Weekly Memo

Dec. 15, 2014

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

      Machine learning techniques similar to the ones that Henry Kautz, Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Institute for Data Science, and colleagues used to track flu in New York City will be applied to the Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa. Henry has received an NSF grant to develop a smartphone app to help Ebola victims find care, to improve the epidemiology used to monitor the disease, and to educate people about preventive measures. With more than 2 million Android devices in use in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia alone, the  app could be an important tool in curtailing this and future Ebola outbreaks -- and could save thousands of lives in the process. Solomon Abiola, a Health and Technology Research Associate with the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics, and Ray Dorsey, Director of the Center and the David M. Levy Professor of Neurology, are co-PIs. We wish them all the best in bringing this to fruition.

     The lab of Laurel Carney, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and of Neurobiology and Anatomy, has received a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant,  "Speech Enhancement Based on Auditory Coding of Voiced Signals," to test a novel strategy to develop signal-processing algorithms that will enhance speech in noisy environments for listeners with normal hearing or with hearing loss. The lab is joining forces with a small company, Omnispeech LLC, which has expertise in developing algorithms for speech enhancement for cell phone applications. In addition to cell phones, other applications could include hearing-aids or other assistive devices.

     Brian McIntyre, Lecturer in Optics and Director of Operations at the Integrated Nanosystems Center (URnano), made quite an impression recently when he talked about microscopes to the fifth grade students his daughter teaches in York County, Pennsylvania. He caught their attention by asking them to take a really close look at the cookies they had just been handed. As they started noticing the marshmallows and colored sprinkles, he explained that this is basically what scientists do with microscopes -- take a closer look. And then he asked them to identify a series of images produced by a one-ton, 30,000 magnification electron microscope. A human hair. "Guck" from a house gutter. The compound eye of a fly. A snowflake. "I learned that when you put something under a microscope, it looks way cooler," one student wrote afterwards. Mission accomplished, Brian!

     Congratulations to:

     Christophe Dorrer, Senior Scientist at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, for being elected a Fellow of The Optical Society (OSA). Christophe is being recognized for the invention of methods and devices for the control and characterization of ultra-fast optical pulses, with significant impact across a wide range of applications, from telecommunications to high-energy lasers.

     Timothy Felong, a BME undergraduate in Prof. Danielle Benoit's lab, who won the 2014-2015 Undergraduate Research Initiative Award from the Friends of the UR Libraries (FURL) for his project titled “Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Based Regenerative Approaches for the Salivary Gland.”

     Lauren Bailey, senior, and Danielle Neu, sophomore, both of Chemical Engineering, for their outstanding performances in helping the women's swim team win their sixth straight Liberty League championship. Lauren was named Women's Liberty League Swimmer of the Year for the third straight year; she swam on three winning relays and won four individual events at the championship. Danielle won diver of the year honors; she finished first on the three-meter board and second on the one-meter board.

     Optics alumni Pierce Day (BS ’48, MS ’53) has published Career in Optics: A Memoir that Spans 36 Years (1950-86) of Optics History at Eastman Kodak. Day is considered by many to be the father of the “K” optical system at Kodak, which included cameras for U.S. reconnaissance satellites. He was born to China missionaries in1924 and received his early education in boarding schools in that country. After joining the lens design department at Kodak, he worked on a variety of projects, including the Hubble Telescope and Kodak’s Extaprint color copier. Day is the sole or contributing inventor on ten U.S. patents, with the corresponding foreign patents that also were issued.

    Just a reminder that Hajim School students interested in pursuing a master's here in any aspect of energy and the impact of energy on the environment should consider applying for  Iberdrola Fellows in Energy and the Environment awards. They are open to students of U.S. and Spanish origin who have a 3.5 GPA or higher. They provide a $25,000 stipend plus covering all tuition and fees. We have had Iberdrola fellows for the past three years, in ChemE, Alternative Energy, ECE, and TEAM. Note also that these fellowships are only made available to students at the University of Rochester and the University of Maine. Students interested in learning more about these fellowships can click here.

      As always, keep me updated and have a great week.


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean