MDP Research Projects

Participants | Research Projects

The MDP is committed to offering students novel and creative design opportunities exploring the diverse, multidisciplinary fields of energy, environment, healthcare, and culture. Student design teams will be fully immersed in the research laboratory, collaborating with their faculty co-mentors, and using state-of-the-art equipment. These projects will fully engage the students and provide them the opportunity to see how multidisciplinary collaboration can lead to innovative results.

The following faculty-mentored design projects are available during the 2016-2017 MDP. Select a link for an overview of the project, associated faculty co-mentors, project prerequisites, and related publications.

MDP Design Projects

    1) A Novel Nanopatterned Antimicrobial Contact Lens 

    2) Bioimprinter Development and Optimization 

    3) Cleaning Waikiki’s Ala Wai Canal 

    4) English Language Learners, Large Lectures, and Active Learning 

    5) Enhancing ex vivo Transfection of Macrophages for use as Delivery Vectors for Cancer Suicide Gene Therapy 

    6) Iris: A Social Media Platform for Healthy Living 

    7) Making Plastic Printing Sustainable 

    8) Mobile Technology to Improve Pain and Symptoms in Children with Cancer 

    9) Orthogonal/Proabot Flotilla 

    10) PET: A Personal Embodied Trainer to Promote Physical Therapy at Home 

    11) PMUI: A Power Manager User Interface to Promote Energy Efficiency in Desktop Computers 

    12) Pompe Disease Exercise Study 

    13) Putting Education into Educational Apps for Preschoolers 

    14) Single Controller, Multi-Robot System (SCMR) 

    15) Spine-Rad Brachytherapy Bone Cement 

    16) Variations in Pain Experience 

 Project #1:  A Novel Nanopatterned Antimicrobial Contact Lens
Faculty Mentors:  
Professor Albert F. YeeChemical Engineering & Materials Science

Professor Eric PearlmanOphthalmology

Ms. Rachel RosenzweigChemical Engineering & Materials Science

Description:  Bacterial and fungal infection are among categories of antimicrobial resistance challenges recently addressed as "a dominant threat to global health" by leaders at the 2016 United Nations General Assembly. Contact lenses are the second most used medical device, with more than 30 million wearers in the U.S. Unfortunately, contact lenses commonly become infected by bacteria and fungi, leading to one million doctor and hospital visits annually, at a cost of $175 million to the U.S. healthcare system. Symptoms of such detrimental infections include eye pain, redness, light sensitivity, blurred vision, excessive tearing and discharge, often leading to blindness. There is an unmet need for the prevention of resistant bacterial and fungal infections in contact lenses.

Students’ Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
In this proposed project, an interdisciplinary team of students will fabricate a novel antimicrobial composite material for the contact lens and use the technique of nanoimprint lithography to apply additional nanostructured surface patterns that have been shown to exhibit anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. In the later stage of the project, students will test and analyze survival of bacteria and fungi on these nanopatterned bio-composite surfaces.

Prerequisites: Highly motivated upper division undergraduate and graduate students in engineering or science with basic laboratory safety training. Students are expected to commit to this project for the full 2–3 quarters. As this project is very interdisciplinary, we are looking for students with interests in engineering, chemistry, biological sciences, human health, immunology, and other related fields.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   M. N. Dickson, E. I. Liang, L. a Rodriguez, N. Vollereaux, and A. F. Yee, “Nanopatterned polymer surfaces with bactericidal properties.,” Biointerphases, vol. 10, no. 2, p. 21010, 2015.:
   P. K. Mukherjee, J. Chandra, C. Yu, Y. Sun, E. Pearlman, and M. A. Ghannoum, “Characterization of Fusarium Keratitis Outbreak Isolates: Contribution of Biofilms to Antimicrobial Resistance and Pathogenesis,” Investig. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci., vol. 53, no. 8, pp. 4450–4457, 2012.:
   Y. Sun, J. Chandra, P. Mukherjee, L. Szczotka-Flynn, M. A. Ghannoum, and E. Pearlman, “A murine model of contact lens-associated fusarium keratitis,” Investig. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci., vol. 51, no. 3, pp. 1511–1516, 2010.:
   A. F. Yee, X. D. Huang, L. R. Bao, X. Cheng, L. J. Guo, S. W. Pang, “Reversal imprinting by transferring polymer from mold to substrate,” J Vac Sci Technol B., vol. 20, no. 6, p. 2872, 2002.:
   Fungal Eye Infections and Contact Lenses:
   Insect wings inspire antibacterial surfaces for corneal transplants, other medical devices:
   WHO Factsheet on Antimicrobial Resistance:

 Project #2:  Bioimprinter Development and Optimization
Faculty Mentors:  
Dr. Lawrence KulinskyMechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Professor Arash KheradvarBiomedical Engineering

Description:  The project team will produce a prototype of a bioimprinter that can print a conformal layer of material, including cells, on surfaces of complex morphologies. The technology will allow development of tissue-engineered construct including a new generation of heart valves. This project is multidisciplinary in nature: students will use mechanical engineering design approaches (under the guidance of Dr. Lawrence Kulinsky) to build and test the bioimprinter for deposition of cells (under the guidance of Dr. Arash Kheradvar).

Students’ Involvement and Expected Outcomes:

Students will develop, produce, and optimize the prototype of the bioimprinter. Innovative matrix-based design of the bioimprinter will allow the conformal coating of the surfaces of nearly arbitrary curvature, addressing one of the outstanding needs in tissue engineering and specifically for creation of the next-generation of heart valves.

Prerequisites: Upper division undergraduates and graduate engineering students. Some knowledge of Solidworks is preferred.

 Project #3:  Cleaning Waikiki’s Ala Wai Canal
Faculty Mentors:  
Professor Derek Dunn-RankinMechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Professor Oladele OgunseitanEnvironmental Health, Science, & Policy

Professor Sunny JiangCivil & Environmental Engineering

Professor Kristen A. DavisCivil & Environmental Engineering

Description:  The Ala Wai Canal, on the island of Oahu in Hawaii is an artificial waterway that runs through the heart of Honolulu’s tourist resort area of Waikiki. Originally built to drain agricultural areas, it served as a local fishing spot in the 1930s and '40s, but today is polluted by urban runoff from Manoa and Palolo streams and sewage overflows, as well as the increased population of Waikiki. The purpose of this project is to develop a method that can replace the water in the Ala Wai, and to do so regularly so that even pollutants buried in the sediments begin to decline. The project might involve more than just the canal, and could include the entire watershed area nearby and the adjacent coastal ocean.

Fortunately there is plenty of clean seawater in close proximity to the Kapahulu, or Southern end of the Canal. There is a semi-diurnal tidal surge that floods and ebbs every six hours but it is not strong enough alone to refresh the canal. Additional flow is needed. Perhaps this could include a pump and pipe system, a clever modification of the nearby flows, or even periodic dramatic replacement. Consultations with Sea Life Park and the Honolulu Aquarium might also be helpful. This problem is sufficiently important that the President of the University of Hawaii has offered a prize to the best solution idea: Make the Ala Wai Awesome Student Design Challenge (

Students’ Involvement and Expected Outcomes:

Understand the water distribution and delivery options for the Ala Wai canal, including the current problem. Understand the pollutant hazards and public health issues, including the time for remediation and alternative cleanup strategies. Understand the energy and environment issues associated with mechanical flow design solutions, along with their economic implications. Students should span public health, water quality, water resources, and mechanical and civil engineering.

Prerequisites: A mix of graduate and undergraduate students would be most effective. At least part of the group should have power/energy understanding, part interest in water flows and resources, part in water quality and public health, and all should be interested in helping solve an important problem for Hawaii.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   See the website listed above; other materials could include any articles related to the Ala Wai canal, tidal surge and flows, and perhaps alternative power systems, such as wave energy and OTEC—ocean thermal energy conversion.:

 Project #4:  English Language Learners, Large Lectures, and Active Learning
Faculty Mentors:  
Professor Judith SandholtzEducation

Professor Brian SatoMolecular Biology & Biochemistry

Professor Julio TorresSpanish & Portuguese

Mr. Christopher StillwellEducation

Description:  As the enrollment of international students and language minority learners increases at colleges and universities throughout the US, issues arise regarding ways of meeting the unique needs of this population as they attend classes and face the challenge of understanding complex content via an additional language. Sadly, the literature on this population is notoriously thin (Harklau, 2000). Research is necessary to determine the needs of this population, the personal habits and behaviors that contribute to their success, and the instructional approaches that are most effective.

The MDP’s focus on bringing undergraduate students together with graduate students and faculty members to engage in research activities offers an ideal circumstance through which to explore the needs of English language learners (ELLs) in higher education. In the proposed project, undergraduate students will be invited to explore the question of how undergraduate researchers may be uniquely positioned to access the experience of ELLs attending classes at UCI, given these researchers’ own understanding of the challenges of higher education and their status as peers to the population of interest. Participants will explore a range of research methods for learning about ELLs’ experiences, including use of interviews, surveys, focus groups, and even auto‐ethnography. As they develop the research plans, the participants will benefit from the guidance and expertise of the senior research team, drawing on the lead researcher’s extensive background in language education and research, and the faculty co‐mentors’ backgrounds in higher education research, second language acquisition research, and STEM education research.

Students’ Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
Student participants will collaborate on the design of a research plan that leverages the participants’ unique status as students to help them access ELL students’ perspectives on the challenges they face in learning content through a foreign language. As peers and perhaps as language learners themselves, the student participants may have a great deal of relevant experience to draw upon in attempting to understand the conditions ELLs face. As a result, they may make better interviewers and focus group leaders for the ELL students than other kinds of researchers may be.

Student participants will develop their qualitative research skills by designing and trialing interview protocols, conducting practice interviews on one another before doing the real thing, conducting focus groups, transcribing, coding, and analyzing interview data, and other tasks associated with research of this nature. At the same time, they will practice writing research memos and reflecting on their work in a principled fashion.

Prerequisites: Students with background and interest in education, language learning, and/or qualitative research will find this project a comfortable fit. The capacity to speak Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, or another language other than English is also a plus.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Fowler Jr, F. J., & Cosenza, C. (2009). Design and evaluation of survey questions. The SAGE handbook of applied social research methods, 375‐412.:
   Harklau, L. (2000). From the “good kids” to the “worst”: Representations of English language learners across educational settings. TESOL Quarterly, 34 (1), 35–67.:
   Hatch, J. A. (2002). Doing qualitative research in education settings. Suny Press.:
   Kanno, Y. & Harklau, L. (Eds.) (2012). Linguistic minority students go to college: Preparation, access, and persistence. New York: Routledge.:
   Leki, I. (2007). Undergraduates in a second language: Challenges and complexities of academic literacy development. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.:
   Maxwell, J. A. (2012). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach. Sage.:
   Núñez, A. M., Rios‐Aguilar, C., Kanno, Y., & Flores, S. M. (2016). English learners and their transition to postsecondary education. In Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research (pp. 41‐90). Springer International Publishing.:
   Prince, M. (2004). Does active learning work? A review of the research. Journal of Engineering Education, 93(3), 223‐231.:
   Reid, J. M. (1997). Which non‐native speaker? Differences between international students and U.S. resident (language minority) students. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 70, 17–27.:
   Saldaña, J. (2015). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. Sage.:
   Zamel, V., & Spack, R. (Eds.). (2004). Crossing the curriculum: Multilingual learners in college classrooms. Routledge.:

 Project #5:  Enhancing ex vivo Transfection of Macrophages for use as Delivery Vectors for Cancer Suicide Gene Therapy
Faculty Mentors:  
Professor Young Jik KwonPharmaceutical Sciences

Professor Henry HirschbergBeckman Laser Institute

Description:  Glioblastoma multiforme represents 60% of all malignant brain tumors but despite the recent technological advances in surgery and radio and chemo therapy, these procedures have not been able to significantly improve the prognosis of patients. Improved treatment modalities, such as gene therapy are therefor clearly needed. Suicide gene therapy, involves transfection, into target cells, of non-mammalian genes encoding enzymes that convert nontoxic pro-drugs into toxic metabolites capable of inhibiting nucleic acid synthesis.

The basic concepts to be tested in this proposal is to combine laser based photochemical internalization (PCI) to enhance the transfection of suicide genes into macrophages (Ma) employing core/shell NPs as gene carrier. Ma have the advantage of carrying relatively large payloads of therapeutic nanomaterials, are readily patient derived in large numbers, can be transfected ex vivo and are able to actively infiltrate tumors despite many barriers often present in the tumor microenvironment [1]. The suicide gene loaded Ma will act as a cellular “Trojan Horse” actively migrating to and infiltrating into the targeted tumor. Following nontoxic prodrug exposure, the resulting converted active drug will be produced in the transfected Ma and exported into the tumor microenvironment, killing the” bystander” adjacent tumor cells. PCI/NP has been previously demonstrated to significantly increase transfection efficiency into tumor cells [ 2,3] In contrast, gene transfection of Ma has proven significantly more difficult and solving this problem is the expected outcome of this proposal. The proposed project is an in vitro proof of principle study.

Specific aims:
1. Optimize gene carrying NP (polyamine/DNA polyplexes with acid degradable polyketal (PK) shells) for transfection of Ma. (Magaret/Aftin)
2. Optimize the ability of PCI to obtain maximum suicide gene Ma transfection in vitro employing the optomized core/shell NP (Aftin/Margaret).

Student Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
The students will participate in experiment design and will be responsible for all the hands on experimental procedures and calculation of the results. The expected outcome will be the efficient gene transfection of macrophages.

Prerequisites: Students must have previous experience in the cell culture laboratory skills necessary for this project.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Catherine Christie, Steen J. Madsen, Qian Peng and Henry Hirschberg. Macrophages as nanoparticle delivery vectors for photothermal therapy of brain tumors. (Ther Deliv. 2015) Apr;6(3):371-84.:
   Wang F, Zamora G, Sun CH, Trinidad A, Chun C, Kwon YJ, Berg K , Madsen SJ & Hirschberg H (2014) Increased sensitivity of glioma cells to 5-fluorocytosine following photo-chemical internalization enhanced nonviral transfection of the cytosine deaminase suicide gene. J Neurooncol. May; 118(1):29-37:
   Zamora G, Wang F, Sun CH, Trinidad A, Cho SK, Kwon YJ, Berg K , Madsen SJ & Hirschberg H (2014) Photochemical internalization mediated nonviral gene transfection: polyamine core-shell nanoparticles as gene carrier. J Biomed Opt. 2014;19(10):

 Project #6:  Iris: A Social Media Platform for Healthy Living
Faculty Mentors:  
Professor G.P. LiElectrical Engineering & Computer Science

Professor Mark BachmanElectrical Engineering & Computer Science

Description:  Seniors make up the fastest growing demographic in the United States. Orange County is home to more than 3.1 million people and is the sixth most populous county in the nation. In 2016, 13.5% of the county’s population is 65 and older. This population is projected to nearly double by 2040, when almost one in four residents will be 65 or older. Many of our older population are unhealthy. Experts agree that the best way for seniors to stay happy and well is by living positive, active, healthy lifestyles—a process known as “healthy aging”. We believe social media can be a powerful tool to keep our aging generations living healthy, dynamic lives. UC Irvine/Calit2 is partnering with Orange County organizations to demonstrate a radical new paradigm of using social media, video games, and multimedia to empower and influence older adults to live healthy lives. We call it “The Iris Project.”

Iris represents a new kind of social media platform, one that allows many people in the health and wellness ecosystem to work together, share, and help each other. Iris provides easy access to health information, fun and interesting articles and media about healthy lifestyles, games and activities that promote healthy living, access to local resources and vendors, personal information management, ways to connect with the community, and ways to share with stakeholders in the world of healthy living. Unlike other social platforms, Iris allows each member to have 100% ownership and control over their data and who can use or see it.

This MDP project will focus on the harvesting of relevant information, production of content and media for the Iris platform, design of user interfaces (UI/UX), development of interactive multimedia and games, and development of underlying database code for the platform. In some cases, students may work with other faculty and third-party collaborators on specific media or projects that fall under the Iris scope. In addition, students will assist in preparing the Iris platform for use in a first study with a focus group in Orange County.

Student Involvement:

Students will work in small teams under the guidance of experienced professionals to develop content, interfaces, and code for the Iris project. Students will be assigned work based on their interests and aptitude. In general, there will be four areas of development:
1. Content development: Harvesting of information and translating that information into interesting and fun articles, multimedia (including video), and other content forms.
2. User interface design: Development of clean and beautiful web-based interfaces to the Iris modules, using modern web-based technologies (Bootstrap, HTML5, CSS, JS, AngularJS).
3. Game development: Development of web-based “games” (interactive multimedia) that engage people to help them learn about and share healthy lifestyles.
4. Database/backend development: Development of modern databases for storing and sharing a wide variety of information within the Iris framework.

This is an excellent project to learn practical, marketable, real-world skills in professional writing, content creation, web design, and computer programming. In addition, students have the opportunity to contribute to the well-being of our local community and participate in developing an exciting new paradigm for community-based health and wellness.

Prerequisites: We’re looking for students from all backgrounds, majors, and ages to join in this effort. No experience is required. However, students must be committed. We are looking for students that are serious about getting involved and contributing, self-starters who can think and work independently, who will make the effort to learn and be productive. We recommend that students set aside 12 hrs/week for this effort. The project duration will be two years. Ability to work on teams is required. Any skills in writing, layout, illustration, video production, multimedia creation, web development, or programming is helpful and welcome (but not necessary).

Recommended Web sites and publications: 

 Project #7:  Making Plastic Printing Sustainable
Faculty Mentors:  
Professor Jesse C. JacksonStudio Art

Professor Mark E. WalterMechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Description:  While additive layer manufacturing machines—3D printers—based on the fused deposition of polymer filament is not new, they are now readily in the consumer market. This proliferation was initiated in the do- it-yourself community by the open-source RepRap project in 2005, and further popularized by a variety of commercial enterprises. A possible negative byproduct of more ubiquitous 3D printing would be an era of physical spam, marked by the production of what the Institute for the Future has called "a large number of objects of infinitesimally small value." Spam or not, these objects are creatively empowering, providing consumers with opportunities for personal expression previously only available to experts.

Though its publication predates the rise of these technologies, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by Michael Braungart and William McDonough provides a useful framework for considering how the deleterious effects of physical spam might be offset. Their concept of technical nutrients— materials that remain within closed loop cycles—is particularly pertinent, given that the two most common materials used in consumer-oriented additive manufacturing machines, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polylactic acid (PLA), are each proven candidates for cradle-to-cradle processes.

Making Plastic Printing Sustainable is focused on showing how some of today’s technologies—waste plastic recovery, custom filament extrusion, and renewable sources of energy—can be integrated into a workflow of tomorrow, in which objects are continually upcycled, physically and creatively, into new and improved objects. The ultimate goal is to design, construct, test, and refine a demonstration of what 3D printing might look like in a future condition that is sensitive to pollution, challenged for resources, or both.

Students’ Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
Making Plastic Printing Sustainable is primarily an experience design problem. The barriers to making fused-deposition additive layer manufacturing sustainable are the difficulties users encounter when attempting to collect and connect the necessary component parts. These mechanical, chemical, and experiential problems are the design challenges that must be tackled.

Making Plastic Printing Sustainable began in 2015-2016 and will continue in 2016-2017 under the same name. Notable successes by the research team to date include the publication of results in a forthcoming book, demonstrations at several public events (e.g. Earth Day, TEDxUCI), and winning the Brower Youth Award for Environmental Leadership. A prototype system that consistently and reliably permits waste plastic to be upcycled has yet to be achieved, however, and is the overarching goal for this year. There are five primary milestones towards this goal:

1. Students will become familiar with the operation and maintenance of fused-deposition additive layer manufacturing machines. Specifically, students will make use of Airwolf HDR/Axiom and Printrbot Simple Metal machines provided by Professor Jackson’s Speculative Prototyping Lab (SPL).

2. Students will continue to design, construct, test, and refine a closed loop polymer upcycling workflow. The primary requirement is the ability to reliably convert existing printed objects into input material appropriate for processing—mechanically and chemically—by the SPL’s Filabot extruder.

3. Students will continue to design, construct, test, and refine a self-contained energy generation and storage system incorporating, at a minimum, human kinetic, photovoltaic, and wind components. The primary requirement is the ability to generate and store sufficient energy for the entire system, and the ability to monitor the rates of generation and depletion.

