DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Ruth West, an associate professor at the University of North Texas, is part of a group of innovative thinkers that received a $100,000 seed grant to create health sensors people can wear or swallow.
The grant was awarded by the National Academies of Science Keck Futures Initiative, which is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
She was one of about 100 scientists, artists, writers and others to attend the initiative's conference "Art and Science, Engineering and Medicine Frontier Collaborations: Ideation, Translation and Realization" in November in Irvine, Calif. Attendees discussed how to transform and bring innovation to different areas of science and culture.
West took part in a "seed group" that brainstormed solutions for large problems. Her group will research how bodily systems "talk" to each other by tapping communications between the body and microbiome with the goal of developing wearable external and internal sensor arrays.
"What was exciting was to see people from different backgrounds, talents and experience come up with an idea that could be transformative," West said.
Now they will spend the next two years working together to make it happen. They've communicated online and will meet in person again in September.
As part of the group, West will contribute her expertise in blending art and science, including data visualization, sonification and human-computer interaction and design.
The group boasts diverse backgrounds, including an architect/designer, visual artist, fiction writer, sound artist and nanoscience engineer.
"I'm really grateful to be part of this amazing team," West said. "The most exciting thing about the project is I get to work with these incredible people. Together we can do so much more than I can do independently."
Members of the group include Paul Weiss, University of California, Los Angeles; Andrea Polli, University of New Mexico; Beth Cardier, Sirius-Beta Inc.; Niccolo Cassas, RISD Rhode Island School of Design, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College of London; and Allison Kudla, Institute for Systems Biology.