With a major research university right in our backyard, a strong military presence and innovative companies throughout the metro region, there’s often a plethora of interesting science and technology news to be found in Southern Arizona. Here’s a breakdown of the most interesting recent developments.
Heart Imaging. New “acoustoelectric cardiac imaging” developed at the University of Arizona was licensed to startup company ElectroSonix. Acoustoelectric cardiac imaging, a noninvasive process of heart imaging, works by “emitting ultrasound waves that interact with the heart’s electrical currents to produce a map of electrical activity.” This improves current cardiac imaging, which only creates low-resolution images. Russell Witte, professor of medical imaging, optical sciences and biomedical engineering, developed the technology originally with the idea of using ultrasounds to map electrical signals in the brain. However, he realized that technology can be applied to different areas of the body, such as the heart. Witte serves as chief science officer at ElectroSonix, and manages the development of their technology. While ElectroSonix’s current focus is for acoustoelectric cardiac imaging in the heart, the company also has patents for imaging in the brain. The technology allows for “localizing arrhythmias in real-time and with millimeter spatial accuracy.” The ElectroSonix team says their imaging technologies have the potential to benefit millions of cardiac arrhythmia patients.
Pima Community College STEM Grants. Pima Community College recently received three federal grants totaling roughly $6 million to revitalize and expand programs serving students in health professions, hospitality and STEM fields. The grants include a five-year, $1.9 million Guided Pathways in Health Professions grant from the Department of Education that “enables Pima to expand capacity in its nursing programs, redesign the Registered Nurse associate degree and develop a healthcare meta-major that covers general healthcare curriculum and develop to a specific field.” PCC also received a five-year, $1.25 million grant from the National Science Foundation intended to help transition STEM students from two- to four-year degree programs. With this grant, the involved STEM students will receive faculty and peer mentoring, as well as individualized counseling, and can attend financial aid workshops and classes in STEM transfer and career exploration.
Department of Defense funds four UA researchers. On Nov. 22, the DoD announced awards to 172 university researchers as part of their Defense University Research Instrumentation Program. The grants, which total nearly $50 million, will go to 91 institutions in 40 states in fiscal year 2020. Among these recipients are four UA researchers. The recipients are: Stuart Craig, assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, for his “Hypersonic Boundary-Layer Pressure Measurements”; Ivan Djordjevic, professor of electrical and computer engineering, for his research on “Ultra High-Speed Quantum Communication”; Fasel Hermann, professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, for his research in “High-Fidelity Direct Numerical Simulations of Laminar-Turbulent Transition”; and Jesse Little, associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, for his research on “High Speed Imaging for Aerodynamic and Structural Measurements in High Speed Flows.” The Defense University Research Instrumentation Program funds cutting-edge, technological research to develop new scientific capabilities in the U.S.
Greywater Purification Startup Joins the UA Center for Innovation. Graytec USA, a new graywater purification technology startup, recently joined the UA Center for Innovation. Graytec’s patent-pending technology is based on a circular, closed-loop system that collects greywater from showers and bathroom sinks, then purifies that water to potable quality on-site, before circulating it back into the same showers and sinks for reuse. According to Graytec president Luke Jackson, the company selected the UA Center for Innovation due to their strong connection to STEM, and their “vast capabilities.” The Center for Innovation is currently working with Graytec to connect their business to UA researchers. Graytec aims to begin selling its products and services no later than 2020 to local and international markets.