4. Students will demonstrate the results to other additive layer manufacturing sites on campus (e.g. Rapidtech, Fabworks) with the goal of promoting more widespread local adoption of cradle-to-cradle procedures. Students will also demonstrate the results to the general public—specifically, to local high school students, in partnership with Kaysie Jose, Outreach Programs Coordinator for the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.

5. Students will compile and document the results in formats appropriate for both further scholarly dissemination (e.g. publication in the Journal of Sustainability Education) and the general public (e.g. video content on the project website). Students will also consider potential commercialization opportunities, in partnership with Matt Bailey, Director, Collaborative Venturing Group, UCI Applied Innovation and Scott Kitcher, President, CleanTechOC.

Prerequisites: While there are no absolute requirements, the ideal student team will consist of a mix of specific technical expertise—in mechanical and environmental engineering, computer-aided design and manufacturing, and polymer materials science—and a general inclination towards creativity and invention. All students must demonstrate a keen interest in both sustainability and additive layer manufacturing technology. Given the independent and interdisciplinary nature of the project, students must also demonstrate the ability to take initiative and collaborate effectively as part of a diverse group.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Technology Horizons Program, The Future of Open Fabrication (Palo Alto: The Institute for the Future, 2011), 7.:
   McDonough, William, and Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (New York: North Point, 2002).:
   Jackson, Jesse, “Speculative Prototyping: Making Plastic Printing Playful and Sustainable Fabrication,” in The 3D Additivist Cookbook, ed. Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke (Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2016). Forthcoming.:

 Project #8:  Mobile Technology to Improve Pain and Symptoms in Children with Cancer
Faculty Mentors:  
Professor Michelle A. FortierAnesthesiology

Professor Zeev KainAnesthesiology

Professor Amanda AcevedoPsychology & Social Behavior

Description:  More than 12,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States and although advances in treatment protocols have increased chances for survival, they are associated with distressing pain and symptoms for the overwhelming majority of pediatric cancer patients. Uncontrolled pain and symptoms are not only associated with poorer quality of life, including increased distress, but modulate the physiological pain response, resulting in sensitization and potentially deleterious effects on physiological and immune function. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that cancer pain and symptoms are under treated in most children and there are few controlled studies in this area, particularly in management of cancer symptoms in the home setting. The goal of this project is to improve quality of life in children with cancer by incorporating health information technology to optimize pain and symptom management. To address the significant gap in knowledge of pain and symptom management of children’s cancer, the aims of this two-phase project involve development and formative evaluation of an innovative handheld electronic program (Pain Buddy) that provides remote monitoring of pain and symptoms and delivery of cognitive and behavioral skills training to children undergoing treatment for cancer. The second phase of this application involves evaluation of the efficacy of the program using a randomized controlled trial design. The intervention is anticipated to be well-received by children and healthcare providers, who are expected to demonstrate the ability to use the tablet-based program and rate high levels of acceptability upon feasibility testing and to result in lower symptom-related distress in children undergoing outpatient chemotherapy.

Students’ Involvement and Expected Outcomes:

Students involved in this research project will get hands-on experience working with a multidisciplinary team to implement and evaluate an internet intervention designed to improve pain management in children undergoing cancer treatment. They will work with health care providers and research personnel to recruit children and parents in the hospital setting, and work with children to provide guidance and follow up in using the internet program. Specific involvement will be: 1) Help coordinate ongoing development with Pain Buddy between the programming and research teams, 2) Contact families by phone and in person to participate in the study, 3) Teach children how to use Pain Buddy, 4) Monitor ongoing data collection, 5) Contact children and families over the course of the study to provide input on study participation, 6) Organize and analyze data, and 7) Present data. Students will learn the following specific skills: 1) How to collaborate with a multidisciplinary research team that includes healthcare providers and computer scientists, 2) How to inform the healthcare community on new ways to provide health care, 3) How to collect data in a hospital setting, and 4) How to analyze and present empirical findings.

Prerequisites: Undergraduate and graduate students interested in participating must apply to become a part of the UCI Center on Stress & Health. Eligibility includes a 3.00 GPA and a commitment of 10 hours per week.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Fortier MA, Chung WW, Martinez A, Gago-Masague S, Sender L. Pain Buddy: A novel use of m-health in the management of children’s cancer pain. Computers in Biology & Medicine 2016; 76(1): 202-214.:
   Fortier MA, Wahi A, Bruce C, Maurer EL, Stevenson R. Pain management at home in children with cancer: A daily diary study. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2014;61(6):1029-1033.:
   Fortier MA, Wahi A, Maurer EL, Tan ET, Sender LS, Kain ZN. Attitudes regarding analgesic use and pain expression in parents of children with cancer. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 2012;34:257-62.:

 Project #9:  Orthogonal/Proabot Flotilla
Faculty Mentors:  
Professor Michael McCarthyMechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Professor Simon PennyStudio Art

Description:  Orthogonal / Proabot Flotilla is a radically transdisciplinary research project involving anthropology, hydrodynamics and aerodynamics, design, prototyping, experimental structures and materials science, traditional and contemporary artisanal practices, sustainability and ‘critical technical practice’ (Agre).

We are building a unique experimental ocean going sailcraft based on Micronesian Voyaging canoes. For thousands of years, Micronesian and Polynesian peoples have sailed the vast Pacific using navigational techniques as effective as they were mysterious (Hutchins). Their sailing craft - outrigger canoes, called ‘proa’ (or ‘prao’ in french) were recognized by 16th -18th century European explorers as being exceptionally fast.

Orthogonal is a project to build a modern proa, exploiting some of the special qualities of traditional proas - such as bilateral asymmetry and shunting - while using modern materials (aluminium, carbon fiber, stainless steel, Kevlar, epoxy, plywood), to produce a light, fast shallow draft, demountable and trailerable, coastal ocean sailing boat of about 30’. The design process involves heterogenous design decisions regarding materials, safety, usability, buildability and cost, along with more subtle decisions regarding the hybridization of well established western style sailing components and techniques with the novel dynamics of proa sailing.

The project has been underway for a year. We are building a 30’ multihull sailboat and an 8’ (25% scale) model with custom instrumentation and radio control. This latter has evolved into its own subproject—proabot flotilla—building a fleet of autonomous sailcraft for oceanographic research.

Recently contact ahs been made with a Micronesian community on the Yap Atoll, where traditional proas are still built and sailed. We look forward to developing this contact.

Students’ Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
Students will be involved in a complete design/build/test cycle. Useful skills and experience include sailing, carpentry, metalwork and machining, experience with epoxies and fiberglass, sailmaking, analog electronics, sensors, microcontroller programming, 3D modeling, engineering simulation (especially aerodynamic and hydrodynamic). Most important is a willingness to work hard, get dirty, design and problem-solve (collaboratively and autonomously) and work reliably as a responsible member of a group.

