Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory/U.S. Dept. of Energy
Six science and technology innovators from across the United States will join the fifth cohort of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Innovation Crossroads program in June. As the Southeast’s only research and development program for entrepreneurs based at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory, Innovation Crossroads provides unique support to science-based startups to help advance game-changing technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace.
Innovation Crossroads is sponsored by DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.
New this year, DOE’s Building Technologies Office is supporting an innovator in building energy efficiency research. The Tennessee Valley Authority once again joins as a program sponsor for the third year enabling an innovator focused on energy-related research.
The six innovators were selected through a merit-based process and will have the opportunity to advance technologies they aim to commercialize by working with world-class science experts and unique capabilities at ORNL. These include Summit, the nation’s most powerful supercomputer; the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, DOE’s largest advanced manufacturing research center; the Building Technologies Research and Integration Center, DOE’s only user facility dedicated to buildings research; and the Spallation Neutron Source, offering atomic-level insight into materials. The innovators will be partnered with a network of mentoring organizations in the Southeast to help develop business strategies to move their technology breakthroughs into the market.
The fifth Innovation Crossroads cohort of fellows and respective projects include:
Caleb Alexander: Sodium ion membrane for high energy, low-cost sodium-air battery
Alexander’s aquaeous sodium-air battery can achieve the highest energy density possible while using low-cost elements like sodium, which is free to acquire as it’s found in oceans. The sodium-air battery will allow industry to economically transition to solar and wind energy, while making electric vehicles affordable, same day drone delivery possible, and even electric aviation technically feasible. Manufacturing of the battery will use a novel roll-to-roll manufacturing process to create flexible, stable, fast conducting sodium-ion composite membranes with stable and active oxygen catalysts. Alexander holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Texas.
Sam Evans: Carbon supported magnetic nano-absorbent
Evans has developed a new water filtration process using waste tire-derived mesoporous carbon infiltrated with magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles to bind to contaminants in water and then be easily filtered out by magnets. By having the nanoparticles occupy the carbon’s porous framework, they do not degrade from interaction with the surrounding air. Iron oxide nanoparticles give the material properties improved stability, increased magnetic response and enhanced adsorption. The combination of the carbon support and magnetic iron nanoparticles allows for a higher adsorption capacity of a wider range of toxic contaminants. Evans holds a doctorate in energy science and engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Tommy Gibbons: Energy-efficient, carbon-negative, bio-based insulation
Gibbons has developed hemp fiber insulation that is non-toxic, high-performing and carbon-negative to make. The hemp-based product can drastically reduce a building’s carbon footprint while increasing the occupant’s health and comfort. The fire resistant material also has the potential to achieve a high R-value, which denotes efficiency. Hemp-based insulation releases zero carbon and can be manufactured at a lower cost because the material can be sourced wholly in the U.S. Gibbons holds an undergraduate degree in public policy from Princeton University and is a certified green associate from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Shuchi “SK” Khurana: Real-time monitoring of metal additive manufacturing
Khurana has created a platform for in-process monitoring of additive manufacturing, using an artificial intelligence model to determine defects based on images collected during the manufacturing process. By deploying a combination of infrared and near-infrared cameras, the accuracy of detected defects can be improved. The monitoring technology improves the efficiency of additive manufacturing and results in the production of higher quality components. It’s anticipated to lead to an increase in the adoption of metal additive manufacturing for production-ready components. Khurana holds master’s degrees in business administration and science from Ohio State University.
Forrest Shriver: Database construction using machine learning for cyber-attack detection
Shriver has developed a continuous, automatic learning system for building asset-specific operational databases. The technology performs collection and summarization of high-throughput data sources that remain robust under variable conditions, where the amount of data flowing in at one point in time may be significantly different in terms of volume and importance to the data flowing in at another point in time. The secure system also removes the need for manually supervised data collection and is anticipated to be scalable and deployable across diverse industries. Shriver holds a doctorate in nuclear engineering from the University of Florida.
Philip Stuckey: 3D hierarchical separator and catalyst support system for fuel cells
Stuckey’s novel bi-polar plate separators provide a robust structure to meet the demands for fuel cell stack durability while extending the lifetime of a fuel cell’s electrocatalyst. By utilizing a novel catalyst support system and process to revitalize and renew the platinum group catalysts at the fuel cell electrode, the fuel cell durability and efficiency will increase. This process will also lower the overall cost of the fuel cell vehicle over its lifetime. Stuckey holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from Case Western Reserve University.
“We look forward to welcoming this new cohort of innovators to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory campus and the Innovation Crossroads program,” said Moe Khaleel, ORNL’s interim deputy for science and technology and projects. “These diverse entrepreneurs are developing technologies that will significantly enhance manufacturing, transportation, building technologies and energy applications across the U.S. and will be part of our place-based innovation in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge area with opportunities to work with great firms in the Southeast.”
