Owl Research & Innovation Spring 2018


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Research happenings from Florida Atlantic University

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Table of Contents 13 Features 13 Serial Entrepreneur Building Successes 17 Little-Known Role in WWII Radar Technology Used in Boca Raton Helped Secure Victory 19 Molecules, Mice, Medicine Brain Research’s Wide Range 23 Weathering the Storm Response to and Recovery from Hurricane Irma 8 Insights 31 Sensing Partnership Bolsters National Weather Program Innovating Accurate and Timely Forecasts 33 Undergraduate Research a National Model Robust Initiative Leads to Distinguished Award 37 Nominated for Latin Grammy Award A Q&A with the Talent Behind One of the Best Folk Albums 1 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY


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NEWS BRIEFS 31 37 New Faces in Research 9 New Dean Embraces ‘Unbridled Ambition’ Incoming Researcher Investigates Biology of Drug Addiction 10 Wireless Communications Scholar Joins Sensing Institute News Briefs 4 Playing a Vital Role in Navy Sonar System 7 Teenage Cancer Researcher Makes Headlines 8 Students Dig for Antibiotics Owl Research & Innovation is published by the Division of Research at Florida Atlantic University. Executive Editor: Luis F. Perez Editor: Beth C. Barak Copy editors: Cindy Jones-Hulfachor; Ellen Kuwana; David Lewellen; Megan D. Moore; Spectrum Public Relations; Robin E. Taber Contributing writers: Hannah Anderson; Nicole Baganz; Beth C. Barak; Polly Burks; Missy Clyne Diaz; Merrill Douglas; Gisele Galoustian; Douglas McInnis; Judy Gelman Myers; Luis F. Perez; Robin E. Taber; Kelsie Weekes Image credits: Hannah Anderson; Nicole Baganz; Tracey Benson; Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum; Center for Disease Control; Alex Dolce; Terry Eggenberger; Gina Fontana; Daniel Alfonso Garavito; Traci Johnson; Disney Lab; The Scripps Research Institute; Discovery Education/Andy King; Sudhagar Nagarajan; National Aeronautics and Space Administration Worldview; Sue Skemp; Randy Smith; Robin E. Taber; U.S. Navy; WLRN Public Radio and Television; Lauren Woeber Design and graphics: Hannah Anderson; Megan D. Moore; Christina Page, Southeastern Printing; Robin E. Taber On the cover: Hurricane Irma. Image by National Aeronautics and Space Administration Worldview Member of the University Research Magazine Association FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 2


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The Power of Research G reat research universities have a direct impact on the communities that they serve through innovation, economic development and true engagement to solve problems. At FAU, there are many examples of how our students, faculty and staff contribute to finding solutions not only for local concerns, but for global issues as well. Sitting at the heart of South Florida, the university recently faced the challenge of a powerful Hurricane Irma. Our scientists are deeply involved in research about the impacts of global climate change, which include the warming of our oceans, sea level rise and stronger storms. Hurricane Irma propelled FAU researchers to find a novel way to use drones to study pre- and post-storm impacts. Faculty also led a recent summit to assist cities in our area in planning for a future where we’ll see more storms like Irma. You can learn more about those efforts in the pages of this edition of Owl Research & Innovation. Our faculty are also involved in bettering human health through their research. FAU scientists are working on answers to basic biological questions about how our brains work. They’re investigating these theories in animal models. Some are working on human clinical trials, while others are trying to understand how the use of existing drugs can have unintended consequences. Our scientists are working on each of the many stages of drug discovery and use, from molecules to mice to humans. Some of those initiatives are highlighted in this magazine. The depth and breadth of the work our faculty do to improve our world is far beyond the ability to fit it into any one publication. But perhaps by reading through these pages, you will get an idea of some of the potentially world-changing work that they do. We hope you enjoy it. t JOHN KELLY, PH.D. PRESIDENT 3 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY DANIEL C. FLYNN, PH.D. VICE PRESIDENT FOR RESEARCH


