What's Going on Inside
This project studies ways to design autonomous vehicles and robots that can make real-time decisions using brain-inspired “intelligent” algorithms. These systems could be used for autonomous driving vehicles, rovers for space exploration and collision avoidance in unmanned aerial vehicles.
Funding: Prior support from NSF
Colleges: Engineering, Science
Lead PI: Vishal Saxena
The Center for Advanced Energy Studies brings together U of I, Idaho National Laboratory, Boise State, Idaho State and the University of Wyoming to study subjects such as the intersection of energy and water in industrial sectors. This space allows Moscow-based CAES collaborators to meet and work on existing projects and develop new ones.
Funding: Department of Energy, Idaho National Laboratory, Environmental Protection Agency
Colleges: Engineering, Science
Lead PI: Tom Wood
IMCI researchers use advanced mathematical, statistical and computational modeling to answer biomedical research questions, such as how pathogens interact during co-infection and how social interactions contribute to disease spread.
Funding: National Institute of General Medical Sciences
Colleges: Science; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Agricultural and Life Sciences; Engineering; Business
Lead PI: Holly Wichman
CRC researchers address the social, economic and environmental issues that affect community resilience in Idaho and the United States, such as integrated food, energy, and water trade-offs; maritime and arctic security; and the need for tools and approaches to observe changes in environments and their connected social systems.
Funding: NSF, Department of Homeland Security, NGA
Colleges: Art and Architecture; Agricultural and Life Sciences; Engineering; Natural Resources; Science
Lead PIs: Lilian Alessa and Andrew Kliskey
This interdisciplinary, humanities-led lab will draw together scholars and graduate students from the humanities, social sciences, and sciences to engage in collaborative projects that address environmental problems, especially those relevant to Idaho. Our premise is that a clearer understanding of the intense emotions and prevalent stories surrounding issues such as climate change, species extinction, extreme weather, water scarcity, natural resource management, and public land use, combined with efforts to improve communication and empathy across ideological, political, and disciplinary divides, will lead to more effective solutions to environmental problems. Our goals are as follows: 1.) identify communication barriers (ideological, political, and disciplinary) that are obstacles to addressing environmental problems in the state of Idaho; 2.) understand the emotions that inform these barriers; 3.) experiment with new communication strategies, including narratives and visual texts, that promote empathy across these barriers; and 4.) collaborate with communities to communicate more effectively and plan for the future.
Departments: English, Natural Resources and Society; Politics and Philosophy; Sociology and Anthropology
Primary PI: Erin James and Jennifer Ladino
This collaborative project aims to understand neurophysiological dynamics of specific brain circuits (cerebellum, hippocampus, basal ganglia) underling neurological and psychiatric disorders using a combination of experimental and modeling approaches. In this project, Dr. Richardson's research group will perform experiments in animal models (all animal work performed in Gauss Johnson). Data generated through in vivo and ex vivo electrophysiological experimental approaches will be used in model development and validation. Dr. Kumar's research group will develop models of specific neural systems/circuits. From these models, the collaborative efforts of the group will generate hypotheses and predictions, which will then be validated in experiments in animal models by Dr. Richardson's group. In addition, Dr. Kumar's group will also work with Dr. Richardson's group to process and integrate dense data sets consisting of neural activity during behavior (motor, social, etc.).
Departments: Chemical and Materials Engineering, Biological Engineering
Primary PI: Ben Richardson and Gautam Kumar
This lab will provide expertise on and access to genome editing techniques, which allow researchers to alter DNA to modify traits and understand plant and animal biology. Initial focus will be on wheat, barley, potatoes, tomatoes, litchi tomatoes, mosquitoes and wireworms, with future expansion likely.
Funding: Idaho Wheat Commission, IBEST, U of I
Colleges: Agricultural and Life Sciences, Science
Lead PI: Daolin Fu
GLOBAL Project researchers use molecular genetics to understand the biology of Globodera pallida and to develop nematode-resistant potato varieties to reduce the threat of microscopic worms that damage potatoes.
Funding: USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Idaho Potato Commission, Idaho State Department of Agriculture
College: Agricultural and Life Sciences
Lead PI: Louise-Marie Dandurand
This group will create virtual and physical 3-D models of the system of fluid around the brain and spine, the cerebrospinal fluid system. These models will help researchers and clinicians better understand how cerebrospinal fluid dynamics could be used to diagnose and treat neurological disorders.
Funding: Vandal Ideas Project
Colleges: Engineering, Art and Architecture
Lead PI: Bryn Martin
Researchers will conduct anthropological, historical, and chemical analyses on materials recovered from several excavations in Idaho, such Fort Boise, Chinese mining camps and the James Castle house, as well as from future projects.
