Friday, November 11, 2016

Six Iowa legislators toured research labs on Thursday as part of an annual hands-on Legislators in the Lab event organized by the University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

Legislators in the Lab
Sens. Rita Hart, Bob Dvorsky and Kevin Kinney, and Reps. Mary Mascher, Mary Gaskill and Dale Fisher took part in the daylong “Making Waves” tour, which included visits with faculty and students who are making a big difference in their fields of research. Dan Reed, Vice President for Research and Economic Development, led the tour.

The tour began at the Hydraulics Wave Basin Facility, in the UI Research Park, where Fred Stern, the George D. Ashton Professor of Hydroscience and Engineering and an IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering Faculty Research Engineer, leads a team conducting research into ship hydrodynamics. Stern is considered one of the global leaders in his field, and under his guidance researchers have developed CFDShip-Iowa, the most advanced computational fluid dynamic (CFD) computer code in the world for ship hydrodynamics.

Also speaking at the Wave Basin, which is part of the UI College of Engineering, was Larry Weber, the Edwin B. Green Chair in Hydraulics in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of IIHR–Hydroscience & Engineering. 

Legislators next visited the “anechoic” (meaning “without echo”) chamber in the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Clinic, getting a demonstration and overview from Ruth Bentler, Professor and Chair in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorder. Bentler has been involved in numerous research endeavors involving efficacy and effectiveness of modern hearing aid features. The clinic, and its No. 1 U.S. News & World Report ranked public graduate audiology program, is part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Also in attendance was Chris Kaufmann, an early-career clinician-engineer, Otolaryngology resident and National Institutes of Health postdoctoral research fellow. Kaufmann’s current research seeks to improve hearing preservation cochlear implant surgical techniques and hearing outcomes by exploring innovative solutions. His work has set the foundation for the spin-off startup, iotaMotion, which he co-founded last year to bring their innovative technology out of the lab and to patients.

During lunch, eight UI undergraduate student researchers shared three-minute presentations they’d previously used for a pitch competition sponsored by the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates. The competition allows students to highlight, in language that anyone can understand, what they have accomplished and why it matters. 

Legislators in the Lab
Student presenters included Ismenia Castelan, Henry Hartzler and Shannon Pyburn as a team (all students in the UI College of Education’s English as a Second Language program); Rae Corrigan, a biomedical engineering student; Tamar Kavlashvili, who is studying cell and developmental biology; Zachary Luppen, majoring in astronomy and physics with a Museum Studies Certificate; Keely Sybesma, a chemistry and mathematics major; and Charles Truong, who is majoring in English and cinema.

The final stop was the ATV simulator in the Center for Computer Aided Design, part of the College of Engineering. Hosts were Charles Jennissen, an Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, and Salam Rahmatalla, an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development which provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover