URBANA — Five students at the University of Illinois have been named finalists for the Lemelson-MIT $30,000 Illinois Student Prize for innovation.
The finalists include doctoral candidates Sriram Chandrasekaran, Kevin Karsch, James Langer and Pradeep S. Shenoy, as well as Muhammed Fazeel, a senior in integrative biology.
The winner will be announced at a 6 p.m. ceremony on March 7 in the auditorium of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, 1205 W. Clark St., U. The ceremony is open to the public.
Here's a description of each of the finalists' work, as described in a release from the UI's Technology Entrepreneur Center:
— Langer, a doctoral student in materials science and engineering, has come up with a way to remove perchlorate from drinking water.
Perchlorate is a toxic rocket-fuel component that disturbs proper function of the thyroid and harms prenatal and neonatal development.
Langer has developed a new class of ion-exchange fiber composite materials that have the potential to remove perchlorate from water through a filter.
Langer is president and chief executive officer of Serionix, which develops technologies for air and water purification.
— Karsch, a doctoral student in computer science, has helped develop a technique for inserting objects and special effects into photos and videos without taking physical measurements of the scene. The technique can be performed by novices in a few minutes.
The tool greatly reduces the time and cost of creating visual effects for movies and product advertisements. The technique also has applications for home redecoration.
— Shenoy, a doctoral student in electrical engineering, has worked on differential power processing that has led to techniques that demonstrate improvements in microprocessor power delivery and solar photovoltaic energy conversion.
SolarBridge Technologies decided to license his idea, and in November that company was awarded $1.75 million from the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative to commercialize the technology.
— Chandrasekaran, a doctoral student in biophysics, has created computational tools that can rapidly search for drug targets for diseases such as tuberculosis.
His new technology predicts how changes in gene activity affects biochemical transformations within the body.
The technology allows scientists to computationally add or delete genes from cell DNA and predict the outcome.
By finding genes that needed to be deleted in a pathogenic bacterium in order to kill it, candidate drug targets are identified for microbial infections such as tuberculosis with great accuracy.
The development also has applications in biofuel production and can be used as a tool for genetically engineering bacteria.
— Fazeel is working on a device called "In Case of Emergency" that can call emergency services in case of cardiac events.
Separately, he is working on Tabule, an instructor-student communication tool that is considered simple, efficient and ready for use on any smartphone or laptop.