to move glucose from the bloodstream into other cells. In addition to insulin shots, treatments include insulin pumps, which continuously deliver the medication through a catheter; or pancreas or islet transplantation, which can unleash a host of complications. Gurlin and Botvinick’s small device functions as a bioartificial pancreas, using a two-step process to deliver insulin naturally. First, the device is implanted subcutaneously, possibly in the lower back. After implantation, blood vessels from the host tissue grow into slits within the device, providing oxygenation to the local area. In the second step, islets (clusters of hormone-producing cells) are inserted into the implanted device. Those islets could comprise donor cells or stem cells cultivated to become islets, but they will interact with the tissue around them while producing insulin – just like the pancreas does. Gurlin and Botvinick call their two-step procedure a “civil engineering” approach. “We build the house first, put in the plumbing (blood vessel growth and tissue interaction), inspect it, and then populate it (with the islets),” says Gurlin. Measuring 13 millimeters square in its current iteration for

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testing in mice, the device will scale up for humans to about the size of a business card. It is made of medical grade silicone, which allows oxygen to pass though, and its one-millimeter depth means multiple layers can be stacked on top of one another to increase the number of islets housed and the amount of insulin produced. Gurlin makes plastic molds in a 3D printer, fills them with liquid silicone and bakes them before removing the devices, each of which has multiple tiny channels within for holding the islets. After the patient’s tissue grows successfully into the implanted device, islets are injected using long microtubing connected to a syringe. Researchers hope the islets and the patient’s tissue will mutually support each other. There are two major hurdles: keeping tissue oxygenated and protecting the implanted device from immune system rejection. The slits built into the flexible silicone seem to be meeting the first challenge by allowing the recipient’s own tissue to grow and thrive in the device. The second challenge is more difficult. An implanted device triggers two immune responses: inflammation, as the body surrounds the invader with scar tissue; and an adaptive reaction that creates antibodies to destroy transplanted cells. Gurlin and Botvinick are working closely with Eugenia Kharlampieva, associate professor of polymer chemistry at University of Alabama at Birmingham, whose lab is developing an ultrathin anti-inflammatory coating to prevent scar tissue from forming. Made from natural compounds, the coating can be deposited directly on the device surface to prevent the recipient’s immune system from rejecting the implant. “I am very excited about this collaboration as this is a wonderful opportunity to apply our material to these devices,” Kharlampieva says. “We hope our coating will be able to suppress undesirable immune responses to ensure successful implantation.”

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The adaptive immune system is more difficult. A number of approaches are under investigation, and Gurlin and Botvinick intend to be ready. “Rachel is staying ahead of the game. As the biologists develop [these], she’s making sure there is a device ready for them,” says her mentor, who credits Gurlin with overcoming multiple obstacles. “There are so many difficult elements to this, and in every challenge, she has created breakthroughs.” Testing in mice is underway but researchers are wary of predicting the onset of human testing. “Type 1 patients have been promised time and time again that a cure is around the corner,” Gurlin says. “Out of respect for them, we want to work as hard as possible … but will not promise any timelines until we are sure.” Regardless, Botvinick is optimistic about long-term success. “This project is a huge challenge in any context, and we don’t shy away from that,” he says. “I feel that tissue therapy will be the ultimate cure for diabetes. And by cure,” he adds, “I mean a complete biological reversal of the disease. You don’t have to do anything to manage it; you don’t have to take pills or poke yourself or monitor your sugar. It’s complete autonomous control by cells.”

“TYPE 1 PATIENTS HAVE BEEN PROMISED TIME AND TIME AGAIN THAT A CURE IS AROUND THE CORNER. OUT OF RESPECT FOR THEM, WE WANT TO WORK AS HARD AS POSSIBLE . . . BUT WILL NOT PROMISE ANY TIMELINES UNTIL WE ARE SURE.” SAMUELI SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING

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a win-win situation. A project in the works » It’s with the help of Samueli School engineers is transforming a low-income community into a more energy friendly neighborhood, benefiting residents while advancing research. Plans they create will be used as a blueprint to help other communities become more efficient.

