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Russ College now houses micro-rheometer thanks to 1804 Fund

Elisabeth Weems | Oct 9, 2017
Micro Rheometer

Russ College now houses micro-rheometer thanks to 1804 Fund

Elisabeth Weems | Oct 9, 2017

Ohio University’s 1804 Fund provides grants to further OHIO’s ability to produce in-house research. Awarded to both undergraduate and graduate research proposals by the Ohio University Foundation, grants are active for two years. Thus far, the foundation has awarded more than $383,000 to fund research for the 2017-2018 academic year.

The 1804 Fund is made possible through an endowment from C. Paul Stocker, BSEE ’26. Since 1980, the fund has made awards of more than $15 million.

Reinforcing its ability to produce world-class research, the Russ College is now home to a state-of-the-art micro-rheometer, courtesy of a $55,000 grant from Ohio University’s 1804 Fund.

Alireza Sarvestani, assistant professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering, is principal investigator of the interdisciplinary research proposal, which also includes colleagues David Rosenthal, assistant professor of environmental and plant biology; Lei Wu, assistant professor of civil engineering; and Jixin Chen, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

Sarvestani said the equipment – used to study the mechanical behavior of materials that have both viscous and elastic properties – will enable cross-disciplinary collaboration.

“Research is about collaboration. Without collaboration, researchers don’t go anywhere,” Sarvestani said. “Successful research often is formed by faculties from different disciplines and backgrounds.”

One example of a viscoelastic material is the gel-like hemoglobin, a protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues and returns carbon dioxide from the tissues back to the lungs. Sarvestani plans to use the portable micro-rheometer to further his research on sickle cell anemia, a red blood cell disorder from which he suffers himself.

Conventional rheometers measure resistance against flow, but the equipment funded by the 1804 grant instead measures viscoelastic properties by tracing the Brownian motion of micro-particles embedded in the fluid. Brownian motion is the erratic random movement of microscopic particles in a fluid that results from continuous collision with fast-moving atoms or molecules in the gas or liquid.

 “This is a university. This is the place for exchanging ideas,” Sarvestani added. “We are different from companies because we do things out of intellectual curiosity. This is the value of working in academic environments -- you do things because you are curious to find the answer.”

Located in Stocker Center 208, the micro-rheometer is accessible to both OHIO faculty and students.