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Electrical engineering Professor J.-C. Chiao received the 2011 O’Donnell Award in Engineering from the Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Science of Texas. Dr. Chiao is the first UT Arlington recipient of the award, chosen by a panel of Texas Nobel laureates, and one of five rising Texas researchers honored for his work that combats cancer and other diseases.

What research projects were you recognized for?

I was nominated for several projects: a study on prostate cancer metastasis, a sensor implant that helps people suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease, an RF MEMS (radio frequency micro-electromechanical system) millimeter-wave camera that can see through clothes to detect weapons, a gastrostimulator that helps patients with gastroparesis digest food, a wireless pH sensor that monitors the freshness of produce, and a closed-loop implant system that inhibits pain. I was surprised that I was chosen for these practical applications.

What challenges do you face in marketing these devices?

Cost is a big issue. I believe we should use cost-effective mass-production manufacturing methods to make them. They should also be wireless, ready to be integrated into telemedicine networks, and possibly battery-less.

What’s the motivation behind your research?

It’s fun, plus I have a deep curiosity. When doctors mention they have a problem to solve, I listen and try to figure out solutions. UT Arlington provides an excellent collaborative environment and gives me the freedom to explore.

How do you see your research evolving?

As electrical engineering has been integrated with physics and chemistry, I think that the next research frontier is the fusion of applied biology in electrical engineering. A lot of biology students in my lab work closely with electrical engineering students. I believe the interdisciplinary research will create novel ideas and tools to address the increasingly complex issues in medicine.