Ten Undergraduate Engineering Students Participating in the Fall 2017 Armour R&D Program

Armour_RD_News_Image.jpgArmour College of Engineering undergraduate students and their faculty mentors have been awarded Fall 2017 Armour R&D fellowships. The program, an Armour College of Engineering Distinctive Education initiative, offers undergraduate engineering students the opportunity to gain hands-on research and development experience in the lab of a faculty mentor.

Eight students funded during the fall term will begin projects for the first time, while two participants will build on research they started during prior semesters in Armour R&D or during the 2017 Armour R&D Summer Research Immersion Program. Students have been selected to participate in the program based on the quality of project proposals submitted. The proposals are reviewed and selected by Natacha DePaola, Carol and Ed Kaplan Armour College Dean of Engineering, and the Distinctive Education Council.

Armour R&D will run for ten weeks, culminating with the Fall 2017 Armour R&D Poster Presentation on Thursday, November 9, 2017. During the presentation, students will share the results of their research and development work during the fall semester.

The fall 2017 Armour R&D projects are categorized under the four Illinois Tech Engineering Themes: Water, Health, Energy, and Security. These themes represent areas in which engineers can create solutions of global impact that advance society.


Yusairah Basheer (BME 4th year) and Kenneth Tichauer, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, will continue the project they started in fall 2016, “Sensitive Detection of Cancer Spread to Lymph Nodes: Evaluating Imaging Agent Delivery Protocols.” The inability to effectively decipher whether cancer is metastatic or localized is a big problem with the current treatment options for breast cancer. The objective of this project is to map cancer distribution in lymph nodes using imaging technology ADEPT (agent-dependent early-photon tomography). Basheer will work to find the ideal staining procedure by determining if the cancer-specific dyes are penetrating to the inside of the lymph node. She will also work to determine an ideal rinsing procedure which would have the greatest success in identifying preferential cancer cell retention of the targeted imaging agent. Future application of this research is the development of a non-invasive, highly sensitized method for doctors to determine if breast cancer has metastasized, and the location, in hopes of improving the diagnosis and prognosis of all patients afflicted with the disease.

Christopher Beluska (BME 3rd year) and Kenneth Tichauer, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, will begin work on their project, “Quantifying the Activity of Cell Surface Receptors in Tumors Using MRg-DTFT.” With personalized medicine at the forefront of cancer treatment, there is a need to tell if the drug has reached its intended target. Using a new imaging technique, the team hopes to be able to quantify the uptake of specific drugs to specific receptors. Beluska will work to prepare and run the experiments, as well as analyze the data and help to prepare it for publication. This work could provide medical professionals with a very precise model on which to assess a patient’s medical circumstances, and properly assign a drug in specific quantities.

Emmalee Ciriacks (BME 3rd year) and Georgia Papavasiliou, associate professor of biomedical engineering, will begin work on their project, “Effects of Dual Therapeutic Peptide delivery for Tissue Neovascularization.” The team will work to validate the effectiveness of delivering two vessel-promoting peptides to wounded tissue simultaneously to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels. Ciriacks will perform histological analysis on tissue samples on a daily basis. This analysis will be used to conclude whether the two peptides are viable candidates for further studies. In the future, this combination treatment could provide an effective treatment option to diabetic patients afflicted with critical limb ischemia (CLI).

Kevin Li (BME 4th year) and Georgia Papavasiliou, associate professor of biomedical engineering, will build off research Li conducted in the 2017 Armour R&D Summer Research Immersion Program for their project, “Effects of Sustained Peptide Co-delivery on Neovascularization Using Endothelial Cell-coated Microcarrier Beads.” In this project, they seek to develop an alternative 3D culture model of neovascularization as a screening tool for proangiogenic peptide delivery using a single cell type (ECs). To achieve this goal the team will work to identify the optimal ratio of ECs to cytodex microcarrier beads and then quantify 3D neovascularization as a function of sustained peptide delivery using encapsulated EC coated beads within biomimetic PEG hydrogel scaffolds. This research can lead to the development of a model that can be used as an effective screening tool to study peptides in a lab environment, instead of using them in animal models when treating cardiovascular disease.