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he green revolution that is sweeping California has skipped past the Oak View neighborhood in Huntington Beach. UC Irvine’s Advanced Power and Energy Program wants to help change that and, in the process, conduct some important research. That’s why Jack Brouwer, APEP associate director, and a team of collaborators picked Oak View as the site of its $15 million plan to build an advanced energy community. The team includes the city of Huntington Beach, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Altura Associates, Inc., a company focused on efficient and green buildings.

The effort started 18 months ago, funded by $1.9 million from the California Energy Commission, Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas. Brouwer’s team also partners with residents, community groups and Oak View Elementary School. Together, they will replace appliances with energyefficient models, install smart power strips, weatherize homes, blanket the neighborhood with solar panels, add battery electric storage and replace lightbulbs with LED lights. Additionally, the project will investigate the capability of storing wind- and solar-generated energy with powerto-gas technology. This means surplus energy from solar panels or wind farms is converted into hydrogen, which

PROFESSOR

JACK BROUWER SAMUELI SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING

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“THIS PROJECT OFFERS A TERRIFIC BLEND OF COMMUNITY BENEFIT AND RESEARCH UNDERSTANDING. IT’S EXACTLY WHY SO MANY OF US GOT INTO ACADEMIA IN THE FIRST PLACE – TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE THAT MATTERS.”

can be blended with natural gas and used to power home appliances and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The surplus energy also can be converted to methane for use in a natural gas pipeline or storage system. This process can enable the long-term storage of large amounts of carbon-free power. UCI has demonstrated the success of the conversion technology, but injection into the natural gas pipeline system is still in its infancy. The project will contribute to advancing this injection capability. “Energy storage is critical to increasing the use of renewable energy,” says Yuri Freedman, senior director of business development at SoCalGas. “This project is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate power-to-gas as a storage technology that can directly benefit our customers.” But first, the Advanced Energy Community project wants to bring more immediate changes to Oak View. Brouwer describes the whirring of air conditioners and hum of power lines crisscrossing the neighborhood. “Right now, this neighborhood is consuming millions of dollars of power it doesn’t need, and it’s costing residents money they could use to improve their lives. “We have all the technology to change that, to benefit them and our community – solar panels, fuel cells, low-energy appliances, heat conversion tools, electric vehicles and batteries – but they’re too poor to take advantage of them,” Brouwer says. Take, for example, the LED lightbulb. More efficient than traditional lightbulbs and less expensive over time, LEDs are unlikely purchases for residents in Oak View, a tightly packed neighborhood of 10,000 residents in a mix of single-family houses and apartments wedged into one square mile. Seventy percent of residents age 25 or older lack high school diplomas or equivalency degrees; more than half of those over 16 are unemployed. The per capita income of $16,700 is almost half the county average.

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“Residents simply can’t afford to replace a working bulb – even when the new one is more efficient, cost-saving and environmentally friendly,” Brouwer says. Rolled out over three years, the plan would reduce the community’s energy needs by 25 percent and pay off the $15 million cost in 11 years. (Some elements, like solar panels and LED bulbs, would recoup their cost in just a couple of years.) To fund the effort, the team is applying for a $10 million grant from the California Energy Commission and seeking $5 million in matching funds from public and private partners. But changing the physical elements isn’t enough. In order to sustain the program, residents must engage, and community perceptions of green technology must evolve. The team is connecting residents with jobs in green industries, educational opportunities and the childcare needed to allow time for classes. A booklet guiding residents to resources is in the works. Next, the team will hold workshops with residents to discuss workforce development options. The group also partners with community groups to provide weekly science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes for children at the small library shared by the school and neighborhood. Classes include experiments with solar-powered ovens and photo-sensitive paper. “When the children are excited, they share that excitement with their parents, who then want to know more about these green options,” Brouwer says. Oak View ComUNIDAD, a community support group, is excited about the project’s potential, but members are also concerned the changes could price renters out of their homes, according to co-founder Oscar Rodriguez. “We want to be sure our neighborhood keeps its character,” Rodriguez says. “We suggested they work directly with housing nonprofits that operate in Oak View.”

