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Boston University - 2016

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Research Description

Research Description By Graduate Engineering Department

Biomedical Engineering

Established in 1966, Boston University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering is ranked among the nation’s best and offers Bachelor of Science, Master of Engineering, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, and participates in the MD/PhD program with the BU School of Medicine. The department presents a unique, quantitative and multi-scale approach to biomedical engineering, from molecular and cellular levels through tissue, neural, and whole-organ systems. Research by faculty and students takes place in departmental and selected adjunct laboratories and in affiliated centers. The department is a world leader in the research areas of Neuroscience, Computational Bioengineering, Biomolecular Engineering, Synthetic Biology & Systems Biology, Cell & Tissue Engineering, and Multi-scale Biomechanics. Emerging areas that complement these are Micro & Nano Biosystems, Biomedical Optics and Photonics, Bioimaging, and (Bio)Information Management.
From understanding the human genome to pioneering surgical tools, Boston University biomedical engineers are committed to advancing research and education in biotechnology; biomolecular engineering; vision, speech, and hearing; cardiopulmonary engineering; neuroscience; micro-and nano-systems; synthetic biology; systems biology; and biomechanics and biomaterials.
Graduate students work with some of the world’s leading biomedical researchers in the College of Engineering and School of Medicine, and at Boston’s other leading research hospitals. The department builds complementary efforts in translational biomedical engineering aimed at rapidly bringing innovations to patient care.

Electrical and Computer Engineering

The Electrical & Computer Engineering department hosts a diverse and vibrant research portfolio in areas such as photonics, nanotechnology, energy, electromagnetics, electro-physics, space science and technology, multimedia processing, information and decision systems, communications and networking, computer networking, distributed systems, computer-aided design, and more. These endeavors are represented by three main research areas: electro-physics, information systems and sciences, and computer engineering. While each area hosts a distinct, faculty-centered group, interaction and interdisciplinary work are fostered and nurtured in numerous settings. Faculty research programs span traditional areas of electrical and computer engineering, such as signal and image processing, solid-state materials, computer networking, and wireless communication, but also encompass cutting-edge areas such as quantum-optical devices, high performance computing, photonics, and micro-electromechanical systems. Interdisciplinary research and education programs at the graduate level are major components of life at Boston University. Many ECE graduate students collaborate with colleagues in biotechnology, space physics, cognitive science, nanotechnology, and manufacturing engineering. Graduate students have the opportunity to conduct research in ECE-based laboratories, through University wide centers, and via cross-disciplinary collaborations with other Boston University colleges and departments. Research in ECE has a strong funding base from governmental agencies, foundations, and corporate sponsors.
Examples of current research efforts include approximate signal processing for real-time and low-power applications, distributed signal processing, multi-resolution image processing sub-surface imaging, estimation of fundamentally geometrical quantities from images, and wavelet-based compression of image and video data. Applications in the signals area include spread-spectrum communications, portable communication devices, radar imaging, biomedical imaging, tomography, image understanding; image and video compression, non-destructive testing, image transmission, and remote sensing of atmospheric properties. Faculty research in Computer Engineering spans for principal areas: networks; reliable computing; high performance computing; and software engineering

Materials Science and Engineering

The Division of Materials Science and Engineering is a unique interdisciplinary graduate program that prepares students for research careers and leadership roles in four primary areas:
• Biomaterials, including drug delivery, tissue engineering, design of biomolecules/biopolymers, biosensors, mechanics of biomaterials, and laser spectroscopy
• Electronic and Photonic Materials, including III-V nitrides, solid state lighting, carbon nanotubes, si-nanophotonics, fiber optic sensors, quantum dots, and computational modeling
• Materials for Energy and The Environment, including clean energy conversion, hydrogen generation and storage, fuel cells, green manufacturing, and biofuels
• Nanomaterials, including coatings, composite materials, photo-acoustic microscropy, nanoscale materials, and multi-scale modeling.

The Division of Materials Science and Engineering engages more than 60 faculty members across colleges; primarily in the College of Engineering (mechanical, biomedical, and electrical and computer engineering), the College of Arts and Sciences (physics and chemistry), and the Goldman School of Dental Medicine (restorative sciences/biomaterials.) Their cutting edge research is driving innovation to solve critical societal problems, and is strongly funded by federal agencies and industrial organizations. A variety of state-of-the-art research laboratories facilitate the research collaborations and activities of Division faculty, students, and visiting scholars.