Funding: Idaho State Historical Society, John Calhoun Smith Fund, City of Boise, US Forest Service/Boise National Forest
Colleges: Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Science
Lead PI: Mark Warner
This collaborative brings together multiple teams that study how future climate-driven natural disasters, such as extreme drought, wildfires, and floods, will affect communities and landscapes. Sub-groups include IFIRE, the Idaho Fire Institute for Research Education.
Funding: NSF, USFS, USGS
Colleges: Natural Resources, Science, Art & Architecture, Agricultural & Life Sciences, Engineering
Lead PI: Crystal Kolden
The scientific focus of the consortium is to combine mathematical modeling with innovative engineering technology designed to test stalk strength on large populations of plants so that we can predict the underlying features that cause stalk lodging. These underlying features will be systematically used in the future to improve current grain crop varieties; thus aiding in both food and energy security.
Departments: Forest Rangeland and Fire Sciences, Mechanical Engineering
Primary PI: Daniel Robertson and Armando McDonald
Polymorphic Games brings together undergraduate and graduate students to create revolutionary new kinds of video games that incorporate principles of evolutionary science.
Funding: Vandal Ideas Project, NSF
Colleges: Art and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Science
Lead PIs: Barrie Robison and Terence Soule
Effective therapeutic approaches for cancer treatment remain an unmet medical need. Although several trials showed great promise when therapeutic agents (e.g., oncolytic viruses, drug nanocarriers) were injected directly into tumor nodules leading to tumor shrinkage, intravenous delivery is required for treatment of metastatic cancer. However, many therapeutic agents which are effective when administrated intratumorally lack anticancer efficacy when administrated intravenously. The key reason for this is the rapid clearance of therapeutic agents from the blood circulation via the immune system. To be effective, therapeutic agents need to possess adequate stability in blood to selectively target cancer cells. Self-marker protein with high expression on the surface of red blood cells and cancer cells was demonstrated to be a repressor of macrophage phagocytosis. In addition, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been demonstrated to be low immunogenic and tumor tropic. The project proposed to perform in the requested space has two specific aims: (1) To prolong blood circulation time of nanocarriers by functionalizing with self-marker protein, and (2) To investigate the efficacy of using MSCs-nanomaterial hybrids as delivery vehicles for cancer therapy.
Colleges: Biological Engineering, WWAMI
Lead PI: Ching-An Peng
The SCC provides U of I faculty, staff and graduate students with assistance designing experiments and sample surveys, advice on statistical analyses, and expertise on recent developments in statistical research.
Lead PI: Michelle Wiest
The UI-FESS research team is designing and building flywheel energy storage systems to evaluate their associated science and technologies. FESSs enable the storage of energy from renewable, intermittent sources such as wind and solar and will aid NASA’s space travel and extraterrestrial colonization missions.
Colleges: Engineering, Science
Lead PIs: Christine Berven and Herb Hess
The VTL leads interdisciplinary communities of design experts, scientists, engineers, educators and artists with a focus on incorporating virtual technology in all aspects of education, research, modeling and simulation. The VTL specializes in innovative interdisciplinary research focusing on simulations for decision support.
Funding: NSF, NSF EPSCoR, NIATT, Idaho SBOE
Colleges: Art and Architecture
Lead PI: John Anderson
The Water Resources IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) program supports 24 doctoral students who are engaged in science related to adaptation to change in water resources in the headwaters of the Columbia River Basin of North America and in the BioBio basin of Chile.
Colleges: Agricultural and Life Sciences; Natural Resources; Law, Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Engineering; Science; Education
Lead PI: Tim Link
Co PIs: Barbara Cosens, Brian Kennedy, Manoj Shrestha
- Chemical Engineering of Advancing and Applied Materials (CEAAM). While the basic science and engineering protocols are being established in each respective department the CEEAM lab will be focused on developing deliverable applied materials for integrated problems. For example, the current effort is towards bacterial remediation through the development of stimuli-responsive pores on bacteria encapsulated alginate beads. The bacteria will degrade trichloroethylene (TCE, a known carcinogen and waste product) into more benign products. The polymer cores (both polymer brushes, polyoxometalates) will swell and shrink depending on the chemical environment (pH, temp., etc.) and only allow small doses of TCE into the bead as to not kill the bacteria. The Chemistry labs can facilitate the manipulations of the polymer coated alginate beads, the materials science labs continually develop the polyoxometalates and the chemical engineering labs can facilitate the conditions for optimal growth rates and TCE remediation yet the CEEAM lab will bring the groups together to accomplish the project of incorporating the bacteria into the beads, applying the coatings, manipulate the variables for optimal TCE degradation and to characterize the results.
