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Symposium award seeds $150,000 each into up-and-coming Mizzou research

Loboa and Lin pose on stage for a photo.

MU Engineering Dean Elizabeth Loboa and alum and AOI Founder, CEO and President Thompson Lin were key to bringing their entities together to provide two winning proposals from MU College of Engineering research teams with $150,000 each in seed money as part of the first-ever AOI Sensing Symposium Award. Photos by Jennifer Hollis.

For the first time, Applied Optoelectronics Inc., and the University of Missouri College of Engineering teamed up in an attempt to uncover novel methods of chemical sensing. AOI and Mizzou paired to provide two winning proposals from MU College of Engineering research teams with $150,000 each in seed money as part of the first-ever AOI Sensing Symposium Award. The competition was held at the AOI Sensing Symposium on Feb. 10 at the Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri.

“This is a win for our students and faculty, recipients of a fantastic opportunity to produce state-of-the-art applications with a company on the cutting edge,” MU College of Engineering Dean Elizabeth Loboa said.

The victorious teams were:

  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Associate Professor Guoliang Huang, Assistant Professor Jian Lin and postdoctoral researcher Hussein Nassar: “Bimodal Waveguide Interferometric Sensors by Periodic Power-Wavelength Modulations of Laser Diodes”
  • Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Associate Professor Mahmoud Almasri and Missouri S&T Assistant Professor Edward Kinzel: “Manufacturing Low Cost Plasmonic Sensors for Chemical and Biological Sensing”
All four winning team members and dignitaries pose with a novelty check for $150,000.

Yangyang Chen, Jian Lin, Hussein Nassar and Guoliang Huang pose with Dean Elizabeth Loboa; AOI Founder, CEO and President Thompson Lin and AOI CFO Stephan Murry. Their winning project was titled “Bimodal Waveguide Interferometric Sensors by Periodic Power-Wavelength Modulations of Laser Diodes.”

For this first-of-its-kind event, College of Engineering researchers submitted proposals, and the four finalists gave 20-minute oral presentations judged by MU Engineering alumnus and AOI Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer Thompson Lin; AOI Chief Financial Officer Stefan Murry; MU Interim Vice Chancellor for Research, Graduate Studies and Economic Development Mark McIntosh and Missouri Innovation Center President and CEO Bill Turpin. Potential research areas included biosensors for homeland security, lasers for remote area scanning, chemical detection for environmental purposes, in-situ sensing, medical bio-sensing, process control, agriculture and more.

“We are very excited and think we have the capabilities to move this project to a successful level,” Huang said after the winning teams were announced.

The event was a unique example of what is possible when industry, research and education collide in search of engineering solutions for critically important global challenges. The University of Missouri’s unique research atmosphere and the College of Engineering’s cutting-edge research in areas such as Biomedical Innovations, Big Data Analytics, Sustainability and more make the MU College of Engineering an attractive partner for companies and organizations looking to discover the next groundbreaking innovation in their field.

Two team members and dignitaries pose with a giant novelty check.

Edward Kinzel and Mahmoud Almasri pose with Dean Elizabeth Loboa; AOI Founder, CEO and President Thompson Lin and AOI CFO Stephan Murry. Their winning project was titled “Manufacturing Low Cost Plasmonic Sensors for Chemical and Biological Sensing.”

“Mizzou is very unique, with so many colleges on one campus,” Lin said. “By encouraging all these diverse and talented academics to work together, we hope to develop breakthrough optical sensing technologies that will solve some of the biggest problems of our age.”

Almasri said that working collaboratively with industry leaders such as AOI helps faculty researchers direct their knowledge and expertise into areas where it can make an immediate impact.

“Partnering with industry is helping lead us to the right applications,” he said. “We think of applications that may be better than the ones we were looking for. Industry can direct us in the right direction.”