Innovators will receive a two-year fellowship that provides a cost-of-living stipend, comprehensive business development plan assistance and up to $200,000 toward collaborative R&D at ORNL, the nation’s largest science and energy laboratory. Innovation Crossroads welcomed the first cohort of innovators in May 2017. The program is part of the Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program – created by the Advanced Manufacturing Office within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy – to help guide and support science-based startups advance world-class technologies from the lab to the marketplace. The Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program addresses critical gaps in human capital by providing fellowships and institutional homes where talented innovators become first-time entrepreneurs.
“Through Innovation Crossroads, the Advanced Manufacturing Office connects scientists and engineers with the resources and mentors they need to transform promising ideas into breakthrough energy and manufacturing technologies,” said Michael McKittrick, AMO’s acting director. “This latest group of innovators joins the program with a host of ideas that could help increase the competitiveness of the U.S. manufacturing sector and make our clean energy future possible.”
“We are excited to sponsor the first Building Technologies Office fellow at Innovation Crossroads,” said Mary Hubbard, BTO’s technology-to-market manager. “We look forward to seeing the impact our innovator will have on high-performance, low-carbon building materials. Moving these kinds of materials into highly market adopted products will put the U.S. on the path to a carbon-free buildings sector by 2050.”
“Science-based startup companies are developing and amplifying ground-breaking technologies that will help to shape the future,” said Joe Hoagland, TVA’s vice president of innovation and research. “TVA is pleased to continue our partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and honored to support this class of visionaries. They are developing innovative technologies with the potential to make real differences for the people we serve in the Tennessee Valley, as well as for everyone across the country and around the world.”
Applications for cohort six of Innovation Crossroads will open in fall 2021.
DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality and economic vitality.
EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office supports applied research to advance innovation in U.S. manufacturing and promote American economic growth and energy security.
The Building Technologies Office develops, demonstrates and accelerates the adoption of cost-effective technologies, techniques, tools and services that enable high-performing, energy-efficient and demand-flexible residential and commercial buildings in both the new and existing buildings markets.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system, and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.
UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science.
No health worries for children born to mothers given seasonal flu vaccine in pregnancy
uOttawa/CHEO study finds no increased risk of early childhood health issues following exposure to seasonal flu vaccination during pregnancy
A population-based study, published today in JAMA, has found flu vaccination during pregnancy does not lead to an increased risk of adverse early childhood health outcomes.
Although pregnant people are not more susceptible to acquiring influenza infection, they are at an increased risk of severe illness and complications if they get the flu during pregnancy. For this reason, all pregnant people are advised to receive a flu shot each year, yet only 36 percent received it according to a study monitoring four flu seasons in Nova Scotia. Safety concerns are reportedly a leading reason people may not receive influenza vaccination in pregnancy.
Dr. Deshayne Fell, an Associate Professor of Epidemiology in the Faculty of Medicine at uOttawa and a Scientist at the CHEO Research Institute, a pediatric healthcare and research centre, led the study along with researchers in Ontario and at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. The study followed over 28,000 children from birth up to an average age of 3 ½ years, with the results suggesting that maternal influenza vaccination during pregnancy was not associated with:
– Immune-related health conditions, such as asthma, ear infections or other types of infection.
– Non-immune-related health problems like neoplasms, sensory impairment.
– Nonspecific health needs such as Emergency Department visits and hospitalizations did not increase.
“This study adds to what we know from other recent studies showing no harmful effects of flu vaccination during pregnancy on the longer-term health of children,” says Dr. Fell, whose other recent work includes studying the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy. “This is important because we know that getting the flu shot during pregnancy not only protects the pregnant person, but has the added bonus of protecting newborn babies from getting the flu during their first few months of life, which is when they are most susceptible to respiratory infections but still too young to get the flu shot themselves.”
The study, Association of Maternal Influenza Vaccination During Pregnancy with Early Childhood Health Outcomes, is published in JAMA.
About the University of Ottawa
The University of Ottawa is home to over 50,000 students, faculty and staff, who live, work and study in both French and English. Our campus is a crossroads of cultures and ideas, where bold minds come together to inspire game-changing ideas. We are one of Canada’s top 10 research universities–our professors and researchers explore new approaches to today’s challenges. One of a handful of Canadian universities ranked among the top 200 in the world, we attract exceptional thinkers and welcome diverse perspectives from across the globe. http://www.
Dedicated to the best life for every child and youth, CHEO is a global leader in pediatric health care and research. Based in Ottawa, CHEO includes a hospital, children’s treatment centre, school and research institute, with satellite services located throughout Eastern Ontario. CHEO provides excellence in complex pediatric care, research and education. We are committed to partnering with families and the community to provide exceptional care — where, when and how it’s needed. CHEO is a partner of the Kids Come First Health Team, a network of partners working to create a high quality, standardized and coordinated system for pediatric health care that is centred around children, youth and their families. Every year, CHEO helps more than 500,000 children and youth from Eastern Ontario, western Quebec, Nunavut and Northern Ontario. http://www.
How your phone can predict depression and lead to personalized treatment
Study used data from cell phone apps and watches, brain activity and lifestyle factors to generate predictions of depression; results could lead to individualized treatment plans for mental health
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the World Health Organization, depression affects 16 million Americans and 322 million people worldwide. Emerging evidence suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic is further exacerbating the prevalence of depression in the general population. With this trajectory, it is evident that more effective strategies are needed for therapeutics that address this critical public health issue.
In a recent study, publishing in the June 9, 2021 online edition of Nature Translational Psychiatry, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine used a combination of modalities, such as measuring brain function, cognition and lifestyle factors, to generate individualized predictions of depression.
The machine learning and personalized approach took into account several factors related to an individual’s subjective symptoms, such as sleep, exercise, diet, stress, cognitive performance and brain activity.
“There are different underlying reasons and causes for depression,” said Jyoti Mishra, PhD, senior author of the study, director of NEATLabs and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Simply put, current health care standards are mostly just asking people how they feel and then writing a prescription for medication. Those first-line treatments have been shown to be only mild to moderately effective in large trials.
“Depression is a multifaceted illness, and we need to approach it with personalized treatment whether that be therapy with a mental health professional, more exercise or a combination of approaches.”
The one-month study collected data from 14 participants with depression using smartphone applications and wearables (like smart watches) to measure mood and lifestyle variables of sleep, exercise, diet and stress, and paired these with cognitive evaluations and electroencephalography, using electrodes on the scalp to record brain activity.
The goal was not to make any comparisons across individuals, but to model the predictors of each person’s daily fluctuations in depressed mood.
The researchers developed a new machine-learning pipeline to systematically identify distinct predictors of low mood in each individual.
As an example, exercise and daily caffeine intake emerged as strong predictors of mood for one participant, but for another, it was sleep and stress that were more predictive, while in a third subject, the top predictors were brain function and cognitive responses to rewards.
“We should not be approaching mental health as one size fits all. Patients will benefit by having more direct and quantified insight onto how specific behaviors may be feeding their depression. Clinicians can leverage this data to understand how their patients might be feeling and better integrate medical and behavioral approaches for improving and sustaining mental health,” said Mishra.
“Our study shows that we can use the technology and tools that are readily available, like cell phone apps, to collect information from individuals with or at risk for depression, without significant burden to them, and then harness that information to design personalized treatment plans.”
Mishra said next steps include examining if the personalized treatment plans guided by the data and machine learning are effective.
“Our findings could have broader implications than depression. Anyone seeking greater well-being could benefit from insights quantified from their own data. If I don’t know what is wrong, how do I know how to feel better?”
Co-authors include: Rutvik Shah, Gillian Grennan, MariamZafar-Khan, Fahad Alim, Sujit Dey, all with UC San Diego; and Dhakshin Ramanathan with UC San Diego and the VA San Diego Medical Center.
Disclosure: Shah, Dey and Mishra have an Invention Disclosure filed for “Personalized Machine Learning of Depressed Mood using Wearables.”
The buck stops where? UNH research records longest-ever deer distance
DURHAM, N.H.–Why did the deer cross the road? According to research from the University of New Hampshire to keep going and going and going. Researchers have discovered the longest distance ever recorded by an adult male white-tailed deer–300 kilometers, or close to 200 miles, in just over three weeks. The finding has important implications for population management and the transmission of disease, especially chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease.
“Deer are one of the most abundant, well-known and intensely managed species of wildlife in the United States,” said Remington Moll, assistant professor of wildlife ecology and lead author. “So, to make this discovery despite the fact that they are so well studied is pretty surprising.”
In their study, published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, researchers analyzed data from GPS radio collars on more than 600 deer in Missouri. One dispersal, or long-distance journey, of an adult white-tailed deer stood out for its length, duration and age of the deer. The buck travelled close to 300 kilometers over 22 days by moving an average of 13.6 kilometers per day (almost eight and a half miles), crossing a major river seven times, an interstate highway, a railroad and eight state highways. To confirm the findings, the researchers surveyed the scientific literature for other dispersals of white-tailed deer. The deer, known as N17003, stood head and antlers above others; his walkabout was 174 kilometers longer than any other recorded for an adult male deer.
“This extraordinary movement just jumped out from the others we tracked,” said Moll. “At first, we thought it was an error. It looks like someone took the GPS collar and drove across the state of Missouri.”
The findings were remarkable not only for the deer’s range–he roamed a distance equal to that between New York City and Baltimore–but also because unlike juvenile males, who move to seek breeding opportunities, adult males tend to stay put. Movements were faster and more directional than those in their home territory and were faster and more directional at night than during the day when the deer frequently sheltered in forest cover. The journey, which happened in November 2017, occurred during hunting season.
“We call this a rare event, but we haven’t been putting collars out for that long, and not in these large numbers,” said Moll. “It’s entirely possible that it could be happening with greater frequency than we’ve known.”
Nearly eight million Americans hunt deer which contributes more than $20 billion to the U.S. economy. The researchers say that understanding the distance deer travel and how they do it is important for managing the species and controlling chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease spread by direct contact and the environment. Knowing that deer are crossing county or even state lines highlights a need for regional management coordination.
Funding for this study was provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Montana.
Co-authors are Jon Roberts and Joshua Millspaugh, University of Montana; Kevyn Wiskirchen, Jason Sumners, Jason Isabelle and Barbara Keller, Missouri Department of Conservation; and Robert Montgomery, Michigan State University.
The >University of New Hampshire inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation, and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top-ranked programs in business, engineering, law, health and human services, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. As one of the nation’s highest-performing research universities, UNH partners with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, and receives more than $110 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.
PHOTOS FOR DOWNLOAD
Credit: Missouri Department of Conservation
Caption: Fleeting glimpse of an adult white-tailed deer, known as N17003, that traveled the longest distance ever recorded by a UNH researcher – over 200 miles in 22 days.
Caption: Map chronicling the multi-county journey of an adult white-tailed deer, known as N17003, traveling the longest distance ever recorded – over 300 kilometers in just over three weeks.
Serenading Lusitanian toadfish drowned out by water traffic
During spring, Lusitanian toadfish (Halobatrachus didactylus) suitors form choirs in Portugal’s Tagus estuary to serenade the females, vibrating their swim bladders to produce a call, known as a boatwhistle, which sounds like a vibrating cell phone. The males also listen in on each other to check whether anyone is intruding on their territory. But sadly, their performances are no longer conducted in hushed reverence. Revving motorboats and churning ferry propellors and engines fill the water with unwelcome noise, which made Clara Amorim, Daniel Alves, Manuel Vieira and Paulo Fonseca, from the Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal, wonder whether human noise pollution is playing havoc with the garrulous fish’s ability to communicate. They publish their discovery that toadfish serenades are being drowned out by water traffic that also disrupts their ability to croon together in Journal of Experimental Biology at https:/
‘We had previously measured how far toadfishes could communicate with each other’, says Alves, who worked with local fisherman to collect the vocal fish. Once the fish were comfortable in the lab, Alves and Fonseca tested their hearing by playing boatwhistles – which had been recorded at distances from 0.1-15 m – while logging the fishes’ brainwaves as they listened to the sound against a silent background. Then, the duo added the whine of an outboard motor or a rumbling ferryboat and rechecked the brainwaves, to find out whether the fish were still able to hear the serenades.
Unfortunately, the outboard motor almost completely drowned out the recordings of the males. One boatwhistle that had been clear up to 10.4 m away in absolute silence became inaudible over distances of more than 2.5 m and the range of another toadfish rumble fell to just 2.0 m. However, the ferryboat seemed to have less of an impact on the toadfishes’ hearing, cutting the range over which one boatwhistle could be heard by 4 m, to 6.3 m, while the other, which had been so badly affected by the outboard motor, could be heard over slightly longer distances (6.7 m). Water traffic is clearly affecting the ability of these vocal fish to hear one another, but does the sound of passing vessels affect how harmonising toadfish croon together?
To find out, Vieira, Amorim and Fonseca crossed the Tagus to a quiet toadfish breeding ground, providing the serenading residents with 12 custom-built concrete nests, each equipped with an underwater microphone to record their boatwhistles as they settled into duetting with nearby males to attract females. In peaceful waters, the neighbours coordinated well, slightly advancing or delaying their responses to each other’s calls depending on their proximity. However, when the scientists played recordings of passing ferries and motorboats to the courting males, the toadfishes’ coordination broke down entirely, with serenading duetters interjecting more randomly between their neighbour’s timed rumbles.
‘These results demonstrate that boat noise can severely reduce the distance at which the Lusitanian toadfish can communicate and affect how they produce sounds in their choruses’, says Vieira, who warns that noisy human water traffic could dramatically affect the Lusitanian toadfish’s love life.
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