UCLA Engineering Professor Aydogan Ozcan Receives Several Accolades for His Work

May 28, 2010

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

National Science Foundation’s 2010 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award:

Aydogan Ozcan, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and a researcher at the California NanoSystems Institute, has received a highly competitive and prestigious National Science Foundation 2010 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award.

Ozcan will use the award for his research on lensfree imaging for telemedicine tools. His group has invented a miniaturized lensfree microscope for use as a telemedicine tool. Their microscope is robust and ultra-portable, a tool capable of functioning as a mobile blood analysis lab to diagnose and track diseases such as malaria and HIV. The microscope operates automatically once the sample of saliva or a blood smear is loaded using a small chip that fits into a slot on the side of the device. Results are then sent wirelessly to centralized hospitals for analysis, filling in for the lack of health care infrastructure in many parts of the world.

The CAREER award is the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. Such activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

National Geographic’s 2010 Emerging Explorer Award:

Fourteen visionary, young trailblazers from around the world – including an electrical engineer, a musician, a bioarchaeologist, a mobile technology innovator and a herpetologist – have been named to the 2010 class of National Geographic Emerging Explorers.

National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers Program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring adventurers, scientists, photographers and storytellers making a significant contribution to world knowledge through exploration while still early in their careers. The Emerging Explorers each receive a $10,000 award to assist with research and to aid further exploration. PNY Technologies is a presenting sponsor of the Emerging Explorers Program and a National Geographic Mission Partner for Exploration & Adventure. The program is made possible in part by the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, which has supported the program since its inception in 2004.

The 2010 Emerging Explorers are environmental scientist Saleem H. Ali; mobile technology innovator Ken Banks; wildlife biologist Aparajita Datta; agroecologist Jerry Glover; bioarchaeologist Christine Lee; research scientist and engineer Albert Yu-Min Lin; paleontologist Bolortsetseg Minjin; educator and activist Kakenya Ntaiya; electrical engineer Aydogan Ozcan; musician and activist Feliciano dos Santos; molecular biologist Beth Shapiro; wildlife researcher and conservationist Emma Stokes; herpetologist-toxinologist Zoltan Takacs; and marine biologist and conservationist Jose Urteaga.

The new Emerging Explorers are introduced in the June 2010 issue of National Geographic magazine. A Web feature at http://www.nationalgeographic.com/emerging includes comprehensive profiles of the explorers.

Grand Challenges Explorations Grant:

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced 78 grants of $100,000 each in their latest round of Grand Challenges Explorations. One of these grants has been awarded to Aydogan Ozcan, assistant professor of electrical engineering at UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and researcher at the California NanoSystems Institute, for a project titled “Compact and Cost-effective Testing of Blood Samples in the Field using Digital Holography on a Wireless Phone.”

To receive funding, Ozcan showed in a two-page application how his idea falls outside current scientific paradigms and might lead to significant advances in global health. The initiative is highly competitive, receiving almost 2,700 proposals in this round.

Building on a lens-free imaging system Ozcan invented, his group has created a miniature microscope which can be integrated with a cell phone for rapid, automated and accurate diagnosis of malaria in resource limited settings. This on-chip cell phone microscope is based on digital holography and does not require any lenses, lasers or other bulky components making it extremely cost-effective and compact.

Imaging System Milestone:

Simplicity rarely comes without a tradeoff, but newly reported advances in the capabilities of a lensfree on-chip imaging system invented by the Ozcan Research Group at UCLA might be an exception to the rule.

The advances were published online in the journal Optics Express and show Ozcan Group’s lensfree system capable of sub-micron resolution while imaging with a field-of-view over 100 fold greater than conventional microscopes with a similar resolution. The authors of this work are Aydogan Ozcan, Waheb Bishara, and graduate students Ting-Wei Su and Ahmet Coskun.

With a larger field-of-view, the lensfree on-chip imager does not need to be precisely aligned, making it possible to operate with minimal training. Also, sample analysis is done automatically, through custom designed algorithms which identify and count microparticles such as red or white blood cells.

Ease of use is important because Ozcan, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, and a researcher at the California NanoSystems Institute, intends for this lensfree on-chip imaging system to be part of telemedicine networks in resource limited settings where trained personnel are in short supply.

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