Weekly Memo

June 15, 2015

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

        Research is an integral part of what we do at the Hajim School.

        So it is rewarding to see that Hajim School faculty members are involved in seven of the 10 University Research Awards that were recently announced for this year. These awards, previously known as Provost Multidisciplinary Awards, provide seed money for innovative research projects that are likely to attract external support when sufficiently developed.

     For example, Prof. Wendi Heinzelman and Assistant Professors Zhiyao Duan, Thomas Howard, and Gonzalo Mateos Buckstein, all of Electrical and Computer Engineering, are working with faculty members in Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology and Brain and Cognitive Sciences to create a multidisciplinary laboratory that uses real-time avatars to manipulate social cues, enabling new research in social interactions, child development, and human-robot interaction models.

    Philip Guo, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, received an award for his project to help writers to receive more and higher-quality feedback. How? With a novel multimodal user interface that employs mouse and touch gestures along with speech recognition to quickly hone in where readers are focusing in a writer 's text, and signal which parts feel awkward to readers, and where they are getting bored or confused.

    Qiang Lin, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will use a novel mechanism to produce ultra-broadband phase locked frequency combs on chip-scale nanophotonic devices. Such devices could "potentially revolutionize the state of the art of frequency comb generation."

      Mark Buckley, Assistant Professor Biomedical Engineering, working with a faculty member in the Center for Musculoskeletal Research, will test the hypothesis that decreased tendon strength as a result of Type 2 Diabetes is due to suppression of Matrix metalloproteinase (Mmp) activity, resulting in impaired tissue remodeling.

     Danielle Benoit, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, working with a faculty member in Ophthalmology, will use bioengineering to create optimal culture for growing human Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE) cells, which form the outer blood barrier in the retina, from human induced pluripotent stem cells. Development of a functional model of the outer retinal blood barrier using a patient's own cells will allow study of disease mechanisms and potential drug treatments.

    Nick Vamivakas, Assistant Professor of Quantum Optics & Quantum Physics, and Gary Wicks, Professor of Optics, will work in the exciting new domain of optovalleytronics to design a valley light emitting diode that will couple 2D valley electrons to photons in ways that enable light generation, modulation and detection. They will also design active material for optovalleytronic devices.

    Ehsan Hoque, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, will work with three faculty members in Psychiatry to develop an automated tool to teach social engagement skills for older adults. This builds on the impressive work Ehsan has already done in this area of Human-Computer Interaction.

    I am impressed by the exciting range of topics represented here, and by the collaboration with researchers outside the Hajim School.

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


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean