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Collaborative research teams tackle new problems with Pilot Grant funding

Collaborative research teams tackle new problems with Pilot Grant funding

Findings Staff Report | June 21, 2022

At the University of Cincinnati Office of Research, we aim to spur collaborative research and creative activities that create a brighter future built on partnerships within and beyond UC.

One way we do that is with the Collaborative Research Advancement Program’s pilot grants awarded to further our Research2030 strategy and Next Lives Here mission. The research teams selected this spring each have a solid plan to advance a high-potential idea in the areas of energy, health and the environment.

Proposals were selected based on the feasibility and quality of the research approach, the impact and innovation of the desired outcomes and the composition of the research team.

Each research team was awarded up to $25,000 and will have up to 18 months to complete their proposed research activities.

Project:  Next-generation Air Conditioning Systems and Materials Based on Solid-State Thermoelectric Energy Conversion

“This goal of this Pilot Grant project is to develop the first commercially viable, scalable and all solid-state air conditioning system that is competitive in the market in both energy efficiency and cost. These systems can potentially replace the conventional vapor compression-based systems used in residential and commercial buildings today. Solid-state air conditioning systems are more environmentally sustainable, eliminating the use of harmful refrigerants and could change the energy landscape of the nation.” 

Lead investigator: Assistant Professor Je-Hyeong Bahk, Ph.D., Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer

Other team members:

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Sarah Watzman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry Peng Zhang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering Kishan Bellur, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering Ashley Paz Y Puente, Ph.D., Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering Raj Manglik, Ph.D., and Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics Milind Jog, Ph.D. 

Project: Innovative approaches to monitoring surface water quality using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and sensors

“With the experience and knowledge gained from this project, we can provide insight into what is possible for an UAV-based automatic water quality sampling system that can collect data remotely and autonomously improving our ability to track and manage the health of our surface waters more efficiently and effectively. Specifically, we will integrate UAVs with a laser-based water quality sensor and a multispectral sensor to monitor the levels of Chlorophyll in the Ohio River.”

Lead investigator: Assistant Professor Dongmei Feng, Ph.D., Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering

Other team members: 

Kelly Cohen, Ph.D., Brian H. Rowe Endowed Chair Department of Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics

Project: A Diabetes Medication Decision Support System

“Our goal is to ultimately impact the health and quality of life of diabetes patients, which number 537 million worldwide and 37 million in the U.S. alone, leveraging technologies and empowering clinicians with evidence-based, interpretable guidelines for diabetes management that use the most up-to-date guidelines. Our proposed research will advance this goal by developing a diabetes decision support system that improves health outcomes, lowers the $100 billion healthcare costs associated with medication management, reduces the average 42-174 missed workdays and minimizes chronic morbidities and mortality.”

Lead investigator: Associate Professor Dong-Gil Ko, Ph.D., Operations, Business Analytics & Information Systems

Other team members:

Associate Professor of Pediatrics Judith Wehling Dexheimer, Ph.D., and Professor of Medicine Mark H. Eckman, M.D.

Project: Injectable hydrogels to prevent premature bone fusion and major surgical intervention in the pediatric skull

“Every year in the United States, craniosynostosis, premature fusion of the bones in a child’s skull, affects thousands of children 2 and under. Primarily treated with highly invasive and complex reconstructive surgeries, this Collaborative Research Advancement Pilot Grant will support development of a simple, minimally invasive system that can prevent these premature fusions in at-risk children. This system is expected to dramatically improve patient quality of life by decreasing post-operative pain and shortening/eliminating hospital stays for these young children.”

Lead investigator: Assistant Professor John Martin, Ph.D., Department of Biomedical Engineering

Other team members:

Division Director of Pediatric Plastic Surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Brian Pan, M.D.; and Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery Jesse Skoch, M.D., also of Children's Hospital.

Project: Development and Validation of a Scaffold to Promote Skin Substitute Innervation

“Over 30,000 skin grafts are performed each year in the United States. Afterward, studies show that 71% of patients suffer from abnormal sensation and 36% suffer from chronic pain. This project will focus on developing a bilayer scaffold for skin engineering that will balance the needs for wound closure and innervation. The objective is to develop a first generation of bilayer scaffold and to study skin-nerve communication outside of the body.”

Lead investigator: Assistant Professor Stacey C. Schutte, Ph.D., Department of Biomedical Engineering

Other team members:

Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Neuroscience graduate program Steve Davidson, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Greg Harris, Ph.D.; and Adjunct Professor Dorothy Mae Supp, who is also a scientific staff member at Shriners Children’s in Dayton, Ohio.

Project: 3D Printing of 3D Graphene: A New Paradigm in Nanotechnology for Scalable Energy Conversion and Storage Applications

“With this Pilot Grant we will employ a novel 3D printing method to create three-dimensional graphene structures. The successful implementation of the proposed technology will serve as an enabling tool for market-competitive, graphene-based electronic and energy generation and storage devices, which can potentially revolutionize the fields.”

Lead investigator: Professor Vesselin Shanov, Ph.D., Chemical and Environmental Engineering

Other team members:

Assistant Professor Je-Hyeong Bahk, Ph.D.