- James Moberly, Kristopher Waynant, Mark Roll
- This center is under development currently by the co-directors. The CHHE will be a multidisciplinary and collaborative center for excellence with the objective of building a more sustainable human ecosystem through research, teaching and outreach.The CHHE will seek to accelerate practices and policies that transform the lives of people and animals in Idaho and around the world. The CHHE vision is to train the scientists of tomorrow; trainees will gain expertise in human, animal and plant health, and disease cycles relative to the environmental bases of human ecology and recognize that essential feedback cycles control ecosystem health. Trainees will develop communication skills to interface with clientele groups including at-risk populations, government agencies and foundations, agriculturalists, relevant industries, and scientific colleagues.
- Edwin Lewis and Shirley Luckhart
- Managing Idaho’s Landscapes for Ecosystem Services
- John Anderson
Collaborative Research: Causes and consequences of fire-regime variability in Rocky Mountain forests.
- This project is an interdisciplinary project (modern and paleo ecology, climate science, natural resource management, computer science, biology, earth system modeling) . Recent global Increases in fire activity highlight major uncertainties about how disturbances will interact with ongoing climate change. In the western U.S., shifting disturbance regimes are predicted to lead to long-lasting directional changes or shifts in biogeochemical states, influencing carbon and nitrogen balance over large spatial and temporal scales. A significant outcome from this work will be an assessment of local-to-regional C stocks in subalpine forests over the past 2500 years, and the development of millennial-length fire and climate records valuable for advancing Earth system models. Broader impacts include forest-climate-fire k-12 curriculum at MOSS and an embedded journalism student who will document and disseminate the research efforts (field, lab, written) to the public.
- Tara Hudiburg
Tree rings are a historical record that integrates the fields of climatology, geography, geology, fire, and the human dimension. Research into how trees and forests respond to dynamic events in these various field of studies allow us to project how forested ecosystems will adapt to future conditions. This knowledge will help guide the development of management strategies and policy that ensures healthy and productive forested ecosystems.
Colleges: Naturals Resources, Science and Agriculture
Lead PI: Mark Kimsey
- Mapping the Soil Resistome: Implications for Human Health and the Environment:
This project builds on the results of the 2nd project below and seeks to map the occurrence of antibiotic resistance in soils and determine potential hotspots of resistance (and their drivers), as well as, the proximity of these hotspots to areas of human health concern (e.g. hospitals, nursing homes, and schools). Additional work will employ a microcosm approach to examine the response of soil microbial communities to antibiotic additions.
- Interactions between antibiotic resistance in soil microbial communities and coupled elemental cycles:
This is a USDA funded project examining links between the maintenance of antibiotic resistance in soil microbial communities, change in the composition of those communities with an eye towards human heath, and the impact such changes have on the function of these communities.
Colleges/Collaborators: Soil & Water, CNR, IBEST, PNNL
Lead PI: Michael Strickland
Director: Daniel Robertson
Grand Challenge Scholars Faculty Council
- Hasan Jamil, Computer Science
- Mark Roll, Material Science and Chemical Engineering
- Erik Coats, Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Vishal Saxena, Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Nathan Schiele, Biological Engineering
- Behnaz Rezaie, Mechanical Engineering
- John Crepeau, Associate Dean for Undergraduates, College of Engineering
- Larry Stauffer, Dean, College of Engineering
The University of Idaho Grand Challenge Scholars Program was launched in 2015 as a decade- long initiative through 2025. The goal of the program is to prepare undergraduate students with the unique combination of interdisciplinary skills, motivation, and leadership required to address the National Academy of Engineers Grand Challenges of the 21st century. The U of I program is part of an international initiative that brings together students from over a hundred campuses on every continent and the program is expanding every year.
The U of I Grand Challenge Scholars Program has a defined set of requirements that describe skills, knowledge and competencies students should develop. However, it is up to the student to chart their own course on how to meet these requirements. This approach places students in the lead while providing guidance from faculty mentors and in some cases, advisors from corporate partners. Current students in the program come from the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, the College of Engineering and the College of Science.
SCANVILLE: Securing Cyberphysical systems Analytics, Visualization, IoT, and machine Learning Laboratory of Enquiry - A component if the ICS Cybersecurity Test Bed.
