The Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Iowa is proud to present the 2013-2014 recipients of the Math & Physical Sciences Funding Program (MPSFP). The awards are designed to support seed funding to develop pilot data and to conduct preliminary work that will enable UI researchers to submit competitive applications for external research grants.
 
 
Octav ChiparaOctav Chipara, Assistant Professor, Computer Science
Transforming Mobile Health Systems into Reliable and Robust Medical Measurement Instruments 
 
Mobile health (mHealth) systems are expected to enable doctors to collect detailed records of a patient's physiology, physical activity, and social interactions while patients go about their routine activities. The wealth of collected data will unavoidably lead to a better understanding of the relationship between patient health and behavior. Pioneer efforts on mHealth systems have demonstrated the feasibility of collecting medical records with higher fidelity and temporal resolution that it is possible through manual data collection methods (e.g., questionnaires, surveys, or diary methods). However, the programming of mHealth systems continues to challenge even experienced embedded programmers due to the complexities associated with distributed operation, concurrency, and the need to minimize energy consumption. Therefore, this grant addresses the critical need to develop new programming abstractions that simplify the programming of mHealth systems and provide performance assurances.
 
Hongtao DingHongtao Ding, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Surface Nano-crystallization and Micro-scale Patterning for Pure Titanium Implants via High Energy Pulsed Laser Peening
 
Pure titanium (commercial pure cpTi) is not currently employed in biomedical implants without a range of hardening approaches to improve the mechanical strength of the material.  Titanium alloys (e.g., Ti-6Al-4V) are usually chosen in these applications because of their superior mechanical properties.  However, the leeching of toxic alloy elements from the titanium alloys can lead to long term ill effects.  To replace titanium alloys with pure titanium in bioimplants, we propose an innovative laser surface treatment process, high energy pulsed laser peening (HEPLP). 
Our hypothesis is that the mechanical strength and cell attachment be improved with a HEPLP treatment compared to the traditional approach.  Our approach is based on the simultaneous experimental and numerical investigation of the process.  The experiments will be performed using a nanosecond solid state pulse laser integrated with a positioning system.  During the experiment, a powerful laser pulse is focused onto the target, and the laser-induced shock wave then propagates into the target material to refine the microstructure.  Modeling efforts aim at developing a comprehensive predictive model, which allows the prediction of grain size, mechanical strength, hardness and residual stress profiles in terms of laser operating parameters and workpiece material.
 
Julie JessopJulie Jessop, Associate Professor, Chemical & Biochemical Engineering
A Fundamental Dose: Advancing Electron-beam Curing Processes and Materials
 
Electron-beam (EB) curing involves the rapid (less than one second) reaction of liquid monomer and oligomer precursors to give solid polymer coating layers.  Although EB curing offers a fast, low-energy, and solvent-free means of polymerizing inks, films, coatings, and adhesives, improvements are needed in both the curing process and performance properties of the resulting polymers.  The goal of this research is to advance EB technologies by increasing the fundamental understanding of the effects of energy deposition and process conditions on kinetics and material properties.  To meet this goal, we will begin a systematic examination of the effects of monomer structure and EB dose rate.
 
Jia LuJia Lu, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Image-based inverse characterization of regional properties of lung tissue
 
The goal of this project is to develop an image-based method for characterizing the in vivo elastic properties of lung. Elasticity of lung has been traditionally described globally by volume-pressure relation, but this characterization has proved be of little value in clinics. We propose to delineate the regional heterogeneous properties of lung tissue. Two innovative techniques will be introduced to achieve this goal: (1) a new constitutive formulation to describe the stress-strain relation of lung tissue; and (2) a method for extracting the parameters governing the stress-strain relation. The theme of the research is to leverage advanced image registration technology to design cutting-edge characterization methods for human health applications.
 
Sarah VigmostadSarah Vigmostad, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Can Computational Biomechanics Guide Mitral Valve Repair?
 
Mitral valve (MV) repair is the preferred treatment for patients with mitral valve disorders, but repair rates vary depending on the surgeon's experience and frequency of performing MV surgeries. Our long-term goal is to enhance patient-specific MV repair rates and outcomes by improving diagnostic capabilities and simulating surgical pathways using a state-of-the-art computational dynamics package uniquely suited for high-throughput, real-time simulations. Our central hypothesis is that providing surgeons with a priori knowledge of the post-repair dynamics of a diseased MV will lead to improved surgical decision-making and an increased MV repair rate. We will employ our state-of the-art computational tools to develop, validate, and test our approach for imaging-to-modeling-to-virtual repair capabilities to improve outcomes and guide surgical decision-making.
 
Mark YoungMark Young, Associate Professor, Chemistry
A Compact Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer for Field and Laboratory Studies
 
The proposed project endeavors to construct a portable chemical ionization mass spectrometer for sensitive, selective, real-time monitoring of volatile organic compounds and potentially hazardous pollutants in ambient air and water samples. The resultant instrument will be applied to both field and laboratory investigations of air and water quality and environmental chemistry. Field studies will focus on quantifying emissions of organic compounds, such as acetaldehyde, from local industrial sources and monitoring diurnal cycles of pollutants in surface waters, such as biocides in the Iowa River. Laboratory studies will investigate the release of volatile organic species from biologically derived material as a result of photochemical and oxidation reactions.