Monday, December 21, 2009

Professor Franck studies cellular movement

Our cells are more like us than we may think. They’re sensitive to their environment, poking and prodding deliberately at their surroundings with hand-like feelers and chemical signals as they decide whether and where to move. Such caution serves us well but has vexed engineers who seek to create synthetic tissue, heart valves, implants and other devices that the human body will accept.

To overcome that obstacle, scientists have sought to learn more about how cells explore what’s around them. While numerous studies have looked at cellular movement in two dimensions and a few recent experiments involved cellular motion in three dimensions, scientists remained unsure just how much cells interacted with their surroundings. Now, a study involving Brown University and the California Institute of Technology has recorded for the first time how cells move in three dimensions by measuring the force exerted by cells on their environs. The research gives scientists their most complete assessment to date about how cells move.

To read more of the release, click here. Also, posted here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Freund honored by ASME for his contributions to materials engineering

Lambert Ben Freund, Ph.D., the Henry Ledyard Goddard university processor and a professor of engineering at Brown University (Providence, R.I.), was honored by ASME with the Society's Nadai Medal. He is being recognized for fundamental contributions to the mechanics of solids, dynamic fracture, stress waves in solids, computational mechanics, mechanics of thin films and mechanics of biological systems.

The Nadai Medal, established in 1975, recognizes significant contributions and outstanding achievements which broaden the field of materials engineering. The award was presented to Dr. Freund during the 2009 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Nov. 13 through 19.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Deoni using MRI imaging to study neurodevelopment in children

Two Brown Faculty To Study Brain Development in Infants and Children With Bipolar Disorder

Sean Deoni, assistant professor of engineering, and Dr. Daniel Dickstein, assistant professor of psychiatry, have each received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health to study brain development in children with bipolar disorder. They will collaborate on each other’s projects.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Two Brown University faculty members have received federal funding for innovative new neuroscience research projects focusing on brain development in infants and bipolar disorder in children.

Sean Deoni, assistant professor of engineering, plans to use his $2.5-million grant to study neurodevelopment throughout infancy and early childhood, from 2 months to age 5, using an MRI imaging technique at Brown he previously developed with colleagues.

Read more here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Today Show highlights sleep meter invention

NBC's Today Show highlights a group of Brown students that developed a sleep meter now available on the market.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Friday, December 11, 2009

Graduate Student Profiles

In an effort to highlight the remarkable graduate student research here at Brown Engineering, we are creating a series of profiles that will highlight their work. Below are previews, to see the full profile details, click here."The catchphrase of our lab is “Atoms to Autos,” which means that we work on incorporating basic scientific research that begins at the atomic scale into larger and larger scale models eventually making improvements to the design of new GM automobiles."

"My research interests concern the exploration of multiprocessing techniques for low-power embedded systems (like smartphones, game consoles, etc.), and the development of design methods to improve the yield of 3D integrated circuits."

"BrainGate2 is an investigational device that we hope will one day enable people with paralysis to control external devices, such as a computer cursor, simply by mentally attempting the motion, essentially turning thought into action."

"Lead is added to Sn solder in electronic devices to inhibit defects (called “whiskers”) which result in failures and a shorter product life. I’m trying to understand how lead prevents defects and to find an environmentally friendly replacement that works equally well."

"The end goal of the influenza project is to develop a small, low cost, sensitive microfluidic assay to detect the presence and type of influenza in patient samples. Ideally, this device would integrated several tasks normally done in a laboratory such that it could be used at the point of care."

To see the full profile details, click here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

RI Elevator Pitch Competition

Professor Eric Suuberg reports that students from his ENGN 1930G Entrepreneurship course performed well in the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition’s Elevator Pitch Contest this week. The event took place at the new R.I. Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and is considered a preview to the 2010 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition.

The winner, Adam Leonard, a student in Suuberg's ENGN 1930G course is mentored by Dr. Jason Hack of the Brown Medical School in the development of a device to treat pediatric needle pain. In addition, there were three students presenting from the Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship, and two students, Matt Doherty and Michael Kreitzer, were in the group of winners. Each of these teams is expected to do well in the actual business plan competition next semester.

More details are available here.

Providence Business New online edition that also described the outcome of the competition: See

Friday, December 4, 2009

Undergraduate Research Profiles

Sharon Makava started at Brown as an engineer with health-related interests. Her initial interests led her to biomedical engineering, but she is now pursuing Chemical and Biochemical Engineering degree. Her interactions with her former concentration advisor, Professor Tripathi, led her to her current work in his lab. She is working on K103N mutation in the HIV virus with graduate student Kenny Morabito. They are working to isolate and amplify the mutation at low sample concentrations. The end goal is to develop a test diagnostic which will allow doctors to look for a drug resistance amongst their patients. Her current research will give her a strong foundation to pursue industry or academic directions in the future, but for now she says “she can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Eli Fine understands the importance of being aware of your intentions when you speak. He gained this appreciation through a linguistics class he took as part of Brown's open curriculum elective options. He has not only gained a greater appreciation for the scientific world, but also anthropology, philosophy, psychology, and linguistics. His collaborative spirit fits well with the interdisciplinary group of mathematicians, engineers and biologists he researches with in his multiple research projects at Brown.
Carmichael Ong is an intricate mix of biologist, biochemist, and bioengineer. He has the network to prove it. Carmichael has worked on two large interdisciplinary research projects at Brown in his undergraduate career. He believes that the intimate atmosphere within Brown Engineering and the approachable faculty are major benefits to his future. He plans to continue as a researcher in his future career either in industry or academia. Regardless of which direction he chooses, he will understand how to network with top rate researchers in an interdisciplinary setting because of his experience at Brown.
Ben Howard understands what it would take to be a Mythbuster on the Discovery Channel. He understands engineering and science principles and appreciates photography and video production. As a cinematographer for BTV (Brown’s Television Station) he produces his own tv show. Beyond just being inspired to record the world around him in unique ways, Ben is a design-oriented engineer. He found his way to Professor Breuer’s lab after having him for Thermodynamics class. His summer work extended into a larger research project to create a prototype that can create liquid droplets out of oil – a humidifier of sorts for oil. In Breuer’s lab, they have learned to use photography to study the aerodynamics of bat flight. They can record two flash photographs and record the velocity based on the distance the droplets have traveled around the bat’s wings. Most of the science is stumped on how bats accomplish their flight patterns. The Mythbusters wouldn’t even be able to figure it out, but Ben and other Brown engineers will eventually.
Juri Minxha works at the interface between engineering and neuroscience. He came to Brown uncertain of what he hoped to accomplish during his four years here. He found that the introductory engineering courses gave him a chance to test drive all of the related engineering fields. He also used the open curriculum to his advantage and took neuroscience courses. This background led him to Professor Palmore’s lab where he works at the interface of electrical engineering and neuroscience. He understands the importance of this research and hopes to continue his scholarship in a graduate program.

Many of our students are awarded annually with Halpin awards for their interdisciplinary research. To read more about the Halpin awards and the students profiled, click here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Formula SAE Team Midyear Update

Brown Formula SAE Team Midyear Update: The front half of the car is put together, the engine dynomometer is up and running in Prince Lab, and driver training with Anthony Ricci of Advanced Driving and Securities, Inc. is going well. Check out the team video!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brown engineer wins top prize at AIChE

Above: First Place winner in the Food, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology section, Allison Yorita.
Below: AIChE students (left to right): Andrea Jones, Lakshmi Madhavan, and Allison Yorita.
Chemical and Biochemical Engineering (CBE) students in the Brown chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers traveled to Nashville, Tenessee to compete in the student poster competition. Professor Joseph Calo reports that "our CBE students have, once again, made a terrific showing against some very strong national competition."
Our AIChE student poster competitors included: in the Environmental category a junior working with Professor Calo, Lakshmi Madhavan; and in the Food, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology category two seniors working with Professor Tripathi, Andrea Jones and Allison Yorita.
In the most competitive category "Food, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology," out of the 71 best posters in the nation, our student Allison Yorita brings home the first place award. Indrek Kulaots reports that "the competition was the most competitive I have seen so far in previous years as long as I have been involved with AIChE."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Professor Webster's new patents and keynote addresses

Professor Thomas Webster will present at Family Weekend 2009 Faculty Forums, Saturday, October 17, 2009 9:30 A.M.-NOON

Implants Are Everywhere: Using Biotechnology to Improve Health - Thomas Webster - Times and locations will be listed in your registration packet. Seating is limited. Registration badge or Brown ID is required. To register and for more information, visit Family Weekend 2009.

NEWS: Two new patents issued for the Brown start-up company Nanovis, Inc. (

1. US Patent Application Serial No. 10/793,721 PLGA Substrate With Aligned and Nano-Sized Surface Structures And Associated Method
2. US Patent Application Serial No. 10/634,292 Nano-Structured Polymers For Use As Implants
Professor Webster will give two keynote addressess on Monday, October 19, 2009. One to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Wake Forest Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest University ( and the other at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's NanobioTech 2009 (

Addition to post:

One new patent will be issued on November 24, 2009:
US Patent Application Serial No. 7,622,129 Nano-structured Polymers for Use as Implants
The patent describes the fabrication process and benefits for using nanostructured polymers to increase tissue growth for a wide range of regenerative medicine applications.

Edible Car Challenge wtih Food Network coming soon...

Brown Engineering and Society of Women Engineers will again present the Edible Car Competition on October 30, 2009 at 3:00pm at Barus and Holley. Join us by creating your own team to compete or come cheer on the teams as they compete against the Food Network's Glutton for Punishment Bob Blumer.

The Glutton for Punishment show will highlight how Brown's green community participates in compost and usage of all food waste. We are looking forward to highlighting the strengths of our community!

To come test your creative skills and compete, email with your team of 3-5 people. You will then receive a list of complete rules.

Details from last year's Edible Car Competition:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Alumni Dr. George Thurston '73 will present on Asthma and Diesel Air Pollution

Diesel Air Pollution and
Asthma in New York City

Presented by
Dr. George D. Thurston '73
Dept. of Environmental Medicine
NYU School of Medicine
Nelson Institute of
Environmental Medicine

Friday, October 2, 2009
12:00 PM
Barus & Holley
Room 190
Brown University
182 Hope Street
Providence, RI

Presented by the Superfund Research Program -

Childhood asthma is at near epidemic proportions in parts of New York City, affecting as many as one quarter of all elementary aged children in certain under-served minority neighborhoods of the city. There is also an increasing body of evidence indicating that living near to traffic is associated with increased respiratory problems in children. Exposure to fine particles from diesel vehicles is suspected as a likely causal agent in these associations between traffic and asthma, but there is only limited information relating personal exposures to diesel particles and health for individual children. This seminar introduces both the asthma problem in New York City and the recent evidence regarding asthma and diesel air pollution, and then presents recent in-press results of a study conducted by NYU in the South Bronx that has directly tested the relationship between childhood asthma symptoms and personal exposures to diesel particles. Options available to control diesel emissions in New York City and elsewhere are also discussed.

Professor Allan Bower publishes new book, Applied Mechanics of Solids

Professor Allan Bowers new book, Applied Mechanics of Solids, comes out today, October 1, 2009.

Applied Mechanics of Solids summarizes the physical laws, mathematical methods, and computer algorithms that are used to predict the response of materials and structures to mechanical or thermal loading.

Topics include: the mathematical descriptions of deformation and forces in solids; constitutive laws; analytical techniques and solutions to linear elastic and elastic-plastic boundary value problems; the use and theory of finite element analysis; fracture mechanics; and the theory of deformable rods, plates and shells.

Over 400 practice problems are provided on a companion web site, as well as demonstration finite element codes in MAPLE and MATLAB. The text is intended for advanced undergraduate or graduate students, as well as practicing engineers and scientists. It will be particularly useful to readers who wish to learn enough about solid mechanics to impress their teachers, colleagues, research advisors, or managers, but who would prefer not to study the subject in depth.

An electronic version of the text can be accessed at and its also available from Amazon.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Knowledge-based economy in RI

Kipp Bradford (Engineering Sc.B. '95 and Adjunct Professor) shares his participation in Rhode Island's Knowledge-based economy.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Summer Insights

Brown Engineers were involved in a variety of worthwhile projects this summer:

or visit:

Meet our new faculty

Engineering welcomed three new faculty members recently. Read more about them:
Sean Deoni
Christian Franck
Domenico Pacifici

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Audio Insights: Nanovis developing nanosurface technology

Listen to audio excerpts from a recent highlight interview with Professor Thomas Webster talking about his start-up company Nanovis.

