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Millions of people are waiting for a Covid-19 vaccination but how can we make sure enough people get the shot to offer protection to large swaths of society? A variety of factors determine how an epidemic spreads through a society, including how contagious it is, how it affects different groups, and how lethal it is. Another key set of factors is the interventions that the society takes to slow or stop the spread, encompassing receiving vaccinations; wearing masks; and social distancing (six-foot separations, quarantines, lockdowns, etc.).

Policymakers must not only understand the characteristics of an ongoing epidemic but also…


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Implantable medical devices are designed to repair, replace, rehabilitate, and ultimately restore lost bodily function, but a newer class of these devices is focused on diagnosis. The emerging devices provide information about what’s happening in the body, and include things like glucose monitors, heart pressure sensors, brain-tissue oxygenation sensors, and neural recording devices. In addition, we are now seeing multifunctional, “smart” implants that not only sense but also treat conditions in a closed-loop response, leading to personalized, precise treatments that target individual needs.

My lab works with clinical partners at Indiana University School of Medicine, Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine…


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Healthcare isn’t readily available everywhere, and expert assistance often needs to be delivered in real time to remote or underserved locations. Telementoring uses advanced technology like augmented reality (AR) to provide local guidance from a remote mentor. Collaborating with Purdue’s School of Computer Science and with Indiana University School of Medicine, we have designed a self-contained, portable platform to provide surgical telementoring in the field. Initially built for the military, this platform enables surgeons and even non-specialist practitioners in rural and low- and middle-income areas to get coaching from remote experts, improving performance and outcomes.

AR is a leap forward…


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A team from Purdue University worked with partners who had founded an unconventional school in Kenya called the Tumaini Innovation Center. Together, they co-created a localized engineering curriculum, which serves former “street children” who now learn foundational engineering skills.

Educating at scale means more than the number of people reached — it also means creating opportunities for hard-to-reach, underserved groups. We’re teaching engineering and working with learners who have been uprooted, through an innovative approach we call Localized Engineering in Displacement. Our lab focuses on the needs of local students and their fragile communities via programs that equip these students with engineering skills to improve their living conditions, further their educational goals, and build up their communities.

The number of displaced people around the world is staggering. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates there were at least…


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Modeling emerged front and center during the coronavirus pandemic — especially at the outset, when there was only the smallest body of data to rely on, and various organizations tried to prognosticate probabilities for the course of the epidemic and strategies for mitigation. While advances in mathematical and computational algorithms and processing power have led to great progress in modeling, the usefulness of models is reduced substantially if their results are not considered properly by officials and policymakers — and even more so if social acceptance and compliance with their projected results are not high.

Generally speaking, a model is…


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The mapping of the human genome — the complete code of instructions that enables us to develop and function — is vital in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Genome engineering, or genome editing, essentially alters an organism’s genetic code, and was recognized in awarding the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020. Recently, labs have turned to gene-based technologies to develop vaccines in record time compared with the traditional approach, in which weakened viruses are grown in mammalian or insect cells and the desired pieces are extracted to inject into humans.

Today, a staggering 94 vaccines to combat the severe…


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The rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines compares to landing the first humans on the moon, Neera Jain states in a Forbes opinion piece published Dec. 28, 2020.

What’s more, the Purdue assistant professor of mechanical engineering cites the vaccine feat as one of “many examples of our collective resilience as we have navigated the pandemic.” Other instances include an Italian hospital introducing a robot nurse to supplement staff communications with infected patients, as well as companies and institutions (such as Purdue) quickly incorporating automation to reimagine their operations.

An expert in automation and human-machine interaction, Jain says that “this year…


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How do we control a cell to harness its full therapeutic and medical potential? The answer lies where engineering and biology meet. In our lab, engineering provides the data and analytical frameworks for handling and deciphering how a multitude of signals within a cell integrate to lead to each cellular outcome — the development of a particular tissue or cell type.

This is essentially data-driven “reverse engineering” of a biological system. But engineers also “forward engineer” taking what we’ve learned, and using the tools and instruments at our disposal to guide cells and their development.

In my lab, we…


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The way the novel coronavirus tore through the U.S. healthcare system and threatened to overwhelm it in places has brought into sharp relief the need to apply data-driven analytics and optimization in order to hone healthcare practices and service delivery for the next wave of challenges. Healthcare in the U.S. is characterized by innumerable variables that make it difficult to fully understand, much less improve, the system. That’s where data and modeling come in.

Our Biomedical Analytics and Systems Optimization (BASO) research lab is developing healthcare analytics models, techniques, and tools, which are critical to smart and connected health. …


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REUTERS / Richard Carson — stock.adobe.com

The role of engineering in live entertainment has a rich history, going back to the ancient Greek apò mēkhanês theós — “god from the machine” — where actors playing deities were lowered from a crane onto the stage. We’ve come a long way from the mechanical contrivance of the tragedian Aeschylus to Lady Gaga’s halftime show at the 2017 Super Bowl, where synchronized drones with color-emitting LEDs created giant animations in the sky above the arena.

Live entertainment is riding a wave of digitization and engineered content. Digital controls send sound signals to specific speakers so the right frequency gets…

Purdue College of Engineering

Known as the “Cradle of Astronauts,” with a long list of pioneers includes Neil Armstrong and Amelia Earhart. Ranked Top 10 nationwide by USNWR.

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