San Diego, CA, December 18, 2018-- We’re proud to share a few research highlights from the past year at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. We couldn’t fulfill our missions in education, research and technology transfer without the incredible support, hard work, guidance and friendship of so many people here at the Jacobs School, across UC San Diego, in the local community, and far beyond San Diego.
All our efforts tie back to a singular principle: engineering for the public good. In everything we do, we take the UC San Diego Principles of Community to heart.
Below are some of our research wins from 2018 with links to the full story. At the Jacobs School, we make bold possible.
We rose to be the #7 public engineering school and #12 overall in the nation according to the 2019 U.S. News Best Graduate School Rankings published in March. For the second year in a row, the Jacobs School’s faculty ranked #1 in the nation among public engineering schools for research expenditures per faculty member. http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2503
We hired 15 new faculty in 2018, making a total of 90 new hires in the last 5 years. We're currently ramping up for another big year of faculty hiring in 2019. http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2644
Mechanical engineers developed a gecko-inspired robotic gripper that can grasp a much wider variety of objects than the state of the art. The gripper can lift up to 45 lbs. and could be used to grasp objects in a wide range of settings, from factory floors to the International Space Station. http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2522
Nanoengineers developed an energy-efficient recycling process that restores used cathodes from spent lithium ion batteries and makes them work just as good as new. The process involves harvesting the degraded cathode particles from a used battery and then boiling and heat treating them. The researchers, who belong to the Sustainable Power and Energy Center, built new batteries using the regenerated cathodes, and charge storage capacity, charging time and battery lifetime were all restored to their original levels. Less than five percent of used lithium ion batteries are recycled today. http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2454
A needle-free glucose monitor developed at UC San Diego measures insulin levels through sweat on the skin so people with diabetes don’t have to prick their fingers so often. The tattoo sensor technology was developed in the labs of Joseph Wang and Patrick Mercier at the Jacobs School of Engineering’s Center for Wearable Sensors. The sensors are now being tested in a phase 1 clinical trial at the UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute. http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2529
The UC San Diego Contextual Robotics Institute opened a drone research facility on campus. The open-air aerodrome is the first step in what engineers hope will be a new era for unmanned aerial vehicle research at UC San Diego. One of their goals is to create a living laboratory for unmanned aerial vehicles by bringing together researchers from across campus, including computer scientists, structural, mechanical, aerospace, electrical and computer engineers and scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2460
The world’s largest outdoor earthquake simulator, run by structural engineers at the Jacobs School of Engineering, has received a $16.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to expand the facility’s testing capabilities. The funds will enable the simulator to recreate the motion of the ground during strong earthquakes in six degrees of motion. Researchers from academia and industry will use the upgraded facility to shake the heaviest test specimens in the world, from multi-story buildings, to bridge columns, bridge bents and wind turbines. http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2653
With $14 million in NIH grants, bioengineers are now building 3D “reference maps” at the level of single cells for the human brain and for the respiratory and urinary systems. “If a patient has Alzheimer’s or chronic kidney disease, we can zoom in and examine what’s happening at the level of individual cells and compare it to the reference map of a normal brain or kidney,” said project lead Kun Zhang, professor and department chair of bioengineering. “This could help us identify biomarkers and better clinical decisions on what treatments to use.” http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2661
UC San Diego launched a cross-disciplinary data science institute thanks to the generosity of Facebook pioneer and Jacobs School computer science alumnus Taner Halicioglu. Bill Nye joined Halicioglu to launch the Halicioglu Data Science Institute, which will train students in the latest data-science techniques and allow researchers across campus to incorporate data science into their respective disciplines to better understand and make predictions about the world around us. Rajesh Gupta, a professor of computer science and engineering, and Jeffrey Elman, professor of cognitive science, launched the institute as co-directors. http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2493 (RIP Jeffrey Elman 1948-2018)
We welcomed our 5th annual Forum of the UC San Diego Contextual Robotics Institute. This year's theme: Healthcare Robotics. Experts from industry and academia came together to tackle healthcare and robotics challenges stemming from an aging population, a healthcare workforce stretched to its limits, and a lack of adequate healthcare, especially surgery, around the world. Learn more about the challenges and opportunities discussed here: http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2669
UC San Diego was awarded $11.3 million over four years from DARPA to lead a multi-institution project that aims to develop electronic design automation tools for 24-hour, no-human-in-the-loop hardware layout generation. Professor Andrew Kahng, who is on the faculty of both the computer science and electrical engineering departments, will lead the project, called OpenROAD. “For the U.S. to be the vanguard of innovation we need to fully leverage semiconductor technology,” Kahng said. “There’s an incredible delta between what’s possible with silicon versus what people are actually able to afford or bring themselves to risk attempting—we’re trying to narrow that gap.” http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2605
Nanoengineers developed a wearable ultrasound patch that can non-invasively monitor blood pressure in arteries deep beneath the skin. “Wearable devices have so far been limited to sensing signals either on the surface of the skin or right beneath it. But this is like seeing just the tip of the iceberg,” said Sheng Xu, a professor of nanoengineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering affiliated with the Center for Wearable Sensors, and the corresponding author of the study. The patch could help people detect cardiovascular problems earlier and with greater precision than current clinical methods. http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2627
Electrical engineers developed a miniature, ultra-low power injectable biosensor that could be used for continuous, long-term alcohol monitoring. The chip is small enough to be implanted in the body just beneath the surface of the skin and is powered wirelessly by a wearable device, such as a smartwatch or patch. http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2521
Bioengineers developed a wearable, non-invasive system to monitor electrical activity in the stomach over 24 hours—essentially an electrocardiogram but for the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract. Applications include monitoring GI activity for patients outside of a clinical setting, which cuts down costs. Monitoring for longer periods of time also increases the likelihood of capturing abnormal events. http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2508
Engineers at UC San Diego have developed tiny ultrasound-powered robots that can swim through blood, removing harmful bacteria and the toxins they produce. These proof-of-concept nanorobots could one day offer a safe and efficient way to detoxify and decontaminate biological fluids. Researchers built the nanorobots by coating gold nanowires with a hybrid of platelet and red blood cell membranes. This allows the nanorobots to perform the tasks of two different cells at once—platelets, which bind pathogens like MRSA bacteria, and red blood cells, which absorb and neutralize the toxins produced by these bacteria. http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2550
Nanoengineers at UC San Diego have developed macrophage “nanosponges” that safely absorb and remove molecules from the bloodstream that are known to trigger sepsis. These nanosponges are nanoparticles cloaked in the cell membranes of a type of white blood cells called macrophages. These nanosponges serve as traps for a broad spectrum of sepsis-causing molecules. And since they are covered in actual macrophage cell membranes, they can circulate in the bloodstream without being evicted. http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2400
Bioengineers at UC San Diego used machine learning to identify and predict which genes make infectious bacteria resistant to antibiotics. The approach was tested on strains of the bacteria that cause tuberculosis in humans, and identified 33 known and 24 new antibiotic resistance genes in these bacteria. “Knowing which genes are conferring antibiotic resistance could change the way infectious diseases are treated in the future,” said co-senior author Jonathan Monk, a UC San Diego bioengineering alumnus and research scientist in the lab of Bernhard Palsson at the Jacobs School. http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2658