Construction of prototype components and specialized jigs and armatures will be divided into subgroups for hull, foils, mast and rigging, sailmaking, mechanicals and electronics. Documentation tasks, including video production and website will also be required. Skills developed will include design practices (digital and old- school), material realization of plans and designs, precision carpentry, metalworking and use of synthetic materials.

Funding and Budget:
The project is supported in kind by the School of the Arts which has generously dedicated substantial indoor and outdoor premises. The project has been supported by a CORCL grant (winter 2014) and an MDP grant 15/16.

The project has been assigned workspace in the ‘arts annex’ by the Dean of CTSA. This includes meeting room, storage space, woodshop and covered construction area. Harbor launching/testing space will be negotiated with UCI sailing club or other Newport harbor maritime entities.

Academic Credit will be available via 199s etc.

Prerequisites: Motivation, useful skills and a willingness to do physical work and get dirty is expected. Familiarity with sailcraft and sailing would be an asset. Manual fabrication skills and a hands-on
understanding of precision making will be an asset. Students are expected to commit to the project for the full 2- 3 quarters. This is because it takes one quarter to become familiar with the dimensions of the project and the tools and materials involved.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Sailrocket world speed record (its a proa!):
   Traditional proas:
   A major study (in French):
   Cheers, Newicks’ famous original Atlantic Proa:
   Historic 'Azulao' atlantic proa by Dick Newick:
   About Face – 1980s ocean going Australian Atlantic Proa:
   Samwise proa design by M Schecht:

 Project #10:  PET: A Personal Embodied Trainer to Promote Physical Therapy at Home
Faculty Mentors:  
Professor G.P. LiElectrical Engineering & Computer Science

Professor John BillimekMedicine

Dr. Sergio Gago MasagueBiomedical Engineering

Ms. Raquel FallmanComputer Science

Description:  Embodied Trainers may provide two important advantages when added to conventional or digital systems to promote physical therapies: 1) Providing an animated biped model as an interface to represent exercises to be mimicked by the user, and 2) delivering verbal and nonverbal communication (e.g. intonation, mood and facial expression) to improve communication, enjoyment and build a social bond that may drive the user’s attitude towards a particular goal, for instance, training harder or for longer periods. Previous research in the field suggests that Embodied Trainers have many potential features to empower home therapies. The increasing proliferation of affordable computational technologies and its subsequent prevalence within households set the scene for this new technology to take place.

Meanwhile, the world population is growing older, bringing a greater demand for strategies to promote healthy lifestyles. Wellness programs, remote health and self-care in the home setting are becoming increasingly important in long-term care to support rehabilitation and the elderly population. For instance, physical training for rehabilitation is of particular importance for covering motor skills and preventing secondary conditions, such as frailty, cognitive disorders and depression The purpose of the present study is to implement an application including an animated embodied trainer as a persuasive technology to conveniently promote physical therapies at home by providing users with (a) guidance and (b) motivation and/or enjoyment in a cost-effective way. Hence this technology can be affordable by most families. This project also aims to explore the potential of video casting to the TV and augmented/virtual reality as an alternative delivery method of the content.

Students' Involvement and Expected Outcomes:

The students mentored in this project will work in a proactive research team guided by the faculty listed above to design and identify available digital technologies to implement the innovative application proposed. Specifically, the students will conduct research in the following topics:
1. Physical therapies at home for wellness and rehabilitation. It’s expected to focus on elderly and survivors after a body injury who have the need of conducting physical rehabilitation.
2. Human-Computer interaction; human-centric interfaces to motivate and engage users.
3. Digital Arts to model and animate content and 3D characters (Embodied Trainer).
4. Embedded Systems to design and choose the right sensing technology to track user’s performance.
5. Database technologies to manage data generated by the user and the target device/s and store it in a cloud server accessible by a web interface, which will be used by healthcare providers or caregivers to assess users’ progress.
6. Machine learning and predictive analytics to create training patterns and adaptative feedback.
7. Patients’ privacy and data confidentiality that build a secure access protocol that will be integrated in the aforementioned framework.

Prerequisites: This project is highly interdisciplinary; we are looking for students with interests in several fields; Sociology, Psychology, Orthopaedics, Informatics and Computer Sciences, Arts and Engineering, who care about state-of-art health technologies to improve population’s wellness and quality of life. Innovative thinkers with relevant experience are encouraged to apply. Hands on experiences in 2D/3D modeling and animation tools (3Ds Max, Iclone, Maya, Poser) and graphic design (Photoshop, Illustrator) are preferred for students majoring in Art. Java, C++, C#, Unity3D, ActionScript, Swift and Objective C programming experience is preferred for Engineering and ICS students.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Babu, S, Catherine Zanbaka, J Jackson, and TO Chung. 2005. “Virtual Human Physiotherapist Framework for Personalized Training and Rehabilitation.” Graphics Interface, 2.:\n an/GI2005/Posters/VHP.pdf
   Brown, Marybeth, David R. Sinacore, Ali A. Ehsani, Ellen F. Binder, John O. Holloszy, and Wendy M. Kohrt. 2000. “Low-Intensity Exercise as a Modifier of Physical Frailty in Older Adults.” Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 81 (7): 960–65. doi:10.1053/apmr.2000.4425.:
   Buttussi, Fabio, and Luca Chittaro. 2008. “MOPET: A Context-Aware and User-Adaptive Wearable System for Fitness Training.” Artificial Intelligence in Medicine 42 (2): 153–63. doi:10.1016/j.artmed.2007.11.004.:
   Dancu, A, A C M Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction, and I T University of Copenhagen. 2012. “Motor Learning in a Mixed Reality Environment.” 7th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Making Sense Through Design, NordiCHI 2012, 811–12. doi:10.1145/2399016.2399160.:
   Dawe, D, and R Moore-Orr. 1995. “Low-Intensity, Range-of-Motion Exercise: Invaluable Nursing Care for Elderly Patients.” Journal of Advanced NUrsing 21 (4): 675–81. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2648.1995.21040675.x.:
   Eike Dehling, Dennis Reidsma, Job Zwiers, Herwin Welbergen. 2011. “The Reactive Virtual Trainer.” University of Twente.:
   Fasola, Juan, and M Mataric. 2011. “Comparing Physical and Virtual Embodiment in a Socially Assistive Robot Exercise Coach for the Elderly.” Center for Robotics and Embedded Systems.:
   Jung, Hee-Tae, Jennifer Baird, Yu-Kyong Choe, and Roderic A. Grupen. 2011. “Upper-Limb Exercises for Stroke Patients through the Direct Engagement of an Embodied Agent.” Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction - HRI ’11, March.:
   Matthews, Judith T., Gustavo J. M. Almeida, Elizabeth A. Schlenk, Reid Simmons, Portia Taylor, and Renato Ramos Da Silva. 2012. “Usability of a Virtual Coach System for Therapeutic Exercise for Osteoarthritis of the Knee.” IROS 2012 Workshop on Motivational Aspects of Robotics in Physical Therapy, October.:
   Reidsma, D, E Dehling, and H Welbergen. 2011. “Leading and Following with a Virtual Trainer.” 4th International Workshop on Whole Body Interaction in Games and Entertainment, 4.:\n
   Gago S, Fortier M, Martinez A. PainBuddy – Using Virtual Characters to Improve Home-Based Therapy for Children Suffering from Cancer. In: Medicine 2.0 Conference. JMIR Publications Inc., Toronto, Canada; 2014. Accessed April 17, 2015.:

