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Fall 2014

Innovation doesn’t sleep on campus. Catch up on sneak peeks and snapshots of some of the creative research, ideas and products incubating 24/7 across West Virginia University.
Bird sleeping

Sleep With One Eye Open

If you have trouble catching some zzzs, imagine the challenges of sleeping with one eye open. Certain animals, like dolphins and many migratory birds, do it all the time, and chemistry professor Ken Showalter’s research on coupled chemical oscillators may shed light on that unique capability. In order to surface for air, dolphins can stay alert for up to 15 days in sleep that uses only one hemisphere of their brain. And some migratory birds can get some rest on journeys that may be hundreds of miles long, with half their brain awake and the other half asleep. Showalter and his West Virginia University colleagues and students are working to better understand these behaviors.

A Social Network That Matters

A team of engineering students from WVU and Marshall University have rolled out a new proactive suicide prevention initiative. The CheckUp project aims to combat rising suicide rates by using research-backed algorithms to detect self-threatening language and provide peer support. The project, which consists of a free online service and an opensource codebase, is maintained by the Syntropy development team in West Virginia. The project works by connecting to a user’s Twitter account and monitoring his or her home timeline. If a tweet is flagged as self-threatening, the user is notified via email with a suggestion to “check up” on that person. For more info:

Diamonds on the Kitchen Stove

We all recall kitchen experiments gone awry during childhood, but what about one that went very, very right? Emeritus professor of chemical engineering Al Stiller and alumnus Christopher Yurchick, BS, ’12, Chemical Engineering, have successfully created diamond material in a kitchen setting. Even more remarkable, a byproduct of their patent-pending process is that it can be used to produce other elemental forms of carbon that are of interest to the high-tech electronic industries. The process continues to be researched at WVU under the sponsorship of ClosedLoop Communications Inc. 

Following the Music Industry’s Riffs

The first massive open online course (known as a MOOC) offered byWVU took a look at the changing dynamics of the music industry. Darko Velichkovski, coordinator of WVU’s new Music Industry program at the College of Creative Arts, designed the online course, which is only the second in the U.S. to address the changing dynamics of the music industry. Enrollment for the first class is more than 4,000 students from 123 countries. To take a course check out:

Freedom Can Be Skin Deep

Want to stay out of jail? Having no tattoos may help. Kaitlyn Harger, a PhD candidate in economics, found that on average an ex-con lasts about 14 years on the outside before landing back in jail. A tattooed ex-con lasts half that. Harger’s research, which links visible tattoos to recidivism rates, caught the eyes of Nobel laureates and The Economist this year. 

Innovation at Work Archive

Fall 2014

Catch up with sneak peeks and snapshots of some of the creative research, ideas and products incubating 24/7 across WVU.

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Fall 2015

This year international headlines proclaimed the news that a WVU report led to the discovery that Volkswagen had installed defeat devices in potentially millions of diesel vehicles. Catch that developing story and more here.

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Fall 2016

Our people are working on one of the seven Wonders of the World, renewing the nation's dams and creating wireless networks.

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Fall 2017

Sniffing moths and fighting malware make up this edition of Innovation at Work.

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Spring 2015

From securing your selfies, to creating mobile PET scanners, WVU is making inventions that affect your life.

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Summer 2016

Our people are preparing for working on asteroids, predicting how many fish will be in your local stream and designing tomorrow's fuel cell.

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Summer 2017

A doctor created a new way to repair hearts that leads to better health outcomes and engineers came up with a composite system that could prevent damage from earthquakes and hurricanes.

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