Alex Meyer (CHE 4th year) and Seok Hoon Hong, assistant professor, will begin work on the project, “Controlling Biofilms for Medical and Environmental Application.” The team will focus on using biochemical compounds extracted from plant sources to control biofilms. Biofilms are communities of cells that stick to each other and to a surface, becoming far more resilient to antibiotics, and are associated with about 80% of infectious diseases. Meyer will contribute to this project by analyzing the effects of polyphenols (a type of plant extract) on biofilm formation and dispersal of various strains of bacteria. This research may be applied in the future to combat the associated health and environmental issues that biofilms cause.

Anessa Puskar (BME 4th year) and Jennifer Kang-Mieler, associate professor of biomedical engineering, will start work on the project, “Quantification of the Treatment Efficacy of a Microsphere-Hydrogel Drug Delivery System for Treatment of Choroidal Neovascularization.” Kang-Mieler and her team have been working on a new drug delivery system (DDS) to be used to treat choroidal neovascularization (CNV). This delivery system involves the use of a microsphere-hydrogel to release the anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drug in a steady, slow release that decreases the frequency of treatment. The team will test the efficacy of the microsphere-hydrogel DDS in vivo through a laser-induced CNV animal model. Puskar will work to prepare the microsphere-hydrogels; assist in the animal studies by preparing the drug dosages and performing injections and analyze the images obtained through fluorescein angiography (FA) with a thresholding program. The potential future application of this research is to provide a safer, more efficient drug delivery system for anti-VEGF that requires less frequent injections.


San Dinh (CHE 4th year) and Donald Chmielewski, associate professor of chemical engineering, will begin the project, “Modeling and Control of Renewable Energy Sources with Energy Storage System for Smart Grid Application.” Energy storage systems (ESS) are needed in order to overcome the flux in power generated by renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. The team hopes to establish an appropriate grid operating policy that would utilize Economic Model Predictive Control and Multistage Stochastic Programming in order to optimize the cost of running an electric grid with ESS.

Seungyeon Ko (MSE 4th year) and Philip Nash, Charles and Lee Finkl Professor of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering and director of the Thermal Processing Technology Center, will begin work on the project, “Discontinuous Precipitation in the Co-Ti-Al system.” The team will work to determine whether or not full or partial Discontinuous Precipitation (DP) transformation can be observed in the Co-Ti-Al alloy system at specific compositions. In order to achieve this objective, the phase equilibria of the ternary phase diagram pertaining to the Co-Ti-Al alloy system will be examined. If the existence of fully DP transformed materials under certain processing conditions are confirmed, the fabrication of large scaled metallic nanostructures can be applied in industry with reduced time and cost, and higher efficiency for applications including, heterogeneous catalysis, fuel cell/Li-ion battery component substrates, friction reduction in engines, heat exchangers, high strength lightweight structures, and permeable biological membranes.

Chris Riley (ME 5th year) and Brent Stephens, associate professor of architectural engineering and director of architectural engineering, will begin their project, “Saving Energy and Increasing Occupant Comfort using Dynamic Shading in Buildings.” The team seeks to develop and test an inexpensive dynamic shading system that reduces excessive solar heat gains and improves thermal comfort of people within an indoor environment. The system will be controlled by both environmental sensors and by the user via periodic inquires of their thermal comfort. This project could increase user comfort and reduce the cost to maintain optimal temperature within and indoor environment.


Eren Riviere-Celasun (ECE 1st year) and Erdal Oruklu, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, will begin their project, “Open Source GPS based Navigation and Pathfinding for Robotic Applications.” They will work to develop an autonomous radio-controlled car capable of navigating itself in an urban environment using GPS and online mapping services. Riviere-Celasun will work to translate the maps into a language the computer will understand and will then refine the language to counter the impurities of road. The project work incorporates both hardware (CHIP Computer, GPS board, RC car) and software (map data analysis and translation, user input and communication interface) development. This research could improve the ability of autonomous vehicles to navigate in a safe manner.