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Rodriguez, who also works for the Orange County Community Housing Corp., says Brouwer’s team listened to their concerns and reached out to the area’s housing nonprofits to see how they could collaborate. The project will do more than save energy, though. Lowering harmful emissions means residents will be healthier, reducing impacts on health services. Less greenhouse gas will float into other communities, creating a ripple of benefits. Financial savings and new jobs will bring benefits to cash-strapped families, Brouwer says. “This project offers a terrific blend of community benefit and research understanding,” he adds. “It’s exactly why so many of us got into academia in the first place – to make a difference that matters.”

The Samueli School’s Advanced Power and Energy Program is blending community benefits with research understanding as it helps create a $15 million advanced energy community in Oak View, a low-income neighborhood in Huntington Beach. Improvements will include replacing appliances with energyefficient models, installing smart power strips and solar panels, and adding LED lightbulbs and battery electric storage. Additionally, the team will investigate the capability of storing wind- and solargenerated energy with power-to-gas technology.

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BLAZING TRAILS

hydrologist specializing in sustainable water-resource » Amanagement, Newsha Ajami’s multidisciplinary research focuses on improving collaboration among scientists, policymakers and stakeholders. The Anteater engineering alumna was inducted into the inaugural Samueli School Hall of Fame.

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nder the guidance of Distinguished Professor Soroosh Sorooshian, Newsha Ajami earned her doctorate in civil engineering in 2006. Ajami worked on water and energy-related legislation as a science and technology fellow at the California State Senate’s Natural Resources and Water Committee, and was subsequently appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board in 2013. She currently serves as the director of urban water policy for Stanford University’s Water in the West and NSF-funded ReNUWit initiatives.

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You investigate the uncertainty surrounding water-forecasting techniques. Can you explain? Hydrologic models are a simplified mathematical way of explaining complex natural or physical processes. They don’t fully capture everything that happens in nature, and they are highly dependent on the underlying assumptions and parameters used to develop them. But they’re extremely valuable because they give us a way of understanding the past and foreseeing the future. One way to improve our models is to understand their inaccuracies and determine how that affects output and forecasts. If you understand the uncertainties, you can incorporate them into the decision-making process and try to manage short-term and long-term risks.

Why are you interested in improving interactions between scientists and policymakers? It’s common in academia to do a deep dive and focus on advancing our understanding of a specific field, and while research ultimately can have social impact, that’s not always the primary objective of academic research efforts. I was curious to see how some of the results from my work could be used more effectively in a real decision-making process, and if not, how do we create a platform for communicating what academia does to the decision-makers and policymakers in a more effective way? And the other way around: to take their concerns to academia in 2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT


order to inform our technical work more directly. That became my passion – to see how we can connect these two worlds that do not often interact with each other.

How can we avoid depleting our resources? Obviously, we all need to be mindful of how much water we use and what purposes we use it for, so the public has an important role. Also, it is important to understand how water demand is changing in order to make more informed decisions on capital investments to meet future demand. Over the past 20-30 years in some parts of California, the population has doubled but water use has not changed, and in some cases, has even dropped. This is partly due to efficiency and conservation efforts. So despite our conventional approach to water-supply planning, population growth in the recent decades has not necessarily led to demand increase. Therefore, if we plan for the future based on demand increasing relative to the population, we might be overinvesting in large-scale, capital-intensive solutions.

Can you share an example? During the recent drought in California, the state’s water use dropped significantly, leading to a large decrease in wastewater flows. If a wastewater agency had made a considerable investment in expanding its plant based on assumptions related to population increases and consequently, flow increases, it would be experiencing a considerable revenue shortage. And there is no guarantee that revenue would recover in the future, especially considering the increased interest in water recycling and reuse. This kind of planning is outdated. Today, the city of San Francisco is promoting onsite reuse: every new high-rise building is required to have systems that will collect water out of sinks and showers and clean it up for reuse for toilets and other uses. Water supply and demand is shifting and changing. We need to be mindful of these changes, understand the consequences and build a water-governance platform that reflects these changes in the most effective way.

Is desalinization an option?

imported water systems, and they are fully dependent on their local water supply. Their community has invested considerably in conservation and efficiency measures over the years. Looking forward, as they think about how they can augment their water supply and diversify their water portfolio, desalinization sounds like a viable option for them and can take the pressure off some of their existing water supply systems. In that area, desalinization makes a lot of sense, economically, socially and environmentally. Do I think every other region in California is in the same situation? The answer is no. It really depends on location and available options, and every community has to be smart about how it makes these kinds of investments.

