Seed Fund Grantees

Laying the groundwork for new science helps launch transformative research. That’s why we equip researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with tools and collaborative equipment to explore new research ideas, and with funding for new studies, experiments, and seminar series. These flexible awards remove boundaries to scientific creativity, allowing for the exploration of new opportunities.

2020 Grants

Multi-Metal Printing

Multi-metal 3D printing

Buzz Rankouhi, Graduate Research Assistant, and Frank Pfefferkorn, Professor, Laser-Assisted Multi-Scale Manufacturing Lab, Mechanical Engineering

“This project focuses on design and development of multi-metal 3D printing processes, which allows one part to be printed using a variety of different materials. This process allows us to remove the design constraints imposed by the single-material approach.

Multi-metal 3D printing can produce ultra-light weight and multi-functional parts allowing for the aerospace and automotive industry to hit higher performance metrics while simultaneously simplifying supply chain and reducing the need for complex assembly and joining operations.”

Machine in Hospital with a graphic indicating artificial intelligence

Machine Learning for Medical Imaging Pilot Grant, “Application of Machine Learning to CT characterization of Renal Cell Carcinoma”

Dane Morgan, Harvey D. Spangler Professor of Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering

“The ML4MI pilot grant resulted in two journal submissions that are currently under review. Papers engaged multiple undergraduate research assistants. In addition, funding proposals to DoD and NIH were enabled by this work.”

3D printing support structures

Support structure optimization for 3D printing

Subodh Subedi, Graduate Research Assistant, and Krishnan Suresh, Professor, Engineering Representations and Simulation Lab, Mechanical Engineering

“During the 3D printing process, parts must be supported by anchors or support structures onto a printing surface. Support structures ensure printability of part and influence the properties and behavior of the part after printing. Unfortunately, these support structures entrap metal powder, leading to valuable material wastage. They also take a significant amount of time to print and are difficult to remove.

This research is aimed at improving the design of the support structures. A thin truss design would allow faster printing and use less raw material. These open-structured designs avoid powder entrapment and are easier to remove, paving a way towards sustainable design for metal additive manufacturing.”

2019 Grants

A futuristic glowing CPU quantum computer processor. 3D illustration.

Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD)

Victor Brar, Assistant Professor, Physics

“I am excited about using ALD to create next generation optical devices that could drastically reduce the cost of chemical sensors, which can be used for air or soil analysis. We can now design and optimize theoretical structures that have precise dimensions, and we know that such devices can actually be realized with nanometer accuracy. These proposed structures have been the foundation of several strong industry partnerships. ALD can dramatically broaden the materials available for quantum computing devices, and we have proposed a number of studies using ALD that have been included in proposal submissions to DOE, ONR, and NSF.”

Computing in Engineering Forum Flyer

Computing in Engineering Forum

Dan Negrut, Professor, Mechanical Engineering

The forum was an excellent opportunity to bring together labs, universities, and corporations across the world to learn about our cutting-edge research. We use computer simulation to improve engineering solutions to practical problems, such as how a rover should be designed to operate on a moon of Mars, or how autonomous vehicles respond when faced with unexpected scenarios. The free simulation software I produce with my students is used by these groups in extraterrestrial applications, machine learning, image processing, architectural studies, autonomous vehicles, bridge suspension, and more.”

Vagus Nerve Stimulation to treat IBD

Vagal Neuromodulation Therapy

Luis Populin, Associate Professor, Neuroscience

This project tests ways to carefully stimulate the vagus nerve (VNS) to help treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Because IBD is long lasting and remitting in nature, stimulation of the VNS on a patient-specific basis can provide significant relief through reducing inflammation, and, thus, diarrhea symptoms. This seed funding allowed for cross departmental collaboration between the Department of Neuroscience and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, as well as UW researchers to seek industry partnerships to develop these ideas and move toward implementation.

Machine Learning Kidney Cancer Diagnosis Process

Machine Learning for Medical Diagnosis

Dane Morgan, Harvey D. Spangler Professor of Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering

Collaboration between UW radiologists and engineers is innovating new ways to apply machine learning to improve disease diagnosis methods. This project in particular is developing and automating machine learning technology to improve the speed and accuracy of kidney cancer diagnosis, and could also be used to simplify and ease the identification processes for other life-threatening conditions. Continuation of these partnerships can make this kind of technology reality and save lives in the process.

2018 Grants

Man looking at brain scans

Machine Learning for Medical Imaging (ML4MI)

Diego Hernando, Assistant Professor, Radiology

Varun Jog, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

The GIE seed grant was awarded to help bring deep learning techniques to physicians and researchers who do not have expertise or experience in computer programming, machine learning or data science. By creating an open-source, fully graphical and user-friendly tool, the researchers expect to increase accessibility to deep learning methods important for the detection, classification, and diagnosis of disease.

Nuclear power plant

Next Generation Reactor Materials

Adrien Couet, Assistant Professor, Engineering Physics

This preliminary research seeks to provide proof-of-concept for combining four different metals using a 3D printer, then testing the chemical, mechanical and microstructural properties of the resulting parts. This work was made possible in part by industrial collaboration and supported the submission of a multi-million-dollar research grant. Aspects of this work have also been submitted to WARF for patenting.

Multi-Material Cubes

Multi-Material Cubes

Krishnan Suresh, Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Buzz Rankouhi, PhD Candidate, Mechanical Engineering

The ability to use multiple materials within one build can enhance the functionality of parts made via additive manufacturing methods. Further experiments are being conducted to characterize the mechanical and metallurgical properties of these multi-material components. This research was made possible in part by support from a UW2020 grant and has been approved by WARF for patenting.

heat exchanger

Heat Exchanger

Gregory Nellis, Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Air-cooled heat exchangers printed in 316L stainless steel have unique geometries, allowing researchers to study advanced methods of dry-cooling. This research was made possible in part by support from a UW2020 grant.

Animal Fluid Dynamics

Animal Fluid Dynamics

Warren Porter, Professor Emeritus, Integrative Biology

To study the effect of environmental conditions on animal fluid dynamics, stainless steel animal figurines will be heated and placed in a wind tunnel to monitor heat loss, giving researchers insight into optimal animal model development and processes. This research was made possible in part by support from a UW2020 grant.

Scan of an aneurysm

Aneurysm Clips

Kevin Eliceiri, Associate Professor, Medical Physics

A proof-of-principle aneurysm clip printed in stainless steel for a human artery implant study gave researchers the ability to investigate design challenges in preparation for clinical use. This research was made possible in part by support from a UW2020 grant, and has been accepted for publication to the ASME Journal of Medical Devices.