Discovery Park

Congratulations to the 2014-2015 Discovery Park Research Fellows

Program Overview

The Discovery Park Research Fellows Initiative (DPRFI) seeks to engage the campus in the core missions of the DP centers.  A major goal of the program is to establish collaborative networks between Discovery Park and the academic units to create new opportunities to enable faculty to significantly advance Purdue research and technology through innovative ideas and novel approaches.  The program focuses on faculty (tenure-track/tenured and clinical) at all academic ranks on the West Lafayette campus who wish to create new collaborations, which they envision will benefit from the interactive environment, facilities and personnel available in Discovery Park.  The program is viewed as a benefit to both Discovery Park and the academic units. Fellows will be chosen on a competitive basis following nomination by both their department/unit head/chair with approval of the college dean and the appropriate Discovery Park Center Director(s). Appointment to the Fellows program is for one year.  Departments/units will receive $25,000 for each Fellow as compensation for the partial release from academic responsibilities of faculty serving as Discovery Park Research Fellows. Up to $10,000 in “credit” may be available to each Fellow for use in Discovery Park core research facilities or to employ services provided by Discovery Park staff during their appointment. The appointment period will begin July 1, 2014.

The Selected 2014-2015 Discovery Park Faculty Research Fellows

ChengDiscovery Park Fellow:  Dr. Ji-Xin Cheng, College of Engineering

Project Title:  “High-speed, High-resolution Spectroscopic Imaging for Bioscience and Nanomaterial Characterization”

Affiliated Center(s):  Birck, Bindley, Drug Discovery, OSC


Discoveries in bioscience and breakthroughs in material design are often driven by development of new imaging tools. Optical microscope has been an essential tool for biological research and material characterization since its invention. Today, microscopes based on phase contrast or fluorescence signals are widely used by the scientific community. Yet, these microscopes either lack the chemical selectivity, or rely on fluorescent labels that are too bulky for labeling biomolecules such as glucose and may perturb the function of biological structures. Over the past 10 years, my group has made significant advances in developing label-free imaging platforms using intrinsic spectroscopic signals as contrast. I will utilize the Discovery Park Research Fellows program as an excellent opportunity of creating new collaborative, cutting-edge research in nanoscience, bioscience, and drug discovery fields. I will bring my spectroscopic imaging expertise to Discovery Park Centers and promote new applications of label-free imaging technologies.  

Congratulations to Ji-Xin Cheng as a 2014-2015 Discovery Park Research Fellow.


HazbunDiscovery Park Fellow:  Dr. Tony Hazbun, College of Pharmacy                   

Project Title:  “Gain of Function screening in yeast to identify small molecule probes and genetic modifiers”

Affiliated Center(s):  Bindley Bioscience Center

Dr. Hazbun’s research focuses on the use of yeast functional genomic technologies to investigate protein-protein interactions controlled by mitotic kinases. Yeast functional genomic resources are useful in a broad cross-section of research disciplines. Dr. Hazbun has been initiating collaborations with research groups across the Purdue University campus to facilitate the use of these genome-wide resources including the investigation of genetic interactions such as synthetic lethality and chemical-genetic interactions based on haploinsufficiency profiling.  Dr. Hazbun will be working closely with the Biomolecular Screening and Drug Discovery facility in the Bindley Bioscience Center to implement and optimize the use of genetic and chemical library screening using automated handling stations.  Several collaborative projects will use these methods to identify genetic modifiers of cellular pathways and the identification of small molecules modulators of biological activities.

Congratulations to Tony Hazbun as a 2014-2015 Discovery Park Research Fellow.


LiuDiscovery Park Fellow:  Dr. Andrew (Lu) Liu, College of Engineering

Project Title:  “New Modeling and Computation Paradigms for an Efficient and Secure Electric Power Grid”

Affiliated Center(s):  Energy Center

While various power grid technologies have emerged to help shape the future of a smart energy grid, key challenges remain on the operation and integration of various resources and technologies. Current power system operators face increasing complexity associated with the integration of large amounts of variable-output renewable energy, growing interdependence between the power and natural gas sector, actively engaged distributed generation and demand resources, and electrification of transportation systems. Dr. Liu’s goal of this DP Fellowship is to address the challenges through advancing mathematical models and computation methods, and through growing collaborative research networks covering broad areas of cyber physical systems.

 Dr. Liu will specifically focus on three major areas in this project: a) establish a novel modeling and computational approach for multiscale stochastic programming, helping larger-scale renewable resource integration; (b) design market operations to incorporate real-time pricing of electricity and seamlessly integrate demand-side resources; and (c) develop scalable algorithms to improve reliability of interdependent critical infrastructure systems. The longer-term goal is to work together with the Energy Center to form a nucleus of researchers working collectively to make the future power grid more reliable, flexible, efficient and resilient. 

Congratulations to Andrew Liu as a 2014-2015 Discovery Park Research Fellow.


MainDiscovery Park Fellow:  Dr. Russell Main, College of Veterinary Medicine

Project Title:  “Imaging 3D cellular networks and fluid flow in a 3D culture model for bone.”

Affiliated Center(s):  Bindley Bioscience Center

Age-related bone loss and the coincident increase in skeletal fracture risk are caused in part by decreased bone formation relative to resorption. Matrix-bound osteocytes, regulated by physical and biochemical stimuli, are key mediators of bone-forming osteoblasts. While current 2D monoculture models have enriched our knowledge of bone cell biology, they cannot address interactions between osteocytes, osteoblasts, and the 3D extracellular mineral-collagen environment. There is a critical need to develop 3D co-culture systems that mimic native bone tissue architecture and composition to identify the key physical and biochemical factors regulating bone cells in their natural environment. 

The short-term goal of this work is to develop a novel 3D co-culture system that reproduces in vivo osteocyte-osteoblast interactions and their responses to osteocyte-directed fluid flow to determine the biological consequences of fluid shear stress on bone anabolic processes in a realistic 3D cellular environment. Future applications of this 3D co-culture system will accelerate translational research by examining the mechanistic role of cellular transcription factors in osteocyte-regulated anabolic pathways and serve as a pre-clinical testbed for determining the efficacy of physical and pharmacologic therapies for treating pathologic bone loss. I am excited by this opportunity to take advantage of the rich resources offered by Discovery Park for high resolution, multi-scale characterization of the fluid shear environment around the culture-embedded osteocytes and the cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions within the 3D culture. Establishing a collaborative network through Discovery Park will also speed development of this technology for application to other tissue-types, high throughput drug screening, and basic science applications. 

Congratulations to Russell Main as a 2014-2015 Discovery Park Research Fellow.

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