Kiourti’s NSF CAREER Award will redefine wearable sensors

Posted: October 4, 2021

Asimina Kiourti has received a five-year, $527,695 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation for her research on wearable sensors that operate in complex and dynamic environments and can be seamlessly embedded in fabrics. Kiourti is an assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering at The Ohio State University, where she is also an ElectroScience Laboratory core faculty researcher.

Asimina Kiourti in the lab

The CAREER award is the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of both.

The overall goal of Kiourti’s project, “Multi-Utility Textile Electromagnetics for Motion Capture and Tissue Monitoring Cyber-Physical Systems,” is to understand the challenges of operating textile sensors in real-world settings and empower their reliable operation via closed-loop interaction among fabrics, electronics, and humans.

Wearable sensors have shown promise for medical, sports, defense, emergency, and consumer applications; however, the technology is currently limited to obtrusive implementations.

“Much like cell phones that evolved from foot-long prototypes with 30 minutes of available talk time in 1983 to current smart devices, I envision wearables of the future to be seamlessly embedded in fabrics,” Kiourti said. “However, the siloed nature of current research efforts has hindered overall progress – the electromagnetics community is exploring e-textiles, the circuits community is designing sensors, and the cyber-physical systems community is developing algorithms for non-textile sensors that are artificially attached to garments.”

“This CAREER project will enable my team to reconcile these three worlds and to empower, for the first time, cognitive and fully-adaptive smart fabrics that operate seamlessly in the wild,” she continued.

Kiourti strives to redefine wearables from bulky sensors to functional garments and to create new biomedical knowledge and interventions through continuous monitoring in real-world environments. Her research will focus on developing a novel multi-utility sensor that addresses two of the most challenging sensing modalities in the area of wearables – motion capture and tissue abnormality monitoring.

A pioneer in electromagnetics, Kiourti has earned widespread recognition for her work, including the 2018 International Union of Radio Science Young Scientist Award and 2021 “40 Under 40” honors from Columbus Business First. Her publication record includes 11 book chapters, five granted patents, 64 journal papers, and more than 110 conference papers and abstracts.

Overall, Kiourti conducts research at the intersection of bioelectromagnetics, wearable and implantable antennas, body monitoring sensors, and flexible textile-based electronics. Her interdisciplinary collaborations span five colleges at Ohio State.

Kiourti’s project also includes an outreach component aimed at increasing representation in STEM fields.

“By integrating education and outreach with research, I aim to increase student interest in bioelectromagnetics and enhance public awareness,” Kiourti said. “I also want to increase the female student presence in engineering and assist with the professional growth of graduate students in my lab group.”