You have said that you see drought as an opportunity. How so? Generally, every crisis is an opportunity to promote change. A crisis can highlight weaknesses in a system and provide an opportunity for collective action. The recent historical drought in California affected the entire state. When it happened, we were actually able to accomplish a number of things, including passing a sustainable groundwater act. There was lots of pushback initially, but the drought provided this opportunity for us to rethink and reimagine the way we govern our water resources.

Lastly, if you could give Californians one piece of advice, what would it be? We have to change the way we see water. Access to clean water is vital to our livelihood and social and economic wellbeing. Do not waste this precious resource. We often don’t think about water and its role in our daily lives; we see that it comes out of the tap and we see it go down the drain. Water utilities spend so many resources to provide us high-quality water in such an affordable way so we all should be mindful of how we use and consume it, and make sure we don’t waste it. I also want to say to Californians: drink tap water; don’t buy bottled water unless you have to. In most of California, your tap water is cleaner and more reliable than bottled water.

It depends on the region. Central California (the Monterey/ Santa Cruz region) is not connected to any of our large SAMUELI SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING

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» INTO THE HALL Alumni, family, faculty and friends of UC Irvine’s schools of engineering, information & computer sciences and physical sciences came together last spring in a celebration of accomplishment as 11 new members were inducted into their respective school’s Hall of Fame. Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington welcomed the crowd, saying, “Your UCI degree has never been more valuable than it is today, and it will continue to increase in value. We’re not taking small steps, we’re taking big ones, and that’s going to continue well into the future.” Washington also told the audience about a new scholarship established this year by Hall of Famer Nick Desai ’91 electrical engineering, and several classmates, in memory of fellow alumnus Kelvin Javier, who passed away last year. “This scholarship will play an active role in identifying and matriculating highly deserving and highly competent engineering students,” Washington said. The 2018 Hall of Fame engineering inductees include (from left, pictured with Dean Washington): Robert Sanchez ´02 M.S., ´05 Ph.D. mechanical and aerospace engineering; Cindy Miller ´94, B.S. civil engineering; Hany Haroun ´00, M.S. civil engineering; and Daryoosh Vakhshoori ´82, B.S. electrical engineering (not pictured).

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» BREAKING GROUND A new vision for large-scale, collaborative research came into focus July 16 with a groundbreaking ceremony for the UC Irvine Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Building. Supported by a transformative $30 million gift from the Samueli Foundation, coupled with $50 million in state funds and $40 million in UCI funds, the innovative facility will comprise more than 200,000 square feet of research, office and meeting space. When completed in late 2020, it will house faculty, staff and students from the schools of engineering, physical sciences, and computer science & engineering, who will collaborate on a wide range of scientific challenges in line with two major themes: biomedicine for human health, and energy use and the environment. The Samuelis have made several important gifts to UCI, including the naming gift to the engineering school. “Susan and I are already multidisciplinary donors to the university through my passion in engineering and her passions in the health sciences, so we were already trying to stir the pot to do interdisciplinary work,” Henry Samueli said. “When you add in all the other grand challenges, this really does present a great opportunity for collaborative research.”

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» LEADERSHIP COUNCIL The Samueli School of Engineering Dean’s Leadership Council is a distinguished group of thought leaders whose industry expertise, community engagement and entrepreneurial endeavors support, inspire and promote the school’s vision. Current members include: Nicolaos Alexopoulos

JD Harriman

Leila Rohani

Tom Ambrose

Michel Kamel

Stanton Rowe

Broadcom Foundation Broadcom

Donald Beall

Retired, Rockwell

Ken Beall

The Beall Family Foundation

Maureen Brongo Skyworks Solutions

Roger Brum

Meggitt Defense Systems, Inc.

Bill Carpou OCTANe

Ray Chan K5 Ventures

Dan Cregg Insteon

Mark Czaja

Parker Hannifin Corp.

Feyzi Fatehi

Corent Technology, Inc.

Bruce Feuchter

Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth

Pete Fiacco

Site 1001, Inc.

Nabeel Gareeb

The Gareeb Family Foundation

Deepak Garg

Smart Energy Water

Judy Greenspon NPI Services, Inc.

