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University of Colorado Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Auraria Emerging Technologies Prototyping LabAETPL Research & Innovation Clusters

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The following describe the theme and specific projects of each cluster, along with names of student and alumni AETPL Fellows who have worked on the projects. Currently active AETPL Fellows are shown in bold style. Names in parantheses acknowledge work in the recent past. Considerable technical support has been provided by UC Denver Physics Instrument Maker & Lab Coordinator Brad Busley .

Tissue Dynamics

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This cluster aims to develop analytical and computer models for the dynamics of multicellular systems. The primary products of this group are computer software & system architectures, image & data analysis methods, and mathematical models. The purpose of these tools is to interpret and guide the development of laboratory methods for measuring collective properties and dynamics of multicellular systems. These tools should thus be useful in developing new diagnostic methods for early detection of diseases such as cancer.

  • Tissue Morphometry - ( Yao Schmidt, Konstantin Mikheyev)
  • Animations & 3D Rendering of Tissues - Jordan Shelton
  • Dynamical System Models of Epithelia - ( Erik Bray)
  • Molecular Network Identification & Reduction - ( Neil Phippen)
  • Biofilm Modeling - Andy Somogyi
  • Open-Source Tissue Modeling Computer Systems - John Apodaca

Quantitative Cell Sociology

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While most attention in biomedical research is given to the molecular underpinnings of cellular behavior, it is important to recognize that most processes in humans are conducted by multicellular systems: tissues & organs. In the study of non-living systems, the consequence of assembling multiple objects into a system leads to collective phenomena or "emergent behavior", e.g., phase transitions. The translation of these ideas into the biological domain is sometimes called "cell sociology." This research & innovation cluster aims to develop tools for making cell sociology both quantitative and diagnostic. Our aim is to discover signature phenomena in multicellular systems that can be useful in both diagnostics and treatment.

  • Force Networks in Epithelia - Rohinton Mistry
  • Electric Impedance Spectroscopy for Multicellular Characterization - Sara Chrismer
  • Wide Bandwidth DSP-Based Lock-In Amplifier for Electric Impedance Spectroscopy - Jaime Jaramillo
  • Dictyostellium discoideum Laboratory Model for Multicellular Behavior - Anna Hodd

Soft Optics & Tissue Photonics

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Optical probes of tissues are very useful because they are largely non-invasive and provide information on structure, constitution, and molecular expression. Much attention so far in "biophotonics" has been given to fluorescence and other spectroscopic methods of detecting molecular changes. The goal of this research & innovation cluster is to develop methods more oriented to measurements of changes in the structure of tissues. Also, we are exploring "biomimetic" applications (i.e. biologically-inspired engineering approaches) by using biomaterials like gels to make controllable optical components.

  • Physical Control of Optical Properties of Gels - Aron Wolterstorff
  • Micro-Optic Tissue "Phantoms" for Testing Optical Diagnostics - Rhett Cook
  • Light Propagation in Quasi-Regular Structures - Masoud Asadi, PhD
  • Surface-Wave Models of Perturbed Waveguides - Albert Worley
  • Optical Correlation Methods Applied to Intercellular Dynamics - (not yet assigned)

Soft Matter Nanotechnology

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This research and innovation cluster combines the natural nanotechnology of biological systems with other nanotechnologies such as quantum dots and scanned probes. In particular, we seek to exploit recent advances in understanding the properties of phosopholipids in order to extend existing approaches to making phosopholipid-constructed "packages" called liposomes and to monitor the behavior of vesicles near cell membranes. Part of this work intends to create low-cost versions of the tools used to work with these materials in order to make such development accessible to a wider range of students and institutions.

  • Phospholipid-Encapsulated Quantum Dots for Cell Tracking - Shane Landry
  • Liposome Sorting System - Shane Landry
  • Low-Cost Phospholipid Preparation - Alice Major
  • Low-Cost Wilhelmy Plate Apparatus - Matt Cloutier
  • Low-Cost Langmuir-Blodgett System - Matt Cloutier
  • NSOM (Near-Field Scanning Optical Microscope) Detection & Manipulation of Vesicles - Matt Cloutier, (Jeff Maybach)

Airway Mechanics

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Fluid mechanics plays an important role in many living processes, including respiration. We are concentrating on the air flows between the lungs and the external environment. One goal is to develop various methods to visualize these flows in order to detect subtle changes in patterns that might accompany pathologies of the airway. Since our laboratory is in close proximity to the National Center for Voice and Speech, we are also building collaborations with this center to measure mechanical behavior of tissues involved in voice production. Finally, we are exploring new technologies to measure dynamical motion at tissue surfaces leading into the lungs.

  • Schlieren Visualization of Breathing Flows - ( Tanya Carleton, Gabrielle Jung)
  • Correlating Surface Waves with Sol-Gel Behavior - ( Brenda Vasquez), Aron Wolterstorff
  • Laryngoscope Laser Metric Device - Peter Popollo (NCVS), Brad Busley, Matthew Archer
  • Doppler Tissue Vibrometer - Matthew Archer
  • Doppler Endoscopy - Matthew Archer

Coupled-Cell Design

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Taking inspiration from living systems, this research and innovation cluster examines ways to build useful devices and processes by coupling together many identical components or "cells". A prototype problem is the coupling of nerves and muscles to orchestrate motion of animals, and in particular the modeling of the gaits of a horse. By constructing new architectures for building such coupled systems, we hope to establish a design paradigm that could be extended into other domains. The "cells" do not even need to be hard mechanical components. Thus we exploring the use of the tendency of fluid systems to organize themselves into cellular patterns to controllably mix and move dissolved or suspended materials. Essentially we are working on a bottom-up approach to process-design and robotics which we sometimes call "tinkerbotics."

  • Animal-Gait Models - Mozhdeh Saffari, Masoud Asadi-Zeydabadi
  • Robotic quadruped "Mr. Ead" - Mary McAllister
  • Micro-Controller for robotic quadruped - Jason Coder
  • Controllable Transport Using Fluid Cellular Systems - (not yet assigned)
  • New Approaches to Slip Casting of Ceramics - (not yet assigned)

Medical Technologies for Remote Locations

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This cluster focusses on technologies to deliver better health care in third-world countries, to support US personnel working in remote areas of the world, and to improve response to injured or needy individuals in remote locations in the state of Colorado. A key motivator is the desire to develop "sustainable" approaches that make intelligent use of local resources, including local intellectual assets ("know-how").

  • Adsorption-Based Solar Refrigerator for Medicine Storage - Anthony Caravella, Jack Donovan, Stuart Landsee, (Natapol Thongplew, Erdenebayasgalan Ganjuurjav, and Shauna Kocman)
  • Control of Delivery Systems on Moving Platforms - (a renewal of work ten years ago by John Starrett, Margo Martinez, John Slavich, Jennifer Stamile, and Ken Ramos)

Low-Cost Dental Technologies

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One goal of this cluster is to find economical means to intervene in the viscous cycle of malnutrition and poor dental health. We seek methods to augment dental care in third-world countries with low-cost but effective technologies. At the same time, we explore methods to augment conventional dental technologies such as dental implants, with the hope that exploration of new approaches - even if costly at first - could yield economical spin-offs.

  • Ultrasound Resonance Spectroscopy for Dental Implant Characterization - Mike Zendig

Rapid-Start Learning Modules for Technical Design

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In order for students to become productive in the wide range of technological development described above, students need a way to rapidly learn fundamental technical approaches. We are developing "just-in-time" learning modules that provide highly-focussed 60-hour efforts to get students and others up to speed on areas needed for their projects. A goal is to enable students at remote locations to learn such material, largely by drawing on local resources to do the hands-on activities essential to acquiring solid design experience.

  • Passive Circuits & Electrical Measurements - Jason Coder, (Margo Martinez)
  • Signals and Signal Conditioning - Jason Coder, (Margo Martinez)
  • Sensors & Measurement Systems - Jason Coder