California State University, Chico was recently awarded a pair of National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Instrumentation grants totaling more than $322,000 for new equipment to broaden research and bolster the future of research in the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Debra Larson noted that receiving an NSF grant is cause alone to celebrate—and receiving two very competitive grants in a single cycle is particularly impressive.

“These grants are the result of the tireless efforts of the faculty involved in the wide range of research,” Larson said. “They exemplify our commitment to providing high-quality experiential learning through cutting-edge scholarship from which our students will ultimately benefit.”

Hassan Salehi, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is the principal investigator (PI) for a $110,375 grant to research early detection of dental disease. Along with Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering colleague Ghang-Ho Lee, as well as Mina Mahdian at Stony Brook University, Salehi will utilize a newly acquired swept-source optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging system, as well as a deep learning workstation (DLW) to advance their work on biomedical sensing, imaging and analytics. Salehi is also hosting two visiting scholars from China to assist in his research.

According to the proposal, one of the grant’s key missions is to “prepare electrical and computer engineering majors for careers in biomedical engineering, and an OCT imaging system and DLW will enhance educational opportunities for students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

Additionally, Ozgul Yasar, Nathan Anderson, Monica So, Kathleen Meehan and Zahrasadat Alavi received funding of $212,250 for a Raman spectrometer, which, according to the grant proposal, will “enable multiple research activities across the CSU, Chico campus including but not limited to students and faculty in engineering, chemistry and biochemistry.”

This collaborative effort will bring together multiple disciplines from within the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management (ECC). Described as the “gold standard for material characterization in a wide spectrum of scientific fields,” the Raman spectrometer will enable nanoparticle research, introduce many students to the wonder of nanotechnology, and have “a tremendous impact on the learning experience of undergraduate and graduate students across the campus,” according to the proposal.

Melody Stapleton, interim dean of the College of ECC, expressed pride in the successful grant proposals, as well as enthusiasm for the future of interdisciplinary collaboration.

“We are exceptionally proud of the many early-career ECC faculty who have successfully competed for these funds,” she said. “Each of these proposals was the result of collaborations of faculty across departments in ECC as well as with faculty in the College of Natural Sciences.” Stapleton added that “these collaborations are the roadmap to future success for this University.”