This laboratory is used to perform research on the architecture, design, implementation and evaluation of systems for improving the cybersecurity of cyber-physical control systems, information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) network and software systems, and Internet of Things (IoT) systems. This research includes, among other related activities, the architecture, design, implementation, testing and evaluation of software and combined hardware and software systems for analysis, machine learning, visualization, intrusion detection and avoidance, integration and testing including attack-defend scenarios, of networked digital systems with the purpose of improving the cybersecurity of said or related systems. This laboratory is also be connected to the Idaho Cybersecurity test bed.
Primary PIs: Jim Alves-Foss and Daniel Conte de Leon
The advent of low-cost unmanned aerial systems (UASs, also known as drones) with autopilot capabilities coupled with new software approaches to process aerial imagery into high-quality data products has quickly turned drones into an indispensable tool for research. Drones have democratized the acquisition and use of very-high resolution aerial imagery across disciplines including natural resources, agriculture, water systems, civil and environmental engineering, and education. With current drone technology it is possible to collect timely high-quality, ultra-high-resolution data that just 5 years ago was unheard of.
The potential for UAS to generate research-grade datasets and the low cost of entry has led many researchers to purchase drones for data collection only to discover that flying the drone is the easiest (and most fun) part of acquiring high-quality research data. Regulatory and liability issues, knowledge of photogrammetric principles, training and experience in flying drones and mission planning, and availability of specialized hardware and software to support mission operations are all critical to successfully collecting data with drones. These aspects also cut across disciplinary lines and represent a significant opportunity to leverage the existing drone-related projects and the U of I’s recognized longstanding strength in remote sensing research and expertise to build a common hub to support and encourage the use of UAS in U of I research activities.
U of I's UAS Lab will support the use of UAS in U of I research across all departments. The collaborators below represent the initial organizers of this common facility, but the lab would be available to any U of I researcher. The functions of the UAS Lab will be to provide:
- Shared Resources – Sharing equipment and sensors was identified as a priority during a recent Drone Summit. This includes drones, sensors, computing resources, and software licenses as well as “support” equipment like high-accuracy GPS, ground control targets, battery chargers, etc. Initially this equipment pool would be created from faculty making existing resources available to the lab. As funding is secured, dedicated pool equipment would be purchased.
- Fabrication/Repair Facilities – Drones require periodic maintenance and occasional repairs. Often custom mounts must be designed and fabricated for securing sensors to the drone platform. Being in the IRIC gives us access to the fabrication lab for working on drones and for creating sensor/camera mounts. Over time the UAS Lab will contribute to that facility with updated 3D printers or specialty tools.
- Training/Support – There is an obvious need for resources, knowledge, and support for the regulatory and compliance aspects of flying drones (both FAA and U of I). Even though one of the top “rules” of safe flying is to maintain control of your aircraft, none of the regulatory training actually teaches you how to fly! Both are areas where the UAS Lab plays an important role. As graduate and undergraduate students will undoubtedly be primary pilots of drones for U of I research, there will be continuing need to train new pilots through simulators and “training” drones.
- Calibration – Usability of drone data in research applications requires knowledge and calibration of sensor properties. This is a basic function of the UAS Lab.
- Data Management and Visualization – Drone imagery can quickly tax normal computing systems with the volume and size of raw images and derived products. The UAS Lab, assisted by the Northwest Knowledge Network, provides resources and expertise for managing large datasets from drone missions and computing systems for processing and visualizing derived data products.
- Collaborative Research Space – the UAS Lab provides limited office/desk space for graduate students directly using UAS in their research and will function as a central meeting point for UAS-related projects.
- Knowledge Hub – One of the biggest advantages of the UAS Lab is the synergy that would come from having people from all over campus meeting/working in a common space and sharing their knowledge and lessons learned. This lab may also contribute to bringing UAS technologies more formally into U of I teaching and outreach.
- Outreach - The UAS Lab can be also used for hosting hands-on workshops like the Idaho Drone League (iDrone) to promote STEM pipelines across the state where Idaho youth (7th – 11th grade student) will visit and utilize the facility to complete their hands-on project during iDrone events.
Initial UAS Lab Collaborators: The list below represents the core faculty staff that will help organize and launch the UAS Lab. The core collaborators will help define the lab’s structure, governance, and support as well as develop lab and equipment management strategies. There is undoubtedly a broader community on campus that will make use of the lab that will be engaged as appropriate over time. Additionally, external collaborators (e.g., INL) may contribute equipment or share expertise to support the lab.
