Research

Engineers Study Bird Flight

A new study from Assistant Professor Christina Harvey uses modeling and aerodynamics to describe how gulls can change the shape of their wings to control their response to gusts or other disturbances. The lessons could one day apply to uncrewed aerial vehicles or other flying machines.

Interdisciplinary team receives grant to improve rapid diagnostics

An interdisciplinary team at UC Davis led by Professor Cristina Davis has been awarded a five-year, $5.9M grant from the National Institutes of Health for its work on innovative, non-intrusive diagnostic technology that aims to shorten the time it takes to diagnose a range of conditions from asthma to autism.

Geometric Analysis Reveals How Birds Mastered Flight

For her doctoral research at the University of Michigan, Assistant Professor Christina Harvey and her colleagues found that most birds can morph their wings mid-flight to flip back and forth between flying smoothly like a passenger plane and flying acrobatically like a fighter jet.

Vinod Narayanan Selected for $4.6M Department of Energy Grant

With a new grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Energy Technologies Office, Narayanan and his team of collaborators will develop 3D-printed high-temperature, high-pressure receivers for solar-thermal energy that can be used to generate power or produce renewable industrial process heat.

Now Hiring: Industry Jobs for the New Space Age

As businesses send up more space missions, build their own space stations and even think about mining the moon, they will need to find and train new types of workers. Professor Stephen K. Robinson weighs in on the first episode of Tech News Briefing’s special series about the developing space economy.

The Might of Mycelium

A few miles away from West Sacramento at UC Davis, a team of engineers, scientists and designers led by MAE Professor Valeria La Saponara is researching ways to apply mycelium to other human problems.

EcoCAR EV Challenge Marks a New Era for UC Davis Engineering

Over the next four years, UC Davis students will be designing the car of the future as part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s EcoCAR Electric Vehicle (EV) Challenge. The competition challenges students to convert a Cadillac LYRIQ EV into an autonomous, next-generation battery-electric vehicle with vehicle-to-everything connectivity so it can interact with devices and the environment.

Developing a Fleet of Quiet Rotorcraft

With a new two-year grant, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Associate Professor Seongkyu Lee and his team have an opportunity to make a direct industry impact with their groundbreaking rotorcraft noise prediction tools. Lee’s group will apply their expertise in predicting rotorcraft noise to help industry leader Supernal identify noise sources in their aircraft designs and recommend strategies to reduce it.

The Power of the Breath

One new trick a dog can learn is how to smell COVID-19. But although studies show they can accurately detect coronavirus infections, training enough canines to recognize the scent will take a long time to scale up. Cristina Davis, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and associate dean of research for the UC Davis College of Engineering, has a faster tool set to enter the industry by the end of 2022: a breathalyzer-like device to detect COVID-19 and its severity in individuals.

Space Research Takes the Stage

The Main Theatre at Wright Hall this month became the unlikely site of an experiment on technology that could eventually go into space.

Students in the Center for Spaceflight Research at UC Davis are working on technologies for a class of satellites that could inspect other spacecraft, such as the International Space Station, in collaboration with NASA. But up in space, the light is harshly bright with no atmosphere to attenuate the sunshine, and the technology must be configured for that environment.

Simulating the Impact of Air Taxis in California

With a new grant from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Associate Professor Seongkyu Lee and his collaborators at UC Berkeley and UC Merced will develop software that will help pave the way for air taxis, also known as advanced air mobility (AAM), to fly in California. AAM promises a new method of transportation through small electric aircraft that can fly passengers and cargo over short distances.

Cross-campus collaboration leads to ‘smart prosthetics’ for amputee patients

An interdisciplinary team of UC Davis scientists and plastic and reconstructive surgeons is collaborating to help improve quality of life for patients with upper limb amputations. They are utilizing a novel amputation surgical procedure and smart prosthetics to help patients better control their residual muscles, receive sensory feedback and reduce limb pain.

“Fungi to save the world”

Mycelium, the white filament-like root structure of mushrooms, might be an important building block of a more sustainable world. By growing mycelium with a biomass—anything from coffee grounds to leftover agricultural waste—researchers at UC Davis are creating sustainable structures that can be turned into everything from biodegradable plastics and circuit boards to filters that remove harmful antibiotic and pesticide residues from water.

Simulations for a new generation of aircraft

Mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE) associate professor Seongkyu Lee will join the renewed multi-institutional Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence (VLRCOE) at Pennsylvania State University, a $7.5M project funded by the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and NASA. This is Lee’s second time participating in VLRCOE at UC Davis.

Your Flying Taxi is Almost Here

In less than a decade, your taxi might come from the sky instead of the street. Once a hallmark of science fiction, flying taxis have become the cutting edge of aerospace engineering thanks to researchers like UC Davis’ Seongkyu Lee, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE). Lee’s group is conducting groundbreaking aeroacoustics research to lay the computational groundwork to make air taxis a reality.

Connecting humans and machines

Through the new UC Davis Center for Neuroengineering and Medicine and projects funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE) faculty members Sanjay Joshi, Jonathon Schofield and Steve Robinson are pushing the boundaries of the developing field of neuroengineering and finding new ways for humans and machines to work together.

