UMass Lowell research projects receive nearly $12 million in federal funding

UMass Lowell research projects, ranging from developing new protective gear and sensors to ensure food and water are safe to advanced wireless communications, were recently awarded nearly $12 million in federal funding through the Fiscal Year 20 Defense Appropriations bill.

"UMass Lowell's HEROES collaborative has a long history of developing vitally important initiatives that keep our troops safe and healthy," said Congresswoman Lori Trahan. "When I toured the center last year, I saw firsthand the incredible work being done to reimagine new uniforms that protect our troops and come up with innovative ways to protect their food and water supplies. This increase in funding shows just how necessary their work is to our men and women in the armed forces. I look forward to joining Senators Warren and Markey in continuing to support the innovation of the university, the HEROES program and the Combat Capabilities Soldier Center."

The scale of this funding is a powerful demonstration of the expertise of our outstanding faculty and researchers as well as clear evidence of the important role UMass Lowell plays as a national research institution. We are especially grateful to Rep. Trahan and other members of the Massachusetts legislative delegation for their help in securing this research funding as well as their ongoing support of this university."

Jacquie Moloney, UMass Lowell Chancellor

"This new federal funding will allow UMass Lowell and its industry, government, and academic partners to conduct research that will advance technology to improve health, safety, energy and sustainability," said Julie Chen, UMass Lowell vice chancellor of research and economic development. "It leverages earlier capital investments from the state through MassTech and MassCEC to help develop new innovations and accelerate integration."

Two dozen projects are being conducted through UMass Lowell's HEROES (Harnessing Emerging Research Opportunities to Empower Soldiers) collaborative, which works with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center (CCDC SC), formerly known as Natick Labs.

"This year, we have the opportunity to expand HEROES to exciting new areas that address a wide range of soldier needs that include testing and augmenting capabilities of unmanned aerial systems, testing of human augmentation systems, integrated protection through multifunctional materials, addressing nutritional needs and sensors for food and water. This will also provide the opportunity for CCDC SC scientists and engineers to work closely with UMass Lowell faculty and students from across the university on numerous projects," said Prof. Ramaswamy Nagarajan, co-director of HEROES.

In addition to the funding for HEROES, a joint UMass Lowell-Stony Brook research project on energy resiliency received $7.36 million. UMass Lowell's share will be $3.7 million and together, the research team will work to address the Navy's strategic priorities for energy resilience in shore-based and marine environments. The lead researcher for UMass Lowell is Prof. Christopher Niezrecki, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The HEROES projects are:

  • $1,130,929 - Unmanned aerial systems for use in reconnaissance and exploration purposes when operating in subterranean or other confined, indoor environments. Lead faculty researcher: Holly Yanco of the Department of Computer Science.
  • $956,400 - A proposed drone-based wireless sensor network with active infrared stand-off sensing, multispectral imaging and efficient mesh communication network. Lead faculty researcher: Xuejun Lu of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • $866,679 - Multifunctional textiles such as Nyco fabric, widely used in military uniforms, would be equipped with multiple advanced protection mechanisms. Lead faculty researcher: Ramaswamy Nagarajan of Plastics Engineering.
  • $585,755 - An electronics textiles platform that would serve the need for providing reliable, conformable and durable data and energy transfer and address physiological and environmental sensing and monitoring. Lead faculty researcher: Zhiyong Gu of Chemical Engineering.
  • $460,236 - Complex fabric manufacturing and characterization for the next generation of wearables integrates multiple functions with standardized clothing to achieve functions such as water wicking and smart insulation and reduce weight and the number of items needed for protection from weather. Lead faculty researcher: Scott Stapleton of Mechanical Engineering.
  • $446,781 - Sensor systems for the detection of toxics will look at developing portable systems for rapid on-site analysis of water supplies, both before and after filtration. Lead faculty researcher: Pradeep Kurup of Civil Engineering.
  • $357,504 - Development of portable, lightweight and flexible energy production and power storage devices integrated into garments to help reduce logistic burden and complexity. Lead faculty researcher: Jayant Kumar of Physics and Applied Physics.
  • $298,144 - The project will look at reducing hip injuries and other conditions among armed forces personnel that hamper their performance. Lead faculty researcher: Yi-Ning Wu of Physical Therapy and Kinesiology.
  • $278,292 - A humidity capture system to provide emergency drinking water to soldiers. Lead faculty researcher: Pradeep Kurup of Civil Engineering.
  • $262,363 - The project would develop technology to harvest hydrogen from solid sources. Lead faculty researcher: Juan Trelles of Mechanical Engineering.
  • $250,510 - The emerging area of photonics will be used in the development of smart thermal insulation for cold weather clothing and provide protection from thermal threats. Lead faculty researcher: Hongwei Sun of Mechanical Engineering.
  • $246,869 -This research would address screening of military rations to identify foodborne pathogens. Lead faculty researcher: Boce Zhang of Biomedical and Nutritional Sciences.
  • $244,633 - The project will look at evaluating exoskeletons designed to aid in performing a range of tasks. Lead faculty researcher: Pei-Chun Kao of Physical Therapy and Kinesiology.
  • $238,776 - Development of protective clothing resistant to chemical and biological agents, while still allowing cooling of the wearer. Lead faculty researcher: Joey Mead of Plastics Engineering.
  • $238,263 - Development of lightweight eyewear protective gear with resistance to high impact. Lead faculty researcher: Alireza Amirkhizi of Mechanical Engineering.
  • $234,273 - This project uses fiber-based absorbent substances to create layers that capture and detoxify nerve agents. Lead faculty researcher: James Reuther of Chemistry.
  • $212,173 - The research looks at exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) and uses nutrition to reduce injuries and improve physical performance. Lead faculty researcher: Peter Gaines of Biological Sciences.
  • $200,536 - The project will look at the use of the helmet, as well as uniforms and body armor, for integrated, lightweight 5G communications systems. Lead faculty researcher: Corey Shemelya of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • $119,181 - Development of analytical tools such as a handheld device for field testing of water and food samples to minimize risk of illness and maximize performance. Lead faculty researcher: Dionysios Christodouleas of Chemistry.
  • $118,524 - Development of helmet padding to protect from head injuries and for potential use in other equipment. Lead faculty researcher: Murat Inalpolat of Mechanical Engineering.
  • $118,524 - Development of composite armor components such as helmets, including reusable sensors to determine if there is damage. Lead faculty researcher: Xingwei Wang of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • $114,505 - Polymer fabric will be incorporated into clothing as a protective layer against hazardous chemicals. Lead faculty researcher: James Whitten of Chemistry.
  • $89,940 - Flexible or conformal detectors will be developed to be integrated with current technologies, such as helmets, uniforms and other equipment to create systems to detect incoming signals and frequencies. Lead faculty researcher: Corey Shemelya of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

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