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Research Contacts

All questions regarding research policies or procedures at Penn Engineering can be directed to:

Kathleen Stebe
Deputy Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Science
Email: kstebe@seas.upenn.edu
Phone: 215.898.4515
Profile | Website

Craig Ryan
Administrative Assistant
Office of Research and Innovation
School of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Pennsylvania
108B Towne Building 220 S. 33rd Street
Philadelphia, Pa 19104-6391 (215) 573-7334
Email: cdryan@seas.upenn.edu
(215) 573-7334

Technology Transfer Contact

Pamela Beatrice
Ph.D. Director, Engineering
Physical and Applied Sciences Licensing Penn Center for Innovation
Email: beatricp@upenn.edu
(215) 573-4513

Additional resources regarding research funding, along with many helpful research tools and information, can be accessed via the Penn Research Portal and Penn's Electronic Research Administration system.



Beyond Boundaries

Research at Penn Engineering is constantly pushing back the frontiers of science and using innovative methods of thinking to approach problems and find solutions across many fields. If it hasn’t yet been solved, chances are someone at Penn Engineering is working to come up with the solution. Read on to see how our research is reinventing science and technology and creating opportunities to improve the world in which we live.

Earthquake Friction Effect at the Nanoscale

Earthquakes are some of the most daunting natural disasters that scientists try to analyze. Though the earth's major fault lines are well known, there is little scientists can do to predict when an earthquake will occur or how strong it will be. And, though earthquakes involve millions of tons of rock, a team of researchers, led by Robert Carpick, professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, has helped discover an aspect of friction on the nanoscale that may lead to a better understanding of the disasters. Interested in learning more? Read on.

More Effective MRI Contrast Agent for Cancer Detection

Many imaging technologies and their contrast agents — chemicals used during scans to help detect tumors and other problems — involve exposure to radiation or heavy metals, which present potential health risks to patients and limit the ways they can be applied. In an effort to mitigate these drawbacks, new research from Andrew Tsourkas, associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering, shows a way to coat an iron-based contrast agent so that it only interacts with the acidic environment of tumors, making it safer, cheaper and more effective than existing alternatives. Interested in learning more? Read on.

Two-Dimensional Graphene Metamaterials and One-Atom-Thick Optical Devices

Penn Engineers have proposed the possibility of two-dimensional metamaterials. These one-atom-thick metamaterials could be achieved by controlling the conductivity of sheets of graphene, which is a single layer of carbon atoms. Nader Engheta, H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering, published the theoretical research in the journal Science. Interested in learning more? Read on.

New Biological Circuit Components and Microscope Technique for Measuring Them

Engineers have long been toying with the idea of designing biological molecules that can be directly integrated into electronic circuits. Penn researchers, led by Dawn Bonnell, Trustees Chair Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, have developed a way to form these structures so they can operate in open-air environments, and, more important, have developed a new microscope technique that can measure the electrical properties of these and similar devices. Interested in learning more? Read on.


Structured Prediction: A Framework for Machine Learning

Despite their impressive aptitude for crunching numbers and processing text, computers have a lot to learn before they can handle intelligent tasks that are relatively simple for a two-year-old child. As Ben Taskar, Magerman Term Assistant Professor of Computer and Information Science, can attest, getting computers to recognize people, actions, locations, objects, and concepts represented in the digital data they store is harder than it seems. Rather than writing a program to get a computer to accomplish a specific task, Taskar is developing algorithms that provide computers with basic building blocks to learn by correlating labels with images, and identifying commonalities among multiple examples of a particular concept. Because machines learn primarily by rote, teaching them that a particular combination of pixels corresponds to a face, or that a predictable pattern of colors correlates to a location such as a beach, requires tens of thousands of examples, all of which must be labeled in order to provide the context needed for accurate recogni­tion. Interested in learning more? Read on.

Single Drug and Soft Environment Can Increase Platelet Production

Humans produce billions of clot-forming platelets every day, but there are times when there aren’t enough of them, such as with certain diseases or during invasive surgery. Researchers, led by Dennis Discher, the Robert D. Bent Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, have demonstrated that a single drug can induce bone marrow cells called megakaryocytes to quadruple the number of platelets they produce. Interested in learning more? Read on.

Building “Skins” That Adapt to Heat/Light of Environment

Engineers, design architects and cell biologists from the Penn are collaborating to utilize the flexibility and sensitivity of human cells as the models for next-generation building “skins” that will adapt to changes in the environment and increase building energy efficiency. Based upon the dynamic responses that human cells generate,researchers hope to redesign, then re-engineer interfaces between living and engineered systems with the ultimate goal of implementing some of the key features and functions revealed by cells for sensing and control at the building scale. The design and fabrication of soft substrates with generic 1-D to 3-D geometrical patterns takes place inthe laboraotry of Shu Yang, associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Interested in learnign more? Read on.

Construction with Quadrotors

Robots already build cars, sort mail and clean homes, but when you add four helicopter rotors to one, things start getting really interesting. Using unmanned aerial vehicles called quadrotors, a team of Penn Engineering researchers, led by Vijay Kumar, UPS Foundation Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, has built an autonomous airborne construction crew able to build small towers. The flying robots are not controlled by humans. Given instructions on what to build, and provided with special building blocks they can easily connect, the robots work together to monitor their own progress, decide on next steps, and assess the stability of the structure they are building. Interested in learning more? Read on.