Some examples of ongoing research projects include
• multiphase microscale emulsions using microfluidic flow focusing, having a wide span of applications in medicine including drug delivery and in various imaging modalities;
• nitride semiconductors with emphasis in the development of green LEDs for solid state lighting applications, and devices based on intersubband transitions in Nitride Quantum wells (QWs) and Quantum Dots (QDs) for optical switching and terahertz emitters and detectors;
• fuel cell materials and systems to realize practical SOFC devices and systems, new electrode, electrolyte, interconnection and sealing materials and processing routes;
• small-scale materials and mechanics for next-generation micro/nanosystems, including mechanical behavior of amorphous thin film materials for MEMS/NEMS applications, elastic and viscoelastic characterization of small-scale soft polymer materials for biomedical applications, development of high-strain rate conductive polymers for MEMS/NEMS applications, MEMS enhanced metamaterials toward filling the terahertz gaps, and micro- and nano- mechanics of thin film and thin film coatings.

Mechanical Engineering

The Mechanical Engineering Department at Boston University emphasizes world-class interdisciplinary research, student-faculty interaction, and a department-wide sense of community and global responsibility. Mechanical engineers focus on the design, planning, and development of all types of machines and other mechanical devices ranging from unmanned aerial vehicles to gas turbines to miniature nanoelectromechanical systems known as NEMS. Research initiatives conducted jointly by students and the faculty help advance the science and technology of mechanical engineering through topics such as acoustics and vibrations; biomechanics; computational science and engineering; dynamics, robotics, systems and controls; thermofluid sciences, energy and sustainability; materials; and MEMS & nanotechnology. Additional information about current research efforts can be viewed at

Research Description By Engineering Research Center

Biomolecular Engineering Research Center

The Biomolecular Engineering Research Center (BMERC) has two principal research objectives. The first is the development of statistical and computational approaches to detect syntactic and semantic patterns in DNA, RNA, and protein sequences. The second is the use of statistical and computational approaches to identify structure, function, and regulation in these molecules. This identification has led to the formulation and testing of major hypotheses in the areas of molecular evolution, gene regulation, developmental genetics, and protein structure-function relationships. In meeting these objectives, BMERC is continually developing new computer-assisted analytical approaches that address basic problems in molecular biology.

The center's support program provides DNA, RNA, and protein sequence databases and analysis tools on-line to the research community via its anonymous Web servers. BMERC also distributes non-commercial software and support information for all developers, free of charge, to the scientific community as part of a larger dissemination program. In addition, the center has provided support for numerous interdisciplinary meetings focusing on the computational challenges arising in molecular biology.

The center's training program prepares molecular biologists in statistics and computer methods and educates engineers, biomathematicians, and computer scientists in the contemporary computational problems of molecular biology. Research opportunities combining these disciplines are offered yearly to several postdoctoral fellows and periodically to visiting scientists. The center provides direct graduate training and on-line computer support to local laboratories.

Center for Computational Neuroscience & Neural Technology (CompNet)

The Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology (CompNet) is an interdisciplinary research center at Boston University that fosters collaborative research and education on mechanisms of neural computation and their applications. By providing administrative support, programs to stimulate scientific interaction, shared research and meeting space, and other infrastructure, CompNet brings together scientists from multiple fields in science and engineering and from all stages of training.
Through its varied activities, CompNet builds the interdisciplinary community needed to address the complexities of contemporary problems in neuroscience using advanced computational and technological solutions, and to apply solutions learned from and inspired by brain mechanisms to technological applications. By fostering collaboration of investigators from disparate departments, CompNet supports quantitative research that overcomes artificial barriers that impede creativity and scientific progress. By engaging graduate students early in their careers with interdisciplinary research and training, CompNet cultivates a new generation of scientists with the tools and knowledge necessary to address emerging problems in computational neuroscience and neural technology.

Center for Computational Science

The Center for Computational Science (CCS) functions as an cross-college, interdisciplinary focal point for computational science research and education at Boston University. In collaboration with the Office of Information Technology's Scientific Computing and Visualization group (SCV), CCS has made leading-edge computational resources available to researchers and students in all departments. The recent installation of the SGI/CRAY Origin 2000 represents the fourth-generation parallel supercomputing technology at the university. Facilities also include an SGI Power Challenge Array, advanced graphics workstations, virtual reality stations, and very high-speed networking.

The University's support of computational research has been extended to institutions throughout New England by means of the National Science Foundation-funded MARINER project, a collaboration between CCS and SCV. Mariner offers education and training programs, access to state-of-the-art computing facilities and opportunities for pilot projects, Internet connectivity, and industrial partnerships. Under the auspices of Mariner, CCS takes its place as a leader in developing computational applications in collaboration with regional schools and companies. Building on mariner, the University is extending its programs on a national scale as a partner in the National Computational Science Alliance, one of two national Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure supported by the NSF.

Center for Future Technologies in Cancer Care

Moving cancer treatments out of specialized centers and into local clinics or home care could significantly lower healthcare costs. Often patients have to travel large distances to receive treatments at cancer centers. In low resource settings in the developing world, there may not be any options for cancer treatment. Surgical treatments carry infection risks and in many places there are not enough surgeons to treat all of the patients in need. Technologies such as targeted ultrasound and light-based treatments could allow providers with less specialized training to treat more patients for less money. Tools for monitoring chemotherapy patients at home between treatments could eliminate travel and office visits. Mobile health strategies for collecting data about high-risk populations could lead to new interventions to directly impact cancer screening rates.

To address these issues, the Center focuses on the identification, prototyping and early clinical assessment of innovative point-of-care technologies for the treatment, screening, diagnosis and monitoring of cancers. A major aspect of this effort involves assessing early stage technologies in terms of clinical needs, market demands, setting appropriateness and commercialization strategies. The integrated multidisciplinary team, consisting of engineers, clinicians, public health practitioners, and technology transfer experts, is currently evaluating technologies in various stages of development for suitability across a range of primary care and non-traditional healthcare settings. The Center comprises an Administrative Core, a Clinical Needs Assessment and Impact Analysis Core, a Training Core and a Prototype Development and Testing Core divided into two parts, the Alpha and Beta Cores, which will both be available to Center projects, depending on the stage of technology development.

Center for Information & Systems Engineering (CISE)

Information and Systems Engineering research at Boston University is strong and accomplished. Spread across departments and Colleges within the University, the Center for Information and Systems Engineering (CISE) creates a virtual home to foster greater interactions among these researchers. CISE affiliated faculty focus on methods and applications relevant to the design, analysis, and control of complex systems. Application areas range from communication and sensor networks, robotics, medical imaging, and video surveillance, to modern energy systems and bioinformatics. As these domains become increasingly complex, there is a critical need to understand, predict, and design for safety, efficiency, robustness, and the public good. With a proven track record of funding and industry collaboration, CISE faculty bring their research experience to addressingthese challenges.

Currently, there are 32 CISE faculty representingdepartments of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Finance and Economics, Information Systems, Mathematics and Statistics, Mechanical Engineering, Operations Management, Systems Engineering across the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, and the School of Management. For more information about CISE and faculty interests, please visit or email

Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology

CNN has three core functions: First, to develop interdisciplinary research and education in nanoscience and nanobiotechnology; second, to develop and run an industrial liaison program that partners researchers with external companies for mutual benefit; and third, to connect researchers to resources for technological commercialization.

Center for Space Physics

The Center carries out a wide variety of research in just some of the following fields of space physics including: space plasma physics; magnetospheric physics; ionospheric physics; atmospheric physics; and planetary and cometary atmospheric studies.

Students in astronomy, applied physics, and engineering concentrations conduct their research through the Center, making it an active participant in graduate studies. Furthermore, the Center serves as the coordinating mechanism for grant management and proposal development.