College of Natural Resources
- Jason Karl (Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences)
- Paul Gessler (Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences)
- Crystal Kolden (Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences)
- Lee Vierling (Natural Resources & Society)
- Arjan Meddens (Natural Resources & Society)
- Jan Eitel (Natural Resources & Society)
- Karla Eitel (Natural Resources & Society)
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
- Jae Ryu (Soil & Water Systems)
- Jason Kelley (Soil & Water Systems)
College of Engineering
- Dev Shrestha (Biological Engineering)
- Ahmed Abdel-Rahim (Civil & Environmental Engineering)
- Mohamed Hefeida (Electrical & Computer Engineering)
College of Science
- Linh Nguyen (Mathematics)
Northwest Knowledge Network
- Luke Sheneman
- Jennifer Hinds
- Gina Wilson
SciView, a Virtual/Augmented Reality Platform for Systems Biology - The SciView project is an international collaboration led by Dr. Kyle Harrington to bring virtual reality (e.g. VR goggles, and VR CAVEs) and augmented reality (e.g. Microsoft Hololens) to one of the largest free, publicly-available, and open-source scientific image processing software packages, ImageJ. The core development team is at U of I, MPI-CBG, and UW-Madison, and users can be found worldwide. SciView is focused on visualization and interaction with 5D (3D + time + channels/spectra) datasets on the order of gigabytes to petabytes. SciView development by Dr. Harrington also involves teleoperation of robotic devices for biological experiments, and the Harrington group currently operates a robotic arm in IRIC 320 for the development of these technologies.
Primary PI: Kyle Harrington
Specialized Equipment and Core Facilities
The SCIOS DB-FIB is a novel tool that combines a powerful scanning electron microscope with a high-energy ion gun, allowing UI researchers and students to image and engineer breakthroughs in a universe of nano-materials. Example uses are repairing integrated circuits or exploring the inside of a bacterium.
Funding: Murdock Charitable Trust, Vandal Strategic Loan Fund
Colleges: Science, UI Electron Microscopy Center
Lead PI: Tom Williams
The IBEST Genomics Resources Core serves researchers at UI and beyond with top-of-the-line tools for genomic sequencing and analysis. GRC staff members assist researchers in designing experiments, writing grants, analyzing results and visualizing data.
Funding: National Institutes of Health
Lead PI: Samuel Hunter
This core lab provides access to a large selection of cutting-edge devices for a variety of molecular biology research with a particular focus on extracting and preparing nucleic acids quickly and inexpensively through automation. Usage is open campus wide after a brief and inexpensive training session.
Funding: National Institutes of Health
Lead PI: Samuel Hunter
The MC-TIMS — Multi-collection Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometer— can make precise measurements of isotopes in geologic and biological materials. It is one piece of a new regional interdisciplinary center, the Palouse Biogeosciences Collaborative, which would support a wide array of ecological, biogeochemical and geological studies at UI, Washington State University and Eastern Washington University.
Funding: National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Program, NSF Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), UI Office of Research and Economic Development
Colleges: Natural Resources, Science, WSU School of the Environment
Lead PI: Brian Kennedy
This facility will support projects that trace nutrients and water in field and laboratory settings. At larger scales, maps and visualization of soil nutrients and organic matter will be created from data supplied from the core facility in tandem with GIS and remote sensing techniques. Water stable isotopic and nutrient values will be analyzed from samples of groundwater, precipitation, soil water as well as streams and lakes throughout the region. At plot and smaller scales, microbial communities and their function will be characterized in collaboration with IBEST. Additional organismal research includes plant gas flux and preparation of plant and microbial products for compound specific stable isotope analysis. Research that requires a direct connection to the equipment will also be facilitated in the core facility, including microcosm studies and incubations.
Lead PI: Zachary Kayler
IRIC Chemical Clean Laboratory provides a dust-minimizing environment for chemical separations and clean sample preparation. This facility represents a unique space at the University of Idaho to support innovative, cutting-edge research. The dedicated space (Room 120J) provides a stand-alone facility for chemical clean laboratory work that provides integration across fields of geochemistry, stable isotope chemistry, molecular biology, hydrology and soils and also provides essential complementarity to the new Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry laboratory on the third floor of IRIC.
The Chemical Clean Lab is a highly purified, regulated room for the preparation of samples that are sensitive to even very low levels of contamination (e.g. dust particles in building air). Lab approaches clean-lab criteria** for operation with minimal air-borne particulates, the laboratory ideally supports 1) HEPA–filtered incoming air that creates a net positive pressure relative to the hallway, 2) controlled access to the room with established protocols for apparel (e.g. clean lab coats, shoe removal, etc.) and 3) graded access to the room through a transitional space for gowning.
Over $130,000 worth of instrumentation and infrastructure equip the room, including two laminar-flow benches, a microbalance with weighing table, and a New Wave micromill for sampling small (i.e. microns) amounts of material from hard samples such as rock, bone or archaeological artifacts.
Primary Contact: Russ McClanahan