News and Announcements

  • Thursday, April 12, 2018 1:41 PM | Amy Kavalewitz (Administrator)

    A lot of needles may help restart a heart


     – APRIL 12, 2018

    The skin presents a formidable barrier to life-saving defibrillators, but a team of students from Rice University believes it has found a way around that problem.

    Or, more to the point, through.

    The Zfib team of Rice senior bioengineering students created an add-on for automated external defibrillators – aka AEDs – that literally punches through the skin to help deliver a jolt to a person in cardiac arrest.


  • Wednesday, April 11, 2018 1:38 PM | Amy Kavalewitz (Administrator)

    Rice U. team’s drones aren’t just for show


     – APRIL 11, 2018

    Light-laden drones over the Super Bowl and Olympics were attractive demonstrations of the technology, but Rice University students have higher aspirations for their flying flocks.

    Six Rice electrical and computer engineering students have developed the hardware and software necessary to coordinate sensor-carrying drones that can evaluate local atmospheric conditions, measure electronic signals such as Wi-Fi, map areas in three dimensions and more.


  • Monday, April 02, 2018 1:33 PM | Amy Kavalewitz (Administrator)


     – APRIL 2, 2018
    The student-run Rice Electric Vehicle Team represents all academic years and over 10 different majors.

    The student-run Rice Electric Vehicle Team represents all academic years and over 10 different majors.

    The Rice Electric Vehicle Team unveiled its competition car March 31 outside the Abercrombie Laboratory for the upcoming Shell Eco-Marathon Americas, an international competition which scores vehicles based on their energy efficiency. The student-run organization designed and constructed the car from carbon fiber over the past two years; the vehicle runs on a 48-volt battery and can achieve speeds of 30 miles per hour. El Desafiador, or “The Challenger,” will be shipped to Sonoma, Calif., for the marathon, where it will compete April 19 to 22 against 150 other high school and university teams’ electric vehicles. (Photo by Katharine Shilcutt)


  • Monday, April 02, 2018 1:31 PM | Amy Kavalewitz (Administrator)

    Students’ monitor will help moms in labor


     – APRIL 2, 2018

    Rice University seniors are developing an efficient and inexpensive uterine contraction monitor to help save the lives of mothers in labor and their newborns in resource-poor settings.

    A team of bioengineering students who call themselves Contractionally Obligated designed, built and programmed not only a sensor to monitor women in labor but also a unique test rig. They plan to validate the monitor’s accuracy with the help of faculty at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and their patients. 


  • Thursday, March 29, 2018 1:28 PM | Amy Kavalewitz (Administrator)

    Device for patients with diabetes puts feet first


     – MARCH 29, 2018

    Patients with diabetes are often at risk of cuts or other injuries to their extremities that they may not be able to feel or easily check. Rice University students have developed a device to help them find early signs of ulceration that, left untreated, could endanger their health and even lead to amputation.  READ MORE AND SEE VIDEO

  • Wednesday, December 20, 2017 1:03 PM | Amy Kavalewitz (Administrator)

    JADE BOYD – DECEMBER 20, 2017


    Rice 360º will continue fundraising for effort to end newborn deaths in Africa

    NEST360°, an international team of engineers, doctors and global health experts, has won $15 million through the MacArthur Foundation’s inaugural 100&Change competition and will continue to raise money for its visionary effort to end preventable newborn deaths in Africa.

    NEST360° is a collaboration of Rice University, the University of Malawi, Northwestern University, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and 3rd Stone Design of San Rafael, Calif.

    “Our whole team is committed to continuing our work to scale NEST (Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies) across Africa in order to save 500,000 newborn lives every year,” said Rebecca Richards-Kortum, a Rice bioengineering professor who represented the team together with three others Dec. 11 in NEST360°’s final presentation at the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition in Chicago. The other NEST360° presenters were Dr. Queen Dube, a clinical pediatric specialist at Malawi’s largest hospital; Joy Lawn, professor and director of the Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive and Child Health Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; and Robert Miros, CEO of 3rd Stone Design.

    Four finalists from a field of more than 1,900 applicants vied for the $100 million grant, which was announced today by the foundation.

    “We’re doubly grateful to the MacArthur Foundation, both for its $15 million commitment and its confidence in making us a 100&Change finalist,” said Richards-Kortum, director of the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health. “The 18 months our team spent preparing for this competition clearly showed there has never been a better time to address neonatal mortality in Africa. The political resolve, both internationally and among African nations, has never been stronger. The technology is attainable, and it can be delivered with a market-based approach that African hospitals can afford. Everything is aligned. We will solve this problem.”

    Queen Dube, Joy Lawn, Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Robert Miros and David LeebronLong Description

    NEST360° presenters (from left) Queen Dube, Joy Lawn, Rebecca Richards-Kortum and Robert Miros with Rice President David Leebron at the MacArthur Foundation 100&Change finals competition Dec. 11. (Photo courtesy Rice 360)

    More than 1 million African newborns die each year, and most could be saved with simple technologies that keep babies warm, help them breathe and help doctors diagnose and manage infections. NEST360° is creating a rugged package of 17 Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies for African hospitals, as well as the distribution network to affordably deliver and repair them continentwide. Twelve of the 17 NEST technologies have already been created or are in clinical testing, and prototypes exist for five more. Several NEST devices were invented by Rice students at the university’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK) and were improved and tested by Rice 360° students and staffers in Houston and Blantyre, Malawi.

    “Rice 360°’s Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies identifies the opportunity for action to improve the long-term prospects for the world’s children,” said Cecilia Conrad, MacArthur’s managing director who leads 100&Change. “It proposes a feasible and durable solution to remediate the effects of premature birth with its suite of 17 life-saving neonatal care technologies designed and adapted for low-resource settings. It proved worthy of MacArthur’s support. MacArthur is deeply committed to helping Rice 360° attract the support its critical work requires and finding partners to realize its impactful solution.”

    Richards-Kortum and Maria Oden, OEDK director and NEST360° co-lead, thanked the entire NEST team for its dedication in preparing for the 100&Change competition. The team includes dozens of people on three continents.

    “Every member of our team, including more than a dozen Rice students and Rice 360° staff, worked countless hours on NEST,” Oden said. “But a special note of thanks goes to the team leadership in Malawi, Tanzania and Nigeria, including Nigerian Minister of Health Isaac Adewole, who traveled to Chicago in support of this project. Our African partners are vital to NEST’s success. It simply won’t happen without them.”

    Richards-Kortum said the team has already begun to make plans for raising the rest of the funding they’ll need to make NEST a reality.

    “It will take an investment on the order of $100 million to change things for African newborns, and there are few options for securing that much support at once,” Richards-Kortum said. “The good news is that we can build that magnitude of support from combined sources, and we’re committed to leveraging the $15 million to do that.”

    Richards-Kortum is the Malcolm Gillis University Professor and professor of bioengineering and of electrical and computer engineering at Rice. Oden is a full teaching professor in bioengineering.

  • Wednesday, November 08, 2017 10:26 AM | Amy Kavalewitz (Administrator)

    Ictal Inhibitors Wins Second at Asilomar

    The Ictal Inhibitors Team of Rice University Electrical and Computer Engineering

    Congratulations to 2017 ECE Senior Design Team Ictal Inhibitors on winning second place in the student paper competition at the 51st Asilomar Conference on Signals and Systems!

    Their paper, “On Developing an FPGA Based System for Real Time Seizure Prediction,” was authored by Sarah Hooper, Erik Biegert, Marissa Levy, Luke Van der Spoel, Xiaoran Zhang, all class of 2017, ECE junior Tianyi Zhang, their advisor, ECE faculty member Behnaam Aazhang, and Dr. Nitin Tandon of UT Health Science Center.

    Epilepsy is a neurological disorder marked by unprovoked and recurring seizures and affects almost 3 million Americans today. Surgery has promising results but also some serious risks. The Aazhang group is looking for an alternate solution through electrical neurostimulation.

    “Our research is focused on creating a seizure prediction system to help improve epilepsy treatment,” said Hooper, who presented at the conference on behalf of the team. “Over the past few years, we have worked to create a new seizure prediction algorithm that can predict seizures before they occur, and we implemented this algorithm on FPGA hardware.”

    Senior Design teams advised by Aazhang and ECE faculty member Gary Woods have tackled the same topic for the past few years, always building on the work of the previous team. The Ictal Inhibitors iteration worked to develop an algorithm that they proved could accurately predict upcoming seizures before the brain enters the ictal state, the state where the individual is actively having a seizure. The team’s algorithm predicted all seizures in their data set at least two minutes before their onset, with 3.9 false positives per hour.

    Future teams will work on implantable hardware that will respond to this prediction, applying an electrical stimulation to specific areas of the brain to prevent the seizure.

    “I'm excited to see the progress that this year's research team makes as they move the project forward,” Hooper said.

