Engineering Partners with Los Alamos Labs

Calendar Icon Jan 15, 2019      Person Bust Icon By The Pulse     RSS Feed  RSS Submit a Story

A partnership involving Nebraska and the Los Alamos National Laboratory could position the College of Engineering and the state as leading educational sites for students seeking careers in the biodefense field. 

The partnership includes faculty from the College of Engineering and University of Nebraska Medical Center, and specifically researches the diagnosis and detection of infectious disease agents through the use of biosensors, analytical devices that convert a biological response into an electrical signal. Biosensors can be used for detecting biological and chemical warfare agents, including nerve gases and anthrax spores. 

Heading Nebraska’s collaborative effort is Ken Bayles, professor of pathology/microbiology at UNMC. Mark Riley, associate dean for research in the college, is assisting Bayles on the UNL campus. 

“We are interested in technology development, new methods of analysis and modeling, and in translation and use of new schemes to monitor microbes in a variety of environments,” said Riley, who is also professor of biological systems engineering. “We are especially interested in connections of students at the graduate and undergraduate levels.” 

He noted that UNL has one of the preeminent undergraduate research programs in the U.S. and could be a good avenue for connecting students. 

The career applications are numerous, Riley added, ranging from public health areas to medical facilities, manufacturing environments, and municipal water systems. 

The collaboration with Los Alamos is in its “infancy,” Riley says, but 10 UNL faculty members attended an Omaha symposium with Los Alamos last spring and more faculty would like to become engaged. 

Los Alamos was established in 1943 as one of the sites of the Manhattan Project. Its single purpose was to design and build an atomic bomb. Today, the mission of Los Alamos is to maintain the safety, security, and reliability of the nation’s nuclear deterrent. The laboratory works on nuclear nonproliferation and border security, energy and infrastructure security, and countermeasures to nuclear and biological terrorist threats. 

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