Monday, March 28, 2011

IE Students Bring Home Top Honors at Regional Competition

February 26th, 2011

Pictured from left to right are 3rd place winners – Fahad Khan, Miguel Ortiz, and Ali Shakroun and 1st place winners – Tobi Olusola and Kaycee Wilson.

The OU School of Industrial Engineering took 19 students to Stillwater Feb. 19 for the IIE Regional Technical Paper Competition. The event was attended by students from across our region including Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Two OU IE teams presented their work in the competition and both did an outstanding job.

Congratulations to Kaycee Wilson (BS'10 and current MS student) and Tobi Olusola (BS'10 and current Pharmacy student) for winning top honors at the conference. Their paper, "Balancing the Flow of a Multi-Pallet Process", developed originally for their capstone course, won first place. They will now get to compete against the winners of the other regions at the national conference this May in Reno, Nevada.

Congratulations also to Ali Shakroun (BS'10), Miguel Ortiz (BS'10), and Fahad Khan (who will graduate May 2011) for their third place finish. Their paper, "How Camera View Affects Task Time and Performance on a Remote Control Car", developed originally for their research methods course, won third place.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

CBME and Bioengineering Students Prickett and Westbrook Bring Home Awards from Bartlesville

March 2011

Whitney Prickett, a masters student from Dallas studying Bioengineering at the University of Oklahoma, won first place in the poster session with 53 posters at the Annual Pentasectional American Chemical Society Meeting in Bartlesville on March 12 for her paper "Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Targeted to the Tumor Vasculature and
Near Infrared Light Therapy for Breast Cancer Treatment." The paper was co-authored with Professors Roger Harrison and Daniel Resasco. Prickett received a $350 award. She is in the accelerated BS/MS program in Bioengineering. Harrison serves as her research advisor.

Aaron Westbrook, a senior from Norman pursuing his bachelors degree from the School of Chemical, Biological and Mechanical Engineering, received an award of merit for his poster "Expanding the Traditional Definition of Naphthenic Acid Structures: Inclusion of Aromatic and Dicarboxylic Acid Functional Groups." Professor Mark Nanny co-authored the poster.

In addition to first and second place awards, there was one merit award with a cash prize and two awards of merit.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Professor Focuses Biomedical Engineering Research, Education on Improving Cancer Diagnoses, Minimizing Radiation


According to a top 100 careers rating by and, biomedical engineering ranked tenth out of the 100 top careers with an estimated 79 percent job growth forecasted for the next 10 years. These kinds of statistics look good for Hong Liu, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Oklahoma and endowed Charles and Jean Smith chair in biomedical engineering, who also holds the George Lynn Cross Research Professorship.

With approximately 10 graduate students typically pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in electrical and computer engineering with an emphasis in biomedical engineering research, Liu is pleased to know his students are entering a growing field that has the potential to save lives.

Liu focuses his current research on medical imaging technology to decrease radiation and generate earlier diagnosis in patients diagnosed with breast cancer, cervical cancer and leukemia.

“Medical imaging research will help save and improve lives,” he said. “I’m pleased that the field is growing dramatically, allowing us to make more advancements and lead students to pursue careers that help others.”

Da Zhang, who received his doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from OU in May 2009, studied under Liu and is currently a junior physicist in the Department of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, said he wouldn’t be where he is today without the guidance of Liu, a lifelong mentor.

Since medical imaging currently is a hot topic in the biomedical science field, Zhang said he and his colleagues saw many new job listings in biomedical engineering when they were job hunting.

“More physicians are using medical imaging first when diagnosing a patient, so it’s a big deal to reduce radiation exposure. We also need physicians to be able to use the X-ray image to its fullest for diagnosis,” Zhang said. “One of Dr. Liu’s most promising projects to help in this area is the X-ray phase and phase contrast, which is designed to provide a clearer image and a lower dosage of radiation.”

Liu’s students have gone on to work in both industry and academia. One former student is conducting cancer research at the University of Pittsburgh; another joined General Electric early last year and is now an R&D engineer developing PET-CT systems.

“It’s an exciting but competitive field,” Zhang said. “I have goals to become a head medical physicist, further diagnostics imaging and possibly get a professorship to become a faculty member, so I can teach in addition to conducting research.”

