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Young researchers earn national recognition

Dr. Bozkurt
Dr. Bozkurt

Dr. Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Dr. Zhen Gu, an assistant professor in the Joint UNC/NC State Department of Biomedical Engineering, have been recognized as young innovators in two of the nation’s top science publications.

Bozkurt was named one of Popular Science’s “Brilliant 10” for his work establishing the foundations of the “internet of bionic things” in areas ranging from human-animal communication to insect biobots to human health monitoring devices. Gu was named one of MIT Technology Review’s “Innovators Under 35” for his work on developing novel drug-delivery systems for treating cancer and diabetes.

“This is very exciting, because my work is based on outside-the-box thinking, and I didn’t know what other people might think of it,” said Bozkurt. “Knowing that the work is exciting to others makes me want to work even harder.”

Bozkurt’s research includes using cyborg cockroaches, also known as biobots, to locate the sources of sounds; electronically manipulating the flight muscles of moths and monitoring the electrical signals they use to control those muscles; research that assesses sleep physiology; and the development of smart fabrics with sensors integrated into textile fibers to monitor health and wellness. Bozkurt also works alongside the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST) Center at NC State to develop prototypes that advance the ideas of wearable health-monitoring technologies.

Dr. Gu
Dr. Gu

Gu’s research includes the development of “smart insulin patches” to help regulate insulin for diabetics and new approaches to targeting the delivery of anticancer drugs directly to tumors. Gu and his research team use nanoscale “daisies” and graphene “flying carpets” that deliver anti-cancer drug cocktails directly to cancer cells.

Their “nano-cocoons,” nanocapsules and a delivery system activated by the presence of the “energy molecule” ATP trick a cancer cell into absorbing them before they trigger the release of anti-cancer drugs.

“It is very exciting to be recognized for my innovation and passion for using science and technology to help people and – hopefully, eventually – to both improve people’s quality of life and save lives,” said Gu.

The “Brilliant 10” is an annual feature profiling 10 young scientists and engineers who are doing truly groundbreaking work in their fields, and the “Innovators Under 35” was created to highlight exceptionally talented young innovators from around the world in a variety of fields.

Return to contents or download the Spring/Summer 2016 NC State Engineering magazine (PDF, 3MB).

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