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Vanderbilt University - 2016

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Research Description

Research Description By Graduate Engineering Department

Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineering as a research discipline is concerned with the development of new physical and mathematical concepts applicable to problems in biology, medicine, and the organization of health care. Biomedical engineering also deals with more pragmatic problems, such as biomedical use of information systems and development of advanced biomedical instrumentation. The vision of the BME graduate program is to provide the best advanced education to our graduate students such that they are optimally prepared for successful careers in academia, industry, and related fields. The goal of the program is to provide advanced education and research training in quantitative biology, biomaterials, cellular bioengineering, biomedical photonics, medical imaging, biomedical instrumentation, and the scientific principles underlying the origination of diagnostic and therapeutic devices and processes. The program is specifically concerned with the interface between biology, medicine, and the engineering, physical, computing, and mathematical sciences.

Biomedical imaging and the development of in vivo imaging methods with an emphasis on high field magnetic resonance imaging / magnetic resonance spectroscopy, nuclear, ultrasound and optical techniques and their applications in cancer, neuroscience and metabolic diseases; integrated imaging systems and computational approaches to guide surgery and other therapies (technology guided therapy); biophotonics with an emphasis on laser-tissue interaction and spectroscopy for diagnosis of cancer and other disease states; multifunctional nanostructured materials for sensing, reporting and tissue-specific activity in living systems (bionanotechnology); cellular and intracellular bioengineering with an emphasis on cancer therapeutics, regenerative engineering, immunotherapies, biomaterials, mechanobiology, and gene therapy.

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Graduate work in chemical engineering provides an opportunity for study and research at the cutting edge - to contribute to shaping a new model of what chemical engineering is and what chemical engineers do. All faculty members in the Department are active in research and direction of graduate student projects, Research is conducted in molecular modeling and simulations, materials, nanotechnology, adsorption/surface chemistry, biotechnology and bioengineering, semiconductor processing, energy, including solar energy, biofuels and fuel cells, and polymer membranes and films.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Graduate work in civil and environmental engineering tackles challenges in the built and the natural world as our faculty and students work together on research that is reshaping the nation’s approach to sustainable and resilient infrastructure, clean energy and water, and the cities of the future. Research is performed in the following areas: environmental assessment and novel materials for addressing environmental challenges with water and energy; advanced multi-scale and multi-physics modeling and experimental characterization approaches for developing reliable and sustainable infrastructure materials and systems; statistical modeling and data analysis approaches for risk, reliability, and resilience studies in infrastructure and environmental systems; and, simulation and visualization data analytic techniques to support risk-based decision making at the community, regional and national levels. Our programs’ interdisciplinary partnerships with researchers across the university, throughout the nation and internationally enrich the experience for our students who work at the leading edge of their fields of study in world-class research facilities with state-of-the-art experimental and computational capabilities.

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Solid State and Microelectronics: Space radiation effects on electronic and photonic devices; vacuum microelectronics including MEMS-based sensors, using wide-band gap semiconductors such as diamond; characterization, simulation, and modeling of radiation effects and reliability; photonic crystals; biosensing, risk and reliability.

Computer Engineering: Model-integrated computing, software engineering, and real-time systems; performance evaluation of parallel and distributed systems; robotics and computer vision.

Image and Signal Processing: Automatic quantitative analysis of magnetic resonance, X-ray computed tomography, and positron emission tomography images; modeling of physical systems, numerical algorithms and direction finding. Internet of things.

Other research areas: Computer architecture; computational economics. Smart cities. Cubesats.

Computer Science: Algorithms and systems; artificial intelligence, big data; cognitive modeling; computational science; data mining; intelligent systems; machine learning; medical imaging; modeling and analysis of physical systems; performance evaluation; software engineering; middleware; human-computer interaction; computer networking and network security.

Interdisciplinary Materials Science Program

The interdisciplinary materials science program provides a truly multi-disciplinary degree in that all students have co-advisers from the various affiliated departments and schools, and student advisory committees are composed of faculty members from at least three different departments. As such, the breadth of projects available to students spans the broad areas of energy, optics, and health, most of which are addressed from a nanostructured materials point of view. Specific technology areas include, batteries, microelectronics, metamaterials, white-light LEDs, thermoelectrics, photovoltaics, drug delivery, and tissue scaffolding, to name a few. Students are prepared to face engineering and scientific challenges that address some of the world’s biggest societal concerns. And due to their multi-disciplinary experience, graduates will be able to bridge scientific borders to solve these materials problems.

Mechanical Engineering

Research in mechanical engineering spans a wide spectrum, including design and control of a wide variety of mechanical systems, novel materials, miniaturized devices, nanotechnology-based energy conversion and storage, computational fluid dynamics, and laser diagnosis of combustion. Our research has significant impacts in areas such as surgical robots, rehabilitation engineering, biomedical microdevices, energetic and bio-materials, nanoscale transport process, photonics and plasmonics, batteries and supercapacitors, and complex flow phenomena. Mechanical engineering faculty members mentor motivated graduate students to pursue cutting-edge research to move the frontiers of mechanical engineering and benefit the society through new scientific discoveries and novel engineering devices.

Research Description By Engineering Research Center

Biomedical Photonics Center at Vanderbilt University

The mission of the Vanderbilt Biophotonics Center (VBC) is to establish a trans-institutional initiative in biophotonics research, technology development and education at Vanderbilt University. The center spans across multiple schools (Engineering, Medicine and Arts & Science) and interfaces with existing centers and institutes (VICC, VINSE, VUIIS, VBI, VIIBRE, ViSE) while being anchored in Engineering. The center is focused on targeted educational programs for medical residents, fellows as well as graduate and undergraduate students and provides opportunities for learning for high schools students interested in this area. The research mission is centered around three main areas: 1) Cancer photonics; 2) Neuro-photonics; and 3) Multiscale photonics. Each of these areas builds on existing strengths and will drive biophotonics research at Vanderbilt to the international forefront. The thematic focus of this center is on the development and application of photonic technologies for fundamental discovery and clinical translation in biomedicine.

Center for Intelligent Mechatronics (CIM)

The design and control of electromechanical devices is the primary concern of this center, and research topics often involve the interface and interrelation between the two. The center is focused technically on dynamic systems and control, and the implication of such techniques toward the design of innovative devices. The primary area of application has been in the development of innovative robotics systems. Such projects have included the development of hyper-efficient piezoelectrically actuated resonant mobile robots, the development of novel compliant-mechanism-based multi-degree-of-freedom robot manipulators for scaled telemanipulation, the development of liquid-rocket-propellant-powered self-contained pneumatic robots, and most recently the development of robotic artificial limbs for both upper and lower extremity amputees.

Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP)

CRESP is a university consortium working to advance cost-effective clean-up of the nation's nuclear weapons production waste sites and test facilities by improving the scientific and technical basis of environmental remediation and risk management decisions. Vanderbilt is the lead institution of this multi-institutional effort, and partners include faculty members from Rutgers University, University of Pittsburgh, New York University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Howard University, University of Arizona and Oregon State University. CRESP maintains an independent peer review group of national experts to provide operational review capabilities to the Department of Energy and provide peer review of CRESP research when the demand for research results requires information release prior to completion of the normal academic peer review for journal publications.

Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS)

The Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS) is an internationally renowned research organization focused on advanced technologies for embedded systems and software. From single-vehicle anti-lock braking control systems to large-scale network-centric combat systems, embedded software is playing an ever-greater role in critical infrastructures for such diverse areas as industrial automation, transportation, telecommunications, medical devices, and defense systems. A comprehensive research program at ISIS addresses key aspects of embedded system and software development and is funded by the National Science Foundation, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, NASA, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and a wide range of commercial companies.

Institute for Space and Defense Electronics (ISDE)

The Institute for Space and Defense Electronics (ISDE) contributes to the design and analysis of radiation-hardened electronics, the development of test methods and plans for assuring radiation hardness, and the development of solutions to system-specific problems related to radiation effects in space and defense systems. The Radiation Effects Group at Vanderbilt was established in 1987 and is the largest program of its kind in the U.S. It is the only academic program actively involved in support of the U.S. Department of Defense in radiation effects for strategic applications and one of a very few programs involved in microelectronics research for space applications. In January 2003, the Radiation-Effects Group established ISDE in order to extend its capabilities to serve government and commercial customers. ISDE is composed of faculty, graduate students, and professional staff, establishing a broad spectrum of theoretical, experimental and industry-standard knowledge. ISDE is developing and applying predictive, radiation-aware simulation tools in support of space and defense system design. ISDE engineers help to identify radiation-related issues at the device and circuit levels, propose design solutions, and implement test plans.

Vanderbilt Center for Environmental Management

The Vanderbilt Center for Environmental Management Studies is an interdisciplinary program at Vanderbilt under the leadership of faculty from the engineering, business, and law schools. VCEMS is at the forefront of conducting research, disseminating information, and establishing partnerships between industry, government, and academia in the emerging field of "environmental management." Environmental management is the application of strategic and operational methods and practices to achieve environmental protection and sustainability. The vision of VCEMS is implementation of environmental management into the strategic planning process and core business practices within organizations so that it becomes a "business facilitator" instead of a "cost center." Although the means of achieving this goal are varied, VCEMS concentrates on two key elements of any successful environmental management program: the development of meaningful infrastructure in organizations and the identification and mitigation of environmental safety and security risks. The objective is to educate current and future leaders in business, government, and academia in these vital areas.

Vanderbilt Center for Transportation and Operational Resiliency

Vanderbilt’s Center for Transportation and Operational Resilience was established nearly 30 years ago to provide a focused research platform to address critical infrastructure issues and especially transportation focused areas. Researchers from across the University, but particularly from the School of Engineering, work collaboratively on projects funded by all levels of government, foundations and the private sector. The Center is particularly well known for its work involving risk assessment, management and communication. This includes the development and implementation of methods and practices that bridge the socio-technical nexus to impart knowledge and support stakeholder decision-making. The current research portfolio is focused on freight policy planning and regional flood disaster resilience for units of both federal, state and municipal governments.

Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and the Environment (VIEE)

Through a collaborative effort involving research, education and outreach, VIEE considers social, economic, legal and technical aspects of each problem to find solutions that are practical, achievable and cost-effective. A crucial part of our mission is to train the next generation of leaders in the energy and environmental arena so they can lead confidently in the future.

Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education (VIIBRE)

This interdisciplinary institute has as its mission to strengthen and broaden the existing foundation of basic research in the biophysical sciences and bioengineering; develop enabling technologies that span these disciplines; provide close articulation of the biophysical sciences and bioengineering with undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate educational programs; and foster programs of outreach to industry, government, and other educational institutions. The Institute is accomplishing this by supporting and enhancing research and undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate education of scientists and engineers who want to master interdisciplinary research at the boundary of engineering, medicine, and the natural sciences. A major thrust is to develop advanced dynamic instruments for quantitative systems biology, which has led to VIIBRE playing a prominent role in the international organs-on-chips community. VIIBRE also operates the Systems Biology Bioengineering Undergraduate Research Experience (SyBBURE), a multi-year, year-round mentoring program, funded by Gideon Searle, that engages thirty undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students in cutting edge research and innovation.

Vanderbilt Institute in Surgery and Engineering (VISE)

VISE is an interdisciplinary, trans-institutional entity created to facilitate interaction and exchanges between engineers and physicians. Its mission is to engineer new surgical and interventional methods, techniques, and devices and to translate those innovations from the laboratory to patient care. Its goal is to become the premier center for the training of the next generation of physicians, engineers, and computer scientists capable of working symbiotically on new solutions to complex interventional problems. Ten technical laboratories spanning three engineering departments (Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) department as well as more than 10 clinical departments are affiliated with VISE. Its expertise includes medical robotics, modeling, instrumentation, imaging, and image processing. VISE has developed a training program in surgery and intervention and is offering a graduate certificate in this area.

Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE)

The Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is an interdisciplinary center engaged in theoretical and experimental research in science and engineering at the nanoscale. VINSE supports an extensive infrastructure of materials fabrication and analytical facilities in nanoscale science and engineering. Research encompasses students and faculty in various areas of nanoscience, with a special emphasis on interdisciplinary activities.

Vanderbilt Multiscale Modeling and Simulation Center (MuMS)

The Multiscale Modeling and Simulation (MuMS) Center is an interdisciplinary research center with four core faculty members from Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. The center is focused on the development, deployment and application of methods for modeling phenomena at multiple scales, ranging from the electronic and atomic to the macroscopic. Current focus areas include functional and structural materials, fluid flow in natural and engineered systems, self-assembled biological structures, energy storage devices, and nanoscale lubrication.

Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS)

The Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science is a multidisciplinary trans-institutional center which undertakes research in the development and application of new and enhanced biomedical imaging techniques. The Institute occupies 60,000 sq.ft of dedicated research spaces which house a comprehensive range of state-of-the-art instrumentation dedicated to in vivo research imaging at multiple scales, and is organized into 5 Centers. The Center for Small Animal Imaging performs research using high field MRI (up to 15.2T), microPET, microSPECT, microCT, digital X-ray, high frequency ultrasound and optical (fluorescent and bioluminescent) imaging of animals, including non-human primates. The Center for Human Research Imaging performs translational studies using research-dedicated MRI (a 7T and two 3T systems for MRI and multinuclear MRS), PET-CT and ultrasound, as well NIROT, OCT and ERP/EEG studies and clinical trials of MRI-guided HIFU therapy. The Center for Molecular Probes develops novel agents (radionuclides, optical and MR agents) for targeted imaging and contrast enhancement for studies of cellular and molecular processes, including GMP-compliant radio-tracers from an in-house cyclotron for human use. The Center for Computational Imaging develops algorithms for advanced image analysis, processing and integration. The Center for Analytic Software and Mobile Technology develops analytic software and implements applications for web and mobile technology for innovative health-related data presentation and collection. Specialized laboratories are also dedicated to research into hyperpolarized MRI, nuclear imaging instrumentation and ultrasound theranostics. The Institute provides the imaging resources for a large number of collaborating investigators from across Vanderbilt and outside. Specific areas of focus include: Functional and structural brain imaging and spectroscopy; Cancer imaging; Metabolic imaging; Cellular and Molecular imaging; Quantitative imaging biomarkers; Imaging physics; Imaging instrumentation; Image analysis and processing; Image guided therapy, including MRI guided HIFU.