Jai Hakhu

Horiba International Corp.

Bernard Harguindeguy Atlantis Computing, Inc.

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Foundation Law Group, LLP MelRok, LLC

Joe Kiani Masimo

Scott Kitcher Sustain OC

Robert Kleist

Retired, Printronix

John Labib

John Labib + Associates

William Link Versant Ventures

Ivan Madera MORF3D

Ramin Massoumi Iteris

James Mulato

Astronics Test Systems

Michael Mussallem

Edwards Lifesciences Corp.

Rabi Narula

Knobbe Martens

Stacey Nicholas Opus Foundation

Denys Oberman Oberman Associates

Anoosheh Oskouian

Ship and Shore Environmental

Al Pedroza

The Boeing Company

Robert Phillippy Newport Corp.

Jane Rady

Pacific Mercantile Bank Edwards Lifesciences Corp.

Henry Samueli Broadcom

Fred Schreiner

Thales Avionics, Inc.

Amit Shah

Artiman Ventures

Paul Singarella

Latham & Watkins, LLP

Gerald Solomon

The Samueli Foundation

James Spoto

Integra Devices

Richard Sudek

UCI Applied Innovation

Landon Taylor Base 11

Vincent Thomas Rockwell Collins

Maria Tirabassi

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

John Tracy

Retired, The Boeing Company

Joan Wada

The Boeing Company

Derrick Waters UPS

James Watson CMTC

Larry Williams ANSYS

Abbott Medical Optics, Inc. 2017-18 DEAN’S REPORT


» HOUSE CALL Nick Desai earned a UC Irvine bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering in 1991. This year, he was named one of 10 CEOs who are transforming health care in America by Forbes columnist Robert Reiss. Desai, a member of the UCI Engineering Hall of Fame, co-founded technology-enabled Heal in 2014 with his physician wife to bring back doctor house calls and homebased medical services. With Heal, Desai and his wife are on a mission to fix the broken $3 trillion health care system. According to Desai, keeping patients out of the hospital by delivering primary, preventive and urgent care through house calls not only reduces costly and avoidable emergency room trips by 28 percent, but also leads to better medical care. With doctors able to see patients’ medications, environmental factors, lifestyle and diet, Heal has reduced unnecessary prescriptions, tests and referrals by 51 percent – resulting in cost savings of $27 million in just 40,000 house calls. Silicon India magazine also recently featured Heal’s success. Desai shared the news with Dean Gregory Washington in an email, writing, “It is what I learned at UCI as an engineering student that launched me into a career of technology innovation and leadership.” Desai is an accomplished entrepreneur, launching four venture-funded startups over the last 18 years.

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» STUDY LOUNGE Longtime Samueli School donor Stacey Nicholas made another important gift to the school, endowing an outdoor student technology area that bears her name. The Stacey Nicholas Tech Pavilion features lounge seating, free Wi-Fi, solar-powered tables with charging stations, lights and umbrellas, and 16 bollards with electrical outlets and USB charging stations. Students have been congregating in the new space since it opened about a year ago. Nicholas, a member of the Samueli School’s Engineering Leadership Council and Diversity Advisory Board, remembers that when Dean Gregory Washington approached her with the idea, she loved it. “I said whatever you need for the students, I’m happy to help,” she says. “It seems like they are enjoying it, and it’s well used.”

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» TALENT TRANSFER Aiming to increase the number of low-income engineering students specializing in advanced manufacturing, UC Irvine has won a $5 million National Science Foundation grant that will provide scholarships to nearly 200 community college transfers. “We’re excited to launch the UC Irvine Pathways to Engineering Collaborative, which will train, mentor and tutor dozens of talented men and women as they study engineering at Irvine Valley College and UCI,” said project leader Lorenzo Valdevit, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. Under the program, each participating undergraduate will receive up to $10,000 annually over five years. In addition, researchers from UCI’s School of Education will try to identify the factors that lead low-income community college students to pursue engineering degrees. “I am delighted that the National Science Foundation is recognizing UCI’s innovative efforts to support transfer engineering students,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “With this important grant, 190 talented young engineers will be able to achieve their dreams of a world-class education in advanced manufacturing.” Valdevit, who directs the campus’s Institute for Design and Manufacturing Innovation, noted that the UC Irvine Pathways to Engineering Collaborative will benefit U.S. employers as well. “In today’s global economy, it’s crucial to expand and diversify America’s manufacturing workforce,” he said, “and this program will help accomplish that goal.” SAMUELI SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING

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kids with a STEM-focused education Âť Providing creates numerous advantages, not only for them but also for their communities. A coalition of business, philanthropic, nonprofit and educational organizations banded together to create a STEM ecosystem in Orange County, Calif., and offers a blueprint for its wildly successful effort.

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Plug In and

LORI BRANDT

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2017-18 OC STEM Engagement

S

tudent by student, teacher by teacher, district by district. That’s how OC STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) has marched through the region and onto the national scene in its effort to promote cradle-tocareer STEM education.

“Learning is a lifelong process and we have to take advantage of all of the places where people can plug in and play, whether it is a library or science institution, afterschool program or formal education,” says Solomon. “It has to be truly seamless, where it’s more like a baton handoff rather than individual relays.”

150,000 students

The grass roots movement started in February 2010 with Samueli Foundation Executive Director Gerald Solomon. Under his leadership, the foundation sponsored a three-day STEM Summit, hosted by the National Academy of Engineering, to explore STEM learning in the county from early childhood through higher education. Foundation members quickly realized that STEM education efforts were disjointed. “There was a failure to interconnect all of the stakeholder platforms in the STEM learning process,” Solomon says. “I told the Samuelis [Henry and Susan], we needed to create an ecosystem, a beta model in Orange County, around STEM education and learning.”

In 2016, OC STEM moved to the Samueli School of Engineering. UC Irvine had been a partner from the beginning, so it made sense for the initiative’s evolution to take place at the university, where hands-on learning and STEM outreach efforts home were growing under the leadership of Dean Gregory Washington.

school

community

STEM AFTER SCHOOL

libraries

ECOSYSTEMS businesses

The result was the birth of OC STEM. Its mission is to strengthen the workforce pipeline in Orange County by promoting STEM through a collaborative network of public and private partnerships.

Key partners include a number of deeply involved Science Orange County supporters Centers & and businesses, including the Museums Orange County Department higher of Education (OCDE), Children education and Families Commission of Orange County, the TGR Foundation (formerly Tiger Woods Foundation), Broadcom Foundation, Boeing and Edwards Lifesciences, to name a few.

Numerous business, philanthropic, nonprofit and educational organizations signed on. The effort focuses on three pillars: how kids learn STEM, how educators are equipped to teach it, and how STEM pipelines are developed for the workforce. The network operates five workgroups: Early Childhood STEM, Expanded Learning (outside of school), K-12, Postsecondary and STEM Workforce.

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Leyla Riley, executive director, explains that OC STEM is many things. “We do curriculum, we do programs, we do partnerships and we actively fundraise to support all of the above.”

The organization’s wide-ranging effort encompasses five strategic areas: developing curriculum and content; running and evaluating programs; training STEM educators; convening stakeholders; and building strategic partnerships. The goals are simple: provide more opportunities to students and prepare them for college or careers in STEM; ensure the community has the resources to impart quality STEM learning; and apply both to build a robust, sustainable STEM-skilled workforce pipeline.

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One such program, the STEM Ecosystem Learning Institute, is a widespread success. Of the 27 school districts in Orange County, 23 have participated in the 12- to 14-month professional learning program for educators. Each district team includes a cross section of partners representing after-school, preschool or early learning, business and industry, higher education and partner organizations. “There are very few initiatives that take place in a county of 27 very diverse districts where you can get that kind of participation,” says Tom Turner, OCDE STEM director. “It shows how committed our people are to the great work that they do and the strength of the resources at OC STEM. It’s a valuable program for something that’s super important for the future of our students and the economy of our area.” Participation in the increasingly popular summer FABcamp series also has grown. Now in its sixth year, the Samueli School’s weeklong summer engineering camps introduce middle schoolers to different engineering disciplines through projects that teach STEM concepts. Campers work in teams on engineering design challenges and receive instruction in computer-aided design, rapid prototyping and fabrication technologies. Camps encompass three levels and even provide internship positions for former campers who are now in high school.