Nanovis' leaders say, depending on the type of conventional implant, up to five percent can become problematic because the body rejects it, recognizing it as a foreign object because its smooth surface doesn't match the rough surface features of human tissue. However, the nanosurfaced implants Nanovis is developing feature a "roughness" that mimics human tissue, allowing the body to "accept" them. Webster says the nanosurfaced implants decrease infection, reduce the growth of scar tissue and promote the growth of healthy tissue. Listen

Using the same core idea of mimicking the natural roughness of human tissue, Nanovis is developing nanosurface technology for orthopedic, spinal, dental, cardiovascular and soft tissue implants. Listen

"It's a pretty exciting time for me as a researcher and a pretty exciting time for this mysterious sounding field of nanotechnology. There's actually real world application for this field—not just the nano iPod!" laughs Webster. "There are actual medical devices and real clinical treatments that can benefit from nanotechnology."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Testing nanomaterials for safety

"Scientists are preemptively testing the potentially ill effects of the tiny molecules and even atoms engineered at the scale of one billionth of a meter or smaller."

Carbon nanoparticles appear to be benign when fed to fruit fly larvae, but adults exposed to the nanoparticles in powdery form are not as lucky. Research led by David Rand and Robert Hurt show two varieties of carbon nanoparticles stuck to the flies, impeded them from climbing and ultimately caused them to die.

See full article at Scientific American:
See Brown news release:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tissue engineering research at Brown

Codirector of Brown University’s Center for Biomedical Engineering, Jeff Morgan leads a team of scientists who have developed novel ways of forming individual cells into living tissue. Some day, their techniques, in combination with stem-cell technology, could cure or lessen the suffering of diabetes and other debilitating diseases.

Strictly speaking, Morgan is a tissue engineer –– one of a substantial number of scientists around the world who are learning how to create groupings of cells that mimic the function of tissues or organs. Formed in the laboratory, these tissues can be transplanted into living creatures. Research is still largely confined to experimental animals –– but success so far in mice and rats holds great promise for humans.

Morgan’s advance is his unique method of growing and assembling individual cells into larger clusters –– what he calls the potential “building blocks” of tissues and organs that could be produced on demand.

More from the Providence Journal here:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Alumni develop sleep analyzer

In 2003, three Brown University undergraduates, Eric Shashoua, Ben Rubin and Jason Donahue, sat in a school cafeteria and mused about their grogginess after an all-night study session. They knew that the stress of exams played a role, but they started wondering about the science of their exhaustion.

Little did they imagine that their discussion would eventually lead to the founding of Zeo, maker of the first direct-to-consumer sleep device that analyzes nighttime sleep patterns. Zeo's product, the Personal Sleep Coach, uses a soft headband loaded with sensors to monitor brain waves. The data are sent wirelessly to a small device on a nightstand; from there they can be uploaded to the Web site. then analyzes the data and e-mails back a strategy and suggestions for improving the next night's sleep.

However, once these three would-be entrepreneurs decided to create a science-based aid for the estimated 70 million Americans suffering from chronic sleep disorders, they realized they were lacking a key ingredient: an investor--or several--to fund their research and development.

Initial fundraising began in the cafeterias at Brown. "We literally went table-to-table to talk about our innovation and get people interested in contributing," Shashoua recalls. Those discussions led to introductions to wealthy Brown alumni, experts in sleep research and so-called "angel investors."

More of the article on

Monday, July 20, 2009

Indo-US Science and Technology Forum collaborates with Brown

Created in March 2000, the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF), established under an agreement between the Governments of India and the United States of America functions to synthesize collaborative research and promote substantive interaction among government, academia and industry. The overall goal of IUSSTF is “to provide opportunities, to exchange ideas, information, skills and technologies, and to collaborate on scientific and technological endeavours of mutual interest that can translate the power of science for the benefit of mankind at large.” (

This Forum has a specific biomaterials area in which Brown University and Indian Institute Technology (ITT) Kanpur (along with other affiliated schools and companies) had a competitive proposal accepted in November 2008.  Co-Coordinator Bikramjit Basu of ITT Kanpur most recent visit in Phase I of this project was to fellow coordinator Thomas Webster at Brown University.  This July 2009 visit included many collaborative meetings and a talk on the biomaterials research in Dr. Basu’s lab.  The goals of these types of visits are to facilitate collaboration and increase their outreach potential.  A core deliverable of the project is to “train the next generation of scientists in the international interdisciplinary arena.” (  

Dr. Basu explains, “This collaboration depends on the two way visits between researchers in the US and India.”  It is clear that these visits help researchers develop concrete projects. The dialogue between the different institutions and researchers allows for sharing of research results and a better understanding of the challenges faced by each group.  The biomaterials area specifically faces the unique challenge of bridging the gap between traditional biology and materials engineering.  The next steps for this project include working to integrate more industrial partners and medical professionals into the research collaborations.

