Lab Updates

Research updates, announcements, and posts by the members of the UVA Link Lab

    ESE Department Chair Brian Smith Receives 3Cavaliers 2.0 Funding for Interdisciplinary Project

    April 14, 2021

    Professor Brian L. Smith, P.E., chair of the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment, and his collaborators in the Department of Environmental Sciences and the School of Architecture are among the interdisciplinary teams to win seed funding in the second round of UVA’s 3Cavaliers program.

    Smith, environmental sciences professor Patricia Wiberg and assistant professor of landscape architecture Michael Luegering sought the funding to build a “caster” system for UVA’s field research stations and surrounding regions to lower cost and raise consistency in field research data and instrumentation.

    Read more about the project here.

    Humans of Link Lab: Gabby Ringer

    April 02, 2021
    Gabby Ringer

    Gabby Ringer, class of 2021, is a native of Mechanicsville, Virginia. She is a fourth-year who is double majoring in media studies and women, gender, and sexuality studies. Gabby has been helping faculty and graduate students in the Link Lab, as a front desk assistant, since it opened in the beginning of 2018. 

    What’s your IEQ?

    March 16, 2021

    Laura Barnes (left) and Arsalan Heydarian.

    Find out how UVA engineers and clinicians are using ‘Indoor Environmental Quality’ sensors to try to improve patients’ sleep and recovery

    Arsalan Heydarian and Laura Barnes, an assistant professor and an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment at the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering, Dr. Gabrielle Marzani, an associate professor of psychiatric medicine at UVA’s School of Medicine, and Meghan Mattos, R.N. and assistant professor at UVA’s School of Nursing in the Department of Acute and Specialty Care, are all collaborating on a research project that investigates the use of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) sensors to measure things like light, temperature, noise and air quality to gain information on the patient experience in hospital rooms. Their goal is to use this data to improve patients’ sleep quality and recovery outcomes.

    “The sensing and environmental monitoring approach is most exciting because this type of monitoring can contextualize the patient and nursing experiences. Collecting longitudinal data of environmental conditions and then connecting it to patient-specific preferences, behaviors, needs and sleep quality is very new research — there are not that many studies in this area. The longitudinal data that we are collecting is very valuable to researchers, room and lighting designers, clinicians and patients,” said Heydarian.

    Funded by a seed grant from the UVA Center for Engineering in Medicine, Heydarian and Barnes, along with their Ph.D. students, Alan Wang, computer engineering, and Navreet Kaur, systems engineering, launched the project last fall by installing sensors in five designated rooms in the 3 East (3E) wing at UVA University Hospital. There were no patients in the rooms, so the sensors were able to collect baseline data of the changes in indoor environmental conditions.

    Before launching this project, Heydarian had developed foundational research using different IEQ sensors and actuators, which make up a cyber-physical system, at the UVA Engineering Link Lab. One of the Link Lab’s research focus areas is smart and connected care. His work was supported by a National Science Foundation grant.

    At the hospital, volunteer patients are now part of the study. They wear a smartwatch device to gather physiological, movement and environmental data that will be sent to researchers wirelessly. The team has also started collecting more granular information about the changes in indoor environmental conditions. All of these data types will be analyzed to better understand the different factors that may impact sleep quality among different patients.

    In addition to quantitative data, team members Lisa Letzkus, R.N., P.N.P., from UVA Health and Cynthia Southard, D.N.P., R.N., from the UVA School of Nursing, along with Mattos and Marzani, conducted a series of interviews with nurses and clinicians in 3E to learn more about the general and specific practices for patient care, environmental conditions across different rooms and other insightful information on patient sleep and comfort. 

    As an outcome of this multidisciplinary collaboration, the team envisions introducing computer models that can be used to predict patients’ comfort in hospitals, and also provide feedback to clinicians on how specific combinations of conditions and practices can enhance patient care and clinical outcomes.

    Homa Alemzadeh Aids Successful Kick-off Event for IFIP WG10.4’s Intelligent Vehicle Dependability and Security Project

    February 12, 2021

    Homa Alemzadeh, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Virginia, shared her expertise in resilient cyber-physical systems with members of the International Federation for Information Processing during the winter meeting of its Working Group on Dependable Computing and Fault Tolerance.

