2018: A Year In Review

Jan 03 2019

We’ve never been more optimistic about the role engineering can play in the service of society. Guided by our vision, Columbia Engineering for Humanity, our researchers tackle the grandest challenges—working daily to create a more secure, connected, healthy, sustainable and creative world.

2018 was no exception. In everything from neuroscience to climate change, our faculty and students contributed breakthroughs and major advancements that will shape 2019 and beyond. Here’s just a snapshot of their many accomplishments.


Columbia Engineers Develop Flexible Lithium Battery for Wearable Electronics

A team led by Yuan Yang developed a prototype Li-ion battery shaped like the human spine that allows remarkable flexibility, high energy density, and stable voltage no matter how it is flexed or twisted.


Columbia Engineers Win $4.7M DARPA Grant to Revolutionize Augmented Reality Glasses

Thanks to a $4.7 million, four-year grant from DARPA, an interdisciplinary Columbia Engineering team is working with colleagues at Stanford, UMass Amherst, and Trex Enterprises Corporation to come up with a revolutionary lightweight glass that is able to dynamically monitor the wearer’s vision and display contextual images that are vision-corrected.


For Blind Gamers, Equal Access to Racing Video Games

Brian A. Smith, a PhD candidate in computer science, developed the RAD—a racing auditory display—to enable gamers who are visually impaired to play the same types of racing games that sighted players can play with the same speed, control, and excitement that sighted players experience.

Racing Audio Display - for Blind Gamers.


Five Columbia Engineering Professors Win NSF CAREER Awards

Five Columbia Engineering professors, Agostino Capponi, Dan Esposito, Karen Kasza, Ioannis Kougioumtzoglou, and James Teherani, won the National Science Foundation’s prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards this year. Their work carries extraordinary transformative potential.

Adult-like Human Heart Muscle Grown from Patient-specific Stem Cells

Investigators including Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic grow the first human heart muscle from stem cells that shows critical hallmarks of adult human heart function. Their process takes just four weeks.

NSF Announces New York City as Testbed for 5G Mobile Technology

Rutgers, Columbia, and NYU to Lead Research Aimed at Pushing Limits of Wireless-Networking.

The COSMOS testbed will cover one square mile in West Harlem, with City College to the north, Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus to the south, the Hudson River to the west, and Apollo Theater to the east.


Columbia Engineers Invent a Non-Invasive Technique to Correct Vision

Sinisa Vukelic developed a new non-invasive approach to permanently correct vision that shows great promise in preclinical models.


Faculty Receive National Recognition

Two computer science faculty members received national recognition. Julia Hirschberg was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Mihalis Yannakakis was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.


Columbia University and IBM Establish New Center to Accelerate Innovation in Blockchain and Data Transparency

Columbia University and IBM announced a new Center devoted to research, education, and innovation in blockchain technology and data transparency. To advance compelling new ways to apply blockchain and help address growing demands around data transparency, the Center also includes an innovation accelerator to incubate business ideas from entrepreneurial students, faculty and members of the startup community.

Welcome to the Columbia-IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency.


Innovative Technique Converts White Fat to Brown Fat

Columbia bioengineers led by Sam Sia developed a simple tissue-grafting approach to increase brown fat mass in the body and study its effect on metabolism and weight.

Video of confocal z-stack imaging of human white adipose tissue cultured in browning media for seven days and stained with UCP1 (red), Lipidtox (green), and Sytox nuclear stain (blue).


Polymer Coating Cools Down Buildings

Columbia Engineers led by Yuan Yang and Nanfang Yu made white paint whiter—and cooler. Their polymer coating, which incorporates nano-to-microscale air voids, acts as a spontaneous air cooler and can be fabricated, dyed, and applied like paint on rooftops, buildings, water tanks, and vehicles—including spacecraft.


Fall 2018 Magazine: Transformers

Researchers at the Columbia Electrochemical Energy Center chart the future of clean energy storage. Their work is featured as the fall cover story of Columbia Engineering magazine.


Electrical Engineering PhD Student Negar Reiskarimian Honored as 2018 DARPA Riser

Electrical Engineering PhD candidate Negar Reiskarimian was named a Riser by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. As one of 50 fellow honorees, Reiskarimian presented her work at DARPA’s 60th annual symposium.

IC Circulator: Breaking through to high speed full duplex communication

Rising Temperatures and Human Activity Are Increasing Storm Runoff and Flash Floods

Columbia Engineering researchers demonstrated for the first time that runoff extremes have been dramatically increasing in response to climate and human-induced changes.


Where You Go Tells Who You Are—and Vice Versa

Mining data to analyze tracking patterns, Sharon Di has discovered that she can infer the population travel demand level in a region from the trajectories of just a portion of travelers.



Tuning Arousal to Boost Information Transmission in the Brain

A new study from Qi Wang, who is developing innovative ways of selectively activating neural circuitry to enhance perception and cognition, demonstrates a major advance in understanding how the locus coeruleus (LC) modulates information processing in the thalamus.

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