Professor Mona Hella Awarded a Fulbright Fellowship
As a Fulbright Scholar at Khalifa University of Science, Technology, and Research in the United Arab Emirates, ECSE Associate Professor Mona Hella will explore a nascent area in the field of energy scavenging from the environment: Silicon integration and complete eco-system realization using a variety of energy harvesting techniques. The fully integrated system will extract ambient energy from vibration, radio signals, light, and other sources in its environment to power wireless, networked sensors having a range of potential applications.
Intelligent environments will employ electronics that are integrated unobtrusively with their surroundings (or hosts) to predict and respond to the needs of people, improving quality of life. Wireless sensor networks encompass thousands of distributed sensors that continually collect and transmit information on their immediate environment. One of the most compelling applications is in health care and patient monitoring; other applications abound in automation, smart buildings, environmental monitoring, and more. But to realize this vision fully requires that the sensors be energetically autonomous - no power cord, no batteries.
Dr. Hella will collaborate with faculty and researchers in the new international semiconductor global research center in Abu-Dhabi on energy efficient electronics and energy harvesting to develop self-powered wireless sensing and monitoring systems to reduce the size, cost, and discomfort of body-worn sensors for monitoring the physical and mental state of patients in treatment. These systems will harvest energy from multiple sources in a seamlessly integrated manner to overcome the inherently stochastic nature of any single source. The implications for both the quality and the cost of health care delivery are substantial: recent studies in developed countries indicate a potential slowdown of more than 50% in the rate of health care cost increases. Perhaps even more compelling is the potential for developing countries, where such networks may enable affordable health monitoring where it is currently infeasible.
"Dr. Hella's pioneering work in multimodal energy harvesting in wireless sensor networks will significantly impact the health care delivery landscape, our ability to monitor environmental quality and track changes across multiple spatial scales and over time, the intelligence of buildings, sophisticated manufacturing processes, and more. The Fulbright Fellowship represents both a fitting recognition of the quality of her scientific and engineering contributions and an opportunity for her to leverage her work with colleagues to realize even greater societal benefits. Mona's work exemplifies engineering as "Science in Service to Society;" she is another member of the ECSE family, "Changing the World."
-Kim L. Boyer, Ph.D., Professor and Head, Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering