News & Announcements

Dr. Wei Zhang Receives NSF IRES Grant

Dr. Wei Zhang, Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, in collaboration with Dr. Debbie Jackson of the College of Education and Human Services, Dr. Yongxin Tao, the Betty Endowed Chair Professor of the Mechanical Engineering, and a team from the University of Akron, has been awarded a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation of $299,998 entitled “Collaborative Research IRES Track I: US-Korea Collaboration on Biomimicry and Bio-inspired Fluid Flows (BIOFLOW IRES).”

Biomimicry or bio-inspired engineering innovation has great potential to address human challenges, such as the rapid growth in energy demand and more frequent extreme weather events. To produce talented scientists and engineers equipped with knowledge of biomimicry and cross-cultural experience, the BIOFLOW IRES Track-1 site provides international research experience to US students through a partnership with Prof. Sang Joon Lee, the Director of the Biofluid & Biomimic Research Center (BBRC) at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), South Korea. The IRES students will perform wind-tunnel tests to evaluate the effectiveness of a seal-whisker-inspired turbine blade for vertical axis wind turbines, explore how the shapes of plant leaves affect energy exchange and create tree-like flow-control devices to reduce rooftop vortices in high winds. The project opens up new interdisciplinary research collaborations that bridge biology and engineering, strengthens international research partnerships, and contributes to enhancing the competitiveness of the US workforce in the global economy.