SALT LAKE CITY, UT – The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Jake Abbott, Assistant Professor in the University of Utah’s Department of Mechanical Engineering an Early Career Development (CAREER) Award to further his research in magnetic control of medical microrobots.

Abbott’s research will change how magnets are used to move microrobots inside the human body. Selection for the NSF CAREER Award is based on the awardee’s innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology as well as community service demonstrated through scientific leadership, education, and community outreach. Abbott plans on using the award to augment his research and to develop the Summer Research for Girls in Engineering (SuRGE) program.

“I’m honored that the NSF has shown such confidence in my ideas and potential,” said Abbott. “The CAREER Award will be a huge boost to my research by allowing me to more effectively mentor my students by providing them the necessary resources to help them be successful.”

Abbott LabMany existing methods of magnetic microrobot control are difficult and costly to scale for actual clinical use. Abbott is researching methods for controlling microrobot movement inside the human body that are cheaper and more effective for clinical use. By focusing on untethered magnetic screw-like microrobots that can swim and crawl through the body, as well as flexible devices such as magnetically tipped catheters, Abbott hopes to be able to find practical ways to bring this technology from the lab to the clinic.

Abbott is the second faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah to receive a CAREER Award in recent years. William Provancher, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, received a CAREER award in 2008 for his research in state-of-the-art haptic (or touch feedback) interfaces.   ConceptSchematicBack_Rev3