2024–26 Joint EMHSeed & XSeed grant recipients announced

June 12, 2024 by Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

The Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering (FASE) Research Office is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2024-2026 Joint EMHSeed & XSeed Funding Program.

Initiated in 2015, the Joint Seed Program is an interdivisional research funding program designed to promote multi-disciplinary research and catalyze new innovative partnerships between researchers from FASE and those from outside of engineering — including from the Faculty of Arts & Science. The recipients for this year will undertake unique and innovative research initiatives ranging from developing bioinoculant strategies to equitable healthcare and advanced imaging techniques.

A&S co-lead projects:

Understanding Antibody Responses Through Spatial Analysis
Co-Applicants: Aereas Aung (Institute of Biomedical Engineering) & Sidhartha Goyal (Department of Physics)

Antibodies are a major outcome of vaccination. However, protective immunity requires high affinity antibodies to tightly bind and neutralize pathogens. Unique to B cells that express these antibodies, they can undergo affinity maturation to adaptively improve the binding affinity of their antibodies to foreign antigens. Tools capable of spatially analyzing antibody properties on B cells have yet to be created, limiting the study of how spatial heterogeneity impacts antibody production. This project will develop an imaging-based platform that melds experimental and theoretical approaches to characterize the binding affinities of antibodies on different cohorts of B cells responding to a vaccine and undergoing affinity maturation. With this technology, Aung and Goyal aim to provide insights that could revolutionize vaccine design, tailoring immune responses for enhanced efficacy against infectious diseases.

GPU-Accelerated Radiative General Relativistic Magnetohydrodynamics Toolkit on Cubed-Sphere Meshes for Plasma-Astrophysics
Co-Applicants: Clinton Groth (University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies) & Bart Ripperda (Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics)

Emission from astrophysical systems, like black holes or radiation from the sun, is governed by small-scale interactions between photons and the surrounding plasma. To understand and predict this emission, it is essential to resolve both the large astrophysical scales and the small interaction scale. Due to the nonlinear nature of these interactions, high-accuracy numerical methods are essential to solve this problem. This research project aims to develop a first-of-its-kind radiation magnetohydrodynamics method in strong gravity to study emissions from black holes in the centers of galaxies. Using these proposed methods, Groth and Ripperda will explore similarities between winds and jets from black holes and the sun, and their interaction at large scales with the interstellar medium and Earth’s magnetosphere.

Scanning Van Der Waals Microscope (SVM) for Measuring Interlayer Properties Between 2D Materials
Co-Applicants: Tobin Filleter (Mechanical & Industrial Engineering) & Sergio de la Barrera (Department of Physics)

Two-dimensional (2D) materials like graphene hold great promise as platforms for exploring quantum effects and act as essential building blocks for flexible electronics, novel sensors, and quantum devices. Nearly all applications of 2D materials involve multiple 2D layers to provide stability and environmental isolation. This research collaboration will explore interlayer properties in multilayer structures comprising 2D “van der Waals” materials, like graphene. Barrera and Filleter will design and build a new scanning van der Waals microscope (SVM), that provides increased control over the relative position and orientation of 2D layers and the ability to alter the structure and measure its properties in situ, expanding the field of flexible electronics, quantum devices, sensors, and other related applications.

Fearless High-Level Synthesis with Rust
Co-Applicants: Mark Jeffrey (Electrical and Computer Engineering) & Ningning Xie (Department of Computer Science)

The 50-year era of improvement for general-purpose compute is nearing its end. Massively parallel, specialized hardware is the way forward for future performance, but demands inordinate cost and effort. This project aims to empower application developers in productively constructing specialized hardware using cost-effective reconfigurable fabrics. Jeffrey and Xie plan to develop a high-level synthesis (HLS) system based on Rust, a rapidly emerging systems programming language known for its performance, type safety, and fearless concurrency features. This project combines type systems, data race detection, task parallelism, compilers, and semantics design to address the evolving landscape of hardware design and performance optimization.

For all projects, visit the FASE website