 Project #11:  PMUI: A Power Manager User Interface to Promote Energy Efficiency in Desktop Computers
Faculty Mentors:  
Dr. Sergio Gago MasagueBiomedical Engineering

Dr. Joy E. PixleySociology

Ms. Raquel FallmanComputer Science

Ms. Elizabeth GervaisBiomedical Engineering

Description:  The potential energy savings intended by the power management settings of current operating systems (Windows, Mac) are not being realized in desktop computers due to inefficient utilization by users. This project proposes rethinking the design of current Power Manager User Interfaces (PMUI). The project team will develop and test an innovative PMUI to facilitate and encourage greater utilization of low-power modes by computer users. The new interface will incorporate lessons from the fields of human-computer interaction and behavior theory. Design features will be explored that make the PMUI to access, understand, and use, as well as incorporate feedback, reminders, and intrinsic rewards.

This approach is firmly based in behavior theory and human-computer interaction research, which have long demonstrated that the interface of a device can change users’ behavior. The energy savings of applying such an interface is estimated to be as high as 50 percent per computer, between 139 and 321 kWh per year. One of the main features that this project targets is tracking and learning from users’ behaviors and predicting what savings can be achieved by changing the power settings. Based on this research, we plan to collect data on users’ computer habits, which will benefit further research and increase our understanding of the potential savings. We also envision a software system able to automatically provide the most efficient power settings in a user’s behavior basis by adaptive and learning processes.

Students' Involvement and Expected Outcomes

The students mentored in this project will work in a proactive research team guided by the faculty listed above to design, implement and test the technological solutions to provide the Power Management User Interface of the future. Specifically, the students will conduct research in the following topics:
1. Human-Computer interaction; human-centric interfaces to motivate and engage users.
2. Embedded Systems to design and choose the right sensing technology to track energy consumed by computers.
3. Database technologies to manage data generated by the user and the target device/s and store it in a cloud server accessible by APIs.
4. Machine learning and predictive analytics to create training patterns and adaptative feedback on users’ behaviour and habits.

Prerequisites: This project is highly interdisciplinary; we are looking for students with interests in several fields; Sociology, Psychology, Informatics and Computer Sciences, and Engineering, who care about state-of-art technologies to improve energy efficiency and climate care. Innovative thinkers with relevant experience are encouraged to apply. Java, C++, C#, Unity3D, ActionScript, Swift and Objective C programming experience is preferred for Engineering and ICS students. Hands on experiences in graphic design (Photoshop, Illustrator) are preferred for students majoring in Art who would like to participate in the design of the interface.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Bamberg, S. (2013). "Changing environmentally harmful behaviors: A stage model of self-regulated behavioral change." Journal of Environmental Psychology 34: 151-159.:
   Chiang, T., G. Mevlevioglu, S. Natarajan, J. Padget and I. Walker (2014). "Inducing [sub]conscious energy behaviour through visually displayed energy information: A case study in university accommodation." Energy and Buildings 70: 507-515.:
   Fischer, C. (2007). “Influencing electricity consumption via consumer feedback: A review of experience.” Proceedings of the European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ECEEE) 2007 Summer Study, Panel 9 Dynamics of Consumption.:
   Murtagh, N., M. Nati, W. R. Headley, B. Gatersleben, A. Gluhak, M. A. Imran and D. Uzzell (2013). "Individual energy use and feedback in an office setting: A field trial." Energy Policy 62: 717-728.:
   Nachreiner, M., B. Mack, E. Matthies and K. Tampe-Mai (2015). "An analysis of smart metering information systems: A psychological model of self-regulated behavioural change." Energy Research & Social Science 9: 85-97.:
   Pixley, J. E. and S. A. Ross (2014). Monitoring Computer Power Modes Usage in a University Population. Sacramento, CA, California Energy Commission.:
   Schultz, P. W., M. Estrada, J. Schmitt, R. Sokoloski and N. Silva-Send (2015). "Using in-home displays to provide smart meter feedback about household electricity consumption: A randomized control trial comparing kilowatts, cost, and social norms." Energy 90, Part 1: 351-358.:

 Project #12:  Pompe Disease Exercise Study
Faculty Mentors:  
Professor Vincent J. CaiozzoOrthopaedic Surgery

Professor Bruce J. TrombergBeckman Laser Institute

Professor Virginia E. KimonisPediatrics

Description:  Pompe disease is a rare inherited progressive autosomal recessive neuromuscular disorder associated with muscle weakness and respiratory insufficiency that can affect all ages, ethnicities, and genders. While the enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) became clinically available and works very well in the cardiac muscle of patients who present in infancy with large hearts due to excessive glycogen storage, it is not as effective in patients who present after infancy with muscle weakness. Stabilization or some improvement has been seen in patients with a later onset, it is worthwhile to investigate other therapies that may slow the progression of their condition and improve quality of life. In this context, exercise/physical activity seems like an obvious choice, because activities like resistance training (RT) are known to be anabolic and produce muscle hypertrophy and improved muscle function in normal individuals. Somewhat shockingly very little is known about the role of physical activity in mitigating the muscle atrophy associated with Pompe disease.

To our knowledge, previous studies have not examined the therapeutic efficacy of using RT to blunt/prevent the loss of muscle mass and function in patients with Pompe disease. Hence, the goal of this proposal is to evaluate and document potential benefits of RT in compliant patients and describe the benefit of combining enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) with RT. In the second aim of our study we will be testing and measuring patient respiratory function and Diffuse Optical Spectroscopy (DOS). DOS measurements are able to measure the absolute concentrations of reduced and oxygenated hemoglobins ([Hb-R] and [HbO2], respectively) as well as the water and lipid concentrations of the tissue. These hemodynamic parameters have been shown to correlate with invasive measures of cardiac output, mean arterial pressure, blood loss, and blood hemoglobin concentration. We additionally propose analyzing the activity level of the subjects between the baseline period and the exercise study with a health and exercise monitoring device/activity tracker.

Students’ Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
Students will be involved in all aspects of the study, including recruitment of patients, helping with the testing and analysis of the data. Additionally they will be involved with designing the data dictionary for the study and entering data into Redcap. Based on the previous studies of patients with Pompe we anticipate seeing increase in the muscle strength with RT. The possible benefits include a delay in progression of muscle weakness. We hypothesize that the measurements will correlate with the change in muscle strength. We will measure a rate of change using functional measurements, muscle biopsies for histological and biochemical analysis, MRI/ MRS measurements. The knowledge gained from this study will help researchers understand the effect of RT on the disease. This may eventually lead to new forms of prevention of symptom onset in the future. This study will provide current and future trainees with useful skills for future careers in research.