Pictured above are National Metallurgical Laboratory Scientist Dr. S. Nayar, Associate Professor at IIT Kanpur Bikramjit Basu, and Associate Professor at Brown Thomas Webster.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Zia wins PECASE award

Rashid Zia, assistant professor of engineering, has been named one of this year’s winners of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. The White House named the latest group of winners this week.

The PECASE award recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers who, early in their careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of knowledge. It is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. In addition to the recognition, Zia is expected to receive $200,000 annually over five years to support his research.

More of the Brown press release here:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Breuer collaborates on bat research

An excerpt from a recent Forbes article:
Researchers at Brown University are three years into another Air Force grant, this a five-year, $6 million grant shared among five other universities, to understand perhaps the most impressive fliers of all--bats.

Unlike insects and birds, bats have long thin fingers that reach through their wings, and their wings are made out of an extraordinarily stretchy membrane. This allows them to twist and shape their wings in ways that other creatures can't, and so maneuver quickly and accurately through tight spaces like caves. They can take off almost vertically from the ground and they can take off hanging upside down.

"Nature does many, many things we don't know how to do in engineering," laments Kenneth Breuer, an engineering professor at Brown and the principal investigator on the Air Force grant.

Breuer and his Brown colleague Sharon Swartz, an evolutionary biologist, put bats in wind tunnels and study how they move their wings during takeoff, flight and landing. Using lasers that illuminate tiny particles in the air flow created by the bats' wings, the researchers study the turbulence created.

Bat research highlighted in Forbes on June 26, 2009.

Liu wins Acta Biomaterialia Graduate Student Award

Huinan Liu (Brown BME Graduate) was just selected as the Acta Biomaterialia Graduate Student Award winner for her paper:

"An in vitro evaluation of the Ca/P ratio for the cytocompatibility of nano-to-micron particulate calcium phosphates for bone regeneration”, Acta Biomaterialia 2008; 4:1472-1479.

Acta Biomaterialia currently has the 2nd highest journal impact factor in the Materials Science, Biomaterials category.

The award letter reads:
"The field of nominees was very impressive, and the task of selecting a winner was challenging. Not only did your paper demonstrate exceptional value to the biomaterials community, which was also evidenced by its download ranking, but your personal credentials and recommendations were also exemplary. We will present this award at the 2009 Materials Science & Technology Meeting in Pittsburgh in October."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Superfund renewed to create a safer and healthier RI

Brown's Superfund Research Program (SRP) brings together researchers from engineering, biology and medicine, geological sciences, and sociology to investigate human health risks of environmental contamination, and to design new technologies to mitigate those risks. The grant amount is $15.4 million over a period of five years (April 2009-March 2014). This new award serves as a renewal to our original grant, which began in 2005 and expired in April 2009.

The vision of the grant is to create a safer and healthier Rhode Island through basic and applied research, education, training, and community outreach related to health effects and remediation of chemical contamination. We have partnerships with the Rhode Island Department of Health, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and many local community groups.

Here is the SRP website:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nanoparticles eliminate bacterial infection on prosthetic

Infected implants now have a foe. Brown University researchers have created a nanoparticle that can penetrate a bacterial-produced film on prosthetics and kill the bacteria. The finding, published in the International Journal of Nanomedicine, is the first time that iron-oxide nanoparticles have been shown to eliminate a bacterial infection on an implanted prosthetic device.

Press release here:

Resulted in July 9th Providence Journal story:
Nano “cannonballs” bash infected implants
Patients suffering from infected prostheses may now have an ally in tiny “cannonballs.” The nanoparticles created by graduate student Erik Taylor and engineering associate professor Thomas Webster have been shown in lab tests to kill bacteria that congregate on implants.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hydrodynamics of Microorganisms

Professor Powers' article, Hydrodynamics of Swimming Mircoorganisms, was accepted this week in Reports on Progress in Physics.
Preview the article here:
Cell motility in viscous fluids is ubiquitous and affects many biological processes, including reproduction, infection, and the marine life ecosystem. Here we review the biophysical and mechanical principles of locomotion at the small scales relevant to cell swimming, tens of microns and below. At this scale, inertia is unimportant and the Reynolds number is small. Our emphasis is on the simple physical picture and fundamental flow physics phenomena in this regime. We first give a brief overview of the mechanisms for swimming motility, and of the basic properties of flows at low Reynolds number, paying special attention to aspects most relevant for swimming, such as resistance matrices for solid bodies, flow singularities, and kinematic requirements for net translation. Then we review classical theoretical work on cell motility, in particular early calculations of swimming kinematics with prescribed stroke and the application of resistive-force theory and slender-body theory to flagellar locomotion. After examining the physical means by which flagella are actuated, we outline areas of active research, including hydrodynamic interactions, biological locomotion in complex fluids, the design of small-scale artificial swimmers, and the optimization of locomotion strategies.

