The Kentucky NSF EPSCoR Program has recently made 9 awards through its annual academic year programs, aimed at bolstering Kentucky’s burgeoning research infrastructure. For more information on each of the awarded projects, please read below.

MEMStim, LLC

Principal Investigator: Angelique Johnson
Institution: MEMStim, LLC

EI Award

MEMStim, LLC is an original equipment manufacturer of neurostimulator leads. The CEO, Dr. Angelique Johnson, founded the company in Michigan before relocating the company to Louisville, KY in 2014. In addition to being a woman-owned and minority- owned medical device startup, MEMStim, LLC has been awarded multiple grants including an NIH SBIR Phase I grant, an NIH SBIR Phase II, a KY matching funds grant and more. The company employs four full-time staff, including three active engineers, and is seeking interns to help achieve its research objectives. Interns at MEMStim can expect an engaging, hands-on experience as well as an opportunity to help the millions of people worldwide that suffer from sensory disabilities.

TutorGen, Inc.

Principal Investigator: Jesse L. Bass
Institution: Centre College

EI Award

TutorGen is building the next-generation tools for adding adaptive and personalized capabilities to educational software using cutting edge research. Our processes use a data-driven, human- centered approach because we believe the most efficient way to teach students is to adapt to their needs, rather than forcing students to adapt to the needs of the system. TutorGen is located in the Midway business district of historic Fort Thomas, Kentucky: a small community near the Ohio River in the Cincinnati metro area.

MEP Equine Solutions, LLC

Principal Investigator: Martin K. Nielsen
Institution: University of Kentucky

EI Award

The company (MEP Equine Solutions LLC) has developed proprietary technology for the detection and quantification of parasite eggs in feces1 and is currently working to commercialize this technology. In this process the company has developed expertise in the production of fluorescence imaging devices and computational image analysis and is beginning to leverage this technology in to new areas in veterinary diagnostics. In particular, the company is currently exploring the possibility of developing an improved test to produce somatic cell counts in milk on site.

Multi-Scale Fluid Dynamics

Principal Investigator: Bruce Rodenborn
Institution: Centre College

RSP Award

This EPSCoR proposal is part of the Multi-Scale Fluid Dynamics project at Centre College, which includes research related to biophysics, physical oceanography and astrophysics. The project will provide rich opportunities for student learning through the conduct of original research that will contribute to the body of scientific literature. EPSCoR is asked to support the physical oceanography component of the research program to measure energy dissipation when internal ocean-type waves reflect from a boundary.

 

This experiment is modeled on a system constructed by Rodenborn, et al. at the University of Texas,5 thus, the design requirements for a successful project are known and have been thoroughly tested. Using a wave tank and an angled plate from which internal waves will be reflected, the researchers will measure the density profile using translation stages and a density meter. (While is not required for the proposed research, the researchers may, if time and resources permit, build and test an open source conductivity probe, which makes density measurement faster and easier.) The researchers will then use an open source particle image velocimetry (PIV) system based on the software package UVMAT available from the Coriolis laboratory.11-12

Comparing the Speed and Energy Consumption of the Computational Chemistry Software GAMESS Using ARM-Based CPUs

Principal Investigator: David Toth
Institution: Centre College

RSP Award

The objective of this project is to determine the viability of computers with ARM‐based CPUs for use as a low‐energy consumption tool for researchers who run the computational chemistry application GAMESS. For this project, a compute cluster of credit card sized computers with ARM‐based CPUs, a server with ARM CPUs, and a server with x64 CPUs will be used to compare the performance of GAMESS with the different types of CPUs. The tests will measure the energy consumption and computational throughput of the cluster and the two servers so comparisons can be made between the different systems.

Testing Neotectonics in Western Kentucky from River Profile Parameters

Principal Investigator: Nahid D. Gani
Institution: Western Kentucky University

RSP Award

This project investigates the role of geomorphic indices in understanding neotectonic (i.e., recently active) activity. The Green River Basin lies within western Kentucky, where the Green River tributaries drain across two major faults, the Rough Creek Fault system in the north and the Pennyrile Fault system in the south. These are border faults of the Rough Creek Graben (RCG) rift. At present, the RCG has gained significant attention for its close proximity to two seismic hot spots – the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) of the Reelfoot rift in the west and the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone (WVSZ) in the north. While previous studies have mapped the border faults of the RCG, a detailed understanding of these faults’ response to neotectonics is hindered by the paucity of fault exposures and the presence of ~8 km-thick sediment cover. Much of the evolution of these faults is so poorly constrained that it limits a complete understanding of the fault activity in relation to the seismic behavior in the region. The proposed project tests the hypothesis that the rivers are actively responding to neotectonics.

Large-Area Graphene Oxide Nanoporous Membranes for Water Detoxification

Principal Investigator: Sanju Gupta
Institution: Western Kentucky University

RSP Award

This project is centered around the development of large-area graphene oxide membranes using novel synthetic approaches and the evaluation of their performance for water detoxification (desalination and purification). Graphenefamily nanomaterials (GFNs), which are comprised of a single or a few sheets of carbon atoms, can be synthesized using proposed schemes that are structurally stable and scalable. They provide the foundation for highly permeable membranes that are emerging as a promising technology for water purification, with recent studies showing great promise for the use of nanoporous membranes in reverse osmosis (RO) desalination processes. Though atomically thin, they exhibit both exceptional mechanical strength and imperviousness to atoms as small as helium. The proposed membranes will be comprised of either (1) holey graphene oxide nanosheets prepared using controlled metal catalyst oxidation, or (2) discotic nematic phase dispersions of graphene oxide followed by shear alignment. They will be nanoporous, highly ordered multilayer materials, with deliberate physical nanostructuring (mesoporous and ordered phases) to create organized channels for enhanced water transport while mitigating structural breakdown during high pressure RO process.

Age-Related Differences in Perception of Peripheral Emotional Facial Expressions

Principal Investigator: Andrew Mienaltowski
Institution: Western Kentucky University

RSP Award

The proposed project will examine age differences in the detection of emotion in facial images. The ability to perceive emotion in the facial expressions of others is critical to successful social interaction, which in turn facilitates improved health and well-being throughout life. The proposed project will examine whether or not younger (age 18-35) and older (age 60-80) adults show similar patterns of emotion detection as face images are presented further away from the center of a computer display into peripheral vision. Emotion perception will be assessed via psychophysical responses (key presses) and electrophysiological reactivity (event-related potentials, or ERPs). ERPs are segments of a continuous electroencephalogram, or series of brain waves, and are recorded using electrodes that sit on the scalp. Use of both key press and ERP measurement techniques will establish corroborating evidence for age differences in emotion perception.

Using a Mathematical Model with Individual Patient Data to Quantify Differences Between Patients with Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Principal Investigator: Richard Schugart
Institution: Western Kentucky University

RSP Award

This project will focus on using current techniques in parameter estimation and uncertainty quantification to measure differences across patients with diabetic foot ulcers using individual patient data. Dr. Richard Schugart will work with undergraduate students on two projects. The first is the incorporation of a Bayesian approach to identify densities and credible intervals across patients. This will be done to aid in the quantification of uncertainties using the Delayed Rejection Adaptive (DRAM) algorithm in MATLAB. The second is the use of nonlinear mixed effects modeling, which allows us to analyze which parameters vary across patients. This will be done using nlmefit algorithm in MATLAB. This works supports the larger project, which also looks at questions regarding optimal design as well as parameter identifiabilities and sensitivities. This work has the potential to impact the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers.

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