Repurposing Used Electric Vehicle Batteries for Solar Power Storage

The University of California, Davis and RePurpose Energy, a clean energy startup co-founded by professor Jae Wan Park, have executed a licensing agreement for an innovative system that repurposes batteries from electric cars to use as energy storage systems with various applications, like solar power.

Cristina Davis’ lab to lead one of the largest studies of vaping to date

Mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE) professor Cristina Davis’ group will lead one of the largest studies to-date on the health effects of e-cigarette use, or vaping. In the three-year, $1 million study funded by the UC Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP), the team will collect samples from over 600 volunteers to understand how vaping affects the pulmonary system, especially in comparison to smoking cigarettes.

UC Davis Center for Neuroengineering & Medicine Aims to Improve Quality of Life for All

With an increase in cognitive and neurological disorders such as dementia, stroke and Alzheimer’s, researchers worldwide are actively seeking pathways to help people restore neural function and improve their quality of life. The UC Davis College of Engineering announces the launch of the UC Davis Center for Neuroengineering & Medicine (NE&M), an integrated, multi-disciplinary effort that seeks to repair, restore and augment human capacity to benefit society.

Per Aggies Ad Astra

As companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin launch a new era of commercial spaceflight, astronaut-turned-engineering-professor Stephen Robinson ’78 aims to make UC Davis a key player by establishing a new Center for Spaceflight Research this fall.

Fighting Fire with Engineering

On September 9, Northern California residents woke up to a dark orange smoky sky that rained down ash and made it hard to breathe. Sadly, days like this are becoming our “new normal.” As climate change makes wildfires burn faster, hotter and more often, humans need to understand the effects of these disasters and how to live with them.

Putting air in airfoils

Mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Case van Dam and his team are developing new ways to generate lift in aircraft using microjets to blow air out at the trailing edge of an airfoil. With new funding from NASA Ames and interest from Boeing, the team, including recent Ph.D. graduate Seyedeh Sheida Hosseini, will prototype and refine their design and conduct wind tunnel tests at Texas A&M university to bring their technology closer to use in the field.

Decoding battery health

With the advent of autonomous vehicles, smartphones and drones, lithium-ion batteries have become the device of choice for powerful and long-lasting energy. However, to ensure that the batteries are safe and effective, researchers need to find out what’s happening on the inside to make sure they’re healthy.

UC Davis engineering projects fight COVID-19

With new seed grants from the UC Davis Office of Research’s COVID-19 Research Accelerator Funding Track (CRAFT), three teams of UC Davis engineers are applying their expertise toward the pandemic response to help people become safer, healthier and better-tested.

Giving humanity a hand with supernumerary robotics

A team of UC Davis researchers look to give humanity an extra hand—literally. A new, NSF-funded collaboration between the Departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) and Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior (NPB) plans to develop and test a robotic fifth limb to give humans extra capabilities in extreme environments.

Seongkyu Lee partners with Hyundai to develop low-noise air taxis

Urban air mobility (UAM), or the use of air taxis, is poised to be the next big thing in transportation. Companies are already promising fleets in traffic-congested cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas as early as 2023, and Morgan Stanley estimates that the UAM business will create a $1.5 trillion market in the coming decades.

Why Drones Are Important in Sustainable Agriculture in the 21st Century

The work of a four-member international team of scientists including UC Davis mechanical and aerospace engineer Zhaodan Kong, a newly-published review paper in the Journal of Economic Entomology is one of the first of its kind to summarize scientific literature on the use of agricultural drones for pest management.

Space Engineering at UC Davis

If space is the final frontier, UC Davis is taking giant leaps to reach it. With expertise in human-machine cooperation, control systems and materials under extreme conditions, the university aims to make itself a rising star in space engineering and play a crucial role in the next generation of space exploration.

Modeling small cigar smoke in the lungs

Young people are adopting new nicotine products faster than they can be researched or regulated, though the health effects are still unknown. MAE distinguished Professor Tony Wexler looks to change this by studying smoke deposition in the lungs through a three-year grant from the UC Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP).

A Breath Test for Opioids

By Andy Fell, originally posted on UC Davis News.

A test to detect opioid drugs in exhaled breath has been developed by engineers and physicians at the University of California, Davis. A breath test could be useful in caring for chronic pain patients as well as for checking for illegal drug use. 

Giving Electric Car Batteries a Second Life

Though electric cars are great for the environment, the batteries they use are not. Because recycling is extremely expensive, they end up thrown into storage at car dealerships or buried in landfills. As electric cars become an increasingly large part of the market, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Jae Wan Park and his lab have found an inexpensive and environmentally-friendly solution to this problem by giving these batteries a second life in electrical energy storage systems for renewable energy power grids.

Microbes Make Chemicals for Scent Marking in a Cat

Domestic cats, like many other mammals, use smelly secretions from anal sacs to mark territory and communicate with other animals. A new study from the University of California, Davis, shows that many odiferous compounds from a male cat are actually made not by the cat, but by a community of bacteria living in the anal sacs.

Can Science Save Citrus?

Farmers and researchers, including MAE Professor Cristina Davis, try to hold off deadly citrus greening long enough to find a cure