The College of Engineering and Science is composed of world-recognized leaders in cutting-edge and high-tech research in a variety of areas. Our researchers and scientists work together in laboratories, centers, and institutes which are dedicated to expanding our knowledge of our world and universe through novel research and discovery. The integrated nature of our science and engineering research represents a unique opportunity for synergistic and multi-disciplinary collaboration. We invite you to explore the exciting work underway by our international community of scholars using the links below.
Orbital Robotics Interaction On-Orbit Servicing and Navigation (ORION) Laboratory: The ORION laboratory is equipped with a unique combination of Cartesian robot and air bearing flat-floor for study of dynamics and kinematics of relative motion and contact dynamics of space/air/underwater vehicles.
Aerospace Structures Laboratory: Laboratory facilities for the mechanical testing of aerospace structures and materials include a MTS 100 kN servohydraulic testing machine with hydraulic wedge grips, other uniaxial load frames, a Dynatup 8250 falling weight impact test machine, an Unholtz-Dickie T206 vibration test device and related instrumentation.
Flight Aircraft: The experimental four-seat Piper Warrior is equipped with an angle-of-attack and sideslip boom. The six-seat Piper Cherokee has a carry-on Data Acquisition System and a 1,500-pound useful load. The flight test engineering program also has a partnership with the Technical University of Munich involving their fly-by-wire “Optionally Piloted” Diamond DA42 research aircraft.
Current research in physics includes experimental high-energy physics, experimental and theoretical condensed matter physics, instrumentation development, theoretical and observational studies of the solar/heliospheric energetic particles and cosmic rays, physics of energetic radiations from thunderstorms and lightning, auroral and magnetospheric physics, astrophysics, engineering physics, and physics education.
Experimental research in physics is carried out in a variety of laboratories operated by the department, as well as at national and international research facilities. Facilities that are currently available to students include the following laboratories.
High-Energy Physics Laboratory (HEP): The HEP experimental efforts are centered on studying high energy hadron collisions using large particle physics experiments at major national (BNL) and international (CERN, Switzerland) accelerator facilities, as well as conducting basic detector technology research and development, and high-performance grid computing in laboratories on the Florida Tech campus. Presently, the group is involved in data-taking efforts with the CMS experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider and is performing physics analyses on these data. The Florida Tech group has responsibilities for calibration of the hadron calorimeters, Tier0-Tier2 data flow and validation for the B physics analysis group, operation of a Tier3 site on the Open Science Grid and a study of an upgrade of the forward muon detector with micro-pattern gas detectors. The physics analyses are initially focused on measurements of the properties of the top and bottom quarks and search for new gauge bosons. With new higher luminosities, the physics program helped the successful searches for the Higgs boson and is now focusing on more exotic phenomena at multi-TeV energy scale. Another main research area is the development and construction of a muon tomography system for detecting high-Z materials hidden in cargo, based on advanced micro-pattern gas detectors such as Gas Electron Multipliers. The HEP laboratory houses a Linux-based computing cluster with 180 CPU cores and 100TB of mass storage that is used for muon tomography detector simulation and data analysis and serves as a Tier3 site on the Open Science Grid for CMS data analysis. The group conducts research and development on advanced particle detector technology for the Super-LHC upgrade programs and participates in the RD51 detector development collaboration at CERN. In addition, Florida Tech is a member of the PHENIX experiment at BNL’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, which is investigating a new state of matter dubbed the quark-gluon plasma.
Current research activity in space sciences includes the physics of supermassive black holes and galaxy evolution, massive stars, astrophysical jets and accretion phenomena, exoplanets, planetary science, observational cosmology, cosmic ray modulation/propagation and its interactions with the interstellar medium, energetic radiation from terrestrial and planetary lightning discharges, solar wind-magnetosphere interactions and energetic particle observations and human space exploration research.
Experimental research in space science is carried out in a variety of laboratories operated by the department, as well as at national and international research facilities. Facilities currently available to students include the following laboratories:
Astronomy and Astrophysics Laboratory: Astrophysicists and students work on a wide variety of topics, including high-energy astrophysics, accretion phenomena, the physics and evolution of active galactic nuclei and their jets, observational cosmology, tests of the large and small-scale structure of our universe, compact objects, the nuclear black holes of normal and active galaxies, massive stars, binary stars, solar and stellar atmospheres, ultraviolet spectroscopy and astronomical instrumentation. Research in the laboratory also includes planetary science, with a focus on planetary geology, impact cratering, orbital dynamics, planetary magnetospheres and lightning, and astrobiology.
Research is conducted over a variety of different wavebands from the radio to gamma-rays, including observations with the Hubble Space Telescope, James Webb Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory, and XMM-Newton Observatory, as well as a wide variety of ground-based telescopes that include the 10.4-m Gran Telescopio Canarias, the Gemini Observatories, the Karl F. Jansky Very Large array and many others. Members of the group are involved in the development of instrumentation for the 10.4-m Gran Telescopio Canarias and the development of high-dynamic range imagers for future use in space observatories. Members of the group are involved with the Juno, Parker Solar Probe, and Voyager missions. Resources include two research labs (Astro Lab A and B) that are outfitted with Linux and Macintosh computers, astronomical data reduction packages including IRAF, AIPS and CIAO, as well as a wide variety of programming languages.
