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Engineering Prof. Awarded NSF Career Grant

Xingwei Wang to Receive $400,000

Asst. Prof. Xingwei Wang works with Ph.D. student Nan Wu in the optics lab.

02/11/2011
By Edwin L. Aguirre

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently recognized electrical and computer engineering Asst. Prof. Xingwei Wang with a prestigious faculty early career development award.

Called the “CAREER” award, this highly competitive annual program selects the nation’s best young university faculty-scholars “who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization.”

Wang, who joined UMass Lowell in 2006, designs and fabricates biosensors and biomedical devices. She will use the NSF award, worth $400,000 spread over a period of five years, to support her research project entitled “Novel Mechanism for Generation and Receiving of Ultrasound on a Single Fiber Using Nanoparticles.”

“The project will help create the world’s smallest duplex ultrasound probe,” she says. “This probe can be used for diagnosing coronary artery disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. The probe can assess the effectiveness of a stent and diagnose misplacement of stents, which occurs in 66.5 percent of the 1 million coronary artery disease patients each year.”

She says other applications of this technology include structural health monitoring and surveillance in unmanned miniature vehicles and navigation in autonomous intelligence robotics.

From Helmets to Electron Microscope

Last November, Raytheon Co. awarded Wang and mechanical engineering Profs. Julie Chen and Christopher Niezrecki a one-year $30,000 grant to develop an optical sensor network for evaluating the design of soldiers’ helmets.

“This monitoring system will study the effects of blasts from artillery shells and IEDs [improvised explosive devices] on the helmet or skull,” says Wang. “The data collected will be used to improve helmet design to better protect soldiers from traumatic brain injury.”

Wang is also the principal investigator for a project that aims to acquire a state-of-the-art focused ion beam (FIB) scanning electron microscope from Carl Zeiss. In August, the NSF awarded $1.15 million to UMass Lowell to purchase the instrument, which will be used for research and workforce training in nanomanufacturing, plastics engineering and nanomedicine. Her co-principal investigators include Profs. Carol Barry, David Kazmer and Mengyan Shen and Earl Ada of the Materials Characterization Lab.

“This instrument will immediately impact research by more than 20 faculty members from nine departments,” says Wang. “Graduate, undergraduate and Kߝ12 students as well as industry professionals will benefit from programs incorporating the FIB system. A unique ‘machining’ program will be piloted with the Nashoba Valley Technical High School and extended to local technical high schools.”

Wang earned her bachelor’s degree from Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, China, and her master’s and doctorate from Virginia Tech.