Purdue University researchers receive $150,000 in funding to advance innovations

Published: January 8, 2015

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Six Purdue University researchers received nearly $150,000 from the Trask Innovation Fund to further develop their technologies. The innovations originate from multiple disciplines and range from water purification to a drug-delivery technology.

The Purdue Research Foundation-managed Trask Innovation Fund is an endowed development fund to assist faculty and staff whose discoveries are being commercialized through the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization. Purdue innovators from any Purdue University campus are eligible to receive funds. In this round, four West Lafayette researchers and one Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne researcher received funds to advance their innovations.

Ernest "Chip" R. Blatchley III, professor of civil engineering and environmental and ecological engineering at Purdue, received $31,186 to support "Continuous-Flow Solar UV Disinfection System," an innovation that kills waterborne microorganisms and produces safer drinking water. Blatchley and other researchers are developing this method by using ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun to purify water.

"There are millions of people in developing countries who do not have readily available water because the countries may not have infrastructure or financial resources to purify and deliver water to their populations," he said. "We are working to help those people by providing an economical and environmentally sound way. The support of the Trask fund will provide an important resource to help us commercialize this innovation."

A news release and video have additional information about Blatchley's water-purification innovation.

Babak Ziaie, a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, and his collaborator Shirley Rietdyk, an associate professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology and a faculty associate with Purdue's Center on Aging and the Life Course, received $20,000 to advance "SmartGait: A Device to Assess Gait Parameters and Predict Falls." The technology modifies a smartphone to measure a person's walking gait to help prevent falls in those with compromised balance, such as the elderly or people with Parkinson's disease.

"We know that people who are more likely to fall have slower gait speeds and variable stride time, step length and step width. But it's hard to gather that information in an everyday environment," Rietdyk said. "Our hope is that this innovation will help people adjust their gait and ultimately help prevent injuries from falling."

A news release and video have additional information on the SmartGait technology.

The other researchers, projects and award amounts for the fall 2014 round of funding are:

* "Decision Support Technology and Practices Under Changing Climate and Drought Conditions," David Ebert, Silicon Valley Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering, $40,000. Methods using visual analytics to reduce the impact of climate change and drought conditions.

* "A Bioreactor System to Produce Enzyme and Mitigate Membrane Fouling for Municipal Wastewater Reuse," Dong Chen, associate professor of civil engineering, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, $27,686. New methods for wastewater treatment.

* "Ultrasound Triggered Drug Release and Imaging Using Oxygen Nanobubbles," Joseph Irudayaraj, professor of agricultural and biological engineering and deputy director of the Bindley Bioscience Center, $25,000. Nanosized oxygen and cargo-bearing bubbles that can be tuned to release a drug upon an external ultrasound trigger while functioning as a contrast-imaging agent.

The next Trask Innovation Fund proposal submissions from Purdue faculty and staff will be due in spring 2015. Information about submissions is available at http://otc-prf.org/trask-innovation-fund.

About Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology-transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year by the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at innovation@prf.org

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Cynthia Sequin, 765-588-3340, casequin@prf.org 

Sources: Brooke Beier, 765-588-3464, blbeier@prf.org

Ernest R. Blatchley III, 765-494-0316, blatch@ecn.purdue.edu

Babak Ziaie, 765-494-0725, bziaie@purdue.edu

Shirley Rietdyk, 765-496-6703, srietdyk@purdue.edu