Ortega 0.8-m Telescope: This large research telescope forms the heart of the F.W. Olin Observatory. Installed in 2007, it sits on the rooftop of the F. W. Olin Physical Sciences Center. Equipped with a large-format CCD imaging system, lucky imager and spectrograph, it is available for student and faculty astronomy and astrophysics research projects as well as monthly public open nights.
SARA 0.9-m Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, 0.6-m Telescope at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory and 1.0-m Telescope at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos: Florida Tech is the founding institution for the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA).
Geospace Physics Laboratory (GPL): This facility is a collection of three major laboratories that host all of Florida Tech’s space physicists, planetary scientists and their students’ research projects. These labs are outlined below (GPL-A-C). In a joint operation with UCLA of California, Florida Tech is hosting a 10-site meridional array of magnetometers along the east coast of the United States (the MEASURE array) from Florida to southern Canada. The array observations, and particle and field measurements from various satellites are used for studying the geospace environment during magnetic storms and substorms. We also have joint operational custody (with the University of Florida) of the International Center for Lightning Research and Testing (ICLRT) that is located at Camp Blanding Army National Guard Base near Starke, Florida, where airspace can be controlled for rocket-triggering.
Lightning and Instrument Development Laboratory (GPL-A): A series of recent theoretical breakthroughs and experimental detector development by our team working at both this lab and the ICLRT has led to the discovery of x-ray emission from lightning and its possible central role in understanding the lightning plasma processes. Exploring the implications of this discovery is one of the main goals of this research lab. At the ICLRT, lightning is artificially triggered using small rockets trailing wires; in effect telling the lightning when and where to strike. This allows detailed observation and theoretical investigations to help us better understand how terrestrial (and planetary) lightning works and how to better protect lightning-vulnerable assets.
Cosmic Rays and Space Weather Laboratory (GPL-B): This lab uses a network of workstations to study the energetic particle environment in the solar system. Some of the particles are cosmic rays from the galaxy, while some are produced by the sun during solar flares. By studying these particles, we try to understand the energetic phenomena in the galaxy or on the sun that affect the radiation environment at Earth. Gaining such understanding is one of our main goals to protect astronauts working in space and the electronic components on satellites. In addition, analysis of the COSPIN experiment on Ulysses and several other spacecraft datasets (Wind, SOHO, SAMPEX, ACE and RHESSI) in support of investigating the energetic particles environment with the solar system are conducted in this lab.
Space Exploration Research Laboratory (GPL-C): This lab supports a research program focused on enabling sustained human space exploration and on the origin, distribution and future of life in the universe. The lab includes imaging systems, optics, calibration and test equipment, a large clean room, and other hardware used to support the development of space instrumentation. It has a high-performance computing system for modeling and simulation, and a ground control system to receive data and send commands to the International Space Station. Some of the laboratory activities are housed in the new Space Life Sciences Laboratory at the Kennedy Space Center, where atomic force and laser confocal fluorescence microscopes optimized for bioimaging, small-animal research hardware, and other equipment supports research into the hazards associated with long-term human exposure to the space environment, such as radiation damage, loss of bone mass, muscle atrophy and cardiovascular de-conditioning.
Research projects include development and characterization of biologically inspired materials; fabrication of scaffolds for corneal, bone and vascular tissue engineering applications; and stem cell bioengineering. Other projects include design and development of perfusion bioreactor culture systems for stem cell proliferation and in vitro large-scale production of platelets.
Biochemical and biotechnology research includes fundamental studies onto molecular forces that control biologically important reactions including protein folding and the underlying chemistry responsible for vision. This basic understanding feeds studies on how macromolecules including enzymes and receptors function and impact disease states in humans as well as the development of new biotechnology including the development of manmade catalysts to drive intercellular synthesis, fluorescence-based molecular biosensors and sensor systems that mimic mammalian olfaction (our sense of smell).
Natural Product Synthesis: Natural products are secondary metabolites (small organic molecules) produced in organisms and have long been the source of the majority of drugs and drug candidates. Indeed, 78% of the antibacterial compounds and 74% of anticancer agents available today are either natural products or their chemical derivatives. The complete chemical synthesis of natural products is the first and key step in such drug discovery endeavors that aim to treat currently incurable diseases. Dr. Takenaka's group is currently working toward the complete chemical synthesis of the alkaloid Acutumine isolated from the moonseed Sinomenium acutum which has been shown as a potential treatment for T-cell malignancies
Enzymes and receptors: Dr. Rokach's main research interest is the use of bioorganic and synthetic chemistry to advance the understanding of biochemical and biological systems. The total syntheses of biologically important molecules are performed, and from these molecules, synthetic probes are designed to identify and isolate enzymes and receptors that have escaped isolation by the most commonly used techniques. Ongoing projects include the synthesis of isoprostanes and the development of methods to measure them in vivo as an index of free radical generation in disease states--novel approach to degenerative diseases (e.g., cardiovascular, Alzheimer, etc).
Molecular forces: Dr. Akhremitchev’s research interests are in experimental biophysical chemistry and physical chemistry. His research program aims at uncovering nanoscale details of intermolecular interactions and structural dynamics that control many important biological processes including protein aggregation, receptor-ligand binding and formation of supramolecular biological structures. Experimental approaches utilize high spatial and force resolution of scanning probe techniques to investigate molecular structures at the nanoscale and at a single-molecule level.
