David Wootton Awarded C.V. Starr Distinguished Professorship

February 25, 2016

Prof. David Wootton speaking at the "From the Lab" event

Prof. David Wootton speaking at the "From the Lab" event

David Wootton, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been named the C. V. Starr Distinguished Professor of Engineering, a position made possible by the Starr Foundation. Prof. Wootton will hold the position until August 2018 and will receive $20,000 a year to spend on equipment, supplies, travel and payment of lab assistants. 

"I’m planning to use part of the award to support a student assistant for some of the biotechnology projects supervised by Prof. Oliver Medvedik,” he said, “and for a new refrigerator for storing potentially flammable liquids.  We will also use some funds to support my biomechanics research.”

Prof. Wootton's research projects are linked by his interest in the flow of fluids through body tissues and cells. His primary research, for instance, is the investigation of the mechanics of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, using advanced MR imaging and engineering tools to estimate air pressures and structural properties of the upper airway. This basic research may improve diagnosis and surgical treatment of apnea. Part of his award budget will be spent on purchasing motors, controllers and materials to build a “phantom,” which he described as ”a mechanical device that we can use to measure and optimize the accuracy of the magnetic resonance imaging methods that we use to measure airway shape and motion for our obstructive sleep apnea research.” Another research area is application of computer-aided design and manufacturing methods to engineer better tissue scaffolds, for example, to replace bone that is missing due to congenital defects, or near a damaged or infected prosthetic joint implant.

The grant will also allow Prof. Wootton to travel to the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society in San Francisco this May where he will present their research on the biomechanics of sleep apnea.

The Starr Foundation was established in 1955 by Cornelius Vander Starr, the founder of C.V. Starr & Co., Starr International Co., and other companies.  Under Mr. Starr’s successor, Maurice R. Greenberg, the Foundation makes grants in education, medicine and health care, public policy, human needs, culture and the environment.  The Foundation has made more than $3.3 billion in grants since 1955, of which more than $2.1 billion has gone to New York-based institutions.

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