Kudos to Emmanuel Ogunjirin and Yudel Martinez, recipients of the department’s undergraduate award for excellence. This annual honor recognizes two fourth-year students who have outstanding academic credentials, demonstrated interest in communications and computers and a track record of professional interests and activities.

Ogunjirin and Martinez are 2022 graduates, each earning the Bachelor of Science degree in computer engineering.

As first-years, Ogunjirin and Martinez joined the INERTIA research lab led by Professor John Lach, a founder and co-director of the UVA Center for Wireless Health. Lach now serves as Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at The George Washington University and visiting professor of electrical and computer engineering at UVA.

“Emmanuel and Yudel started out as unusually talented engineers, who have grown into exceptionally accomplished researchers,” Lach said.

Throughout their time at UVA, Ogunjirin and Martinez made vital contributions to an ongoing research project, Behavioral and Environmental Sensing and Intervention for Cancer (BESI-C), led by School of Nursing Professor Virginia LeBaron, working alongside faculty from Engineering, the School of Medicine and the Biocomplexity Institute.

Ogunjirin and Martinez were lead developers of the BESI-C remote monitoring system, which is deployed in the homes of families caring for loved ones with late-stage cancer as part of a five-year project funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research within the National Institutes of Health. The system includes environmental sensors and smart watches programmed with a custom application to characterize the frequency, intensity, and impact of pain events on quality of life; to monitor the use and self-reported efficacy of pharmacological and non-pharmacological pain management strategies; to correlate environmental, contextual, behavioral and physiological data with reported pain events; and to evaluate concordance of patient and caregiver data.

Researchers working on the system aim to develop comprehensive digital phenotypes of advanced cancer pain and discover which sensing data are most predictive of pain events, in order to build pain prediction algorithms and inform real-time interventions to mitigate pain and distress.

“Graduate students have been involved in various aspects of this project over the years, but development of the current sensing system, which includes custom circuits, embedded systems, novel architectures and a user-friendly smartwatch app, was primarily by Emmanuel and Yudel,” Lach said.  

Ogunjirin and Martinez developed and displayed exceptional teamwork skills, collaborating with faculty, students, and clinicians within nursing, medicine, engineering and the community.   

“It has been an absolute joy to work with Emmanuel and Yudel,” LeBaron said. “They have both consistently gone above-and-beyond during the four years they have worked on this project, displaying a level of dedication and commitment that is extraordinary for any student, but perhaps particularly for undergraduates. They put in countless hours over weekends, holidays and school breaks, always striving for excellence and seeking to improve the technology and end-user experience.”

Ogunjirin will join Amazon Web Service’s division as a software developer engineer this fall.

“I hope to take what I’ve learned from BESI-C and use that in making smart and cognizant decisions in the software I develop,” Ogunjirin said. “I will also be continuing with BESI-C to see how the project evolves and grows over the years.”