Multidisciplinary Research

STEM scholars across disciplines are awarded funding to support research projects with potentially transformative real-world implications.

An inaugural effort to bring together scholars from disparate STEM disciplines to lead undergraduates in research projects handed out three one-year, $50,000 awards as part of the Seattle University College of Science and Engineering Multidisciplinary Research Program.

The initiative will pair biologists, mathematicians, engineers and computer scientists on projects to find long-term ways to preserve organs awaiting transplant, develop online simulations for STEM education and pioneer technology allowing people with mobility challenges, such as stroke survivors, to control robotic appendages using their eyes.

“We are living in an inherently multidisciplinary world,” says Dean Amit Shukla, PhD. “When we engage our students in that way, they get a unique experience that prepares them for what’s ahead when they graduate.”

The three teams receiving awards are:

  • Assistant Professor Ariana Mendible, PhD (Mathematics) and Assistant Teaching Professor Shen Ren, PhD (Mechanical Engineering) whose research is on the “Optimization of Cryoprotective Agents for Single-Mode Electromagnetic Resonant (SMER) Rewarming Technology to Enable Long-Term Organ Preservation”
  • Assistant Teaching Professor Lisa Milkowski, PhD (Computer Science) and Associate Professor Yen-Lin Han, PhD (Mechanical Engineering) whose research is on “Achieving Greater Human Dexterity Using Soft Robotics and Navigation Based on Eye Gaze.”
  • Associate Professor Rob Rutherford, PhD (Biology) and Assistant Professor Nate Kremer-Herman, PhD (Computer Science) whose research focuses on the “Expansion and Dissemination of SU’s Undergraduate Created Online Simulations to Support STEM Learning”

The program is in year one of three years of funding, made possible through a gift from Pat, ’69, and Mary V. Welch, ’69, ’76, longtime supporters of the College of Science and Engineering.

The money will support 15 undergraduates from a range of majors on the three research projects, giving them a chance to participate in high-level academic research, work with scholars from various STEM fields and task them with helping to solve real-life problems.

This exposure gives students vital experience working with others from different disciplines, mirroring the labs and offices they will enter after graduating and entering the workforce.

“Addressing the grand challenges of the future requires the ability to think creatively and apply tools and ideas from diverse disciplines,” says Chemistry Professor Jenny Loertscher, PhD, who is also the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs in the College of Science and Engineering. “Working in multidisciplinary teams, students will engage with problems, ideas and techniques that they may not encounter within their majors.”

Researcher Milkowski says there is synergy when scholars develop teams beyond their discipline and tap into the passion of students.

“Effective research thrives within an environment of continuous communication and collaboration, rather than isolated endeavors,” says Milkowski. “This collaborative framework nurtures inquiry and mutual assistance, guiding us all toward greater success in our research objectives.”

Written by Andrew Binion

Tuesday, August 29, 2023