Engineering Tools for Health Science

Engineering the tools of scientific discovery is a National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge. I have chosen to focus on supporting scientific discovery related to health and wellness, which is one of Oregon State University's three Signature Areas of Distinction. My research students and I provide programming tools that enable health researchers to create and reuse code for studies.

Specifically, most of these tools simplify the process of creating and deploying cloud+mobile programs that enable scientists to easily deploy sensors, collect data to the cloud, efficiently analyze data, and visualize results.

In one example project, USDA has provided a grant for a system that our health scientists use to monitor adolescents' physical activity (with Fitbits), to monitor their diet and behavior (with mobile-compatible surveys), to schedule customized reminders (for intervention and monitoring purporses), and to analyze resulting data. Another system, funded by NIH/NIEHS, enables health scientists to remotely monitor subjects' location (via Android GPS), to monitor subjects' behavior (with mobile surveys), to monitor subjects' breathing function (with Bluetooth-enabled spirometers), and to remotely customize the behavior of this system while it is deployed in the field.

In collaboration with National Instruments, we are developing a visual dataflow language (called LondonTube aka PexPipe) that will wrap these components and tools to further simplify the process of creating and deploying programs, as well as replicating studies through reuse of those programs.

Problem: Scientists struggle to create high-performance code with complex dataflow

Solution: Tools for easily collecting data remotely and analyzing on the cloud

Related funding

  • Personal Environmental Exposure Assessment using Wristbands for Epidemiological Studies in Disadvantaged Communities, NIH 12/14-11/19 (grant: $2,573,097, my share: $43,800)
  • The Wave~Ripples For Change: Obesity Prevention for Active Youth In Afterschool Programs Using Virtual- And Real-World Experiential Learning, USDA 2/13-1/18 (grant: $4,671,604, my share: $767,512)