Fiorenzo G. Omenetto, the Frank C. Doble Professor of Engineering; professor of biomedical engineering
Omenetto is pioneering the use of silk as a material in high-technology applications. His lab has already produced a class of medical implants that never need surgical removal, and now the team is researching silk-constructed consumer electronics that could become compost rather than trash at the end of their useful life.
Michael Levin, A92, the Vannevar Bush Professor in the Department of Biology; director of the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology
Levin’s exploration of how cells communicate to create and repair anatomical shapes could lead to breakthroughs in birth defects, cancer, traumatic injuries, and degenerative diseases. No wonder Levin was awarded one of just two $10 million grants from Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, an award that established the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University for Reading and Writing the Morphogenetic Code.
Matthias Scheutz, professor of cognitive and computer science at the School of Engineering; director of the Human-Robot Interaction Laboratory
Scheutz’s team at the Human-Robot Interaction Laboratory has developed software that functions as a kind of robot “brain,” coaching machines on how to respond to human language and nonverbal cues. The breakthrough technology was featured in the prestigious World Science Festival last year, and the Tufts team is one of twenty selected to compete in NASA’s $1 million Space Robotics Challenge, testing how robots might help astronauts—by, say, fixing equipment damaged by a dust storm on Mars.
Thomas Vandervelde, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Vandervelde’s work is focused on a material that has had more impact on our society than perhaps any other: the semiconductor. Vandervelde’s photonic semiconductors are used to make LED lights, lasers, cameras, solar cells, and many other devices. He’s at work on a semiconductor to help cameras detect infrared light, which might help identify forest fires before they spread, highlight a weakness in a power line before it fails, or improve the imaging of certain cancers. Vandervelde produces prototypes with his lab’s multi-chamber molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) system, a technology usually limited to companies with extravagant R&D budgets. But his lab is open to other academics and startups.