higher education. UCI currently works with 33 middle and high schools, reaching more than 1,000 students a year. Veteran science teacher Oscar Espinoza has taught middle or high school science for 18 years in Los Angeles schools and with UCI’s MESA program. “Leyla has been important in trying to form partnerships with local schools, especially for students who don’t have opportunities or resources, such as robotics, in their normal school environment,” he says. “Due to school budgets, it’s very difficult to start programs and use new tools and resources. But Leyla is always looking for ways to get kids and teachers involved in STEM.” Some of Espinoza’s students have gone on to become Anteater engineers. He says the outreach programs are often a student’s first exposure to a college campus. “They get to see what happens at college, and that is a big factor for when they decide if they are comfortable on campus.”

“TO ENSURE THE NEXT GENERATION OF A TECHNICAL, HIGHLY SKILLED AND DIVERSE WORKFORCE, WE’VE FORMED CROSS-SECTOR COLLABORATIONS AND HAVE BEEN ABLE TO SCALE EFFECTIVE STEM LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES. WE ARE NOW PART OF A NATIONAL MOVEMENT.”

Riley is proud of the progress and examples being set by OC STEM. “One of our biggest contributions is a model for systems change,” she says. “To ensure the next generation of a technical, highly skilled and diverse workforce, we’ve formed cross-sector collaborations between higher education, K-12 schools, community-based organizations and industry and have been able to scale effective STEM learning opportunities. We are now part of a national movement.”

Indeed, Solomon’s vision of OC STEM as a beta model has Another example is the MESA Schools Program, one of proven true. The national STEM Ecosystems Initiative, UCI’s longest-running STEM outreach efforts. which seeks to nurture and scale STEM learning Through engineering competitions and afteropportunities for all young people, now exists school programs, MESA promotes STEM in 68 communities across the country and 2017-18 and provides academic enrichment for lowinternationally in Mexico, Canada and Samueli School income students from backgrounds with Outreach and Diversity Kenya. Engagement historically low levels of participation in

2,500 students 250 TEACHERS SAMUELI SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING

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» 3...2...1...LIFTOFF Mechanical and aerospace engineering students celebrated the opening of the UC Irvine Rocketry Lab in February. Equipped with tools, worktables and powerful computers, the 150-foot-long lab supports the mission of the rocket project senior design team to make UCI the first university to launch a rocket into space. The team is working on the engine for a rocket capable of reaching 45,000 feet using liquid oxygen and liquid methane as propellants. A $1 million gift given by Base 11, a nonprofit STEM workforce development and entrepreneur accelerator, made the new workspace possible. Base 11 named UCI its “Partner of the Year” for 2017, in recognition of the school’s willingness to be involved, enthusiastic and engaged. Base 11 CEO Landon Taylor and philanthropist Foster Stanback attended the Rocketry Lab celebration. “This has been a year in the making,” said Dean Gregory Washington. “We were challenged by Base 11 and Foster Stanback to build a rocket that can make it into space. We undertook that challenge, and today is a great day for us as we formally dedicate the UCI Rocketry Lab.” Washington unveiled a plaque acknowledging the generosity of Base 11, and he credited faculty members Ken Mease and Mark Walter for their efforts in developing the lab and advising students.

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University of California, Irvine 5200 Engineering Hall Irvine, CA 92697-2700

DEVELOPING HUMAN CONNECTIONS The UCI Samueli School of Engineering 2025 Strategic Plan is elevating the visibility and stature of the school. The plan is our roadmap for excellence, and the true strength of our school’s future resides in human connections. This focus channels our energy, resources and growth in the areas where we are poised to make further impact. Human connections are a mechanism by which we shape and sustain excellence. We encourage our partners – on and off campus – to join us in this pursuit. Through academic advancement, dynamic discovery, external engagement and laudable leadership, our plans for an impactful future are within reach. To learn more about our priorities and goals, visit engineering.uci.edu/about/strategic-plan.

2017-18 UC Irvine Samueli School of Engineering Dean's Report  

Annual Award-Winning Dean's Report for the Henry Samueli School of Engineering at University of California, Irvine

2017-18 UC Irvine Samueli School of Engineering Dean's Report  

Annual Award-Winning Dean's Report for the Henry Samueli School of Engineering at University of California, Irvine

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