    UVA Engineering Ph.D. Alumni Elevated to Fellow Status

    January 15, 2021

    Two UVA Engineering computer science Ph.D. alumni have been elevated fellow status. Chenyang Lu, Fullgraf Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and director of the Cyber-Physical Systems Laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis, has been elevated to ACM Fellow. Lu was recognized for contributions to adaptive real-time systems, real-time virtualization, and wireless cyber-physical systems. He received his Ph.D. from UVA Engineering in 2001 and was advised by John A. Stankovic, BP America Professor of Computer Science and director of the Link Lab.

    Bronis de Supinski, chief technology officer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has been elevated to IEEE Fellow, and he was recognized for leadership in the design and use of large-scale computing systems. He received his Ph.D. from UVA Engineering in 1998 and was advised by Paul F. Reynolds, professor emeritus of computer science.

    IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society Recognizes ESE Professor’s Research

    January 13, 2021

    B. Brian Park, a professor in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment, has received the 2014 George N. Saridis Best Transactions Paper Award for Outstanding Research for a paper in IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems. Park co-authored the work with former Ph.D. student Joyoung Lee, now an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Awards for years 2014-2017 were announced in the journal’s December 2020 issue.

    Park and Lee’s paper, “Development and evaluation of a cooperative vehicle intersection control algorithm under the connected vehicles environment,” was published in the IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 81–90, Mar. 2012.

    In 2015, the Board of Governors of IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society approved a proposal to name the Best Paper Award in IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems as the George N. Saridis Best Transactions Paper Award. According to the announcement, 2014-2017 winners were named “after nearly five years of preparation and planning, and almost one year of hard and concentrated effort by the Award Committee.”

    Read the full announcement here.

    IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems is a journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a premier publication for basic and applied research to expand knowledge on transportation. It focuses on the design, analysis and control of information technology as it is applied to transportation systems.

    Park also is an affiliated faculty member of UVA Engineering’s Link Lab, an interdisciplinary center for cyber-physical research, and director of the Traffic Operations Laboratory.

    Benton H. Calhoun Elected IEEE Fellow for Pioneering Design of Ultra-low-power Circuits

    December 03, 2020

    The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has elected Benton H. Calhoun as a fellow for original and fundamental contributions in integrated circuit design. Calhoun, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Virginia, specializes in energy-efficient, sub-threshold circuit design and applications that enable self-powered wireless sensing systems. These wireless sensing nodes are so low power that they no longer need to use batteries. Instead, they operate on power harvested from their environment.

    Esen Yel Recognized for Excellence In Autonomous Systems Research

    December 01, 2020

    Esen Yel, a systems engineering Ph.D. student at UVA Engineering, will give the prestigious Link Lab Student Seminar in recognition of her work to advance drones and self-driving vehicles, or autonomous systems. The seminar is the preeminent talk given by a student in the 280+ person lab; being chosen as the presenter is also a hallmark Link Lab award in recognition of excellence in research.

    Daniel Quinn Receives Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

    November 18, 2020


    Fish and birds use complex high-speed maneuvers when chasing prey or escaping predators. How water and air flow around these animals during maneuvers is mostly unknown. Mapping out these flows will help biologists better understand the relationship between fish, birds, and their environment. Mapping out these flows will help bio-inspired roboticists, who currently rely on models of low-speed, symmetric gaits when designing and testing robots. Understanding the flows that govern rapid maneuvers will enable a new generation of fast, flexible, ultra-maneuverable bio-inspired robots. The principal goal of this project is therefore to discover the fluid dynamics that govern high-speed, asymmetric swimming/flying gaits. The project integrates educational activities, including virtual tours where students from rural high schools teleconference into the lab and remotely control a robotic swimming rig.

    This project is made possible by a unique rig that creates high-frequency, asymmetric flapping motions in a water channel. The rig uses a scotch-yoke mechanism to double the frequencies traditionally available to studies of swimming and flying, and it floats on air bushings in order to simulate autonomous maneuvers. The performance of fish- and bird-inspired propulsion strategies are then quantified by a combination of Particle Image Velocimetry and dynamic force measurements. These experiments will inform adaptations to models of unsteady aerodynamics as they pertain to swimming and flying animals and robots. The experimental-theoretical campaign will focus on three specific research goals: (i) Determine what three-dimensional flow features govern the thrust and efficiency of high-frequency bio-inspired gaits, (ii) Determine what three-dimensional flow features govern the maneuverability of asymmetric bio-inspired gaits, and (iii) Determine what wake-driven models predict the performance of high-frequency, asymmetric, tunable-stiffness fins and wings. More generally, the project's overarching goal is for the unique semiautonomous rig and the associated modeling to create new precedents and templates for those integrating fluid dynamics into the next generation of intelligent machines.