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NEWS BRIEFS NEWS BRIEFS Small Business Development Center Opens T he Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network has awarded the university a $1.2 million grant to open new offices at the Florida SBDC at FAU. This partnership with FAU Tech Runway and Research Park at FAU expands the university’s range of small business support by providing the intellectual capital and expertise needed by small business owners in Broward and Palm Beach counties. “FAU’s long commitment to innovation, entrepreneurship and the economic growth, and prosperity of southeast Florida complements our mission to accelerate Florida’s economy through small business growth and success,” said Michael W. Myhre, CEO for the Florida SBDC Network. Professionally certified and experienced business consultants will provide no-cost consulting, no- and low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. “This newest partnership will greatly contribute to inspiring and supporting innovation, technology and entrepreneurship to ensure successful business development in this region,” said Daniel C. Flynn, Ph.D., FAU’s vice president for research. t Playing a Vital Role in Navy Sonar System Sonar technology on a class of near-shore vessels operated by the U.S. Navy will soon get an upgrade, thanks in part to work by FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI). Raytheon Company recently awarded HBOI an $875,000 subcontract to help design, prototype and test the new Variable Depth Sonar system, used by the Navy to locate and track enemy submarines. “Raytheon is using HBOI’s expertise in deploying and recovering oceanographic equipment to help in that effort,” said Joe Monti, director of surface ship anti-submarine warfare systems at Raytheon.  The sonar system will be lighter, more efficient and more reliable than sonar on the ships today, said Ben Metzger, HBOI mechanical engineer and lead engineering principal investigator for the Raytheon project. t The new sonar system will be used on Littoral Combat Ships such as the USS Coronado pictured above. FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 4


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Combating Malaria with a Chip T wo FAU researchers have designed a device to monitor the effects of malaria on an expecting mother and fetus in real time. They hope their work will lead to new treatments against the deadly disease. The National Institutes of Health awarded $400,000 to Sarah Du, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering, and Andrew Oleinikov, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical science in the College of Medicine, to develop technology known as Placenta-on-a-Chip, which uses embedded microsensors to mimic the microenvironment of placental malaria. Some 10,000 mothers and 200,000 newborns — mostly in sub-Saharan African nations — die annually from the parasitic disease transmitted through infected female mosquitoes. With the help of new technology, the researchers’ goal is to see how the malaria parasite responds to various drug treatments. t 5 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY A microfluidic chip for modeling and monitoring malaria effects in placenta. Malaria is associated with high risks of maternal and fetal deaths, maternal illness and low birth weight. It’s most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. Pregnant women have a reduced immune response to malaria infections, especially during the first pregnancy, and are three times more likely to develop severe disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sarah Du, assistant professor in the Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering (foreground), is collaborating with Andrew Oleinikov, associate professor of biomedical science in the College of Medicine.


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NEWS BRIEFS The project team wrote a storyboard and co-produced a video depicting a patient’s discharge seen through the lens of the various health care professions represented in the project. Patient Care Collaboration Across the Health Professions A n innovative research project by the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine healthcare professionals are taught in the classroom with real-world training on competencies like how to better share resources and how to develop team- and Boca Raton Regional Hospital trained 86 based care. professionals — faculty members, internal medicine and pharmacy residents, and hospital staff — on Trainees benefitted from modules grounded in the how to enhance communication and collaboration only evidence-based communication curriculum in among and between healthcare professionals and healthcare. Terry Eggenberger, Ph.D., and Kathryn the patients and families they serve. Keller, Ph.D., faculty members of the College of Nursing, led the project in collaboration with The one-year project, funded by The Josiah the director of the university’s internal medicine Macy Jr. Foundation, titled “Aligning Education and Practice to Support Interprofessional residency program.t Collaboration,” was designed to integrate what FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 6


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Student Writes One of America’s Best Essays P ublishing is the aspiration of many writers. Christopher Notarnicola has achieved his goal in a way that would make any professional writer proud. He’s a Master of Fine Arts student in creative writing. His essay, "Indigent Disposition," originally published in the North American Review, was selected for the anthology “The Best American Essays 2017.” The annual publication selects work from hundreds of journals, magazines and websites, to bring the most thought-provoking writing to its audience. Notarnicola’s essay is provocative. In it, he writes from a removed perspective about his childhood friend’s experience with a homeless man. It’s a subject that took him some time to select. “It can be difficult to tease apart a history, to decide which stories will mean something to someone else,” he said. Clearly, he chose the right story to tell. t 7 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY Devin Willis presenting at the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Teenage Cancer Researcher Makes Headlines F AU High School freshman Devin Willis has developed a way to improve the speed and accuracy of cancer diagnoses. It may sound like fantasy, but it's reality. And the media is paying attention. Willis's invention, SlideMap, is a low-cost 40x slide scanner that uses recent advances in deep learning for image recognition, technology that can be found in driverless cars. SlideMap can accurately classify every cell on a tumor slide, which can help a pathologist provide a more accurate diagnosis. Willis placed fourth in the 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, where he won $1,000 and attended a taping of a Discovery Network show.   When asked to reflect on the contest, Willis calls the challenge “an amazing opportunity” and is grateful to be paired with a 3M mentor, who encourages him “to innovate with the goal of making a difference.”   As part of the FAU Tech Runway Venture Class 5 Program to accelerate startup businesses, SlideMap is benefiting from top-notch mentors who could prove instrumental in bringing the product to market. For cancer patients, that can’t come soon enough. t


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Students Dig for Antibiotics S ome 23,000 Americans die annually from bacterial infections, and the number is rising due to antibiotic resistance, according to Diane Baronas-Lowell, Ph.D., associate scientist in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. “The CDC says if we don’t find new antibiotics by 2050, there will be more deaths per year from bacterial infections than from cancer and diabetes combined,” said Baronas-Lowell. That’s why FAU’s Small World Initiative course has undergrads searching for soil microbes. The results are analyzed on plates in the lab to see if bacteria in soil samples are candidates for making new antibiotics. It’s the first lower-division course to be approved for a research-intensive designation. In the past year, FAU students have identified 111 antibiotic-producing bacteria which have been entered into a global database for further study. The program recently received a $26,000 internal grant to buy a machine to uniformly pour samples onto thousands of plates. t NEWS BRIEFS Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 8


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NEW FACES New Dean Embraces ‘Unbridled Ambition’ The story of how Stella N. Batalama, Ph.D., embarked on her journey into higher education administration begins with her two-decade-long career at the University at Buffalo. “I was offered the opportunity to participate in the Faculty in Leadership Program. This experience triggered my interest,” she said. That interest has carried Batalama to FAU, where she is now dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science. “When the recruiter contacted me, I didn't even have my CV updated,” she said. “I liked the team a lot. They showed genuine interest in recruiting a candidate who would really help the college move forward.” Batalama received her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia and her undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science and engineering from the University of Patras in Greece. She has served as acting director of the Air Force Research Laboratory Center for Integrated Transmission and Exploitation. Batalama’s rise is something of a rarity. As of January 2017, there were only 57 female engineering deans or directors in the U.S. — or 15 percent of the total engineering college leaders in the U.S., according to the Society of Women Engineers. She’s an active member of the society, which aims to increase the representation and advancement of women and under-represented minorities in academic STEM careers. Her wide-ranging expertise includes cognitive and cooperative communications and networks, underwater signal processing and covert communications. Tasked with spearheading the college’s robust research and education programs, Batalama is well positioned for the job. Her work has been reported in more than 170 technical papers and she has been awarded more than $9 million in sponsored research funding. She is enthusiastic about elevating excellence within the college in keeping with the university's 9 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY NEW FACES Stella Batalama in the electronics lab in the Engineering East Building. pursuit of unbridled ambition. “I hope that we will become a leading college regionally, nationally and internationally,” she said. “We are raising our standards every day in everything we do and expect.” t Investigating the Biology of Drug Addiction As far back as she can remember, science fascinated Lucia Carvelli, Ph.D. During childhood in her native Italy, Carvelli said she was more interested in dissecting a chicken than learning how her mother seasoned or baked it. “I am the youngest in my family, and my older sisters were kind of afraid of me because I didn’t have a problem cutting things open,” she joked. Now she’s an associate professor of neuroscience in the Wilkes Honors College, and a researcher in the FAU Brain Institute with a secondary appointment in the College of Medicine. During her post-doctoral training in pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Carvelli landed in a lab investigating the dopamine transporter, a type of protein, and its relationship to drug abuse and addiction among amphetamine users. Amphetamines, such as Adderall, are central


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Lucia Carvelli, associate professor of neuroscience in the Wilkes Honors College, and a researcher in the Brain Institute with a secondary appointment in the College of Medicine. nervous system stimulants used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other conditions. Carvelli’s research, funded for five years by the National Institutes of Health, is investigating the molecular mechanisms that make adult animals remember the effects caused by amphetamine during prenatal development. She has found that if worm embryos are exposed to amphetamines, they respond more acutely as adults — which could shed light on human predisposition for addiction. Soon, she’ll teach an advanced-level class in the science of addiction. “Our students are excited to participate in the cutting-edge neuroscience research in her laboratory,” said Ellen Goldey, Ph.D., dean of the Honors College. t Wireless Communications ScholarJoins I-SENSE Acclaimed wireless communications scholar Dimitris Pados, Ph.D., has joined the Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE), where he will continue his cutting-edge research in autonomous communication systems, robust data analytics and localization. Pados’ path to I-SENSE began in high school, where his passion was pure mathematics. Later, as an undergraduate, he yearned to apply mathematical ideas to the real world, which led him straight to a career in engineering and technology. “When you approach these fields from an applied mathematics point of view, first you mathematically model in the best possible way the physical NEW FACES phenomena of interest to you, and then model the systems that you would like to build to interact with the physical world,” said Pados. “With these models, you are ready to manipulate and optimize system designs the way you want them.” His approach translates into innovations that, among other things, protect our national security: drones that reconfigure their signaling after they’ve been intentionally disrupted; underwater vehicles that navigate as if they had a GPS; and algorithms that allow researchers to extract information from severely damaged data. Pados comes to FAU with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia. His career includes teaching credentials from the University of Virginia and University of Louisiana, research work at the Air Force Research Laboratory, and a 20-year run at SUNY Buffalo, where he was named Clifford C. Furnas Chair Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and appointed department chair. “Dr. Pados is an internationally renowned scholar, with diverse expertise spanning a range of areas, from communication theory and systems, to antenna arrays and radar,” said Jason Hallstrom, Ph.D., I-SENSE director. “His most recent work on cognitive airborne networking, supported through the Air Force Research Laboratory, is groundbreaking in its potential to safeguard the nation’s wireless infrastructure.” In addition to continuing his research, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense, Pados eagerly anticipates working with doctoral students on their theses. He will also continue teaching one course every semester at the college, incorporating his research into graduate and undergraduate classes in communications, and data and signal processing. t Dimitris Pados, professor and I-SENSE fellow. FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 10


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FEATURE FEATURES SUCCESS BREEDS $23,062,050 298 $46,141,583 139 $63,422 Revenue Generated New Jobs Total Funds Invested Corporate Partnerships Average Salary Shining Example of FAU Tech Runway’s Success S ince launching in 2014, FAU Tech Runway has helped budding entrepreneurs secure more than $46 million in investor funding and generate $23 million in revenue. “The 52 companies that have graduated from FAU Tech Runway have created nearly 300 new jobs with an average salary of more than $63,000,” said Daniel C. Flynn, Ph.D., FAU’s vice president for research. “We look forward to the continuing launch of cutting-edge companies that will contribute to the economic vitality of FAU and Florida.” No FAU Tech Runway company has rocketed to success more quickly than EagleEye Intelligence, a game-changer in technology-driven public safety. The company is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur and FAU alum Scott Adams, who 11 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY was a key advisor during the launch of FAU Tech Runway.  FAU Tech Runway provides startups with free working space, expert mentoring, interns, Stanford’s Lean LaunchPad curriculum, access to angel and investor networks, and $25,000 awarded to the top four entrepreneurs. “I needed infrastructure and space, and it was very helpful to be close and involved in some of the early decisions as they unfolded as Tech Runway formed,” Adams said of his decision to launch EagleEye there. In two years, EagleEye has raised $14 million in venture capital and grown from two employees — Adams and co-founder Rex Ciavola — to 31. The company provides critical incident management solutions for public safety and security. Adams’ vision is to create safer communities by using advanced technology to gather and interpret data from multiple sources — think cameras, sensors, drones and other connected


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SUCCESS 63,422 49 53 94 FEATURE Entrepreneurship 52 verage Salary Intellectual Property FAU Students Employed devices and equipment — so law enforcement, military and security officials can make real-time decisions to prevent a crisis or respond to one. “Our goal is to get our first save. Save someone’s life who otherwise who would not be here without our technology.” — SCOTT ADAMS With its Intelligent Event Response technology, STRAX, EagleEye’s proprietary software platform, helps law enforcement with search and rescue missions, accident investigations, SWAT operations, fire rescue support, and disaster damage assessment and the ensuing recovery efforts. STRAX provides a critical incident management solution delivering real-time, tactical intelligence that enables responders and commanders to easily communicate. The company aided first responders and other rescue groups in the Florida Keys in the wake of Hurricane Irma, providing a bird’s-eye view of the Interns Engaged Companies Served *Oct. 2014 - Sept. 2017 damage, according to Eric Heatzig, EagleEye’s vice-president of research and development. A “real-time crime center” component uses artificial intelligence and analytics that can monitor thousands of video cameras. The center is integrated with crime databases to help solve crimes and more.   “When a 911 call comes in saying a child is getting put in the back of a blue Honda and they have a tag number … cameras can track it … and follow it,” Adams said.  Adams said his drive to succeed is fueled by a desire “to apply my talents to do something useful, meaningful and create safer communities using advanced technologies.” “Our goal is to get our first save. Save someone’s life who otherwise who would not be here without our technology.” t FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 12


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DRIVEN TO F AU alumnus Scott Adams attributes his core values to his upbringing in Keystone Heights, Fla., a speck on the map northeast of Gainesville, with a single traffic light and fewer than 2,000 residents. Adams has given generously to his alma mater, both in time and money, as an eight-year member of the FAU Board of Trustees and endowing The Adams Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business. WIN 13 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY


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EntrepreneurshipFEATURE “I’ve been fortunate to be an entrepreneur, and my education helped me figure things out,” he said. “I want to start a culture of giving back to entrepreneurs who have the same dream I did at their age, especially against all odds.” The Early Days Adams played football at Georgia’s Valdosta State University but soon “realized I was too slow and small and thought I better start worrying about school.” He transferred to FAU, where he and a roommate paid $600 a month for a dilapidated apartment, an amount Adams’ IBM salesman father thought seemed steep. My dad “thought we were living on the beach,” Adams recalls. Adams graduated in 1987 with a finance degree. Along the way he realized his affinity for formulas, programming, math and most of all, computers. “I’m an average student,” he said. “I had to take some classes more than once. My strength is not my IQ but my common sense, my persistence, stubbornness and drive to win. I may not always win, but I will never lose.” In his first job, he devised a job-costing system to figure out how much his boss should charge clients. He moved on to a copier and computer software company whose products never worked properly, landing Adams in the Mr. Fix-It role. He did such a good job, one customer hired him away. From Scrappy Startup to Great Fortune All the while, Adams supplemented his income with side jobs at Sears and painting houses while returning to school at night. He was a class away from earning a second degree in accounting when he serendipitously became a millionaire with the sale of an internet company he launched on the side. Hiway Technologies was born when a pager company Adams consulted for in the mid-1990s wanted a website during the internet’s infancy. Adams and a partner invested $4,000 apiece to buy a computer to host websites, operating it out of a spare bedroom. FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 14



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