We have identified the following undergraduate, graduate and postdoc trainees who will be involved in this study:
• Lan Weiss, MD. PhD, Postdoctoral trainee
• Caleb Bhatnagar: Undergraduate, biological science student
• Howard Yu, BA, Graduate student
• Daisy Tapia: BSc. Graduate student
• Jousef Alandy-dy, BSc. Graduate student

Prerequisites: This program is available to undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students interested in working with design, data entry, analysis of the clinical data generated in Redcap in addition to analysis of the histological studies of muscle biopsies.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Terzis G, Dimopoulos F, Papadimas GK, Papadopoulos C, Spengos K, Fatouros I, Kavouras SA, Manta P: Effect of aerobic and resistance exercise training on late- onset Pompe disease patients receiving enzyme replacement therapy. Molecular genetics and metabolism 2011, 104(3):279-283.:
   Terzis G, Krase A, Papadimas G, Papadopoulos C, Kavouras SA, Manta P: Effects of exercise training during infusion on late-onset Pompe disease patients receiving enzyme replacement therapy. Molecular genetics and metabolism 2012, 107(4):669-673.:
   Slonim AE, Bulone L, Goldberg T, Minikes J, Slonim E, Galanko J, Martiniuk F: Modification of the natural history of adult-onset acid maltase deficiency by nutrition and exercise therapy. Muscle Nerve 2007, 35(1):70-77.:
   Sveen ML, Andersen SP, Ingelsrud LH, Blichter S, Olsen NE, Jonck S, Krag TO, Vissing J: Resistance training in patients with limb-girdle and becker muscular dystrophies. Muscle Nerve 2013, 47(2):163-169.:
   Pichiecchio A, Uggetti C, Ravaglia S, Egitto MG, Rossi M, Sandrini G, Danesino C: Muscle MRI in adult-onset acid maltase deficiency. Neuromuscular disorders : NMD 2004, 14(1):51-55.:

 Project #13:  Putting Education into Educational Apps for Preschoolers
Faculty Mentors:  
Professor Joshua G. TanenbaumInformatics

Professor Stephanie ReichEducation

Description:  The development of apps for young children is prolific (Highfield & Goodwin, 2013) and many of these apps claim to be educational. However, content analyses of “educational” apps for preschoolers find little support for these claims (Callaghan, Reich, & Nguyen, in prep). Currently, app designers have expertise in creating games for use on tablets, but lack knowledge of how children learn best. Conversely, educational scientists know a lot about how children learn best, but lack the skills to connect that knowledge into the digital play of young children. This is unfortunate since connecting app design with educational theories has the potential to create very effective and interactive learning tools. For instance, apps can adapt content to fit the needs of individual players (Sharma & Hannafin, 2007), providing individualized and developmentally appropriate feedback throughout play. Apps can also incorporate physical tablet manipulations into educational game play, connecting digital tasks to real world motions. However, few educational apps for preschoolers actually do such things (Callaghan, Reich, & Nguyen, in prep).

This project seeks to connect informatics and educational science to the teaching of mathematics for preschool aged children. Our project goal is to design an app that developmentally supports preschoolers’ learning capabilities (e.g., short attention span, early reading abilities, etc.), while also providing opportunities to grow and refine preschoolers’ motor skills. Specifically, this project will: 1) design an engaging and fun app for young children that provides high-quality educational content in a developmentally appropriate way, and 2) test whether young children actually enjoy and learn from this app.

Students’ Involvement and Expected Outcomes:

In addition to the faculty mentors, two graduate Students - Melissa Powell Callaghan (School of Education) and Krithika Jagannath (School of Informatics) will work directly with undergraduate students.

Students with diverse talents and interests are needed. Students would help with programming, illustrating, selecting mathematic content, user experience testing, and assessment of pre and post knowledge of math content. The key activities required to create this project include:
1) Designing and programming a fun, engaging game
2) Creating educational puzzles that integrate math with physical motions of a tablet
3) Writing a captivating narrative to the game that preschoolers can relate to
4) Designing educational content to fit the abilities of young users
5) Illustrating game content that’s appealing, but not distracting to young users

Expected outcomes and potential skills developed - Students are expected to leave the collaborative project with a deeper understanding of how to:
1) Design tablet games
2) Meet the needs of early childhood learners
3) Tailor visual and narrative arts to younger audiences
4) Educate young users with innovative technology

Prerequisites: Graduate students and undergraduate students from the following schools/departments/majors may be most qualified and may find this project particularly appealing:
- Education
- Informatics
- Computer Science
- Psychology and Social Behavior
- Cognitive Science
- Mathematics/Statistics
- Kinesiology
- Physics
- Arts

Prior coursework and skill sets in any of the following items are preferred:
- Computer programming
- Digital Illustrations
- Story writing for child audiences
- Educational game design
- Early childhood education
- Game design
- Child development
- Visual and/or physical kinesthetics
- Mathematics and/or physics

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Hirsh-Pasek, K., Zosh, J., Golinkoff, R., Gray, J., Robb, M., & Kaufman, J. (2015). Putting education in “educational” apps: Lessons from the science of learning. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 16(1), 3-34. DOI: 10.1177/1529100615569721:
   Highfield, K. & Goodwin, K. (2013). Apps for mathematics learning: A review of ‘educational’ apps from the iTunes App Store. In Steinle, V., Ball, L., Lamp; Bardini, C. (Eds.), Mathematics education: Yesterday, today and tomorrow (Proceedings of the 36th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia). Melbourne, VIC: MERGA:
   Moyer, P., Niezgoda, D., & Stanley, J. (2005). Young children’s use of virtual manipulatives and other forms of mathematical representations. In W. J. Masalski & P.C. Elliot (Eds.), Technology-supported mathematics learning environments: Sixty-seventh yearbook, (17-37).:

 Project #14:  Single Controller, Multi-Robot System (SCMR)
Faculty Mentors:  
Professor Jeffrey L. KrichmarCognitive Sciences

Professor Lee SwindlehurstElectrical Engineering & Computer Science

Description:  This project is focused on semi-autonomous operation of mobile ground robots using a single point of control. While remote control of an individual robot is relatively easy, and can be performed with simple human intervention, control of a group of robots is much more difficult and requires some kind of machine intervention. The design questions the project intends to answer are mainly concerned with how to best control a group of robots to perform certain simple tasks using a single point of control. Particular questions to be addressed include whether or not there should be master and slave robots, or should the decision making be decentralized; how to avoid collisions of the robots when they move in close proximity together.

The project will involve developing methods for helping a group of robots to navigate through obstacles, such as through narrow passages or around objects in their path, while avoiding collisions and when possible maintaining certain formations. The default operation will be motion in formation along a pre-determined path, and methods will be developed to depart from and regroup to the default formation as the robots encounter restricted areas of movement or obstacles.

