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WashU collaborative team honored for bioinspired sensor research

A collaboration of engineers and researchers from Washington University in St. Louis' School of Engineering & Applied Science and School of Medicine led by Viktor Gruev, has received the highest award from the IEEE for developing a bioinspired imaging sensor for medical imaging applications.

The mantis shrimp is a valuable biological model for studying vision that can be translated into new imaging techniques.

The cameras, inspired by the mantis shrimp, are used for early cancer detection, optical neural recording without the use of a fluorescence marker and real-time assessment of stress in ligaments.

The published paper about their work, titled "Bioinspired Polarization Imaging Sensors: From Circuits and Optics to Signal Processing Algorithms and Biomedical Applications," has received the 2016 Donald G. Fink Award from the IEEE. It appeared in the journal Proceedings of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) in October 2014. The award will be presented by the president of IEEE at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C., and carries with it a certificate and cash prize.

Gruev, associate professor of computer science in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, was senior author on the paper, with WashU faculty co-authors Spencer P. Lake, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Baranidharan Raman, assistant professor of biomedical engineering; and Samuel Achilefu, PhD, professor of radiology, of biochemistry & molecular biophysics and director of the Optical Radiology Lab at the School of Medicine, and professor of biomedical engineering at the School of Engineering & Applied Science. Student co-authors were first author Timothy York, who earned a doctorate in computer science & engineering in 2015; Samuel B. Powell, a doctoral student in computer science & engineering; Shengkui Gao, who earned a doctorate in computer science & engineering in 2015; Lindsey Kahan, who earned a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering in 2015; Tauseef Charanya, who earned a doctorate in biomedical engineering in 2015. Debajit Saha, a postdoctoral researcher in biomedical engineering, was also a co-author.

The team, which also includes two marine biologists and a physicist from other institutions, has studied the mantis shrimp's visual sensory system to learn how it processes information. By sharing principles among the engineering, radiology and marine biology, the team aims to decode the inner principles of stomatopod vision to create more efficient design of sensors, imaging devices and analyzers.

The IEEE Donald G. Fink Award is named in honor of Donald G. Fink, distinguished editor and author, who was a past president of the IRE (Institute of Radio Engineers) and the first general manager and executive director of the IEEE. It is awarded to the most outstanding survey, review or tutorial paper published in the IEEE Transactions, Journals, Magazines, or in the Proceedings of the IEEE between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of the preceding year.


The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 88 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,300 undergraduate students, more than 900 graduate students and more than 23,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.

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Cameras, inspired by the mantis shrimp, are used for early cancer detection.