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Biomedical Researchers Win Edmund Optics Grants

BARRINGTON, N.J., Sept. 20, 2012 — Biomedical researchers at universities in Texas, Switzerland and Singapore won first place in Edmund Optics’ 2012 Higher Education Global Grant program and will each receive approximately $10,000 in products, the company announced recently.

The awards recognize outstanding undergraduate and graduate optics programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at nonprofit colleges and universities worldwide. More than $80,000 in company products will be awarded to the first-, second- and third-place winners in the Americas, Asia and Europe.

This year’s 45 finalists represented 22 countries and were selected based on the application and innovative use of optics in their lab or research setting.

Receiving first place are Tomasz Tkaczyk of Rice University, Quan Liu of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and David Margolis of the University of Zurich.

Tkaczyk is making advancements to miniature microscope objectives and endomicroscopy systems for in vivo detection of cancer and infectious diseases. The low-cost, portable and self-aligning optical systems he designs are already being used around the world to combat and treat tuberculosis and malaria.

Liu is developing new noninvasive biopsy methods based on optical imaging and spectroscopy to assess tissue without the need for physical biopsies.

Margolis’s methods for biological and cellular resolution imaging of living animals integrates fast wide-field imaging with laser scanning two-photon microscopy to reveal previously unseen cellular activities in the brain. His goal is to advance the diagnosis of brain cancer.

Second place finishers are Ann Elsner of Indiana University, Hayashi Jun of Osaka University in Japan, and Kirstin Baum of the University of Marburg in Germany. Each will receive approximately $7500 in products from the company.

Elsner and her team are working to advance biomedical imaging of age-related macular degeneration and other eye ailments using technologies such as optical coherence tomography, adaptive optics and specific polarization techniques.

Jun’s research on the ignition process of flammable mixed gases under the elevated atmospheric pressure or emission reductions can be applied to a number of applications, including biofuels and energy.

Baum received her grant for developing an integrated 3-D diffuse optical tomography (DOT) scanner and 3-D-surface reconstruction method to enable easy operation of the scanner without the need for advanced optical knowledge. Her technique enables information from the surface to be separated from that of the subsurface using polarization difference imaging (PDI) in combination with structured light 3-D scanning, allowing the actual surface shape to be determined. Images from this approach are then modeled together, using software for analysis.

Third place finishers, and recipients of about $5000 in products, were Gregory Lyzenga of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif.; Yin Change of National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan; and Saiedeh Saghafi from Vienna University of Technology in Austria.

Lyzenga won for the remote detection of microbial life in space using laser-induced fluorescence imaging and Raman spectroscopy (LIFIRS), systems that are being developed and integrated for a pair of Mars rovers designed to explore lava tubes.

Change received his grant for developing an in vivo fiber optic spectroscopy technique to target the detection of epidural space in the spine, a the technique that could replace the conventional method of inserting a needle into the epidural space and feeling by hand during anesthesiology.

Saghafi was honored for creating efficient light sheet microscopy/ultramicroscopy using an innovative beam shaping method of turning a Gaussian beam into an elliptical beam with flattened Gaussian intensity distribution. The beam provides 3-D nondestructive sectioning and imaging of a large sample, such as a tumor, as well as small samples such as neurons with micrometer resolution.

To read more about the award-winning applications or to view a list of all 2012 finalists, visit: www.edmundoptics.com/grant


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