UCI Faculty Partner with Peers in Mexico on Collaborative Research Projects

MGREP faculty and student participants visited Mexico National Polytechnic Institute in 2018.

Oct. 13, 2022 – Eight UC Irvine faculty members are embarking on a cooperative research project with faculty and funding from the Mexico National Polytechnic Institute (IPN). The new collaborative initiative falls under the umbrella of the UCI Mexico Graduate & Research Education Program (MGREP).

Established in 2016, MGREP facilitates research and academic collaborations between the U.S. and Mexico. Spearheaded by Luisa Kregel, program director, and Derek Dunn-Rankin, faculty director and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, the program has brought 15 graduate students from Mexico to UCI as Ph.D. students, the first of whom graduated in the summer of 2022.

Each joint research project will receive $25,000 in funding over 18 months from IPN. UCI engineering and information and computer sciences faculty members and IPN faculty will visit each other’s campuses and work together to produce conference presentations and publications based on their work.

“This was a competitive application for funding, and as a comprehensive program, all of the projects include, as part of their goals, increased engineering collaboration of binational impact,” said Kregel.

The grant-winning projects are as follows:

Remediation of Mining-Impacted Soils and Sediments Using Engineered Nanomaterials

UCI: Adeyemi Adeleye, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

IPN: Griselda Rodriguez, Interdisciplinary Center for Marine Science

Abstract: Mining is important to the economies of the U.S. and Mexico. However, mines are an important source of metallic contaminants to air, water, soil and sediments. This project seeks to develop iron-based engineered nanomaterials, which are capable of stabilizing toxic contaminants at a higher efficiency and lower cost than existing stabilization methods.

Resilient Internet of Things

UCI: Mohammad Al Faruque, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

IPN: Ponciano Escamilla, Center for Robotics and Mechatronics

Abstract: Internet of Things (IoT) systems are becoming pervasive and changing the way we interact with our physical world as they address societal challenges such as solutions for smart cities, healthcare, energy and mobility. Examples include connected autonomous vehicles, remote health monitoring and smart homes. This project aims to research and develop techniques and methods that can be leveraged to maintain resilience in IoT systems in the face of disruption, faults and cyberattacks.

Artificial Intelligence for Early Detection of Breast Cancer

UCI: Hung Cao, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

IPN: Teodoro Rivera, Material Science Laboratory

Abstract: Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer and the main cause of cancer deaths in women. Particularly in Mexico, breast cancer incidence and mortality have risen in the past few decades. The key to detecting breast cancer at an early stage is implementing screening programs that have shown an increase in survival rate. The implementation of artificial intelligence in computer-aided detection systems has significantly advanced the ability of these systems to be more efficient and accurate. This project will incorporate deep-learning techniques to classify mammograms.

Mechanism of Pin1 and Tau Protein Interactions During Degeneration of Alzheimer’s Disease in the Mexican Population

UCI: Michelle Digman, Department of Biomedical Engineering

IPN: Mario Hernandez, bioengineering

Abstract: Dementias are considered an emerging public health problem around the world, where Alzheimer's disease (AD), a progressive neurodegenerative syndrome of cognitive functions, is one of the most common, accounting for 60% to 70% of cases. At the brain level, AD is evidenced by the presence of two neuropathological markers: neuritic plaques, also known as amyloid plaques, and by neurofibrillary tangles made up of filamentous aggregates of phosphorylated tau (pTau) protein. Our main goal is to elucidate the exact role of Pin1 activity and define its activity during the evolution of the neuron toward the neurofibrillary tangle.

Synthesis and Characterization of Luminescent Materials Type Perovskite

UCI: James Earthman, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

IPN: Jose Guzman Mendoza, Center for Applied Research & Technology

Abstract: Ceramic materials with a perovskite-type structure have attracted attention in recent years for many applications because it shows excellent properties such as thermal stability, color light emission as well as high luminescent intensity. Recently, our investigations revealed that materials with perovskite structure crystals doped with trivalent ions improve their luminescent properties. The aim of this project is to prepare luminescent materials powders with structure type perovskite using a solvothermal route.

Development of Vector AI Accelerator Units for RISC-V Processors

UCI: Fadi Kurdahi, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

IPN Researcher: Marco Antonio Ramirez, Computer Research Center

Abstract: In this project, we will develop accelerator units for artificial intelligence algorithms. This proposal seeks to develop a classic vector accelerator unit, and a modern accelerator unit based on deep neural networks to better process the high volume of information generated by IoT devices such as autonomous vehicles.

Developing High-Throughput Technology to Small Molecule Screening for Diabetes Mellitus Type 2

UCI: Hung Anh Nguyen, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

IPN: Angelica Ruiz Font, Center for Applied Biology

Abstract: High performance technology allows scientists to perform tests and experiments aligned with massive scale analysis, increasing the solution possibilities for addressing health, environmental and even renewable energy problems. This collaboration will address one of the biggest health problems in both countries, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 (DM). In the first stage of the project, we are interested in developing a platform that allows us to select 10 molecular biomarkers that will enable the fabrication of a lab-on-a-chip sample for early detection of DM2 in children and teens.

Study of Postquantum Security in Cryptographic Protocols

UCI: Stanislaw Jarecki, Department of Computer Science

IPN: Gina Gallegos Garcia, Cyber Security Laboratory

Abstract: Passwords are primary authentication mechanisms on the internet, and secure password-based authentication protocols form a key ingredient of network security. Currently used password-based authenticated key agreement protocols (PAKEs) rely on classical cryptosystems like discrete logarithm and factoring, which are insecure against attackers who have access to quantum computing. This work will include design of PAKE protocols that remain efficient when utilizing post-quantum building blocks, and the study of additional properties of post-quantum cryptosystems that help enable efficient and secure PAKE protocols. Expected results of this work include designs and prototypes of post-quantum PAKEs.

– Rachel Karas