Intracellular organic synthesis: Biotechnology research in the Dr. Knight's group is centered around the interface of inorganic chemistry and other scientific sub-disciplines including catalysis, organic synthesis, medicinal chemistry and molecular biology. Ongoing projects include the design of new metal-based artificial endonucleases for use as molecular biology tools, antiviral and antibacterial drugs based on functionalized organometallics compounds as bone-seeking agents and new paradigms for achieving intracellular organic synthesis using water-stable encapsulated transition metal catalysts.
The chemistry of vision: The high efficiency of vision derives from the fact that a single photon of light is sufficient in activating a thousand G-proteins which in turn results in the hydrolysis of approximately 100,000 cGMP to GMP ultimately leading to a neuronal signal. Dr. Nesnas's group studies these proteins through the design and synthesis of various visual chromophores aiming to unravel this intriguing design and eventually lead to the design of similar systems geared to current needs including therapeutic treatments.
Fluorescence-based sensors: The development of molecular sensors is of great interest world-wide. Dr. Brown and Dr. Baumcollaborate in this area to show how fundamental science can broaden into applied work. In particular they have designed fluorescent compunds that can be quenched through the disruption of intramolecular hydrogen bonds. In so doing, they are creating artifical receptors whose emission of light can reveal the presensce of biologically imporant molecules.
Artificial olfaction: The invention of the CCD chip present in digital cameras and smart phones has revolutionized the interface between technology and its environment. By pixilating optical images of its surroundings, devices can use sophisticated imaging processing and pattern recognition algorithms to perform increasingly sophisticated tasks associated with visual perception. The creation of a chemically diverse sensor array chip that mimics the olfactory system could provide the next revolution in sensory input for technology. In collaboration with groups in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dr. Freund’sgroup is working on CMOS circuitry design and new methods for creating large numbers of chemically diverse polymer sensing materials on the chips to significantly expand the ways in which technology interacts and functions.
Ongoing activities include biosensor development for rocket fuels, nerve agents and non-invasive glucose monitoring using artificial neural network discriminator.
This research is focused on developing innovative techniques and devices for the detection and therapy of cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial ischemia, cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension and hemorrhagic shock, and procedures including angioplasty/stent placement and hemodynamic monitoring. One example is using ultrasound technology, contrast agents and stem cells to repair vascular damage caused by stent placement.
Signaling systems that regulate cardiac rhythm and blood flow to increase understanding and treatment of diseases such as sudden cardiac arrest, diabetes mellitus and erectile dysfunction.
Florida Tech research of energy includes fundamental studies on energy transfer mechanism for converting light energy into chemical energy (photosynthesis) as well as the design of catalysts. This fundamental understanding is directed at driving chemically useful reactions with light and for developing technology for solar fuel and photovoltaic technology.
Energy transfer in photosynthesis: Dr. Baum and Dr. Brown investigate the properties of molecular systems that serve as models for the interactions of biomolecules with light to form chemical energy. Molecular spectroscopy, supplemented by other physical methods and molecular modeling, provides mechanistic information necessary to completely characterize these systems. Such an approach is essential for a deeper understanding of processes that convert light energy into chemical energy. By investigating the transfer of energy from light absorbed in natural processes such as photosynthesis can provide more efficient synthetic materials for the collection and storage of energy.
Catalysts for CO2 reduction and solar fuel generation: While nature utilizes CO2 as its major carbon source, the industrial use of CO2as feedstock is still in its infancy. Strong Lewis acids, designed and synthesized by Dr. Wehmschulte's group, catalyze the reduction of CO2 with hydrosilanes to methane and toluene depending on the conditions. Current efforts focus on the optimization of this system including the synthesis of more stable Lewis acids featuring strong Al-O bonds and internal π-stabilization through flanking arene substituents.
Dye sensitized solar cells and catalysts for green synthesis: Dr. Knight's group is developing organometallic compunds that form monolayers of redox-active ruthenium complexes on nanocrystalline TiO2. These systems are key for efficient electronic coupling with the surface that will allow efficient light-induced charge separation for the conversion of light to electricity.
Artificial photosynthesis: Given the scale of projected energy needs as well as the rapid climate change associated with growing CO2 levels in the atmosphere, there is a major push by governments to increase the rate of innovation and discovery in the area of carbon-neutral solar fuel production (chemical energy). Dr. Freund’s group is focusing on the development of membranes will likely play a key role in artificial photosynthetic systems. This effort includes the design and synthesis of new materials as well as the study of their electronic properties and their integration with light absorbers and catalysts required for functional chemical energy producing devices.
Driving reactions with light: Dr. Liao's group is pioneering research into metastable state photoacids. This type of photoacid can reversibly produce large pH changes upon exposure to visible light, making it a powerful tool for controlling a wide range of important acid-catalyzed reactions by producing chemical energy from light. His group focuses on the design and synthesis of photoacids and materials that contain them, study the mechanisms of their photoreactions, and demonstrate their applications including photoresponsive electronic, optical and mechanic materials, shape/volume change materials, drug delivery materials, killing bacteria, pH jump for studying protein conformation and functions, and regulating local pH of biological systems.
Photocatalytic efficiency and solar energy. Understanding the mechanism of a reaction allows us to optimize the reaction rate and predict its outcome. Dr. Winkelmann's current research in this area focuses on understanding how visible light can initiate chemical energy reactions that degrade pollutants into nontoxic or event useful products. Halogenated organic molecules provide interesting target molecules because they have a significant environmental impact as greenhouse gases and many such compounds cannot be destroyed by conventional oxidation techniques.
Clean Energy: Porous, crystalline materials are ideally suited to address the global energy problem by providing solutions to clean energy applications. In particular, Dr. Schoedel's group develops strategies and technologies to overcome the challenges encountered in the capture, storage, delivery and conversion of gas molecules such as carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen.
Research areas include biophysical chemistry, bioorganic chemistry, chemical education, environmental chemistry, geochemistry, molecular spectroscopy, nanotechnology, natural products, organometallic chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, photochemical processes, physical organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, molecular modeling, renewable energy applications, solid-phase reaction kinetics, surface phenomena, synthetic organic chemistry and thermal methods of analysis.
Computer-aided modeling, processing and control: Research is ongoing in the area of adaptive control for both single loop and multivariable applications. Other topics of research interest include using neural networks in areas of model development in which traditional models are constrained, and process design and simulation of renewable energy conversion systems.
Ongoing environmental chemistry research at FIT includes the study of naturally occurring and artificially introduced metals in the environment including minerals and nanostructures.
Formation and toxicity of naturally occurring nanoparticles: Naturally occurring nanoparticles (NNPs) derived from biological, geological and chemical processes are a far greater source of nanoparticulate matter compared to current amounts of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs), but NNPs are a largely unexplored class of environmental toxicants. Dr. Winkelmann'sresearch group develops methods to mimic the synthesis of NNPs within the laboratory in order to study their properties, including their toxicity to plants and algae. Distinguishing between the toxicity of ENPs and NPPs will help determine which source should be of greater concern and perhaps lead to the replacement of ENPs with NNPs that are prepared under greener experimental conditions.
Photocatalytic decomposition of gaseous and aqueous pollutants: Removal of pollutants from the air and water improves the quality of life for everybody. As countries raise their environmental standards, new approaches are necessary for remediation of industrial and naturally occurring pollutants. Titanium dioxide is useful for degrading many pollutants when exposed to the sun and is a key component in several current commercial remediation processes. Dr. Winkelmann’s group is investigating the details of light-initiated reactions on the surface of nanosized titanium dioxide particles. By understanding the rate of a reaction and the step-by-step process it follows (the reaction’s mechanism), we can optimize the reaction for removing different pollutants and converting them into industrially useful products.
Uranium minerals: The study of uranyl-minerals is important for understanding water-rock interactions in uranium-deposits associated with uranium mines and mill tailings as well as spent nuclear fuel in a moist, oxidizing environment that may occur in repositories. In collaboration with geological science researchers, Dr. Freund's group is developing analytical technique to investigate the structure and bonding in a wide range of natural and synthetic uranyl minerals.
Organic geochemistry of polar regions: The impact of climate change is progressing much faster in polar environments as compared to lower latitudes. Dr. Winkelmann's group is currently exploring how greater rates of terrestrial input is affecting the organic geochemistry of arctic sediments. In the Antarctic, levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are being measured in benthic communities.
Environmental engineering: Projects include removal of trace organic contaminants from water using reverse osmosis and design of systems for controlling contaminants in spacecraft atmospheres. Other projects focus on development of renewable resources, especially alternative sources of energy.
Research is ongoing to develop ultra-short pulse laser-based system for early cancer detection and therapy. This technique is non-invasive, fast and safe compared to existing imaging and treatment modalities.
Materials synthesis, characterization and failure prevention: Includes self-assembly or aggregation of nanomaterials and combined cyclic fatigue and cryogenic embrittlement under controlled atmospheres.
Medical imaging: Current projects involve the application of advanced signal and image processing to enhance medical imagery. A method has been developed that reduces noise from computed tomography (CT) induced when the x-ray dose is decreased, allowing CT scans to be safer for patients. A similar approach has been used for nuclear medicine imagery.
Medical materials and photonics: Biomedical engineering faculty and international collaborators have initiated an innovative center for medical materials and photonics that provides world-leading programs in third generation bioactive materials including bioactive materials for regenerative medicine, load bearing orthopedic and dental devices, intelligent wound care systems and materials for sports medicine repair and reconstruction; and medical photonics including laser and bio-Raman-based cancer detection and therapeutics, human cell-based screening for toxicology, pharmaceutical and biomaterials screening, and patient specific diagnosis and therapy analyses. The center provides education and research opportunities at the undergraduate, graduate and post-doctorate levels.
Molecular biology and biochemistry: DNA replication, gene regulation, novel anti-cancer therapies, Alzheimer’s Disease, cellular responses to environmental stress, protein folding and aggregation, and assembly of macromolecular complexes.
Nanoparticle synthesis: Nanotechnology is the next industrial revolution. An increasing number of commercial products and industrial processes involve particles on the nano-size scale (bigger than a molecule, smaller than a living cell). Interest in nanomaterials is due to not just their small size but also their unique properties that change with the size of the particle. By controlling the size of the particle, chemists can control the properties of the material itself. Dr. Knight and Dr. Winkelmann are developing wet chemistry synthetic methods for the preparation of metal and metal oxide nanoparticles with controlled size distribution and high stability.
Scanning tunneling microscopy and atomic scale characterization: Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) provides unpresidented resolution allowing the investigation of matter on the molecular and sub-molecular scale. This capability allows the observation of the geometric and electronic behaviors of individual molecules. Dr. Olson and Dr. Baum are pioneering new techniques that use a combination of the electronic and sub-molecular information with novel computational approaches to study molecules that are of interest for their potential medicinal or catalytic behaviors.
High performance foams, polymers and nanocomposites: Current materials science research emphasizes sustainability and innovation. Developing high performance polymeric materials to meet both properties and environmental requirements is a key trend in polymer science. Dr. Nelson is developing high performance organic materials through novel environmental friendly approaches: organic/inorganic nanocomposites, high performance carbon fiber reinforced composites for specialty applications, as well as multifunctional nanostructured materials with unique properties. For example, they are working on new foams with a bound-in non-halogen flame retardant package. The goal is to achieve flame retardancy exceeding NASA SOFI foams with a non-halogen non-migrating system.
Conducting polymers and nanocomposites for electronics, optics and sensing: Organic materials provide a range of opportunities for developing electronics that operate through new mechanisms that can reduce size and cost, and increase the ease of manufacturing through inkjet and 3-D printing technologies. Dr. Freund's group is working on new conducting polymers and composites for creating field driven redox memory which can be electrodeposited on exiting CMOS chip structures and should have better scaling properties. Dr. Liao is working on smart polymer materials that change their chemical, physical and biological properties under visible light based on photo-induced proton transfer achieved using metastable-state photoacids. These materials have great potential in industrial, biomedical and defense applications. Research in this area could lead to artificial muscles, multifunctional coating, drug delivery materials, novel phontonics, and high density data storage.
Reticular Chemistry: Porous crystals are made from first principles by stitching together molecular building units (inorganic clusters and organic molecules) through strong bonds. Dr. Schoedel uses the directionality and rigidity of such building units for the precise design of these metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) or covalent organic frameworks (COFs). Moreover, the resulting materials show order with atomic precision and can therefore be modified with a versatility, unparalleled in traditional polymer materials.Reticular Chemistry: Porous crystals are made from first principles by stitching together molecular building units (inorganic clusters and organic molecules) through strong bonds. The directionality and rigidity of such building units allow for the precise design of these metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) or covalent organic frameworks (COFs). Moreover, the resulting materials show order with atomic precision and can therefore be modified with a versatility, unparalleled in traditional polymer materials.
Research in medicinal chemistry at FIT includes molecular syntheisis and natural product isolation to find biomolecules with a wide range of functions including anti-inflamitory, antitumor, antioxidant, antiviral and antibacterial.
Molecular synthesis for inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly and may have a long stage of neuropathological changes and cognitive decline before it is diagnosed. Alzheimer’s Disease is associated with an unusual form of inflammation produced by deposition of β-amyloid plaque in the memory center. Isoprostanes are the chemically stable oxygenation products formed by free radical peroxidation of poly unsaturated fatty acids.Dr. Rokach's group has shown that isoprostanes are useful biomarkers of oxidative damage in Alzheimer’s Disease. In order to develop a more specific method to evaluate Alzheimer’s Disease severity, Dr. Rokach's long-term goal is to provide a sensitive, selective, and reliable index the disease, which will detect it long before symptoms are obvious and allow early treatment.
Artificial Enzymes: Drug therapy is among the most successful and reliable treatments for various health issues. However, it is impeded by limitations in chemists’ ability to make the absolutely “correct” drug molecule in a timely and cost-effective manner. The development of artificial enzymes is a new approach in medicinal chemistry dedicated to the preparation of molecules with defined 3-D structure (molecular shape), and is of paramount importance to the drug discovery and development because the function of a drug is determined by its overall shape. Dr. Takenaka's group is developing a new class of artificial enzymes that shape-selectively synthesize molecules with the desired 3-D structure from easily available chemicals. Such technology will provide scientists ready access to precious medicinally active agents, and thus will not only accelerate the drug discovery process, but also lower costs of prescription drugs.
Antitumor and antioxidant agents: To generate new pharmaceutical lead compounds, it is important to have convenient access to new classes of core molecular structures. Sulfur and nitrogen heterocycles are attractive targets in medicinal chemistry because of the wide variety of bioactivities displayed by these compounds. Dr. Brown's group is involved In the search for of new antitumor and antioxidant agents by studying a large series of new cycloadditions, mostly involving thiones and thioureas as electron-rich partners, interacting with π-deficient multiple bonds.
Bioinorganic pharmaceuticals, antivirals and antibacterials: The lack of effective therapies for important biothreat agents including the Ebola virus and Fransicella has prompted a search for new approaches for the treatment of viral and bacterial diseases. While most therapies rely in organic molecule design, only a handful of examples of the use of inorganic compounds have been effective. Dr. Knight's group is developing a new inorganic approach in medicinal chemistry byt studying antibacterial and antiviral drugs based on small metal complexes and complex-protein conjugates.
Natural product isolation and characterization: Medicinal chemistry, the use of molecules to treat various diseases, has been largely inspired by Mother Nature’s creativity in synthesizing complex organic structures. The natural products chemists’ role is critical in the identification of key compounds from various living organisms ranging from simple plants to complex marine organisms. Various medicinal plants have been explored for their medicinal properties, including anti-cancer potential, by isolating the active molecules and characterizing them using several analytical tools, including mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Dr. Nesnas's group studies biologically active compounds with the aim of improving their efficacy through late stage chemical modifications.
Molecular analysis of pharmaceutical candidates: Many pharmaceuticals rely on molcular interactions with DNA. Dr. Baumand Dr. Olson are developing new techniques to determine electrostatic potential maps that enable the use of docking programs to select optimal molecular candidates for the design of new pharmaceuticals. This approach has the potential to increase the rate of innovation in medicinal chemistry research.
DNA replication, gene regulation.
Novel anti-cancer therapies, Alzheimer’s disease, cellular and molecular responses to environmental stress.
Neural engineering: Research is focused on application of stimulators to the central and peripheral nervous system to restore neurological function following stroke, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy or intractable pain.
Orthopedic biomechanics: Current research is focused on developing novel modeling methods of viscoelasticity in biological structures such as bone and cartilage. This project will aid in the understanding of post-surgery stress distribution in the repaired clavicle, aimed at reducing fracture re-occurrence.
Protein structure and function: Protein folding and aggregation and assembly of macromolecular complexes.
Synthetic biology: Biotechnology development, genetic engineering, reverse genetics and protein engineering.
Transport and separation processes: Current projects include development of computer simulation algorithms for estimating transport, reaction and nuclear magnetic resonance parameters of porous, composite and biological media including fuel cell gas diffusion media. Other recent projects have investigated membrane separation of gases, extraction of lipids from microalgae, the use of supercritical fluids for extraction of citrus oils, and modeling transport and reaction in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells.
Vascular tissue engineering: The focus of this research is elucidating how cells interact with their microenvironment, such as topography and scaffold composition, and using this knowledge to develop strategies to produce tissue engineered grafts. The goal is to overcome the current challenges to producing a viable replacement for occluded coronary or peripheral arteries. The research will involve several of the steps required for producing a clinical product, including scaffold fabrication, cell culture analysis and the initial steps of translation.
Computer vision, constraint reasoning, data mining, machine learning, speech recognition, swarm intelligence, spatio-temporal multidimensional reasoning.
Bioinformatics, statistical computing.
Research in computer engineering focuses on areas related to hardware/software systems including embedded systems, machine intelligence, speech processing, scientific high-performance computing, and wireless communications and networks. Students are involved in research projects dealing with hardware security, wireless sensor networks, algorithm development for intelligent and data-intensive systems, analysis and design of computer communications and networks, and development of large-scale, secure and dependable computer systems.
Cryptology, cryptography and cryptanalysis; secure software development and testing; malicious code, network security, resilience and intrusion detection, usable-security.
Data mining, knowledge representation, visualization.
Agents and coordination, internet computing, negotiations, peer-to-peer networks.
Applied and computational research is conducted in order to understand and manipulate electromagnetic fields. We are interested in the interaction between fields and matter, specifically the coupling of infrared and optical fields with other resonant responses such as polaritons, periodic structures and molecules. The ability to model electromagnetic properties of complex structures requires full-wave analysis with finite element, method of moments or finite difference techniques. Antennas, waveguides, metamaterials and bandgap structures are designed and analyzed using computational tools, then tested for validation. Applications include sensing, imaging, photonic-integrated circuits and communications.
Functional language, internationalization, type systems.
This specialization deals with recent advances in photonic devices and systems. Research in this area is complemented by the Optronics Laboratory that is dedicated to advancements in the field of optical systems such as optical communications and sensors. Recent Optronics lab activities in communications span the development of state-of-the-art, multi-Tb/s hybrid optical transmission architectures. Sensing activities include design and development of cryogenic instrumentation for the space program as well as 2D and 3D strain measurement for structural health monitoring, material failure and environmental parameters. The laboratory has added two new degrees of photon freedom to optical fiber multiplexing techniques; spatial domain multiplexing (SDM) and orbital angular momentum (OAM) of photon-based multiplexing. These techniques are orthogonal to other popular multiplexing techniques and allow for multidimensional increase in channel capacity. The laboratory is equipped with the necessary lasers, optics, electronics and computational tools and provides research facilities to faculty and students.
Research is performed in adaptive optics, atmospheric turbulence compensation (ATC) image processing, pattern recognition, and speech processing and recognition. Algorithms have been developed for high spatial-resolution ATC imaging systems and near-real-time detection and classification for several applications such as communications, noise reduction and speaker identification. Projects include the analysis and classification of signals and the development of pattern and speech recognizers.
Software documentation, maintenance and evolution, reliability and testing.
Research is conducted in modern systems development concepts and methods encompassing the full inception to retirement lifecycle, including model-based systems engineering (MBSE), complex, complicated and adaptive systems, intelligent systems and enterprise systems, as well as contemporary modeling methods, decision, risk and optimization methodologies, system reliability, systems thinking and big data issues. Research benefits span the governmental, industrial, scientific and academic sectors and have wide-ranging impact on the transportation, medical, space and defense communities.
Active areas of research in the mathematics program include nonlinear partial differential equations, potential theory, optimal control of systems with distributed parameters, inverse problems for PDEs, free boundary problems, mathematical modeling, neural networks, scientific computing and numerical analysis of nonlinear PDEs, mathematical biology, reaction-diffusion equations, variational methods for PDEs, critical point theory, mathematical physics, stochastic processes, queuing theory, dynamical systems, chaos theory, nonlocal PDEs, integral equations, and nonlinear wave equations.
Diverse research activities arise from student interest, are conducted in collaboration with student advisers and span the entire K-16 community. Research is guided by current research and related issues that emerge from within the mathematics education research community.
Funded by NOAA and EPA, and administered by the North American Association for Environmental Education, the NELA project is a multi-phase research project to help determine how environmental education practices support the development of environmental literacy among middle-school students around the U.S.
Active areas of research in the operations research area include stochastic games, stochastic networks, mathematical finance, stochastic programming, optimization and optimal control, inverse and ill-posed problems, regularization, bioinformatics, data mining, biostatistics, image processing, signal processing, modeling of controlled queuing systems, decision making under uncertainty, modeling of complex biological systems, engineering management, quality control, scheduling and timetabling algorithms, applied graph theory and integer programming.
Research activities in science education vary across all major science disciplines including aeronautics, biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental and earth science, physics and psychology. Students are encourage to pursue research topics commensurate with their science background and teaching experience and represent the application of science to the K-16 education community.
Civil engineering faculty are actively engaged in a wide range of research areas including construction management, geotechnical engineering, materials, structures, transportation and water resources. Geotechnical research pertains to in situ testing of soils, fiber-optic sensors in soils and evaluation of pavements. Research in materials is being conducted in the areas of concrete materials at a fundamental level using nanotechnology to characterize their mechanical properties, fiber-reinforced concrete and nondestructive testing technologies, and stabilization of waste materials for beneficial uses. Structural engineering research is in the areas of wind and seismic engineering, control of vibrations, catastrophe risk modeling and wireless instrumentation development. Transportation research combines mathematical programing, network science and behavioral modeling to develop new transportation paradigms. Research activities include integration of novel truck datasets and analytics into enhanced models, development of business strategies for sustainable transportation, resilience in global interdependent systems and technological opportunities for freight transportation. Water resources research includes numerical groundwater modeling, design and performance of stormwater management systems, and physical modeling of unstable saltwater systems in groundwater.
Laboratories for research and instructional activities are available in the areas of materials and structures and soil mechanics. The materials and structures laboratory is equipped with several universal testing machines for physical testing, and equipment and instrumentation for experimental stress analysis. The soil mechanics laboratory contains commercial equipment for evaluating the engineering properties of soils.
Faculty research has been supported through several grants from the federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation, National Research Council of Canada, Florida Department of Energy, Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Department of Energy Management, Florida Department of Community Affairs/FEMA etc.
Research areas for construction management faculty are project management, sustainable construction, construction materials and methods, risk management and computer modeling. Construction project management topics include project delivery systems, project performance evaluation and productivity. Sustainable construction areas include energy-efficient residential and commercial construction, renewable energy systems, project lifecycle energy projections, microgrid/smartgrid development and integration and green/smart buildings. Construction materials and methods research includes innovative materials and techniques for rapid construction, use of reclaimed asphalt, chemical soil stabilization with asphalt emulsion, cement and lime. Risk management includes risk mitigation during construction and operation of projects, disaster mitigation and disaster response. Computer modeling includes rapid construction prototyping using 3D, 4D and 5D building information modeling (BIM) and use of BIM for as-built construction drawings and facility operations.
The construction management program uses the civil engineering materials, geotechnical and transportation, laboratories for materials and soil-related research. Several computer laboratories are available for BIM related research. Additionally, the construction management program is in the process of building a high-energy efficient building on campus that will be used as a hands-on laboratory during construction and operation.
Faculty research has been supported through the Florida Department of Transportation, Turkish Airlines, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs – Office of Energy, and the U.S. Department of Education.
Research topics in engineering management are interdisciplinary in nature. The student may select a topic from their original engineering field, or a topic that spans several fields with the approval of the student’s major advisor and committee. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, project engineering, quality engineering, technology commercialization, engineering logistics and situational analysis. The student is able to conduct research under the master’s thesis option.
Mechanical engineering faculty are actively engaged in a wide range of research including areas of energy, robotics, nonlinear dynamics and vibrations, biomechanics, materials, combustion and propulsion, structural controls and dynamic systems, control systems, instrumentation, optimization, laser material processing, and design and manufacturing. Dynamics research pertains to nonlinearity and noise in small-scale vibrational devices, the design of micro- and nano-scale resonators for sensing and signal processing applications. Materials research is being conducted in analytical and numerical models in phase coarsening. In the area of energy combustion and propulsion, research is focused on areas such as zero-energy building, inverse heat transfer problems and production and engineering of gas turbines and rotating machinery. In the area of design and manufacturing, research is being conducted in design process using networks and artifacts of early design. Laser materials research focuses on high-precision processing of virtually any material, micro- and nano-structuring, surface functionalization, cutting, drilling and polishing of gentle materials and In-volume processing of transparent materials
Major laboratories include the Robotics and Spatial Systems Laboratory (RASSL); Dynamic Systems and Controls (DSC) Laboratory; Laser Optics and Instrumentation Laboratory (LOIL); Design and Manufacturing Research Laboratory (DMRL); Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) Laborator,y and the laser materials processing laboratory among others. Faculty are also actively engaged in Florida Tech’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design (CAMID) laboratory.
RASSL is equipped with several industrial robots as well as a state-of-the-art autonomous mobile robot. DSC laboratory is equipped with two electromagnetic single axis shakers and an 8-ft. single axis motion control table for low frequency vibration excitation, and a variety of motion sensors and other systems. DMRL is equipped with industry-standard software programs for advanced computer-aided design, manufacturing, simulation, design automation, knowledge-based engineering, and product lifecycle management. The lab also has several eye tracking devices, an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine, a driving simulator, and a collection of home-grown software programs. In LOIL, the current technologies in continuous wave and short-pulse lasers and optics are used to develop new techniques for measuring and characterizing material properties for biomedical and material processing applications. The laser material processing laboratory has several optical tables and material processing workstations. CAV is equipped with a Polaris GEM development vehicle that includes a number of advanced precision systems.
Faculty research has been supported through several grants from National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA (Marshal), NASA (Headquarters), Energy Florida, Department of Agriculture and industries such as Aerojet Rocketdyne and Lockheed Martin. Mechanical engineering faculty have also been recipients of the NSF career award and several NSF I-Corp projects.
Research activities include studies of past and future climate change, paleobotany, paleoecology, biogeography, biodiversity, macroevolution and coral-reef ecology. Study locations range from local to international, including the Indian River Lagoon, the Bahamas, the Yucatan Peninsula, Panama, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Galapagos Islands, Micronesia, Peru and Antarctica.
Research areas include effects of harmful algal blooms on marine mammals, impacts of stormwater runoff on riverine and estuarine water quality, groundwater seepage in Florida lakes, dissolved oxygen budgets in aquatic systems, trace-metal contamination of natural waters and sediments, acid deposition, trophic-state classification of lakes, trace organic contamination in coastal systems, hyperspectral remote sensing, and decomposition and sedimentation of aquatic macrophytes. Research is supported by the Marine and Environmental Chemistry Laboratory, which is equipped with water and wastewater sampling and analysis equipment, a total-organic-carbon analyzer, atomic absorption spectrophotometers and scintillation counters. Florida Tech maintains boats for fieldwork at the Envinrude Marine Operations Center.
Faculty and students collaborate with HBOI, FIO, Florida Sea Grant and the aquaculture industry to conduct research on spawning and culturing commercially and recreationally important fish and invertebrate species, developing stress-resilient fingerlings for grow-out in different aquaculture systems, and developing ‘green’ aquaculture. Fisheries research includes assessment of essential habitats, stock-enhancement of depleted populations, electronic and satellite tracking of fish movements, and assessment of the implications of marine protected areas for the biology and evolution of exploited stocks.
Faculty and students engage in integrative marine biology research. Research programs include climate-change biology, marine ecology, paleoecology, biology and evolution of fishes such as sharks and sportfish species, toxicology, and biology of marine mammals. Specific research includes remote sensing, laboratory and field investigations to explore the effects of climate change and disease on coral reefs, adaptations of fish to changing environmental conditions, recruitment patterns of sportfish, and the effectiveness of marine protected areas.
Research focuses on compositional and textural analysis of sediment and water samples.
Research topics in meteorology include thunderstorm electrification, coastal meteorology and tropical meteorology. Fieldwork explores the impact of the land surface on the wind and the role of wind as a driver of estuarine hydrodynamics. Atmospheric modeling simulates large-scale oscillations, urban effects on the surface fluxes of heat and moisture, and simulations of deep convection associated with thunderstorm electrification.
Collaborative research among diverse faculty and students fosters the application of molecular techniques to topics such as fertilization, quorum-sensing by soil bacteria and the plants that live symbiotically with corals, genetic identification of fishery populations, adaptations to climate change, marine diseases and the genetics of endangered shark populations.
Research interests center on coastal engineering, corrosion and materials, mineral exploitation in the sea, waste disposal, naval architecture and shipbuilding (including small craft), fluid dynamics, engineering and development of instrumentation, marine positioning, ocean energy, and development of underwater vehicles. Ships and marine facilities, both in-house and through HBOI and FIO, support activities involving coastal and offshore operations.
Research activities cover the spectrum of biological, chemical and physical oceanography, including studies of the plankton, benthos, benthic–pelagic coupling, transport and cycling of nutrients and contaminants in oceanic and coastal waters, tsunamis, climate change, and oceanic circulation.
Research focuses on coastal adaptation to climate change, sustainability, protected areas and fishery connectivity to aid in government decision-making. Student research includes producing solar-powered and LEED-certified buildings, indicators for eco-certification programs and other applied mergers of science, socio-economics and technology.