This is an extremely challenging project, even with single-point human control, as the robots need to be aware of each other’s positions to avoid collisions and maintain the desired formation. Different methods will be investigated, including those that require a “lead” or master robot that the other robots follow, and other methods based on control of the group’s “center of mass.” The project is very multi-disciplinary, requiring significant knowledge of electronics, programming, robotics and cognitive sciences.

Students’ Involvement and Expected Outcomes:

The students working on this project will develop skills in rapid prototyping of embedded systems, robotics, signal processing and control, and how they can be used to solve problems in automated decision making. They will be involved in the design, implementation and testing of mobile robots as well as in developing computer algorithms that control them.

Prerequisites: Students working on the project should have experience with programming, signal processing, hands-on electronics and digital design. Prior experience with mobile robots or remote controlled devices is a big plus.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   : ebook/dp/B00E99YN9C/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1475107838&sr=8-12
   : Systems/dp/3540705333/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

 Project #15:  Spine-Rad Brachytherapy Bone Cement
Faculty Mentors:  
Professor Joyce H. KeyakRadiological Sciences

Professor Mikael NilssonChemical Engineering & Materials Science

Description:  Spinal metastases are a common manifestation of many cancers such as those originating in the prostate, breast, lung, kidney, and thyroid. Approximately 200,000 people with spinal metastases die each year in the United States. These metastases are painful, reduce bone strength, and can lead to vertebral collapse and serious neurological complications. Conventional treatment of vertebral metastases involves external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) to slow tumor progression and potentially alleviate pain, although EBRT can further weaken bone and lead to vertebral fracture. Vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty (percutaneous injection of bone cement into the vertebral body) can be performed prior to EBRT to restore bone strength and provide immediate marked or complete pain relief in 50% to 85% of cases. Although this approach is an improvement over EBRT alone, a major shortcoming of EBRT remains: EBRT irradiates the spinal cord, limiting the dose that can be delivered to tumors.

To address the limitations of conventional treatments for vertebral body metastases, researchers have developed Spine-RadTM Brachytherapy Bone Cement, which consists of a standard FDA-approved bone cement that has been mixed with an insoluble radioactive powder, P-32-hydroxyapatite (P-32-HA). Spine-Rad Cement would be delivered percutaneously to the vertebral body to restore bone strength and provide pain relief while simultaneously providing local radiation to the tumors. Dosimetry studies have shown that, because P-32 is a beta emitter, a high dose can be delivered to tumors nearby while virtually eliminating radiation to the spinal cord. This single procedure would also be more convenient for patients than multiple EBRT treatment sessions and would cause fewer side effects because radiation would travel only a short distance in the body.

Students' Involvement and Expected Outcomes:

The goals of this MDP project are to design, test and fabricate devices and to design and test procedures: 1) to produce small amounts of P-32 for training purposes using the UC Irvine TRIGA reactor; 2) to carry out dose calculations and measurements from a sample of P-32; 3) to safely dispense a specified activity of P-32-HA into an appropriate container (to be designed or selected by the team); 4) to ship P-32-HA for sterilization and then to the site of the kyphoplasty procedure (while meeting Department of Transportation regulations for shipping radioactive materials); 5) to mix P-32-HA powder with standard bone cement powder under sterile conditions; and 6) to transfer the mixed powders to an FDA-approved bone cement mixing device for sterile preparation and injection into the vertebral body of the patient.

A student working on this project would have the opportunity to be involved in a range of activities related to radiation therapy. The student would gain an understanding of how radioisotopes are produced, how to safely handle radioactive samples and to evaluate the dose. Furthermore, the student would gain experience in how to prepare samples for treatment following FDA approved guidelines. At the end of the program the student is expected to have gained broad insight in the radiopharmaceutical field, including hands-on experience, and should be well poised to continue and deepen his or her knowledge in a specific area related to cancer treatment by medical isotopes.

Prerequisites: The student involved in this project is expected to have taken basic chemistry, math and physics courses. Previous lab experience in chemistry labs or similar settings is beneficial, either from courses or from individual research projects.

 Project #16:  Variations in Pain Experience
Faculty Mentors:  
Professor Michelle A. FortierAnesthesiology

Professor Belinda CamposChicano/Latino Studies

Professor Amanda AcevedoPsychology & Social Behavior

Description:  Graduate Student Mentor: Amanda Acevedo (Psychology & Social Behavior)

Project Description:
A great deal of previous research has examined ethnic differences in pain tolerance and sensitivity; however, relatively little of this work has been experimental. Moreover, the vast majority of experimental studies on this topic have compared African Americans and Non-Hispanic Whites. Those studies have found that African Americans are much more sensitive to experimentally induced pain compared to Non-Hispanic Whites. At this time, much less is known about whether Latino populations differ significantly from Non-Hispanic Whites. The goal of this study is to examine whether Latinos and Non-Hispanic Whites vary in their sensitivity to pain and, if so, to examine mediating and moderating factors that might explain these observed ethnic differences. Knowing if ethnic groups differ in their experience of pain has important implications for medical care and treatment. In order to study pain within the laboratory, we use a cold pressor task (CPT). The CPT is a standardized method of testing pain experimentally that involves briefly submerging a participant’s hand in cold water.

Students’ Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
Students involved in this research project will get hands-on experience with working with a multidisciplinary team to examine variation in responses to acute pain. They will work with faculty, graduate students, and research personnel to recruit participants from the UCI campus, and run them through the study protocol. Specific involvement will be: 1) Recruit undergraduates using flyers, class announcements, and SONA systems to participate in the study, 2) Use cardiovascular monitoring equipment and salivettes to measure physiological responses to the CPT, 3) Monitor ongoing data collection, 4) Organize and analyze data, and 5) Present data. Students will learn the following specific skills: 1) How to collaborate with a multidisciplinary research team, 2) How the cardiovascular system works and the influence the autonomic nervous system has on it, 3) How to clean cardiovascular data so it can be converted from an electric signal to numeric data, 4) How the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis works and the influence stress has on it, and 5) How to collect data in a laboratory setting, and 6) How to analyze and present empirical findings.

Prerequisites: Undergraduate and graduate students interested in participating must apply to become a part of the UCI Culture, Relationships, and Health Lab. Eligibility includes a 3.0 GPA and a commitment of 8-12 hours per week for two consecutive quarters.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Anderson, K. O., Green, C. R., & Payne, R. (2009). Racial and ethnic disparities in pain: causes and consequences of unequal care. The Journal of Pain, 10(12), 1187-1204.:
   Rahim‐Williams, B., Riley, J. L., Williams, A. K., & Fillingim, R. B. (2012). A quantitative review of ethnic group differences in experimental pain response: do biology, psychology, and culture matter?. Pain Medicine, 13(4), 522-540.:
   Sheffield, D., Biles, P.L., Orom, H., Maixner, W., & Sheps, D.S. (2000). Race and sex differences in cutaneous pain perception. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62, 517-523.: