DALLAS (SMU) – Three Lyle faculty members have been awarded 2018 Sam Taylor Fellowships, which provide up to $2,000 in funding toward research projects for full-time faculty at United Methodist-related colleges and universities in Texas. Ali Heydari, MinJun Kim, and Jaewook Myung join 22 other distinguished SMU faculty members who were also awarded Fellowships this year.

Applications were evaluated on the significance of the project, clarity of the proposal, professional development of the applicant, the value of the project to the community or nation and the project’s sensitivity to value questions confronting higher education and society.

Ali Heydari, assistant professor, mechanical engineering, submitted a proposal to procure necessary equipment and fund lab assistance to use computational intelligence for optimal switching between therapies to disrupt the evolution process of HIV, so that more individualized and effective treatment protocols can be used for longer patient survival rates.

MinJun Kim, professor, Robert C. Womack Chair in Engineering, mechanical engineering, plans to travel during spring break 2018 with a team of graduate and senior undergraduate students to the Max Planck Institute in Stuttgart, Germany. The international team will perform collaborative experiments and share knowledge and expertise relating to the design, fabrication, and testing of biologically-inspired microrobot systems with active propulsion for controlled drug and therapy delivery.

Jaewook Myung, assistant professor, civil and environmental engineering, will evaluate and find viable solutions for the environmental impact of bioplastic microbeads when they are introduced to natural environments after use as personal care products. The funding will support a research study conducted in the lab and in field testing on whether biodegradable microbeads can be an appropriate alternative to the now-outlawed plastic, petroleum-based microbeads.

Fellowships to SMU faculty increased this year to 25, up from 21 recipients last year.

Contact Molly Phillips,, 214-768-1556

About SMU
SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls approximately 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

About the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering
SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, founded in 1925, is one of the oldest engineering schools in the Southwest. The school offers eight undergraduate and 29 graduate programs, including master’s and doctoral degrees, through the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Computer Science and Engineering; Electrical Engineering; Engineering Management, Information, and Systems; and Mechanical Engineering. Lyle students participate in programs in the unique Deason Innovation Gym, providing the tools and space to work on immersion design projects and competitions to accelerate leadership development and the framework for innovation; the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership, helping students develop nontechnical skills to prepare them for leadership in diverse technical fields; the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education, developing new methodologies for incorporating engineering education into K-12 schools; and the Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, combining technological innovation with business expertise to address global poverty.




DALLAS (SMU) – Bruce Gnade, executive director of the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership and clinical professor within SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the organization announced Tuesday.

Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional accolade bestowed solely to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and welfare of society. Fellows are named inventors on U.S. patents, and are nominated by peers for outstanding contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society, and support and enhancement of innovation.

Gnade holds 77 U.S. patents and 55 foreign patents and has authored or co-authored more than 195 refereed journal articles.  His current research interest focuses on flexible electronics with applications ranging from radiation sensors to microelectronic arrays for cellular recording.

Prior to joining SMU, Gnade held leadership positions at Texas Instruments and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where he served as a program manager overseeing influential technology research projects for the Department of Defense.  He is currently serving on the Board of Directors of Oak Ridge Associated Universities.

His academic career includes faculty appointments at the University of Maryland, the University of North Texas, and the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).

Gnade is a member of the Materials Research Society and the Society for Information Displays, a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

With the election of the 2017 class, there are now 912 NAI Fellows representing over 250 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes. The 2017 Fellows are named inventors on nearly 6,000 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 32,000.

Included among the Fellows are more than 100 presidents and senior leaders of research universities and non-profit research institutes; 439 members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; 36 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame; 52 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation and U.S. National Medal of Science; 29 Nobel Laureates; 261 AAAS Fellows; 168 IEEE Fellows; and 142 Fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, among other awards and distinctions.

The 2017 NAI Fellows will be inducted April 5, 2018, as part of the Seventh Annual NAI Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the Mayflower Hotel.

The 2017 class of NAI Fellows was evaluated by the 2017 Selection Committee, which included 18 members comprising NAI Fellows, U.S. National Medals recipients, National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees, members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and senior officials from the USPTO, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Association of American Universities, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Association of University Technology Managers, and National Inventors Hall of Fame, among other organizations.

Contact Molly Phillips,, 214-768-1556

About SMU

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls approximately 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

About the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering

SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, founded in 1925, is one of the oldest engineering schools in the Southwest. The school offers eight undergraduate and 29 graduate programs, including master’s and doctoral degrees, through the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Computer Science and Engineering; Electrical Engineering; Engineering Management, Information, and Systems; and Mechanical Engineering. Lyle students participate in programs in the unique Deason Innovation Gym, providing the tools and space to work on immersion design projects and competitions to accelerate leadership development and the framework for innovation; the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership, helping students develop nontechnical skills to prepare them for leadership in diverse technical fields; the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education, developing new methodologies for incorporating engineering education into K-12 schools; and the Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, combining technological innovation with business expertise to address global poverty.


The National Academy of Inventors is a 501(c)(3) non-profit member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with over 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society.




Notable Alumni: Amir Ali ’15 Applies Teaching Inspiration to German University in Cairo

After earning his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from SMU Lyle, Dr. Amir Ali returned to his home in Cairo, Egypt, to begin a position as an assistant professor at the German University in Cairo (GUC). There, Ali founded and is the director of the ARAtronics Lab, a research group of students of all collegiate levels that use a diverse range of science applications to develop feasible solutions for mechatronics applications in research and industry. This year the ARAtronics team has been selected to join the Cairo Invents Program in cooperation with the Scientific Research Academy in Cairo.

“We follow the same model as my research at SMU,” Ali says. “Specifically, with micro-optical sensors in robotics systems, neuroscience and electrophysiology to create prosthetic limbs that are controlled by EEG brain signals and EMG muscle signals enhanced by micro-optical sensors.”

The son of two physical chemistry professors, Ali grew up wanting to be just like his parents. “I learned from a very young age about scientific applications and conferences, and so it became part of my personality,” he says. “I needed to have continuous science and research, to learn something new every day.”

Ali teaches classes in person at the German University’s Cairo campus, and via online learning at the Berlin campus in English, to attract more university students. In addition to Arabic and English, Ali also possesses basic proficiency in Spanish and German.

He models his teaching style after his mentor and advisor, Dr. Volkan Otugen, Senior Associate Dean and the George R. Brown Chair in Mechanical Engineering at SMU Lyle. “Dr. Otugen is my role model,” Ali says. “I’ve emulated his way of thinking, interpreting problems, inspiring students and looking for funding, and use these skills in my career.”

Ali also emulates another SMU Lyle faculty member’s teaching style, that of Dr. Edmond Richer, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering.  “Dr. Richer showed me how to see beyond the technical and look at problems from a real-world perspective. I transferred his way of teaching and seeing things to my students here.”

Ali’s students immediately appreciated this approach, so much so that he received a gift from his graduating seniors ‒ a custom-wrapped chocolate bar with the words, “To the Best Professor Ever! Thank You”. For Ali, the ability to learn from strong mentors and connect with students seems to be guiding him toward a successful career as a faculty member.

**UPDATE: Dr. Amir Ali was given the 2017 National Instruments Excellence Award in Academic Education and Scientific Research for the Middle East

Dr. Amir Ali, Assistant Professor, Mechatronics Engineering, and Director, ARAtronics Lab, German University in Cairo, Egypt



ARAtronics Research Lab on Facebook:


Student Spotlight: Undergraduate Amber Long, B.S. Environmental Engineering, Global Development Minor

For most of Amber Long’s life, she has carried two passions: international travel and making a difference in the world. Both helped guide Long’s decision to major in Environmental Engineering and minor in Global Development at SMU Lyle.

Long is pursuing a 4+1 degree in Environmental Engineering, focusing on water resources and international development. She’s also interested in a Master of Arts in Design and Innovation (MADI), undertaking double masters’ degrees because she “would really like to work on the design end of water purification systems in developing countries.”

Long, who speaks Spanish and French, has naturally embraced each study abroad program that aligns with her plans. Every summer or term break is scheduled with as much university and degree-program credit or real-world experience as her schedule permits. “Because of my passion for travel, I made it a priority to figure out the most efficient, yet creative, way to make the most of my SMU experience ‒ and still graduate on time,” Long says. “At SMU Lyle, I have a close-knit community of professors, advisors and deans supporting me as I make my plans a reality. Dr. Andrew Quicksall has been an endless source of wisdom for me, since he has had significant experience in the developing world, and will do everything in his power to help prepare me for the future.”

After her first year, Long attended SMU-in-Paris to work on her foreign language requirements. She is the vice president of projects for Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and traveled as a team member to Bolivia to work on a water well system. She has interned with EARTH University in Costa Rica, where she helped to design and build a hydroponics system, developed organic fertilizer and learned sustainable practices.

This summer Long took a July term trip to Rwanda with Dr. Quicksall, associate professor at SMU Lyle, working as a team member in training for developing world water and energy practices. Her group saw community solar-powered wells, toured KivuWatt, a methane power plant on Lake Kivu, and helped collect water samples at Mahama Refugee Camp. “We evaluated the intricate design and development in the private, non-government sector, like WaterAid, as well as the government sector, by talking to the Ministers of Infrastructure and Education, even with Rwandan President Paul Kagame,” Long says. “These meetings helped shed light on how development standards differ outside the U.S. We used that knowledge in our field work to evaluate the new and existing projects we visited, helping to support the local Rwandans in bettering their communities by supplying water and basic sanitation services.”

At SMU, Long helps the Lyle Recruitment and Retention office conduct prospective student tours, as well as plan and attend early admission student receptions. As the social chair for Lyle Ambassadors, she coordinates outings and activities that help students relieve stress, one of which included building gingerbread houses before the holidays. “I enjoy the recruitment office because they’re a group that students can comfortably talk to about school, such as grades and where to get tutoring within Lyle,” Long says.

For three years Long has worked for Dr. Quicksall as a teaching assistant for the First Year Design course KNW2300, mentoring first-year students through the design, building and testing process for the year-end robot competition.

She credits her professional development to the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership, which has helped her with career building services such as resume review and the Engineering Connections Career Fair. “I took the Hart Leadership Assessment before I started my freshman year, and have used those results to work on areas in my education that will help make me a more well-rounded engineer,” Long says.

As a Huitt-Zollars Endowed Scholar at SMU, Long had the opportunity to personally greet and thank donor Bob Zollars, chairman of Huitt-Zollars, Inc. at the Lyle Scholarship Reception. “SMU makes it possible for students who get scholarships to actually meet their donors, and not just send them a thank-you note,” Long says.

“In the future, I hope to work for Culligan, a leader in worldwide water treatment, at one of its international offices to help bring clean water to as many people as possible,” Long says. With all her international hands-on experience, she certainly has quite the resume to make that happen.


Hart Center for Engineering Leadership, First Year Class:

Engineers Without Borders:

B.S. in Environmental Engineering:



Happening Now: Electrical Engineering, Momentum in Telecommunications & Network Engineering

A discussion with Dr. Dinesh Rajan, Chair, Electrical Engineering, Cecil and Ida Green Endowed Professor of Engineering, and Scott Kingsley, Program Director and Senior Lecturer in Telecommunications and Network Engineering

For decades, SMU Lyle electrical engineering has been a pipeline for talent both nationally and internationally in the telecom field. With the resurgence of the Telecom Corridor and the global internet and digital revolution, SMU Lyle is poised and ready to meet the growing demand for technology-trained engineers.  “We are kicking our efforts into high gear to give our graduate students the empirical independence they need, plus the real-world experience they want, with actual software used in industry to set them apart from others in the field,” Dr. Rajan says. “The school has made a significant investment and commitment in the program to provide us with the resources needed to build and support advanced telecommunications labs.”

The master’s program in telecommunications and network engineering is growing rapidly, up from 59 students five years ago to over 200 students this year.  Coursework and advanced telecommunications labs, built by students with supervision from faculty and industry advisors, are regularly updated to keep pace with industry demands. According to Professor Kingsley, “In just about every class, I have to modify at least half the material over the summer before teaching in the fall, and we are constantly offering new courses.” The program has seen so much success recently that it received the 2015 Program of the Year Award from the Information and Telecommunications Education and Research Association (ITERA) for exceptional ability to deliver high-quality education and community support.

Any undergraduate with an electrical engineering or computer science and engineering background is eligible for the advanced degree program. The degree includes a core set of classes which segue into customizable paths in a graduate student’s preferred specialization:

Switching & Routing: The program begins with a general overview lab of switching and routing technologies, protocols and configuration. The lab portion of the class focuses on basic configuration and troubleshooting of a Cisco Systems-based environment.

Advanced Networking Design: A detail-oriented lab that simulates the global MPLS network using a variety of network routing protocols. The lab portion of the class focuses on advanced configuration and troubleshooting of a Cisco Systems-based environment.

Data Center Network Engineering: Next Generation, Software Defined Data Center architectures and design are examined in detail with emphasis on internal and external networks. Software Defined Network (SDN), Network Virtualization (NV) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) concepts are applied in the laboratory using open source and proprietary systems such as VMware, OpenStack, Open vSwitch, OpenDaylight and others.

According to Dr. Rajan and Professor Kingsley, the next big industry development is the so-called Internet of Things. “Everything is going to be connected to the network,” Dr. Rajan says. “You see all sorts of examples: toasters, thermostats, washing machines, even juice machines that are Wi-Fi connected.  Anything that gathers and gives you data from sensors and helps you make decisions quickly, whatever information you think you need, makes it accessible right away because the sensors are widespread, numerous and always connected.”

Because of SMU Lyle’s close ties to industry, the school has access to expert speakers, mentors, industry-sponsored capstone projects, internships and co-op opportunities for students.  “Our grad students are keen to do more outside of the classroom, even without credit or compensation. They’ve worked with companies like Citibank, Verizon, Amazon, Cisco Systems and AT&T,” Dr. Rajan says.  “Industry wants to recruit our students, who are trained on the latest equipment and technologies.  They can talk sensibly about actual work they’ve done, and can be effective and productive on day one.”

Dr. Dinesh Rajan email:



    Program Director Scott Kingsley email:

M.S. Telecommunications & Networking Degree Program:




Student Spotlight: Graduate Student Gavin Maestas, M.S. Mechanical Engineering, SMU Milvets, Hilltop Motorsports

Before coming to SMU Lyle on the G.I. Bill, Gavin Maestas spent five years in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Bragg. He sharpened his mechanical skills by identifying and addressing key design issues for a prototype weapons system, developing communication infrastructure and maintaining over $100,000 in intelligence-sensitive equipment.  He was drawn to SMU Lyle for its prestigious engineering program, the smaller class sizes and the school’s support for veterans.  Maestas is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering through the 4 + 1 program.

“SMU really takes care of vets,” Maestas says. “They give vets everything we need and ask for, as well as special advisors who understand our unique situation and make us feel included.” He is active in SMU MilVets ‒ a growing community that provides a safe meeting space and study room for student veterans, helping them transition back to civilian and campus life ‒ and even served a term as its president. Last spring, Maestas received the Outstanding Student Leadership Award for his work with the organization.

He also is a founding member of Hilltop Motorsports, a team of SMU students that design and construct a single-seat, Formula One-style racecar. The team rivals top engineering schools in the annual Formula SAE competition, a Society of Automotive Engineers event held every summer in Lincoln, Nebraska. Teams are ranked by an overall score in design, construction, performance and cost. Hilltop Motorsports received financial support from Susan and Tom Armstrong and the SMU Student Senate. The team also receives discounts and donations on materials and parts from automotive manufacturers.

In the second year of participation, SMU’s Formula SAE team ranked No. 27 out of 78 teams. It passed all evaluation levels, ranked No. 15 in marketing pitch, and received media coverage in the Lincoln newspaper, the Lincoln Journal Star. The team not only improved, but also finished its endurance run, receiving praise from the design judge on its advanced level for a second-year competitor.

Maestas appreciates the push by professors who encouraged the team to start a new project, and also the freedom to work ‒ and sometimes fail ‒ acquiring skills in the process.

“One of the best things I’ve participated in at SMU is the Formula SAE racecar team,” Maestas says. “The experience we’ve gained provides us with a strong asset to put on our resumes. Companies really value this type of initiative and expertise.”

Much of Maestas’s industry experience has come from responding to internship recruitment emails from Linda Parker, director of SMU Lyle’s Hart Center for Engineering Leadership. Parker also has been quick to offer resume advice, which Maestas believes has helped him obtain internships. “The Hart Center is a major asset to SMU Lyle,” he says. “When I was in my senior design class, the Hart Center held leadership workshops and brought in guest speakers. It was intriguing to hear CEOs and entrepreneurs share their experiences.”

Maestas combines his classroom-based education with practical, real-world experience.  This summer, he interned at Atlas Copco Drilling Solutions, where he worked on automation and control systems design and analysis for automated surface mining equipment. Now in his final semester at SMU Lyle, Maestas is working on the Powerplant and Propulsion performance engineering team at Southwest Airlines. He’s well on his way to a great post-military career.

Links: Hilltop Motorsports:

SMU Milvets:

M.S. Mechanical Engineering:


Faculty Focus: Stakeholder-Driven Innovation for Resilient Cities

Dr. Barbara Minsker, Civil and Environmental Engineering Chair, brings the perfect alignment of leadership, sustainability and Big Data expertise to change the landscape of Dallas

Over half of the world’s population currently lives in an urban area, a number predicted to expand to 60 percent by 2030. Urban areas face unprecedented and growing challenges that threaten society’s long-term well-being including poverty, chronic health problems, widespread pollution, resource degradation and increased natural disasters. The solution calls for open information sharing and collaboration across industry, communities, disciplines and organizational boundaries, as well as the tools of information technology.

Dr. Barbara Minsker, a nationally recognized expert in environmental and water resource systems analysis and informatics, joined SMU last fall to address these complex challenges facing cities. Last spring, Dr. Minsker was elected a Fellow in the Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers. EWRI is the premier professional organization for the field of environmental and water resources systems analysis.

Dr. Minsker’s research uses information technology and Big Data to improve sustainability and resilience of complex environmental and human systems. Two of her ongoing projects, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), explore how social media data and online stakeholder input can support the design of urban green spaces ‒ like rain gardens ‒ to capture and treat stormwater.

“We are launching new research in Dallas that focuses on mapping and defining the infrastructure deserts in impoverished regions of cities that have either run-down or nonexistent infrastructure such as sewer and water, transportation, parks and internet connectivity,” Dr. Minsker says. “These deficiencies can increase vulnerability to major shocks. We want to use human-centered innovation to decrease that vulnerability and alleviate or avoid those shocks.”

Dallas, a member of the Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities,” is a good place to start. The group is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are increasing in the 21st century. Judges look for cities with innovative mayors, a recent catalyst for change, a history of building partnerships, and an ability to work with a wide range of stakeholders. Dr. Minsker and her research team are in discussions with the city of Dallas to take a deeper look at the city’s infrastructure and what needs to be modernized.

Dr. Minsker has also been working with a local architect, Kevin Sloan, and researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington to explore an idea called Branch Waters DFW. The group is targeting “resilient watershed urbanism,” turning the vast network of the Trinity River tributaries into assets for Dallas, creating parks, recreational areas and trails along the creeks and streams that would drive development while maintaining or restoring a resilient ecosystem. “Most of the streams aren’t interconnected, and some of these areas are still buried under concrete,” Minsker says. “We want to show the value of resilient watershed urbanism to improving community and ecosystem health and well-being.”

These efforts require data to make informed decisions. Thanks to SMU’s support for computational research, Dr. Minsker could bring and install data analytic software she developed with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. “This software will help prototype data ecosystems in the Dallas region,” Dr. Minsker says. “SMU has a heart—this school is not just about technology and crunching numbers, it’s about people. It is engineering with compassion in service to humanity.”

Dr. Barbara Minsker, Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Bobby B. Lyle Professor of Leadership and Global Entrepreneurship, and Senior Fellow, Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity




SMU Lyle Website: Barbara Minsker


100 Resilient Cities

Branch Waters DFW


Feature Story: Biologically Inspired Nano/Micro Engineering

Dr. MinJun Kim and his BAST Lab Team are an interdisciplinary research group developing new classes of Microbiorobotics, Nano/Microfluidics, and Nanopore Technologies for practical medical and biomedical applications

Imagine an army of microscopic robots entering a patient’s bloodstream and performing highly specialized tasks, such as localized drug delivery, minimally invasive surgical procedures, and enhanced medical imaging. This is the goal for Dr. MinJun Kim and his research team of students in the new, state-of-the-art Biological Actuation, Sensing, and Transport (BAST) Lab at SMU Lyle School of  Engineering.

Dr. Kim joined SMU Lyle last fall as the Robert C. Womack Chair in Engineering and professor of mechanical engineering. His talents led to recognition as the first investigator to fully use flagellated bacteria – whose cells have a whip-like projection that allows them to move through bodily fluids – as micro-actuators in engineered systems.

The BAST Lab currently includes eight Ph.D. students eager to work with Dr. Kim.  In addition, he has recruited eight SMU undergraduate students to the BAST Lab, who come from diverse science and engineering disciplines. “This nanotechnology applies to all majors including mechanical engineering, biochemistry, computer science and electrical engineering,” Dr. Kim says. “SMU undergraduates aren’t afraid to explore the challenges of a new field.”

