Solutions for Doing Good
Taking on today’s pressing challenges – intractable and emerging diseases, cybersecurity, aging infrastructures, big data management, and natural resources conservation, for example – requires expertise from many disciplines. So we focus our research on far-reaching, interdisciplinary team projects and connect our capabilities to the issues that most need our attention.
UA College of Engineering faculty and graduate students, and many undergraduates, are collaborating with researchers across the University of Arizona and around the globe on projects that improve quality of life.
Our research portfolio includes 100 projects with an annual expenditure of $28 million. Major sources of funding include NASA, the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation. Among funders from private industry are Raytheon, Honeywell, Boeing, Texas Instruments, Edmund Optics, Ventana Medical Systems and Tucson Electric Power.
- Sustainability and Infrastructure – water treatment and reuse, bioremediation, biofuels and renewables, energy efficiency and storage, autonomous systems, traffic and transit systems, cost estimation, data management, infrastructure networks
- Biomedical Systems and Devices – sensors, imaging, biomaterials, wearable devices, mobile diagnostics and testing
- Defense and Homeland Security – explosives detection, active flow control for air and space flight, robotics, cybersecurity, wireless communication, space object behavioral sciences
- Advanced Manufacturing and Materials – materials testing in extreme environments, nanotechnology and metamaterials design, computational modeling to predict properties and build stronger materials, mining logistics
Collaboration Highlight: Bioelectronics Swiss Army Knife
Encrypting Military Code
As part of a multimillion-dollar, multi-university DOD-funded project, Mark Neifeld and Ivan Djordjevic are researching quantum key encryption methods to secure communication through the air between ships and aircraft at data rates that support real-time exchange of secret information.
Sidelining Hackers and Snoops
Salim Hariri is creating tools to track hackers and destroy their communications infrastructures. Fellow researchers are developing dynamic maps to visualize suspicious activity on computer networks and signature-free wireless transmissions to protect users from eavesdroppers.
Finding Bombs in Baggage
Electrical and computer engineering researchers are working on a $3.7 million Homeland Security project to design a system based on compressive management that more effectively detects explosives, especially homemade bombs, for which airport X-ray systems are not optimized.
Getting Digital Data to Doctors
With $1.3 million and a top-priority ranking from the National Institutes of Health, Ali Bilgin and his co-PI Regents’ Professor Michael Marcellin, co-inventor of JPEG2000, are developing data compression software to make biomedical big data universally available.
Solving Mysteries of Wound Healing
UA associate professor Pak Kin Wong and his multidisciplinary research team have discovered how cells know to rush to a wound and heal it, opening the door to new treatments for diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Making Rapid, Disposable Blood Tests
Professor Linda Powers, who has developed hand-held sensors to detect microbes and contaminants in air, soil and water, and her student research team are developing rapid, disposable blood tests for diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
Testing Wearable Sensors for Seniors
Biomedical engineers and clinicians at the University of Arizona are developing devices that reduce risk of falling and increase quality of life for older adults with balance and mobility issues.
Recycling Tailings to Protect Miners
Moe Momayez, in collaboration with the UA College of Public Health, is converting mine tailings into mine insulation that protects workers from extreme temperatures in hot underground metal mines.
Creating Water Reuse Technologies
Shane Snyder, who received a top award in 2015 from the Water Research Foundation, and his students are developing recycling and wastewater treatment technologies that could prove priceless for people living in arid regions.
Exploring Algae Biofuels
The DOE has awarded $8 million to a multi-university team led by Kimberly Ogden to explore ways of mass producing algae biofuels and bioproducts for transportation, animal feed, fertilizer, bioplastics and pharmaceuticals.
Advancing Low-Cost Solar Power
A multi-university team, supported by a $7 million DOE award and led by Peiwen “Perry” Li is working to achieve higher temperatures in molten salt transfer fluids for concentrated solar thermal power systems.
Monitoring Operations, Efficiency
Ricardo Valerdi, who at 37 won a 2015 lifetime achievement award from the world’s leading cost-estimation professional society, invented the COSYSMO cost-estimation software widely used by the military and manufacturers to monitor operations and improve efficiency.
Making Semiconductors Safely
For nearly 20 years, the Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing, founded by Regents’ Professor Farhang Shadman, has been finding safer, more efficient ways to manufacture semiconductors.
Taking Space Testing to the Source
Professor Kelly Simmons Potter and students in her lab have published several papers on how their fiber optics fared in space aboard MISSE-7. Colleague Erica Corral tests ceramic and composite materials destined for extreme environments in an oven that reaches 2000 degrees Celsius but never gets hot to the touch.
Connecting capabilities to the most pressing needs on Earth, and beyond
Governing the Last FrontierCo-directed by Moriba Jah, UA associate research scientist and professor of engineering, the SOBS initiative addresses challenges associated with satellite and spacecraft debris – predicting their movement, preventing collisions and protecting capabilities in outer space.
Building Smart CitiesFour Engineering professors are among researchers working on smart cities, shared mobility, connected vehicles and driverless cars. Larry Head, UA professor of systems and industrial engineering, is creating a smart platform for connected vehicles and traffic signals.
Integrating Renewable EnergyUA researchers like Kimberly Ogden – a professor of chemical and environmental engineering who is cultivating algae for fuel – are focused on reliably integrating renewable energy into the grid and developing technology for energy conversion and storage.
Arizona Materials Laboratory
The AML hosts a large array of equipment needed for research in materials science and engineering. This equipment is also available to the scientific community and industry.
Director: Pierre Deymier
Advanced Traffic and Logistics Algorithms and Systems
The ATLAS lab, which addresses problems in traffic congestion and transportation, is a good place to take a peek at what traffic and smart cars will be like in the future. Among other things, cars will drive themselves and electronic traffic cops will use blocks-long vision to direct traffic.
Director: Larry Head
Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy
AzRISE is a response to the challenge of planning for large-scale, affordable solar energy power generation and training the workforce that will make the transition possible. Research goals include identifying, funding and coordinating Arizona-specific solar energy research opportunities, developing intellectual property and promoting development and widespread adoption of solar energy.
Director: Kelly Simmons Potter
Broadband Wireless Access and Applications Center
BWAC researchers are developing technology and standards to overcome challenges associated with user access and spectrum ability to support the tremendous growth in wireless data traffic.
Director: Tamal Bose
Co-director: Marwan Krunz
Nano Fabrication and Processing Center
Several advanced research projects are underway in the Nano Fabrication and Processing laboratory, including research projects supported by the National Science Foundation, Sematech, and private sponsors. The Center for Micro Contamination Control and the Center for Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing also conduct major research in the laboratory.
Director: Omid Mahdavi
Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources
Recognizing that the sustainable development of mineral resources is fundamental to the prosperity of the United States in the next century, the IMR fosters and expands the USGS-university-private partnerships to undertake mineral resource scientific research and inventories.
Director: Mary Poulton
NSF/UA Cloud and Autonomic Computing Center
CAC’s research is focused on cloud computing systems and applications and the use of autonomic computing methods for the management of these and other IT systems.
Director: Salim Hariri
Co-director: Youssif Al Nashif
Space Object Behavioral Sciences Initiative
Launched in 2016 and led by a Mars spacecraft navigator, the Space Object Behavioral Sciences initiative – part of the UA’s Defense and Security Research Institute – involves locating satellites and spacecraft debris, studying the movement of objects and managing traffic in outer space to prevent collisions and protect space capabilities..
Director: Moriba Jah
SRC Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor
Work in the SRC Engineering Research Center focuses on studies in the areas of ultrapure water, water recycling, plasma processes, wet chemicals, chemical-mechanical polishing and risk assessment to reduce the environmental impact of semiconductor manufacturing.
Director: Farhang Shadman
University Spectroscopy and Imaging Facilities
USIF is dedicated to the acquisition and analysis of images for life and physical science research and commercial applications. It provides access to multiuser equipment and the knowledge and skills necessary to assist investigators in academia, industry and at public and private institutions as well as students in use of the technology.
Director: Brooke Beam Massani