In a Nutshell: Buckeye Engineering briefs

Posted: July 6, 2021

Buckeye Engineering issue 34 news briefs

Blasting off with bioelectromagnetics

Allyana Rice

Electrical and computer engineering PhD student Allyana Rice won a prestigious NASA fellowship that will support her research on reconfigurable antennas for wearable space medical diagnostics.

The NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Opportunities (NSTGRO) fellowship program seeks to sponsor graduate students “who show significant potential” to contribute to NASA’s goal of creating innovative new space technologies for the nation’s science exploration and economic future.

Rice’s advisor, ECE Assistant Professor Asimina Kiourti, said the fellowship is highly competitive and prestigious for graduate students. According to the award letter, Rice was “chosen to develop groundbreaking, high-risk/high-payoff, early-stage space technology. (Her) contributions will help make science and space exploration more effective, affordable, and sustainable.” Read the full story.

Speeding up MRI scans

A patient lies in an MRI scanner.
A patient lies in an MRI scanner.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive diagnostic tool used to detect and evaluate brain disease, musculoskeletal damage, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Though MRI has many advantages over other medical imaging technologies, it is slow, which increases cost, compromises patient comfort, can hinder image quality and necessitates the use of sedation for children.

An interdisciplinary team of engineers, doctors and scientists led by Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor Rizwan Ahmad and Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Philip Schniter received a four-year, $2.3 million R01 award from the National Institutes of Health to develop faster, more accurate MRI methods.

A typical MRI exam consists of multiple scans and can take an hour or more. For each scan a patient may need to sit still for several minutes, with even slight motion potentially affecting image quality. There also is growing demand to use MRI for dynamic, time-sensitive applications, such as imaging a beating heart or transient phenomena that happen over a few seconds. Read the full story.

Multi-cultural collaboration

Blue plastic rain barrels sit under a roof.

Despite the pandemic, seven Ohio State engineering students collaborated with peers at Zamorano University to develop sustainable rainwater harvesting systems for a rural village in Honduras as part of a new service learning course.

The 65 families who call Las Lomitas home only have access to a community water system for three hours a week. Although the region receives 120 inches of sporadic rainwater per year, capturing and storing it safely is a challenge.

The Sustainable Community Development – Honduras course enables students to use problem-solving mindsets to develop and support community-driven development initiatives. Students work in collaboration with third-year environmental science and development students from Zamorano University in Honduras and the nonprofit Heart to Honduras.

“This is the most cutting-edge thing from an outreach, service and engineering education perspective that I have ever been involved with,” said Instructor Howard Greene, director of K-12 education outreach for the College of Engineering. “Co-teaching a service learning course with a non-English speaking university and collaborating remotely on development work flies in the face of what one would think possible during a pandemic.” Read the full story.

Dust may help predict COVID outbreaks


A study done in rooms where COVID-19 patients were isolated shows that the virus’s RNA – part of the genetic material inside a virus – can persist up to a month in dust. The study did not evaluate whether dust can transmit the virus to humans. It could, however, offer another option for monitoring COVID-19 outbreaks in specific buildings, including nursing homes, offices or schools.

Karen Dannemiller, senior author of the study, has experience studying dust and its relationship to potential hazards like mold and microbes.

“When the pandemic started, we really wanted to find a way that we could help contribute knowledge that might help mitigate this crisis,” said Dannemiller, assistant professor of civil, environmental and geodetic engineering and environmental health sciences at The Ohio State University. “And we’ve spent so much time studying dust and flooring that we knew how to test it.”

The study, published April 13 in the journal mSystems, found some of the genetic material at the heart of the virus persists in dust, even though it is likely that the envelope around the virus may break down over time in dust. The envelope – the crown-like spiked sphere that contains the virus’s material – plays an important role in the virus’s transmission to humans. Read the full story.