Texas Space Grant Consortium Assists New Researchers in Establishing Their Career
June 03, 2004

The Texas Space Grant Consortium has awarded six grants to promising new researchers at its member institutions. These new researchers are striving to establish careers conducting research in direct support of NASA's strategic plan and research requirements. The awards will assist them by providing additional professional development opportunities.

  • Dr. Ji Chen - University of Houston
  • Dr. Farzaneh Jebrail.- Texas A&M University
  • Dr. Javier A. Kypuros - University of Texas - Pan American
  • Dr. Steve Roach - University of Texas at El Paso
  • Dr. Lillian Sau-ngan Waldbeser - Texas A&M University Corpus Christi
  • Dr. Xin Wei - Texas Southern University

The Texas Space Grant Consortium is a group of 35 institutions which include universities, industrial organizations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies within Texas. Through education and research, the Consortium seeks to inspire Texans to participate in and support NASA's mission of improving life on our planet, extending life beyond our planet, and exploring the universe.

For more information about this program visit http://www.tsgc.utexas.edu/nip/

Dr. Ji Chen, University of Houston

An Efficient Full-Wave Framework for Future Micro and Nano Electronic Devices Modeling/Simulation
The goal of this proposed research plan is to bring fundamental advances towards micro- and nano-scale mixed-signal design through the development of accurate and efficient simulation framework that enables integrated interconnects, substrate, device, modeling and co-simulation. Full-wave algorithms in the time domain will be the emphasis of this proposed research though the frequency domain techniques will also be investigated. This framework will facilitate the understanding of system level electrical and thermal coupling mechanisms and being used to develop better design practices for IC design engineers. To reduce the complexity of the modeling/simulation task, model-order-reduction (MOR) techniques will be used in a hierarchical fashion to include the traditional semiconductor device effects and characteristics of nano-scale devices. The ultimate objective of this proposed research is to facilitate circuit/system design by developing algorithms and design practices that can be integrated into the IC design flow.

Dr. Farzaneh Jebrail, Texas A&M University

Investigation for Novel Biomimetic Protein Glues for Space Applications
A strategy is proposed to develop protein glues, with the emphasis on space applications. The fundamental science of protein glues has now been established, but engineering applications are in their infancy. The proposed work is designed to fit into existing facilities at the Center for Micro-Encapsulation and Drug Delivery (CMDD) in Texas A&M University. The main objective of this work is to study how to make a synthetic version of the protein glues, and use the glue to manufacture microcapsules (sizes typically range from 1 m to 2000 m) using the new CMDD microencapsulator. Currently, emulsion technologies have been successfully used to produce effective micro-capsules, but coupling of synthetic production of the protein glues with the micro-encapsulator promises larger quantities of glue and micro-capsules for practical space applications. Some example applications currently being considered include: extended drug delivery for long space flights, post-operative (or damaged) tissue repair, self-healing surfaces, and artificial skin.

Dr. Javier A. Kypuros, University of Texas - Pan American

Modeling and Control Methods for Morphing Smart Structures
Next generation aerial and submersible vehicles will incorporate increasingly adaptable control surfaces that can radically change shape to improve functionality and optimize performance. To enable these technologies, modeling and control methods must be developed to aid in identifying necessary actuator characteristics, viable distributed control methods, and advanced power distribution technologies. Expanding on concepts previously developed for active damping of vibrating structures, this project will develop models of a composite control surface whose shape is actively optimized in the presence of external disturbances using smart material actuators. The surface will optimally and adaptively control the flow of air while damping any parasitic vibrations. Model simulations will be validated using a real-time experimental apparatus.

Dr. Steve Roach, The University of Texas at El Paso

Science Data Analysis Tools for Ring Structure Research in the Cassini-Huygens Saturn Mission
The Cassini spacecraft will orbit Saturn for six to eight years beginning in July of 2004. One of the goals of the Cassini mission includes making detailed observations of the ring system of Saturn. The orbiter carries several remote sensing instruments that rely on geometrical predictions from the project to determine the targeting of their instantaneous field of view. Science data analysis for Cassini is very complex because of the constantly changing viewing and solar illumination geometry and the continuously changing relative positions of features and structures in the rings. In order to analyze this data, scientists must be able to map each pixel in a footprint to its location in space. The Software Engineering Research Group at The University of Texas at El Paso is currently developing a suite of software tools to assist scientists in scene analysis. The goal is to provide a geometrical framework within which any Cassini dataset can be integrated. Since data formats are relatively well standardized across NASA missions, the tools would be applicable to any interplanetary space mission. The suite has two fundamental goals. First, it must assist the user in C-smithing the spacecraft kernels and generate a corrected C-kernels containing Cassini pointing vectors. Second, it must perform a variety of computations on and provide visual displays of science data from Cassini.

Dr. Lillian Sau-ngan Waldbeser, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi

The Effects of Gravitational Variation on Macrophage Phagocytic Function
Prolonged exposure to the environmental conditions during space flights may influence the relationship that has been established between man and his endogenous microorganisms. It has been reported that organisms were transferred between crew members during space flights. The immune status of astronauts is very important if they are to remain relatively healthy during the missions. Macrophages are phagocytic cells whose major function is the removal of foreign material and dead, dying or damaged cells and cell debris from blood and tissues. They control inflammation and repair of damaged tissues. They also process and present antigens to lymphocytes, as well as secrete cytokines that amplify both cellular and humoral immune response. The objective of this project is to study the effects of gravitational changes on macrophage phagocytic function. The study will be conducted using tissue cultured human macrophage cells. The macrophages will be exposed to beads coated with bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), immunoglobulin, and complement. The ability of the macrophages to phagocytize the coated beads will be studied under hypergravity and microgravity conditions, using phase contrast and fluorescence microscopy. The reactive oxygen intermediates will be measured to determine the respiratory burst associated with phagocytic function. Since the phagocytic function is dependent on cytoskeleton structure, the effect of gravitational conditions on actin rearrangement will be studied using fluorescence microscopy.

Dr. Xin Wei, Texas Southern University

Development of Advanced Electrochemical Biosensors
Thanks to its unparalleled selectivity, along with other technical advantages such as the fast speed, superb sensitivity and the ease of use, biosensor technology has been demonstrated extremely important and very versatile in a vast range of practical applications, including biomedical research and clinical services, food and drug industry, and environmental sciences. In this project, corresponding to NASA's Vision (To improve life here, To extend life to there, To find life beyond), we will make our efforts towards the development of several prototypes of advanced electrochemical biosensors by implementation of the reagent-less and refreshable sensing techniques and the cutting-edge nanotechnologies. Following this project, we will continue the research in this area, which is expected to make significant contributions to the advances in space science in a near future. The availability of the new biosensors will enable us to monitor the health condition of astronauts dynamically, perform real-time environmental assessments to prevent harmful fungal/microorganism growth in space vehicles, and facilitate the search of extraterrestrial life.