In addition, some of his recent work was highlighted on the NSF news page:
Scientists studying how marine bacteria move have discovered that a sharp variation in water current segregates right-handed bacteria from their left-handed brethren, impelling the microbes in opposite directions. This finding and the possibility of quickly and cheaply implementing the segregation of two-handed objects in the laboratory could have a big impact on industries like the pharmaceutical industry, for which the separation of right-handed from left-handed molecules can be crucial to drug safety.
More here:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

RI Woman of the Year

The Rhode Island Commission on Women (RICW) is pleased to announce the 2009 Women of the Year, Lynn Ewart-Paine, ’85 ’86 Sc.M. ’90 Ph.D., Science and Technology. This award recognizes influential women in Rhode Island who demonstrate a history of individual achievement, or who have made lasting and positive contributions in the community to help elevate the presence of women and improve the quality of life for women in the state.

Created in 1989, the Women of the Year Award celebrates the work of pioneering Rhode Island women who are influential in areas such as the arts, business, economic development, employment, education, health, legal rights and politics. These women have a positive impact on the lives of women and/or girls in our state through their work as role models and mentors.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Graduation Weekend

We enjoyed celebrating with our graduating class and returning engineering alumni this past weekend! Best of luck in your future endeavors and keep in touch!

Here are photos from Commencement/Alumni Weekend. As always, you can download original files by clicking on the "all sizes" button on the top left corner of the photo.

Engineering Alumni Reception:

PRIME Brunch:

BEAM Dinner:

Undergraduate Diploma Ceremony:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Brown FSAE places 25th

Brown FSAE Team traveled to Detriot, Michigan to compete against nearly 100 teams from around the world. Our team placed 25th this year and notably had the only female driver in the endurance competition. The team placed 16th on fuel efficiency. They are clearly aware of energy and resource consumption.

Brown's team has finished the endurance portion 12 out of the past 13 years, which is a portion of the race that less than 30% of teams complete. They should be applauded for their reliable car.

Here are the results from the FSAE website:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Biosensor to Measure Vitamin D Levels

A team from Professor Palmore's lab consisting of two grad students (Steve Rhieu and Vince Siu) and one undergraduate (Daniel Ludwig, '09) is in the Finalist round of the BMEIdea 2009 competition on June 9th – June 11th, in New York City, New York. This work was made possible by an OVPR seed grant and has a preliminary patent application submitted.

Here is the brief project summary:

We propose a new methodology to measure vitamin D levels in serum using electrochemical detection. Vitamin D is a prohormone that is hydroxylated in the liver to become 25(OH)D, which is further hydroxylated in the kidney by the enzyme CYP27B1 to become the biologically active form. The electrochemical approach is based on the hypothesis that the hydroxylation of 25(OH)D can be measured via the catalytic reaction of CYP27B1 immobilized on an electrode. The reaction requires a supply of electrons, generating a detectable current that is proportional to the concentration of 25(OH)D. Similar to a commercial glucose meter, our proposed vitamin D biosensor will use a disposable testing strip that is inserted in the portable device along with a sub-microliter sample. The sample is analyzed and the result is displayed both qualitatively and quantitatively on a liquid crystal display. Specific recognition of 25(OH)D by a CYP27B1-based electrode system eliminates the need for extensive extraction and/or purification of the sample allowing for inexpensive, accurate, and rapid measurements.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Car of the future

Faculty and students at Brown and RISD have teamed up to build a car of the future for urban areas. The vehicle, designed in part by senior lecturer and senior research engineer Chris Bull and his class, has a seven-horsepower biodiesel engine and potentially can go 100 miles on one gallon of fuel. The story was accompanied by a video featuring the car.
Full report online:
Video of the car:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Engin grad earns outstanding dissertation award

Lijie Zhang (Ph.D., BME, 2009), won the Joukowsky Family Outstanding Dissertation Award for her thesis "Biologically Inspired Rosette Nanotube Nanocomposites for Bone Tissue Engineering, Orthopedic, and Vascular Applications".

The letter reads that she was selected out of over 200 PhD graduates this year for her superior achievement in research. The award will be given out during the Graduate School Commencement ceremony.

