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Research labs, centers and groups

Click on the links below to learn about selected research programs in:

Engineering for Human Health
Faculty strengths and cross-school collaboration include biomedical imaging, regenerative medicine, bioinformatics, waterborne disease, and metabolic engineering.

Tissue and Metabolic Engineering Laboratory
PI: Kyongbum Lee, Professor and Department Chair, Chemical and Biological Engineering
Researchers in the Tissue and Metabolic Engineering Laboratory study cellular metabolism and its role in directing biological function. The researchers' goals include gaining fundamental insights into the biochemical and biophysical cues contributing to the regulation of metabolic pathways, and developing technologies for assembling, characterizing and manipulating these systems. The vision is to translate these basic insights and technologies into applications leading to engineering practice and meaningful health outcomes.
Image: Confocoal microscopy images of human umbilical vein endothelial cells in co-culture with adipocytes
Diffuse Optical Imaging Group
PI: Sergio Fantini, Professor, Biomedical Engineering
In the Diffuse Optical Imaging Group, research activities include near-infrared spectroscopy of tissue for diagnostic, functional, and imaging applications. Light propagation in tissue is modeled with diffusion theory.
Image: Images from a novel imaging tool to detect breast cancer by using safe near-infrared light in a non-invasive and painless approach, producing optical density images and second-derivative images of a healthy human subject at every 0.5 nm in the wavelength range 650-900nm.
Initiative for the Forecasting and Modeling of Infectious Diseases
PI: Elena Naumova, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Researchers in the Tufts' Initiative for the Forecasting and Modeling of Infectious Diseases (InForMID) conduct research and provide a venue for training in the fields of computational epidemiology, conservation medicine, biostatistics, and bioinformatics with the emphasis on public health applications. The mission of the initiative is to improve the quality of biomedical research and health care by developing innovative analytical and computational tools and systems to life-science researchers, public health professionals, and policy makers.

Image: A 3D map illustrating part of the hydrogeology of Ciudadela San Martín, Nicaragua. The map shows water from a contaminated water table will flow directly toward the areas where mechanical pumps draw water to distribute to the community.
Ultrafast Nonlinear Optics and Biophotonics Laboratory
PI: Fiorenzo Omenetto, Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Researchers in the Ultrafast Nonlinear Optics and Biophotonics Laboratory are interested in engineered and biomimetic optical materials (such as photonic crystals and photonic crystal fibers) and novel/unconventional organic, sustainable optical materials for photonics and optoelectronics. In particular, in close collaboration with resident biopolymer expertise, we have pioneered silk optics and we are interested in the use of silk as a material for photonics and high technology applications.

Image: Silk can be nano-patterned with features smaller than 20nm. This allows manufacturing of structures, such as holographic gratings, phase masks, beam diffusers and photonic crystals out of a pure protein film. The properties of silk allow these devices to be "biologically activated" offering new opportunities for sensing and biophotonic components.
Tissue Engineering Resource Center
PI: David Kaplan, Stern Family Professor of Engineering, Department Chair, Biomedical Engineering
Areas of research and technological focus at the Tissue Engineering Resource Center include, but are not be limited to: scaffold designs to control stem cell differentiation; designing new scaffolds with consideration for mechanical function, rates of matrix remodeling, cell responses, and tissue outcomes; advanced bioreactor systems to impart controlled environmental stimuli to cells cultured on scaffolds; characterization of tissues through nondestructive imaging.

Image: Silk cocoons from the larvae of a moth, Bombyx mori, are used prominently in Kaplan's biomedical engineering research.

Engineering for Sustainability
Faculty strengths and collaborations encompass water and diplomacy, water quality, climate change mitigation, environmental remediation, smart structures, alternative energy, and smart grids.

Nano Catalysis & Energy Laboratory
PI: Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos, Robert and Marcy Haber Endowed Professor in Energy Sustainability, Chemical and Biological Engineering
Research conducted at the Tufts Nano-CEL aims at applying principles of heterogeneous catalysis to the solution of problems in the production of clean energy. These include catalytic fuel conversion to hydrogen-rich gas mixtures, and oxidation and reduction reactions that convert pollutants (CO, SO2, NOx) to innocuous species.

Image: Gold atoms and clusters are clearly visible in 5wt%Au/Fe2O3 catalyst particles used for CO oxidation and the water-gas shift reaction.

Renewable Energy & Applied Photonics Labs
PI: Thomas Vandervelde, Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
In the Renewable Energy & Applied Photonics (REAP) Labs, researchers study how light fundamentally interacts with matter and how that knowledge can be applied to create novel technologies. By focusing on materials physics, REAP researchers are able to make transformative improvements in applications for renewable energy and photodetectors.

Image: An SEM image of a wet chemistry based copper oxide and zinc oxide nanowire photovoltaic cell.
Integrated Multiphase Environmental Systems Laboratory
Director and PI: Andrew Ramsburg, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
PI: Linda Abriola, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
PI: Kurt Pennell, Chair and Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Researchers in the Integrated Multiphase Environmental Systems Laboratory (IMPES) lab use experiments and mathematical models to explore the processes that influence the persistence of contaminants and control the effectiveness of treatment. Representative application areas for IMPES laboratory research include: development of innovative remediation technologies; quantification of the benefits of partial mass removal in heterogeneous source-zone environments; reduction in the uncertainty of mass discharge estimates; subsurface fate and transport of nanoparticles; and evaluation of the in situ biotransformation of organic contaminants in low substrate environments.

Image: Emulsion-based technologies hold great promise for localized delivery of remedial amendments within the subsurface environment.
Water: Systems, Science, and Society
PI: Richard Vogel, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
The Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) Ph.D. and MA/MS research program provides the interdisciplinary perspectives and tools to manage water-related problems around the world. Research in the WSSS programs falls in six major areas: Water, Climate and Environmental Change; Water and Public Health; Water Pollution and Remediation Science; Watershed Management; Water, Food and Livelihood Security; and Water and National and International Security.

Image: Phytoplankton blooms, like this one in the Bay of Bengal, are one way that engineers, such as Shafik Islam, can forecast cholera outbreaks.

Engineering the Human/Technology Interface
Faculty strengths include development and dissemination of educational technologies, robotics and cognition, sensors, human factors engineering, visualization.

Human Robot Interaction Laboratory
PI: Matthias Scheutz, Professor, Computer Science
Researchers in the Human Robot Interaction Laboratory study affective control and evolution interactions between affect and cognition; cognitive robotics for human-robot interaction; embodied situated natural language interactions; multi-scale agent-based and cognitive modeling; and architecture development environments for complex robots.

Image: Research in the Human Robot Interaction Lab is focused on enabling robots to interact with people using natural language.

Nanoscale Integrated Sensors and Circuits Laboratory
PI: Sameer Sonkusale, Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Researchers in the Nano Lab utilize advances in emerging areas of nanotechnology, micro- and nano-fabrication and metamaterials with conventional areas of integrated circuits and systems for diverse applications in sensing, imaging, computing, communications, medical diagnostics and instrumentation.

Image: Flexible electronics (foreground) and unique metamaterials operating in terahertz frequencies (background) have diverse applications.
Panetta Laboratory for Imaging and Simulation
PI: Karen Panetta, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Associate Dean for Graduate Engineering Education
The Panetta Laboratory conducts research in Imaging, Recognition Systems, Simulation and Data Fusion. The laboratory develops algorithms for robot vision applications and imaging applications such as detection of tumors, detection of threat objects, and recognition systems such as facial recognition. This laboratory uses the concept of "Human Visual System Modeling" as the foundation for many applications. For instance, if an image is enhanced, how do you know what enhancement method resulted in the best visual image? Usually, we use human subjective evaluation. This is not feasible in real time or robot vision applications that need to work autonomously. Our algorithms allow computers to "see" and evaluate images as a human does and use this knowledge to enhance images and video.

Image: Underwater image from the Air Asia plane disaster (left); Enhanced image using Panetta Laboratory image-enhancement algorithms (right).