Funding Opportunities

Research Incentive Grant - Category I

Collaborative teams addressing new/emerging interdisciplinary challenges

2013 Recipients

Yong Chen; Daniel Elliot; Chris Green; and Yuli Lyanda-Geller; physics, electrical and computer engineering, physics, physics, “Optically synthesizing novel atomic and molecular quantum matter—an emerging research in atomic, molecular and optical (AMO) physics,” $290,449.

  • Atomic, molecular, and optical (AMO) physics is among the most active and productive fields in modern physics. This proposal seeds a new research program that will use engineered laser fields to optically synthesize novel atomic and molecular quantum matter not naturally occurring nor previously synthesized via more traditional chemical/material means. Chen’s group will be the first to combine two powerful techniques recently but separately developed that use lasers to “glue” atoms into molecules (photoassociation), and to generate “artificial” gauge fields that control the dynamics and internal states of neutral atoms (generalizing the electrical and magnetic fields that affect electronic charge motion or the Higgs field that bestows masses to particles).

Ananth Grama; Markus Lill; computer science, medicinal chemistry/molecular pharmacology, “Network Analysis Aided Drug Re-purposing for Degenerative Diseases,” $291,360.

  • Neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease affect millions worldwide and represent a significant burden to health care systems. In the past decade, researchers have started to explore molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases, and to translate findings into potential targets for intervention and therapies. In this project, researchers will advance understanding of neurodegenerative diseases by identifying pathways upstream and downstream of key effectors associated with cellular aging, classify effectors and their states, correlate identified genes and proteins with known dysregulated genes in degenerative diseases, use protein-based pharmacophore models in conjunction with machine learning techniques to screen potential targets for druggability, and identify active compounds together with their target and pathways.

Shihuan Kuang; Ji-xin Cheng; Wayne Campbell; and Jinghua Wang; animal sciences, biomedical engineering, nutrition science, animal sciences, “Dissecting stem cell fate by novel imaging microscopy and single cell RNA-seq,” $299,061.

  • Because of their ability to regenerate tissue, adult stem cells can repair tissue injuries caused by trauma or degenerative diseases. However, derailed differentiation can lead to formation of unwanted cells, while uncontrolled stem cell proliferation and self-renewal often leads to development of cancer. The researchers seek to understand how the balance between self-renewal and differentiation is maintained by 1.) establishing a live imaging technique for identification of stem cell fate and 2.) dissecting the signaling network that governs asymmetric division of human muscle stem cells. Ultimately, their knowledge could help researchers learn how to coax stem cells to fight muscular dystrophy diseases, while their imaging technique could be used to trace cell fates in other stem cell types.

Alejandra Magana; Lynn Bryan; Edwin Garcia; and Nick Giordano; computer and information technology, curriculum and instruction, materials engineering, physics, “Learning Quantum Mechanics through Modeling-Based Instruction: Advancing STEM Education across Scale and Disciplines,” $300,000.

  • K-12 STEM education is a key element in maintaining the United States’ scientific and economic leadership, and yet high school courses traditionally underemphasize the development of critical 21st skills such as the generation, manipulation, analysis, processing, simulation and visualization of applications in materials, energy, processes and information. Beginning with quantum mechanics, the researchers will collaborate with high school and undergraduate physics and chemistry instructors to develop and implement new STEM curricula using model-based instruction coupled with computational tools, and to examine and document high school and undergraduate STEM students’ meaning making as they build models to explain physical phenomena and their behavior across different scales.

Corey Neu; Gert Breur; and Thomas Talavage; biomedical engineering, veterinary clinical sciences, electrical and computer engineering, “Next-Generation Orthobiologics for Joint Repair,” $300,000.

  • Total joint arthroplasty (TJA) is a common surgical technique for advanced osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease affecting nearly 20 percent of U.S. adults and creating an economic burden exceeding $65 billion a year. While TJA surgeries improve the range of joint motion and relieve pain in most patients, the expected life of the implant is typically insufficient, especially for younger and active people. In this study, the researchers will investigate a new orthobiological approach which involves orthotopic transplantation of joint tissue and custom cartilage-bone matrix. Through an in vivo study, they expect to find that this transplantation procedure promotes cellularization of transplants and maintenance of cartilage biomechanics at levels comparable to normal joints.

Bryan Pijanowski; Dave Ebert; Nadine Dolby; Carlos Morales; Robert Nowack; Dan Shepardson; and Richard Thomas; forestry and natural resources, electrical and computer engineering, curriculum and instruction, computer graphics technology, dept. earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences, curriculum and instruction, patti and rusty rueff dept. visual and performing, arts, “Soundscapes: Science, Engineering and Education Research to Preserve Earth’s Acoustic Heritage,” $300,000.

