Purdue recognizes professors who make solutions to everyday problems across the world

July 17, 2012  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University is highlighting four professors who are creating solutions to everyday problems across the world.

The researchers' work includes providing transportation to third-world villages in Cameroon; enabling African farmers to protect their crops; creating minute medical sensors that can prevent and monitor health issues; and a device that enables Parkinson’s disease sufferers to speak louder and more clearly.

Purdue Marketing and Media created a website that includes photos and additional information about the professors and research programs. The webpage can be accessed at http://www.purdue.edu/differencemakers/creativity.html

The four featured professors are:

*Jessica Huber, associate professor of speech, language and hearing sciences. Nearly 90 percent of Parkinson’s patients suffer from a neurological disorder known as “soft voice,” which makes the words they speak sound hushed, whispery or hoarse. Huber has invented SpeechVive, a device that cues Parkinson’s patients to speak louder and clearer. The device rests in a patient’s ear and provides a stream of noise similar to the background chatter at a party while the patient speaks. That cues that person to talk louder, a response known as the Lombard effect. The first clinical trial was positive, and the device could reach the market by 2013.

*John Lumkes, professor of agriculture and biological engineering. Lumkes is the technical adviser for a group of Purdue students who traveled to Cameroon to provide affordable and practical transportation to the underdeveloped area. Purdue’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering partnered with The African Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies (ACREST) in 2009 to develop a basic utility vehicle that is low-cost, durable, adaptable and easily manufactured from materials readily available in that area. Each year a group of Purdue students create a prototype tested through 3-D modeling software and extensive field runs before visiting Cameroon for three weeks to build the vehicle.

*Larry Murdock, professor of entomology. Murdock developed the Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage system, allowing farmers in West and Central Africa to protect their harvest of cowpeas. The farmers use their crops for income and to feed their families, but many are fighting a losing battle with weevil infestations that destroy grain during storage. Murdock’s system entails cowpeas being triple-bagged in polyethylene and polypropylene containers, which are light, affordable, easy to use and readily available.

*Babak Ziaie, electrical and computer engineer. Ziaie has created a prototype of a minute medical sensor that can be implanted into the body to monitor aneurysms or treat people with incontinence. The new acoustically charged sensor can monitor pressure in the urinary bladder and in the sack of a blood vessel damaged by an aneurysm. In the future the sensor may slow incontinence in people with paralysis by checking bladder pressure and stimulating the spinal cord to close a sphincter that controls urine flow from the bladder. The new sensor provides benefit over previous implantable technologies that require batteries or receive power through “induction” coils and an external transmitter, both of which can cause maintenance problems.

Writer: Brian Peloza, 765-496-3006, bpeloza@purdue.edu

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