December 2012 issue:
Growing up in Tanzania, Samson Kiware suffered through the pain and fever of malaria more times than he can count. Now the doctoral student is taking his revenge on the disease with two unlikely weapons: math and mosquitoes.
Kiware was studying computer science and mathematics at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., when he met Dr. George Corliss, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering. Their chance meeting at church led to Kiware’s internship with the College of Engineering’s GasDay Lab, which helps predict natural gas demand for utilities across the country.
Corliss encouraged Kiware to pursue graduate studies at Marquette. That’s when Kiware realized he could put his passion for mathematical modeling to work in the health field and “do something that can benefit my country,” Kiware says.
“Malaria is treatable, but a lot of people die because they don’t have access to treatment,” he says.
One of Kiware’s research projects is to develop models for a system in which mosquitoes kill their offspring by transferring insecticides to their breeding sites.
For environmental and cost reasons, it’s not feasible to spray insecticide everywhere, and “who knows their homes better than mosquitoes?” Kiware asks. His models will help guide field trials for the technique and eventually predict its impact on malaria elimination. If it works well, the approach could be applied to other malaria-prone parts of the world.
Kiware is working with the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, and his research is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Marquette’s Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science; and the GasDay Lab. He is splitting his time between Milwaukee and Tanzania while finishing his doctorate.
“If you’re trying to come up with the models, you have to make sure they will work in the field,” Kiware says.
After he finishes his degree, Kiware will continue his research in Tanzania. At some point, he hopes the threat of malaria will subside so he can move on to research other health issues.
“The goal,” he says with a smile, “is to work myself out of this job as soon as possible.”
According to the World Malaria Report 2011, most deaths occur among children living in Africa, where a child dies every minute from malaria.
A team of researchers from Marquette University and the Medical College of Wisconsin received a one-year, $50,000 grant from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin (CTSI) to evaluate how patient perception affects the success of prosthetic and orthotic lower limb devices.
Joseph Schimmels, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering at Marquette University, is the primary investigator of the grant; co-primary investigators are David Del Toro, M.D., Ph.D., Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin; Stephen Guastello, Ph.D., professor of psychology; Jessica Fritz, senior research technician, biomedical engineering; and Philip Voglewede, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Marquette University. The team will conduct some of their research at the Clement Zablocki VA Medical Center.
When prosthetic and orthotic devices are engineered, patient perception is not typically part of the design process, according to Dr. Schimmels. In this study, a multidisciplinary team of engineers, clinicians, and psychologists will work together to better understand how patients utilizing these devices perceive and evaluate their quality, and how those perceptions can be incorporated into engineering design criteria. The ultimate goal is to improve the design of lower limb prosthetics and orthotics so that patients are more accepting of the devices.
This is one of 19 pilot projects being funded in 2012 through CTSI. The goal is to create synergy through collaboration, and studies are specifically designed to lead to major research support. The projects explore findings that have the potential to be translated into clinical practice and community health, and are led by investigators at the CTSI’s eight partnering institutions: Marquette University, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee School of Engineering, UW-Milwaukee, Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the VA Medical Center, and the BloodCenter of Wisconsin.
Two senior design teams under the direction of Dr. Phil Voglewede, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Dr. Jon Koch, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, tackled the challenge of making a more energy-efficient appliance by combining two appliances: a water heater and a clothes dryer. The teams wanted to build a machine that would use the waste heat from a clothes dryer to heat water for the next wash load. Their design took second place at the national ultra-low energy appliance design competition last year.
We settled on the gas-burner idea because normally, the burners run for an hour a day, so why not make something that has one burner and make it work for two appliances at once?” Koch explains.
Wade Loofboro, a graduate student at the school, says the project appealed to him as “innovative and really challenging.”
“Clothes dryers haven’t been regulated by the Energy Star program, and I think that what we saw with water extraction, there was a huge potential to get water out more efficiently,” he says. “And with the whole idea of storage tank water heaters, we knew there were great strides being made in terms of efficiency but that they were coming at great cost.” Learn more.
Participating students on Team A: Brian Chandler, David Dicker, Jason Gaska, Stephen Ioannou, Wade Loofboro, Kari Nabrzyski and Jeremy Polcyn; on Team B: Alyssa Albrecht, Ryan Chingway, Christopher Everson, Julien Jacque, Joseph Prisco and Kyle Stifter.Back to top
Tech4POD researcher and Marquette University graduate student John Jameson recently showcased his work on bone imaging in osteogenesis imperfecta during a segment filmed for the California Academy of Sciences’ “Science in Action” series entitled The Advanced Light Source. The series strives to make science more accessible for everyone and discuss its impact on our daily lives. The California Academy of Sciences is among the largest museums of natural history in the world.
John is conducting leading-edge bone research on osteogenesis imperfecta as part of a two-year guest fellowship at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. The Advanced Light Source (ALS) is a particle accelerator at the lab that is capable of producing x-rays that are one billion times brighter than the sun. The video shows how scientists like John are using this unique tool to tackle many important issues, from global climate change to drug development. The data gathered at the ALS is used to develop new technologies that continue to shape our everyday lives such as faster computer chips, more efficient fuel cells, lighter jet engines, and even new drug treatment therapies.
John’s work at the ALS focuses on understanding fundamental changes to bone structure in osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) that may play a role in its brittleness. He uses x-ray micro-computed tomography, an imaging technique for examining tiny, 3-D structures inside a material. Although similar in principle, the tomography system at the ALS is different from a typical CAT scan that one might receive at a hospital because it can resolve structures over ten times smaller than a human hair. By comparing these 3-D characteristics to mechanical properties such as strength and toughness, John hopes to improve our understanding of OI. This information is vital to the discovery and evaluation of new assessment techniques and treatment strategies.
From developing a powered prosthetic ankle that improves the quality of life of lower-leg amputees to identifying the most effective microbes in treating biodegradable waste, the research conducted by our professors and graduate fellows earned notice in the 2011-12 academic year.
Warmest wishes for a joyous holiday season to you and your family. Our hope is that 2013 will be a year of joy and peace.
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