Fellow faculty members referred some undergraduate students to Dr. Kim. “SMU’s collegial atmosphere provides open communication and collaboration among SMU Lyle faculty, SMU departments and administration to put students in the right places based on their research interests,” he says.

Daehee Kim ’16, one of Dr. Kim’s Ph.D. students, received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from SMU Lyle. “Dr. Kim is a fantastic advisor whose innovative passion in combining biological research with engineering principles attracts students keen in both research fields,” Daehee says. “A pioneer in microbiorobotics and nanopore research, Dr. Kim seeks to develop the best scientific methods and data while enforcing optimal lab environments. My interest in the sciences persuaded Dr. Kim to offer me a position in his BAST research group dealing with flagellar forests. He is a great professor and motivates me daily to succeed.”

Dr. Kim was named a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) last spring. This prestigious honor is received by only 10 percent of IEEE’s estimated 423,000 members in more than 160 countries. “This distinction bestowed upon Dr. Kim reflects the high standards established by IEEE to achieve such status,” says Dr. Ali Beskok, Mechanical Engineering Chair and professor,  who sat on Dr. Kim’s master’s degree committee at Texas A&M University. “His outstanding contributions in the field of microrobotics having potential applications in nanomedicine underpin his level of scholarship and groundbreaking research.”

The BAST Lab currently is researching four core areas for practical biomedical and medical applications, each with a distinct purpose:

Core One ‒ microbiorobotics, developed for manipulation and sensing, focuses on using microrobots for drug delivery by traveling through the bloodstream to different organs, and for minimally invasive surgery where the microrobots seek and destroy cancerous tumors or drill through clogged arteries.

Core Two ‒ synthetic nanopore fabrication and single molecule analysis, uses nanoscale instrumentation, the size of a small biological pore (a-hemolysin), as a high-speed and efficient detection system to analyze physical changes, within a one-millionth-of-a-second resolution, in DNA molecules, proteins and viruses like HIV. “Nanopore-based bio-instrumentation is crucial because there is no device to measure deformability of soft nanoparticles such as liposomes and viruses in real-time at nanoscale with single-particle resolution,” says Dr. Kim. “Eventually, we want to analyze more data on translocations through a nanopore, and understand the structural property of not only a single cell, but also a single molecule.”

Core Three ‒ biologically inspired metamaterials for nano/optoelectronics, focus on exploiting biomaterials such as bacterial flagella for use in nanoscale sensing devices. In addition to organic-based nanosystems, the BAST Lab is also synthesizing photon-to-thermal energy conversion nanosystems, such as gold nanorods and gold nanoparticles. One possible medical use of this technology looks at reducing bloodstream infections in hospitalized patients who have been on continuous medical catheters. The same technology could be applied on a larger scale, to create safe, self-sterilizing touchscreen computers for use in public areas.

Core Four ‒ microorganisms swimming at a low Reynolds number, are the unifying factor for all biologically inspired nano/microengineering, which is the transport and artificially guided movement of microrobots through all types of bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva and mucus.

The BAST Lab team emphasizes the synergistic nature of the research cores, acknowledging that advances in one core area drive development of the others. Their unifying component results in “biologically inspired nano/micro engineering.”

Dr. Kim compares SMU’s academic atmosphere to an Ivy League school, explaining that the research opportunities and high-quality students create a welcoming space for more collaboration between faculty and students. “Professors can more accurately identify the best students to assist in their research, and students are readily exposed to hands-on research experience, even at the undergraduate level,” says Dr. Kim.

“Dallas is a good clinical field for nanorobotics,” he says. “It’s the fourth-largest metro region in the U.S., and very well known for nanotechnology. This technology is currently led by Texas Instruments and UT Southwestern and is known for computational research. Our supercomputers, combined with other local universities, will create a new synergistic opportunity to support my ongoing research.”

Dr. MinJun Kim, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, and Robert C. Womack Chair in Engineering




SMU Lyle Website:

The BAST Lab at SMU Lyle is part of the SMU-NNFC-DREXEL Nano Co-op Research Center, an international collaborative research center, established in 2016 with Drexel, SMU and KAIST-NNFC, funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea Global Research Development Center (GRDC) program and the City of Daejeon. The BAST Lab is valued at approximately $5.4 million and has eight ongoing research projects funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology, and the National Research Foundation of Korea, among other diverse agencies sponsoring this work. Learn more at