  • To help advance the emerging field of soundscape ecology, the researchers will explore social and natural dimensions of soundscapes, cyber-soundscapes, learning and public awareness, and campus synergies. Specifically, they will 1.) compare and contrast soundscapes from around the world using long-term continuous soundscape data; 2.) move current field sensor technology to real-time by building the capacity to bring sounds live to science museums and to Purdue; 3.) develop giant screen, IMAX theater surround sound listening and visualization tools for museums moving to digital formats; 4.) engage amateur recording artists using mobile apps to add to the Purdue global soundscape research archive and 5.) create pilot learning tools for visually-impaired youth and urban children.

Maria Sepulveda; Linda Lee; and Jennifer Freeman; forestry and natural resources, agronomy, health sciences, “Environmental and Health Assessment of Perfluorinated Compounds,” $298,889.

  • Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), widely used in many commercial and industrial products, are ubiquitous in drinking water. Tests in different animal models and human epidemiological studies have demonstrated numerous negative effects, including cancer and endocrine disruption, but later lifespan and multigenerational effects of developmental exposure to PFASs are poorly understood. Through studies using zebrafish models, the researchers aim to discover 1.) whether developmental exposures to PFOA at concentrations commonly found in drinking water will result in later lifespan and multigenerational alterations in development and reproduction and 2.) whether in situ remediation of certain PFASs can be achieved by delivery into groundwater systems. Long-term, they hope to fill research gaps that will support future assessment, risk management, and mitigation of PFAS-contaminated waters.

Daniel Suter; and Arvind Raman; biological sciences, mechanical engineering, “An integrated AFM platform for cellular dynamics and mechanics,” $300,000.

  • Recent scientific developments have significantly advanced understanding of cell migration, including the important role that intra- and extracellular actions play in many cellular behaviors. The Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) has emerged as one of the best and most versatile biophysical methods to measure topography and mechanical properties of live cells, but previous studies have been limited to separate analysis of protein dynamics and nanomechanical properties. The main reason for this lack of integrated chemical and mechanical analysis has been the different time scales of these techniques. The researchers will address this issue by developing a novel platform for simultaneous fluorescence imaging and high-speed AFM for integrated analysis of chemical and mechanical properties of live cells.

Sherry Voytik-Harbin; Bumsoo Han; Greg Buzzard; Corey Neu; Kinam Park; Ann Rundell; Cagri Savran; and Mervin Yoder; (IUSOM) biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, mathematics, biomedical engineering, biomedical engineering, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, biochemistry and molecular biology, “Integrative Tissue Systems Biology and Engineering: In-vitro 3D Models of Vascularized Human Tissues,“ $300,000.

  • Scientists and engineers rely on in-vivo animal models and conventional in-vitro cell cultures for investigating biological processes, performing chemical toxicity testing, and engaging in drug discovery and development. But because of the shortcomings of both 2D in-vitro and animal models, researchers have increasingly become interested in developing in vitro model systems that are human-cell based and recapitulate the complexities of 3D tissues and organs, including the dynamic and spatiotemporal biochemical and biophysical signaling inherent to the in-vivo cell microenvironment. To that end, the researchers aim to create an internationally-recognized, multidisciplinary community of investigators to perform pioneering research, research training and education in the emerging area of integrative tissue systems biology and engineering.

Laurel Weldon; Patricia Boling; Patrice Buzzanell; Chris Earley; Rachel Einwohner; Dan Kelly; Maren Linett; Margo Monteith; Jennifer Neville; Venetria Patton; Alice Pawley; Leigh Raymond; Chris Sahley; Mangala Subramaniam; political science, political science, communication, school of management, sociology department, liberal arts and science, English, psychological sciences, computer science, English, engineering education, political science, biological sciences, sociology department, “Diversity and Inclusion: Implications for Science and Society,” $289,317.

  • Scholars and public authorities from the Supreme Court to the National Academies have emphasized the importance of diversity in multiple settings. Emerging research links diversity and inclusion to better science, better policymaking, more productivity, more profitable businesses and stronger social networks and movements. Yet the specific meaning of diversity remains vague, making it difficult to assess the best practices for promoting and studying diversity. This project aims to explore the meaning of diversity and inclusion, to understand how diversity and inclusion shape human behavior, to identify examples of best practices for promoting diversity and inclusion, and to draw out the implications of various policies to address diversity and inclusion for science and society.