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First NSF Grant for Newly Created School Focuses on Bioengineering Research
 
BROWNSVILLE, TEXASSEPTEMBER 13, 2013 The National Science Foundation has awarded its first grant to a faculty member in the newly created School of Engineering and Computational Science at The University of Texas at Brownsville.
 
Dr. Nazmul Islam, an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Physics Program under the school in the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology, has received a two-year grant from the NSF’s Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems Division for $173,274 with funding available from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31, 2015.
 
Dr. Nazmul Islam spends time in UTB’s Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems Lab.Dr. Nazmul Islam spends time in UTB’s Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems Lab.
The school was created earlier this month and consists of the engineering physics, engineering technology, computational science and computer and information sciences programs.
 
“This grant will enable multidisciplinary engineering research with a broader impact in biomedicine,” said Dr. Juan R. Iglesias, Chair of the School of Engineering and Computational Science. “Students at UT-Brownsville will be able to analyze micro-particle interactions occurring in natural systems in order to engineer devices that emulate biological models.”
 
The funding will be used to purchase a Micro-Particle Image Velocimetry system, support faculty research and enable an undergraduate engineering student to work up to 15 hours a week on research. Islam said he hopes to purchase the equipment early next year.
 
Some of the projects that can be done with the equipment include better understanding alternating current electrokinetics in micro/biofluidics devices and studying micropumps and fluid mixing on a microscale.
 
“The funding is important,” said Islam. “Definitely it will improve the collaboration between the engineering faculty. The funding will also help the student researchers to run more experiments on our micro/biofluidics devices. In the future we will get additional experimental data using the requested equipment and publish research papers. It’s good exposure for the faculty and the university in the research community.”
 
The research work is important in the continued development of bioengineering devices, said Islam.
 
“The grant will provide young investigators with the resources required to greatly raise the stature of research at UTB, attract new sources of research support and elevate micro-electro-mechanical systems and biomedical education research to a competitive level,” said Islam.
 
The School of Engineering and Computational Science offers a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics with a track in bioengineering that has accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.
 
“Definitely bioengineering is an interdisciplinary area that faculty can collaborate and students can do their research or senior design projects in,” said Islam. “This semester three students in the bioengineering track are doing Senior Design with me. Future bioengineering students will definitely be benefitted by this grant.”
 
Islam is the grant’s principal investigator. Co-principal investigators are Dr. Sanjay Kumar, an Associate Professor and Dr. Yingchen Yang, an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Program in the School of Engineering and Computational Science at UTB; Dr. Davood Askari, formerly of UTB and now an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Wichita State University in Kansas and Dr. Constantin Ciocanel, an Associate Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Program at Northern Arizona University.
 
“All the co-principal investigators will work closely in their respective research areas and utilize the equipment,” said Islam. “The student researcher will be trained by the vendor to operate the equipment efficiently. The student will also help all the investigators to finish their proposed research work.”         
 
Islam received in a doctoral degree in electrical engineering in 2007 from The University of Tennessee. His dissertation was “Alternate Current Electroosmosis for Lab-on-a-Chip Applications.”
 
Islam received a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 2002 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1999 from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
 

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