Members Develop Cancer-Detection Technologies and a Fellow Receives a US $3 Million Grant

IEEE members made headlines this month

26 September 2017

IEEE Life Fellow Mark J. Balas joined the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as director of the Center for Laser Applications and a professor in the mechanical, aerospace, and biomedical engineering department.

Previously, Balas was a professor of aerospace and electrical engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla.

He is a member of the IEEE Control Systems Society and IEEE Women in Engineering.


IEEE Fellow Shanhui Fan was featured on Stanford’s website, which highlighted a cooling system the EE professor is working on that can operate without electricity. The news article touted the system as “the future of lower-energy air-conditioning and refrigeration.”

Fan and a team of researchers at Stanford developed a mirror-like surface containing a system of optical components that can cool flowing water to a temperature below that of the surrounding air. To test that system, the optical surface was installed on the roof of a two-story commercial building in Las Vegas. The research team found that, during the summer months, the panel-cooled system saved 14.3 megawatt-hours of electricity, a 21 percent reduction in the electricity used to cool the building. The researchers also installed the surface closer to home, on the roof of Stanford’s electrical engineering building.

Fan is a member of the IEEE Photonics Society.


IEEE Member Josep Jornet is principal investigator on a research project that received a US $1 million grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation. The interdisciplinary research team is developing an implantable sensor to detect and monitor lung cancer and other serious diseases.

Jornet, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Buffalo, New York, is collaborating with researchers from Intel and Garwood Medical Devices, a medical equipment manufacturer in Buffalo. The team is developing a sensor made mostly of gold that measures about 10 square micrometers. They plan to place the sensor on a blood vessel just under the skin on a person’s wrist so it can detect lung cancer biomarkers in the blood. The sensor would collect data only when triggered by light emitted by a network of nanophotonic devices integrated in a smart wristband the team is developing.

Jornet is a member of the IEEE Computer and IEEE Communications societies as well as the IEEE Nanotechnology Council and IEEE Young Professionals.


IEEE Fellow Homer Alan Mantooth received $3.2 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy for two projects that aim to develop and deploy efficient, lightweight, and reliable power converters.

One project focuses on building a dual-power inverter system for the electrification of trucks and buses. The other involves developing a converter for an onboard electric vehicle charger.

Mantooth is chair of the electrical engineering department at the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville. He is vice president of the IEEE Power Electronics Society and a member of the IEEE Electron Devices Society.


Graduate Student Member Alex Mariakakis was profiled by USA Today for his work on an app that can help users screen themselves for signs of pancreatic cancer just by taking a selfie.

One of the earliest symptoms of pancreatic cancer is jaundice, a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes caused by a buildup of bilirubin in the blood. BiliScreen is a new smartphone app that is designed to screen users by having them snap a picture of themselves while holding a 3D-printed box up to their eyes to control lighting conditions. In an initial clinical study of 70 people, the app correctly identified cases of concern almost 90 percent of the time.

Mariakakis is pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Washington in Seattle.

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