Lijie is now completing a post-doc at Rice University.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gao receives award

Huajian Gao has been selected to receive the 2009 Robert Henry Thurston Lecture Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers “for groundbreaking research on mechanical properties of both engineering and biological systems across multiple length scales”. Formal presentation of the award is scheduled to take place at the Robert Henry Thurston Lecture, during the ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition, November 13-19, 2009.

About the Robert Henry Thurston Lecture Award:

The Robert Henry Thurston Lecture was established in 1925 in honor of Robert Henry Thurston (Brown, B.S., Civil Engineering, 1859), the first president of ASME and a farseeing leader in science and engineering. The Robert Henry Thurston Lecture, presented annually at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress, provides an outstanding leader in pure or applied science or engineering with the honor of presenting to the Society a lecture that encourages stimulating thinking on a subject of broad technical interest to engineers. The Robert Henry Thurston Lecture was elevated to a Society award in 2000.

Robert Henry Thurston (1839-1903) was born in Providence, Rhode Island. His father, Robert Lawton Thurston, manufactured steam engines in Providence. The young Robert Henry Thurston went to Brown University, where he graduated as a civil engineer in 1859. He was the first professor of mechanical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology (in 1871). There he established Stevens’ mechanical engineering curriculum. Historians credit Thurston with establishing the first US mechanical engineering laboratory for conducting funded research at an academic institution for higher learning. He was the first president (1880-82) of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kumar selected for keynote

Professor Sharvan Kumar will deliver the Keynote Lecture in the symposium, Modeling and Deformation Behavior of Non-Cubic Metals at the JSME Materials and Mechanics Conference 2009, July 24-26, 2009 in Sapporo, Japan.

The conference details are presented here:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nanotechnology and regenerative medicine

Nanotechnology is contributing greatly to regenerative medicine, particularly by creating nanometer pores and associated nanometer surface features to improve bladder tissue growth while inhibiting bladder calcium stone formation, which is a common disease affecting 5.2% of adults in the US with a high rate of recurrence.

The article covers the work of Young Wook Chun (BME PhD student from Professor Webster's lab) who is creating nanostructured polymers to repair injured bladders.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Webster discusses intricacies of nanomaterials

Excerpts from Globe and Mail article:
Thomas Webster, an associate professor of engineering at Brown University in Providence, R.I., says that to peer at the intricacies of various tissues, such as bone or skin, through a super-powered microscope is to enter the nano world at a glance.

“Toxicity is incredibly important for us to understand when we're making these materials or when we're using them,” said Dr. Webster, whose own research includes designing nanomaterials for such orthopedic applications as joint replacements and limb prosthetics.

More on this article from the Globe and Mail on April 9, 2009.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Neuroengineering Master Classes

Brown University Division of Engineering,
Center for Biomedical Engineering, and
Brown Institute for Brain Science

Present NeuroEngineering 1220 “Master Classes”

As part of the Spring ‘09 NeuroEngineering 122 (ENGN 1220) course,
several visiting experts will introduce core neurotechnologies of
clinical relevance.

This series is directed toward the undergraduate and graduate
students enrolled in ENGN 1220, but we open these “master classes”
to other students and researchers interested in Neuroengineering.

All lectures are from 1:00 – 2:20 pm, in
Barus and Holley, Seminar Room 190, or
Sidney Frank Hall Life Sciences Bldg., Marcuvitz Auditorium 220

Tues., 3/10
B & H 190
“Fundamentals of EEG”
Sydney Cash, M.D., Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital
Thurs., 3/12
B & H 190
“Fundamentals of MEG”
Sydney Cash, M.D., Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital
Thurs., 4/16
SFH 220
“Fundamentals of Functional Electrical Stimulation”
Robert F. Kirsch, Ph.D.
Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland VA Med. Center
Tues., 4/21
B & H 190
“Fundamentals of Retinal Prostheses”
Joseph F. Rizzo, M.D.
Harvard Medical School, Mass. Eye & Ear Infirmary, and Boston VAMC
Thurs., 4/23
SFH 220
“Fundamentals of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation”
Alvaro Pascual-Leone, M.D., Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Host: Profs. Leigh Hochberg and Arto Nurmikko, Div. of Engineering, 863-2869
Administrative Contact: Sandra Van Wagoner, Div. of Engineering, 863-1415

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Kumar's recent accomplishments

Professor Sharvan Kumar's recent accomplishments:

1) Invited Speaker: DPG (German Physics Society) Spring Meeting; Metal and Material Physics Division, Dresden Germany, March 22-27, 2009.

