Monday, February 4, 2013

INNOVATE celebrates its first birthday with reports from all 13 of the 2012 award recipients

Late in 2012, just two weeks before announcing the next round of 2013 INNOVATE award winners, Dr. Helena Wisniewski, vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School, hosted a reception and information sharing session among the 13 winners from 2012.

Here is the list of 2012 winners and their projects.

Instrumented Mouthguard – Dr. Anthony Paris, Mechanical Engineering, and Co-PIs Dr. Jennifer Brock and Dr. John Lund, “Evaluation of Instrumentation to Assess Accelerations of the Head Due to Soccer Ball Heading.” Assisting the team were then-current mechanical engineering students Grant Birmingham and Lilan Smith.


The team demonstrated how INNOVATE funding allowed them to refine a next-generation instrumented mouthguard that effectively measures linear and angular accelerations of an athlete’s head, in this case, a soccer player heading balls. Refinements included decreasing the number of accelerometers in the mouthpiece from nine to six, streamlining their design and placement for ease of use in the mouth, and successfully determining accurate linear and angular accelerations.

This is an important step in the quest to develop accurate tools to measure the magnitude and nature of head impacts with the aim of understanding the biomechanics of head injury.

Ecosystem carrying capacity for caribou - Dr. Don Spalinger, Biological Sciences, and CO-PIs Dr. John Lund and Dr. Herb Schroeder, "The Trophic Dynamics of Nutrient Cycling in Western Alaska Tundra Ecosystems.

Graduate students Kate Legner and Brian Atkinson on Unimak.
INNOVATE funding allowed this team to acquire high resolution satellite imagery of Unimak Island in the Aleutians to map habitat. This island, just 72 miles long and 60 miles wide, is home to a declining caribou herd. To better understand their decline, Spalinger and his team are analyzing what the caribou eat. One thing they aren't eating is lichen, usually a normal staple of the caribou diet. It doesn't exist on Unimak. So, what are they eating?

Analyzing what the landscape offers, and through chemical analysis of what the caribou are eating, will lead to a better understanding of Unimak Island's carrying capacity for caribou.

The island work served as a testing ground for technique and approach. Now, the team will take their work to more herds throughout Western Alaska.

Download a PDF of their Nov. 30, 2012 presentation.

Long-lasting, cheap sensors make watching remote Alaska easier - Dr. John Lund, Electrical Engineering, and Co-PI Dr. Todd Peterson, "Ultra-Long Lifespan Wireless Sensore Devices for Asset Management."

Low-cost sensors to monitor important infrastructure.
The practical nature of this team's innovation is obvious in Alaska, where plenty of infrastructure is out of sight, from remote roads and bridges to pipelines and buildings.

They note that both in Alaska and nationwide, infrastructure from the building boom of the 1950s is starting to fail. In remote locations, often catastrophic failure is the first indication of a problem. Emergency repairs are costly and more and more, plastic and steel materials are used, with half the lifespan of concrete.

Their solution? Add a basic, wireless sensor requiring no battery. Cost? $16 per device.

Download a PDF of this team's presentation.
When you can't be there: Cheap, solar-powered sensors  to monitor remote Alaska infrastructure, January 2012

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