Weekly Memo

April 6, 2015

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

      Here's a challenge: How can medications to reduce dental plaque be applied to our teeth, and not be washed away by our saliva before they can take effect? Researchers led by Danielle Benoit, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Hyun Koo at the University of Pennsylvania have found a way to do just that. They've created a nanoparticle carrier with a positively charged outer surface that attaches to the negatively charged hydroxyapatite found in tooth enamel. Once attached, a drug contained in the carrier is then released as a result of pH levels that occur when  glucose, sucrose and other food products that cause tooth decay are present. Good work, Danielle. (Read more here.)

     The exciting work being done by the Human-Computer Interaction Group is further manifested in the intelligent user interface they've developed for "smart glasses." The interface gives public speakers real-time feedback on whether they're speaking too loudly or softly, for example, or too quickly or slowly. The system, named Rhema after the Greek word for utterance, is described in a paper by Ehsan Hoque, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, and  two of his students, M. Iftekhar Tanveer and Emy Lin. The paper was presented recently at the Association for Computer Machinery's Intelligent User Interfaces conference in Atlanta.  You can read more about Rhema here.

    Ehsan, by the way, was recently notified that he is recipient of an NSF CRII (pre-CAREER) award for $170,000. This is a new award given to faculty in computing within two years of their appointment. It will help fund Ehsan's work to develop a framework that allows anyone to practice public speaking skills using a computer browser. Read more here.

    Congratulations as well to:

    Diane Dalecki, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Director of the Rochester Center for Biomedical Ultrasound, who has been elected Vice Chair of the Bioeffects Committee of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine. The committee provides information and guidance to the institute on matters relating to the biological effects and safety of ultrasound. Following completion of a two-year term as vice chair, Diane will become chair of the committee, a post she previously held from 2001 to 2003.

    And to Kang Liu, a PhD student in Prof. Xi-Cheng Zhang's Terahertz Group at the Institute of Optics. She recently returned from a month of research in Greece, supported in part with a Research Mobility Grant. Kang worked with Stelios Tzortzakis, Associate Professor and researcher at the Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH) in Heraklion. Kang's project, involving terahertz emission from ring-Airy beam induced plasma, has resulted in a paper she has submitted for an upcoming IRMMW-THz conference and will likely submit to a peer-reviewed journal.

    As promised, here are further details on how students, faculty and staff can apply for NSF grants and entrepreneurial training to advance their technical ideas to the marketplace. Our recently funded NSF I-Corps Site program is accepting applications through April 20 for the first cohort of trainees for Fall 2015.  See details here; applications should be sent to natalie.antal@rochester.edu.

     Nominations for our Dottie Welch award, named in honor of BME's outstanding former undergraduate coordinator, are being accepted through next Monday. The award is given annually to a Hajim School faculty or staff member "whose performance and dedication enriches the student experience" in the tradition exemplified by Dottie during her 25-plus years of service. Send nominations to to monique_smith@UR.rochester.edu. All nominations will be compiled onto an electronic ballot that will be made available no later than April 15.

      Four women who leveraged their engineering backgrounds to become corporate leaders will tell their stories -- and share valuable advice for budding technical leaders -- at a panel discussion from 7 to 8:30 p.m., this Thursday, April 9 at Goergen 109. They include three of our own alumnae -- Carol Duquette '85 of MechE/Geology, now Vice President of Design Services and Maintenance at Wegmans; Sharon Hoffman-Manning '79 of ChemE, now Global Franchise Director at Johnson&Johnson; and Sheryl Smith '79, '82 (MS) of ChemE, now a Strategic Account General Manager at Xerox Corp.  -- plus Selma Rossen, who retired last year as President and CEO of Hansome Energy Systems. Students of all class years and majors are encouraged to attend this special event, sponsored by the Hajim School, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center. Afterwards you can mingle with the panelists at an informal dessert reception.  RSVP  here  or email laura.a.jones@rochester.edu.

    Thirteen University teams will be among those competing Wednesday at St. John Fisher College's Basil Hall and Wegmans School of Nursing for the right to advance to the finals of the New York Business Plan Competition on April 24 in Albany, where $500,000 in cash prizes will be up for grabs. The regional event at St. John Fisher, which starts at 5:30 p.m., is free and open to the public. Read more here.

    Condolences to the family of John Royal Ferron, an Emeritus Professor of Chemical Engineering, who passed away recently at the age of 88.  He joined the University in 1969, and served as department chair until 1977. He retired in 1993 and is remembered as a mentor and friend to students and fellow professors.

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


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean