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Drs. Oh and Wrenn Receive 2004 NSF CAREER Awards
Drs. Paul Oh (above left), assistant professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics, and Steve Wrenn (above right), assistant professor of chemical engineering, recently received National Science Foundation (NSF) 2004 CAREER Awards.
he CAREER program supports development activities of faculty in the early stages of their career, recognizing those the NSF feels will become the academic leaders of the 21st century. The College of Engineering now has 17 CAREER award recipients on staff.
Oh received a $496,000 CAREER grant for his proposal “Test Rig and Sensor Suite for Micro-Air-Vehicles Moving in Near-Earth Environments.” His research involves an emerging class of agile aircraft, “micro-air-vehicles,” which are small enough to fly through forests, in and around buildings and down tunnels and caves. The vehicles assist in tasks like search-and-rescue and disaster mitigation, as they can fly into an area and capture video of the scene. For his CAREER award, Oh will study biomimic flying insect vision sensors and flight behaviors and apply them on aerial robots.
For the education component of his award, Oh will build on his experience with student robotics teams to organize the first Indoor Flying Robot Competition, hoping to expand it into an annual national event. With a grant from ASME, he is working with six other universities in the Philadelphia region to develop an aerial robot kit for the competition, in which students will construct and program the aerial robot to autonomously take off, fly, avoid collisions and land indoors. Oh has also been working with South Philadelphia’s Bok Technical High School for three years. Together, they won three regional awards in the FIRST Robotics Competition.
Wrenn received a five-year, $399,999 CAREER grant for his proposal “A Systematic Study of Cholesterol (Nano) Domains in Model Lipid Membranes.” Cell membranes are composed of bilayers of phospholipids. Within these bilayers, Wrenn believes he has discovered cholesterol domains, or regions, of pure cholesterol. For his CAREER award, Wrenn will conduct a study to confirm the existence of these domains and determine under what conditions they form. If these domains can be dissolved while they’re still in the bilayer, Wrenn hopes to be able to prevent crystal formation from occurring—thus preventing gallstones and mitigating arthrosclerosis.
For the educational component of his proposal, Wrenn will continue his work with the College of Engineering’s Summer Mentorship Program. For the past several summers, he has brought high school students from across the country to Drexel for research-intensive workshops. He wants to expand the effort to include local underprivileged students who, over the next five summers, will come to Drexel to participate in a month-long research experience that will introduce them to engineering at the University.