To those interested in pursuing biomedical engineering, Liu suggests they:
Build a solid foundation through formal educational programs and increase self-learning skills through research and practices
Develop interdisciplinary collaborations and always keep the patients’ benefits in mind
Know the state-of-the-art developments, think about the big picture and then learn how to move forward to reach new discoveries

Liu joined the OU College of Engineering faculty nine years ago and is an internationally acclaimed researcher in medical imaging. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and the International Society for Optical Engineering. He serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of X-ray Science and Technology and has also served as a charter member of the National Institutes of Health study section in Biomedical Imaging Technology. His research has been funded continuously through NIH grants and other peer-reviewed funding agencies for the past 20 years. In the past nine years at OU, he has received more than $8 million through major externally funded grant awards for his research in the areas of medical X-ray cancer imaging and optical genetic imaging. Projects include phase contrast mammography for breast cancer diagnosis, optical chromosome imaging for leukemia diagnosis, and optical fluorescence imaging for cervical cancer screening. Liu and his students have published more than 180 scientific papers and book chapters and have several issued patents.

The University of Oklahoma biomedical engineering department spans research and education activities in biomedical sciences and bioengineering on the Norman, Okla., and Oklahoma City campuses. The department provides interdisciplinary training of the highest quality to the next generation of biomedical engineers and scientists; serves as a catalyst for innovative interdisciplinary research at the interfaces of biology, engineering and medicine; and serves as the platform through which new discoveries in biomedical sciences and engineering are translated into clinical technologies and therapies for the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease.


For more information contact:
Mindy Robson or Lindsey Sparks at
Anglin Public Relations (405) 840-4222

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Joint Effort Announced by Honors College and the College of Engineering

March 2011 Honors College e newsletter

Beginning in August 2011, the Honors College and the College of Engineering will sponsor a new major effort to help engineering majors complete their Honors requirements by the time they graduate. The two colleges have agreed to jointly fund the new position of Honors Liaison in the College of Engineering, and Dr. Chris Dalton has been selected to fill this role.

Dr. Dalton received his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from OU in 2004, also having completed the Honors curriculum and graduating magna cum laude. He continued to complete his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees, both at OU, in 2007 and 2010 respectively. Currently, he is also an affiliate instructor with the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering as well as a project director for a National Science Foundation GK-12 program operating out of the Sooner Engineering Education Center.

“I am very excited to begin this cooperation with the Honors College,” Dr. Dalton said. “Being a former OU Honors student, I think I have a good perspective on what the typical Honors experience is like, so I am hopeful I can provide a great amount of assistance to those students who have questions or concerns about the engineering curriculum.”

Dr. Dalton will serve many functions for the Honors engineering students. He will primarily serve as advisor for any students that elect to use the “Contract for Honors Credit” option, which is being revamped an attractive option for engineering students, who have a very rigid curriculum and would have some difficulty finding suitable Honors courses,” Dr. Dalton explained.

Dr. Dalton will also serve as an additional source of information for those engineering students that are confused about how their Honors requirements fit with their engineering curriculum. “It’s a long walk down to the Honors College from the engineering buildings if you want to ask questions" Dr. Dalton said. And while the engineers receive excellent advising from the college and their specific departments, most advisors are not aware of the students with Honors standing, so we wanted to have someone with a foot in both worlds that is aware of the requirements and rules from both sides.”

Dr. Dalton will be available to answer questions about the Honors curriculum, the “Contract for Honors Credit” option, Honors reading and research, and any other issues that arise. Dr. Dalton’s office is located in the Rawl Engineering Practice Facility, Room 114, and can be reached by email at

“I am looking forward to working with and for the talented Honors students in the College of Engineering,” Dr. Dalton said. “It is my hope that we can provide as many options and opportunities for the students so that they can finish their Honors requirements along with their engineering degrees.”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Researcher Gives Hope to People with Hearing Loss

Published March 8, 2011 -

New Technology Will Eliminate Social Stigma of Hearing Aids - Rong Gan, a biomedical researcher supported by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 2005, is working on a totally implantable hearing system that would be unseen from the outer ear and restore hearing to those with moderate to severe hearing loss. She is in the final stages of development, but needs a company with existing products or distribution channels that reach the hearing impaired to take it to market.

Three years ago, Rong Zhu Gan predicted her totally implantable hearing system (TIHS) would be fabricated, FDA approved, developed into a product and brought to market in 2012. With two years left, she’s already achieved the first two objectives, bringing her closer to her goal of giving the gift of sound to more people experiencing hearing loss.

“Conventional hearing technology has advanced tremendously,” said Gan, professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering and endowed Charles E. Foster Chair in Mechanical/Biomedical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. “However, conventional technology suffers from drawbacks such as unsatisfactory sound quality, limited frequency range, undesired distortion, blocking of the external ear canal, acoustic feedback with high amplification and social stigma. This is why I’ve set my sights on working toward a product that would eliminate the stigma and awareness of a hearing device.”

