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Sirti Bestows Award of Honor
October 21, 2010. Billie Moreland, PhD, of Billie Moreland and Associates and Steve Simmons, PhD, E...

Triangle %u201CGraduates%u201D at Sweet Sixteen
The Idea (1994)
In June 1994, while on a layover in the San Francisco airport, Dr. Steve Simmons cam...

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08/30/2001 - Massive Research Funding Meets Massive Computing Power

Original research in biomedical engineering will occupy much of Dr. Paul Schimpf’s time and energy for the next three years. Schimpf, associate professor of engineering at WSU Spokane, will receive a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund his research. He is based in the SIRTI building in the Riverpoint higher education park.

The NSF grant will not only fund Schimpf’s research, but will make possible the work of two new PhD students and one Master’s candidate. Besides the final report, when the grant is satisfied, the research will have produced two Doctor of Philosophy dissertations, one Master’s thesis, several technical publications, and a software package for distribution to other researchers.

Schimpf discusses his research with enthusiasm, trying to make something undeniably complicated accessible to the layperson. He talks about Poisson equations, partial differential equations, and direct and inverse systems. He discusses electrical conductivity, voltage, and current as it applies to human tissue. He suggests neurological and cardiological applications. When Schimpf’s work is done, he will have created a numerical tool to aid other biomedical researchers seeking noninvasive information about the electrical activity of the human heart and brain. This could lead to novel new approaches in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

The “short form” of the research project is to take the information currently gleaned from such medical diagnostic tools as the Electrocardiogram (ECG) or Electroencephalogram, (EEG) and analyze the data using partial differential equations and computational algorithms to pinpoint the source of electrical activity. This problem must be constrained to be solvable, is very computation-intense, and requires a lot of computer power. The diagnostic is further complicated by the fact that no two humans are ever alike, so all readings are unique and each requires its own computation. It requires so much computer power that it will require parallel computing. Solving the parallel computing difficulties is yet another research problem. Schimpf intends to reduce an otherwise incredible amount of numerical computation by constraining the problem with a spatial hierarchical search. “In summary” says Schimpf, “we’ll have to work smart.”

When the research tool is complete, Schimpf and his collaborators may turn their attention to possible clinical applications. Certainly the numerical, computational tool will be a help to Spokane’s growing medical research community.

Schimpf teaches computer engineering, electrical engineering and computer science courses for WSU Spokane. He also coordinates the Engineering Consortium, a collaborative program between WSU Spokane and University of Idaho for nontraditional students wishing to complete a bachelor of science in computer engineering. –Billie Moreland


Billie Moreland
 
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