    The Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems, and Computers is a yearly conference held in Pacific Grove, CA. It provides a forum for presenting recent and novel work in various areas of theoretical and applied signal processing. The 2017 Student Paper Award winners were announced Oct. 31.

    This is the third recent award for the team. In April, the Ictal Inhibitors Team won top honors at the OEDK Showcase. The Excellence in Engineering Design Award brought with it a prize of $5,000. Two weeks before that, they took Best Senior Design Award at ECE Corporate Affiliates Day.

    “We’re really happy our work got second place in the student paper contest,” Hooper said. “We're excited to see that our goal of using electrical engineering to improve epilepsy treatment is something that got other people in the field excited and garnered support.”

    Jennifer Hunter, Senior Marketing and Communications Specialist
    Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 09:45
  • Tuesday, November 07, 2017 4:16 PM | Amy Kavalewitz (Administrator)

    'Found in Translation' wins hackathon

    “Medical translation can be very tricky. A patient might say, `Your child is having a fit,’ and with Google Translate it comes out, `Your child is dead.’”
    The speaker is Nishant Verma, a junior in bioengineering at Rice University, whose team, Found in Translation, hopes to ease miscommunications and non-communications between doctors and patients. Verma and his teammates won the Global Oncology Prize during Health++ 2017, an annual hackathon at Stanford University held Oct. 21-22.

    The event drew more than 200 participants, resulting in 52 ideas pitched and 33 projects completed. Some $13,000 in prizes were awarded, with $500 going to Found in Translation.

    Verma went to Stanford with a vague idea about what to do with second-hand medical equipment in the world’s under-resourced regions. On campus he met Dr. Victor Cueto, a pediatrician at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. From clinical experience, Cueto understood the challenges of dealing with patients who speak little or no English.
    “Victor told us the need was heaviest with poorer people, especially immigrants. Sometimes the people who need the most help can’t get it because they can’t communicate what the problem is. The app has to be very accurate,” Verma said.

    Also joining Verma’s hackathon team were an Arabic medical translator, a Stanford MBA student from Japan, a sophomore in bioengineering at the University of California-Berkeley, and a research physician from San Francisco.

    At a traditional hackathon, participants often work on projects around the clock, fueled by coffee and energy drinks. At Health++, hacking officially started at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and continued until 2:30 p.m. Sunday. “I was working with adults. We stopped around 7:30 Saturday and got some sleep,” Verma said.

    “It was an unusual approach to a hackathon. We didn’t do a lot of hacking,” he said. “We did a lot of talking, focusing on an understanding of the need and the clinical implementations of a solution. We had people on the team from many different backgrounds, and everybody had something to offer in discussion. I believe Victor left with a deeper understanding of the problem as well as a sketch of a solution, and he is looking for avenues to take the project even further,” he said.

    Patrick Kurp, Engineering Communications
  • Monday, November 06, 2017 4:01 PM | Amy Kavalewitz (Administrator)

    Hunter honored with alumni award

    Rice University Lecturer Deirdre Hunter was honored with an Alumni Faces of 2017 award from Onondaga Community College, one of her alma maters. The award recognizes outstanding graduates who “have achieved recognized success and made significant contributions to the betterment of society.” Hunter graduated from OCC in 2002.

    “I feel really humbled by this,” she said. “I moved to Syracuse, New York when I was 18, and I wasn’t college bound. In high school, I thought I would go to college, but I made some choices that altered my path. I thought then that if you don’t go to college when you’re 18, you don’t get to go. I didn’t know you could get a second chance.”

    OCC, she said, gave her that second chance. She’d been working at a medical waste processing plant, and thought earning an associate’s degree would put her on a path to being a plant supervisor. She had no idea the degree would alter the course of her life. Hunter would go on to graduate from Syracuse University, and later earn a doctorate at Virginia Tech. She joined the Rice faculty in December 2016, where she co-teaches ENGI 120: Introduction to Engineering Design and ENGI 350: Needs Identification and Design Implementation.

    “All along the way in my education, I had faculty who helped me see beyond what I thought I could do, and showed me my next steps. That’s one of the reasons I chose to start teaching.”

    Throughout her teaching career, she has tried to create what she calls “a small classroom” environment for her students, giving them a place where she knew their names and their strengths. When she came to Rice, she was struck immediately by the fact that the University makes that setting a priority.

    “It wasn’t just me, or a few of my colleagues,” she said. “Everyone here has that commitment to developing personal relationships with students and helping them succeed.”

    Hunter’s classes give her students experiential learning opportunities. She said that teaching the engineering design course has helped her develop as an educator, even as she’s encouraging the next generation of engineers. The class requires that students tackle real-world problems, many of them presented to Rice by local industries, and encourages them to find solutions and build design prototypes. Hunter said the process encourages students to try different things as they search for solutions, but it also made her aware of the preparation she needed to bring to the classroom.

    “Sometimes, I might not know the answer to something,” she said. “I may not know how a particular thing works. So, I have to learn that, and by encouraging students to try something new, to see how to find a solution, I’m discovering right along with them.”

    That sense of discovery is part of what encouraged her to develop ENGI 350.

    “This is kind of the bookends around the introduction to design class,” she explained. “With ENGI 120, students receive a problem to work on. Here, they’re talking with clients and observing workplace settings, to identify problems that a client might not know exists. So, they need to identify a need that could be solved with the design of a device or process, which is something they’ll encounter in their careers.”

    Hunter said that watching students work and having interaction with them are two of the things she loves about being at Rice. With an office in the OEDK, she has a front-row seat to watch as students progress on design projects.

    “I love how driven they are,” she said. “They’re taking tough classes, but they get so engaged and involved. That’s exciting to watch as a professor. And I love being able to be part of their learning process.”

    Hunter hopes to continue to inspire her students the way her professors inspired her. She knows her path to teaching is somewhat unconventional, but she also knows that her experiences shaped her and gave her a valuable perspective to share with her students.

    “I’m not sure that many people who go on to get Ph.D.s and work at prestigious institutions get their starts at community colleges,” she said. “But I always include OCC on my résumé and I’ve always talked about it. That’s where I got my start.”

  • Tuesday, September 19, 2017 3:55 PM | Amy Kavalewitz (Administrator)

    NEST360 is finalist for $100 million MacArthur grant

    Life-saving program for African newborns makes final cut for 100&Change

    NEST360°, a visionary 10-year effort to save the lives of 500,000 African babies per year, is a finalist for the MacArthur Foundation’s first $100 million 100&Change grant.

    NEST360° is one of four 100&Change finalists named today by the foundation. One finalist will be awarded $100 million in December. The 100&Change competition, which began more than a year ago, aims to solve one of the world’s critical problems. The competition drew more than 1,900 applications, and eight semifinalists were selected in February.

    NEST360°, an international effort by physicians, engineers, entrepreneurial and business leaders, is firmly rooted in Africa, a continent where more than 1 million babies die each year, mostly from preventable causes. The technology needed to save their lives has been available in the United States and most European countries for more than 50 years, but the equipment used in those countries is not built to last in the harsh environments of African hospitals.

    NEST360 photo/infographic

    NEST360, a finalist for the MacArthur Foundation’s first $100 million 100&Change grant, would catalyze continentwide change to end preventable newborn deaths in Africa. (Image courtesy of Rice 360°)

    NEST360° will optimize and scale a package of these “newborn essential solutions and technologies” (NEST) for Africa, train health care workers to use NEST, work within African health care systems and markets to generate demand for NEST and create a distribution network to provide NEST continentwide. Within 10 years, NEST360° estimates it could reduce newborn death rates by 50 percent and save 500,000 lives per year at a cost of $1.48 per birth, which is less than the cost of some routine vaccines. In addition, NEST360° will work with African universities, medical schools and colleges to involve African engineers and entrepreneurs in the NEST transformation so they can sustain the change and transform other health sectors.

    “Our team has worked together to improve newborn health for 12 years, and we have designed our program to be the lever that will catalyze continent-wide change,” said NEST360°’s Rebecca Richards-Kortum, a bioengineering professor and global health leader from Rice University. “Our 100&Change activities will generate proof — and more importantly belief — that a solution to the persistent challenge of poor outcomes for newborns is within reach. Not only will this save the lives of 500,000 newborn babies every year, it will create long-lasting systems change that can help solve other health care challenges both in Africa and beyond.”

    NEST360 overview infographicNEST360°’s roots are in the east African nation of Malawi. Work began there a decade ago by Rice 360° Institute for Global Health to design simple technologies that keep babies warm, help them breathe, help doctors manage infection and solve other problems. In addition to Rice University, the NEST360° team includes partners from the University of Malawi, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and medical device-maker 3rd Stone Design of San Rafael, Calif.

    For more information about the NEST360° team, technologies or plans, visit


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