Hearing loss affects up to 10 percent of the population in the United States. The prevalence increases with age, and more than one-third of people older than 65 years have a significant hearing loss. Only approximately 20 percent of people with hearing loss seek assistance from hearing aids. Of these, as many as 20 percent do not wear their hearing aids and another 17 percent are dissatisfied with them, according to Jack A. Shohet, M.D., Otolaryngologist, Shohet Ear Associates Medical Group, Inc., in an article on

Rong Gan, right, listens as a biomechanics student discusses auditory research
Rong Gan, right, listens as a biomechanics student discusses auditory research.
Gan established a biomedical research home at the OU College of Engineering in 1999. Since then, she has received more than $2.97 million in funding for auditory research -- specifically, the measurement of sound/vibration transmission through the ear. She uses new technology and modeling to better understand and utilize auditory frequencies and developed an implantable hearing device, completely invisible from the outer ear.

Mark Wood, M.D., otologic and neuro-otologic surgeon at the Otologic Medical Clinic and the Hough Ear Institute in Oklahoma City, collaborates with Gan and other biomedical researchers on a weekly basis to discuss research questions related to hearing loss.

“Implantable middle ear devices are medically desirable for people with certain ear deformities or skin conditions that preclude the use of conventional aids,” Dr. Wood said. “Some types of hearing loss may be better served by implantable devices because they provide qualities of sounds that are not achievable with conventional aids.”

Tony Howard, a patient of the Otologic Medical Clinic, who after wearing bilateral hearing aids for 12 years now has bilateral cochlear implants, said, “The drawbacks of hearing aids are in the aesthetics. People don’t like the way hearing aids look in their ears. With my cochlear implants, I was able to do things again, normal things, like talk on the phone, hear music, play the guitar, participate in meetings, and so on. I believe the more hearing is restored to ‘normal’ hearing through amplification or implants, the less embarrassed those with a hearing impairment will feel around the mainstream population.”

Dr. Wood said, “A totally implantable system removes the stigma of hearing loss and the usual upkeep from a person's daily life. But it’s costly. More investigations will have to be done to determine if these systems are better than conventional aids for each individual case.”

Gan’s technology could potentially replace hearing aids, cochlear implants and other implantable hearing devices; therefore, she is developing a product that has better functionality, minimizes the risk to patients’ hearing and is comparable to conventional digital hearing aids in cost/benefit ratio. She said the TIHS is a more compatible fully implantable or totally implantable hearing device with less complexity, lower cost and minimal surgical implantation.

Otologic and neuro-otologic surgeon Dr. Mark Wood talks with Tony Howard, a patient with bi-lateral cochlear implants who sees benefit to research and development toward restorative totally implantable hearing systems
Otologic and neuro-otologic surgeon Dr. Mark Wood talks with Tony Howard, a patient with bi-lateral cochlear implants who sees benefit to research and development toward restorative totally implantable hearing systems.
“This technology is primed and ready to go. We need a company to take the TIHS technology into the market. The ideal company would have existing products or distribution channels that reach the 38 million Americans who have moderate-to-severe hearing loss,” Gan said.

Howard said, “We live in a world of language; being able to speak and listen are critical to quality living. There was a day when people who are deaf or hard of hearing had no other options, but not today. I’ve seen so many expensive hearing aids gathering dust in dressers or desk drawers. The implantable hearing device would eliminate vain excuses for not treating the issue and result in better hearing – every day.”

Gan is applying for grant funding from the National Institutes of Health to move forward on researching the mechanics of the inner ear, through the development of a finite element model of the human ear that would help detect and treat common middle-ear infections and disorders. Her team’s project has been approved by the U.S. patent office and their research, moving forward, is focusing on the clinical applications of this model.

The University of Oklahoma biomedical engineering program spans research and education activities in biomedical sciences and bioengineering on the Norman, Okla., and Oklahoma City campuses. Its goal is to provide interdisciplinary training of the highest quality to the next generation of biomedical engineers and scientists; serve as a catalyst for innovative interdisciplinary research at the interfaces of biology, engineering and medicine; and be the platform through which new discoveries in biomedical sciences and engineering are translated into clinical technologies and therapies for the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease.

The Hough Ear Institute is a nonprofit research, educational and humanitarian service institute. As a Center of Excellence of INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center, the IBMC Cochlear Implant Clinic and Hearing Enrichment Language Program are an integral part of the institute. HEI also interacts with Otologic Medical Clinic Inc. and Audio Recovery Inc. All of these entities are located within the Hough Ear Institute campus. In addition, research collaborations exist between the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and Oklahoma State University.