2) Invited as an Internal Evaluator for : The Inter-Max-Planck Institutes Research Program, "The Nature of Laves Phases" March 16-March 24, 2009, Germany.

3) Awarded the JSPS Fellowship (Japan Society for Promotion of Science Fellowship) by the Government of Japan to visit Japan for a month to give multiple seminars etc. Will be hosted by Tohoku University. Period July 15 - August 15, 2009.

4) Keynote Speaker for the Symposium "Metals and Intermetallics for High Temperature Applications" at Euromat 2009 --The Federation of European Materials Societies, to be help Sept 07-10, 2009.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Zhang wins STAR award

Lijie Zhang (PhD, 2009), was just selected as a Society for Biomaterials STAR award winner based on her research developing injectable tissue engineering materials to heal bone defects. Her certificate will read:

"Your paper entitled “Novel Osteogenic Peptide Modified Helical Rosette Nanotubes for Improving Orthopedic Applications” was nominated by the Orthopaedic Biomaterials SIG (Special Interest Group) as an outstanding contribution to the Society for Biomaterials 2009 Annual Meeting. The Education and Professional Development Committee of the Society has awarded you with a STAR award!"

This recognition will be announced from the podium during the opening ceremony at the Society for Biomaterials, Wednesday, April 22 at 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Zia earns NSF Career Award

Assistant Professor Rashid Zia becomes one of a very distinguished group of young faculty members in the Division who have received National Science Foundation Career Awards.
More detail available here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Renaissance Engineer Series

Focus on: Leadership - Brown ENGINEERING PROFILES
How our Engineering Alumni are creating change through innovative leadership

Excerpt from Dean's Message:
"I want to use this issue to begin engaging our graduates and students in changing the perception of the roles that engineers can play in our society - and need to play if we are to address effectively the complex issues that we face in energy, environment, clean water, health care, climate change, and even the world economy. Engineers today need to be understood, not as merely workers with valuable technical training, but as highly-capable, broadly-prepared people who bring a deep understanding of science, math, and engineering know-how to the solution of problems that challenge our society....Preparing engineers for truly difference-making careers is Brown’s challenge - and its responsibility in view of the high potential of students who choose to study here."

Read more here:

Friday, February 6, 2009

Prof. Powers appointed as editor

Thomas Powers, Associate Professor of Engineering, has recently been appointed Associate Editor for Biological Physics at the journal Reviews of Modern Physics.

The journal website is

Monday, February 2, 2009

Unraveling how bats fly

Reuters TV 2 February 2009
Unraveling how bats fly

Kenneth Breuer, professor of engineering, discusses how scientists are seeking to understand the flight of bats and hope one day to build flying machines that mimic bat flight. The program was carried worldwide, including television stations in Italy, Greece, Spain, Russia and China.

Full report online:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

eMotive: Out of Gas

RISD design students and engineering majors from Brown University combined their problem-solving resources in fall 2008 to tackle a growing global problem: the need for affordable, flexible transportation powered by renewable fuel sources. An outgrowth of the eMotive project – an ongoing collaboration between Industrial Design faculty Khipra Nichols BID ’78 and Michael Lye ’96 ID and Brown Engineering faculty Chris Bull – the Out of Gas! studio focused on the needs of urban commuters, using Providence as a test case.

Lye and Bull team-taught the studio, which brought together roughly 12 students from RISD and 12 from Brown to explore “where and how industrial design and engineering intersect” in the context of a real-world problem, Bull explains. In addition to reaping the benefits of complementary expertise, the students took full advantage of both institutions’ specialized facilities: the metal, wood and model shops at RISD, and the Prince Engineering Lab at Brown, which offers access to CNC and rapid prototyping technology.

More information:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Canadian Press article featuring nanoscience

Tiny particles lead medicine from science fiction to nanorobots fighting cancer
Jan 7, 2009

Article Excerpt:
Thomas Webster, an associate professor of engineering at Brown University in Providence, R.I., says that to peer at the intricacies of various tissues, such as bone or skin, through a super-powered microscope is to enter the nano world at a glance.

"What we're finding out is that nanomaterials make up our tissues," says Webster, editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Nanomedicine, who points as an example to enzymes and proteins that power the functions that give us life.

"So we are walking nano things. We are assembled from nanomaterials."