Center for Subsurface Imaging and Sensing

The Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems (CenSSIS) seeks to revolutionize our ability to detect and image biomedical and environmental-civil objects or conditions that are underground, underwater, or embedded within cells or inside the human body. Our unified, multidisciplinary approach combines expertise in wave physics, sensor engineering, image processing, and inverse scattering with rigorous performance testing to create new sensing system prototypes that are transitioned to our industry partners for further development. An important outcome of this process is the education of students well-trained in these crucial fields for the future of public health and the preservation of the planet�s physical resources.

Fraunhofer Center for Manufacturing Innovation

The Fraunhofer USA Center for Manufacturing Innovation, an affiliate of the Department of Manufacturing Engineering, provides manufacturing solutions to US and international industries in the areas of machine design and automation, manufacturing systems design, and machining technologies

Fraunhofer works with its clients to develop new technologies, improve current manufacturing operations and benchmark against the world's best practices Fraunhofer has been bridging the gap between academic research and industrial needs for more than 50 years. It is Europe's largest R&D organization, spanning fifty-five locations across Europe, Asia and North America and boasting an annual client base of more than two thousand corporations.

Fraunhofer-USA works with industry and the University to scale up cutting edge research into real working technologies on an industrial timetable. The Center also serves as a great recruiting ground for talented young engineering students rigorously trained in the application of innovative engineering methods to real industrial problems.

Hearing Research Center

The Hearing Research Center (HRC) includes faculty members from six departments across the Boston University campus. The HRC was formed to promote the development and dissemination of knowledge that will improve the nation's auditory health and allow the fullest utilization of the sense of hearing. The specific goals of the HRC include the support of high quality research in hearing science, the development of educational activities, particularly in graduate education, and the fostering of collaborative research and teaching activities among faculty and staff.

Research in the Hearing Research Center combines theoretical and experimental studies of auditory processing aimed at understanding hearing in both normal and impaired auditory systems. Empirical research includes anatomical studies of the cochlea and brainstem, measurements of the mechanical properties of cochlear structures, single-unit and multi-unit recordings up to the level of the primary auditory cortex, measurements of auditory electrical and magnetic field potentials as well as otoacoustic emissions, and measurements of hearing abilities of human listeners with and without hearing impairments. Theoretical studies, which are closely coupled to the empirical studies, include mathematical modeling of cochlear mechanics, single neurons, networks of neurons, and human performance.

Photonics Center

The Photonics Center at Boston University represents an innovative approach to bridging the gap between basic research and practical application. Key to the center's program is the prototyping of actual products and close, hands-on partnerships between industry, government, and the university. These partnerships link faculty and students to the real world process of turning laboratory concepts into products that thrive in the marketplace. The center brings together on-campus design and manufacturing expertise and business know-how with faculty, students, and research scientists in an environment where concepts transform into prototypes. At the Photonics Center, prototypes turn into commercial ventures launched through university/industry partnerships and new company start-ups. The Photonics Center features state-of-the-art laboratories, a business incubator, and educational facilities that support development initiatives originating from the center, affiliated businesses, or industrial partners. The Photonics facility can support work in photonics research and development, engineering, physics, chemistry, medicine, and biology. It features approximately 235,000 square feet of laboratory, classroom, and incubator space, lecture and seminar rooms, and a photonics library. The experimental, design, and development resources include a full suite of clean-room and vibration-free facilities supported by telecommunications, teleconferencing, and interactive data transmission and retrieval resources. The incubator space in the Photonics Center is available to research teams from within the academic community as well as to researchers and engineers in the greater Boston area. The building offers local businesses
the opportunity to explore ideas before investing in costly equipment. Photonics Center facilities provide a complete suite of fully supplied meeting rooms and office spaces,
secure laboratories, and dedicated telecommunications and computing networks. Resources are available to industry partners, government, faculty, and students through the Photonics Center to support the development and testing of ideas and products. These
resources include the following research and development laboratories: Molecular Beam Epitaxy Laboratory, Picosecond Spectroscopy Laboratory, Near-Field Microscopy/ Spectroscopy Laboratory, Opto-Electronic Component Fabrication Facility, Magnetic and Optical Devices Laboratory, Fiber-Optic Remote Environment Sensors
Laboratory, Liquid Crystal Display Laboratory, Precision Engineering Research Laboratory, Bio-Photonic Materials Laboratory, Photonic Systems Engineering Laboratory, and Quantum Imaging Laboratory.