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Summer 2018

Mushroom Hero


The recipe goes like this: Add sawdust to mushroom spores and grow along with mushroom roots, known as mycelium. Next step: Substitute the product for plastic and Styrofoam. This is the idea that Nima ShahabShahmir, a computer science major at WVU Tech, is developing to combat the global plastic trash glut. Unlike plastic, which can take 100-650 years to degrade, this product would biodegrade 100 percent in a few weeks. He has a provisional patent for his process and was recently one of three winners of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s Youth Innovation Challenge, which provided $5,000 in seed funding. His startup, Future Fungi, also garnered $10,000 from the Robert C. Byrd Institute’s Vanguard Agricultural Competition. “I believe that for the longest time we have only been using the planet’s resources,” he said. “Unfortunately these natural resources have mainly been replaced with industrial waste materials. By switching to mycelium products, we will not only create a better ecosystem now, but also for our future generations as well.”


There was a competition judging the efficacy of 3-D printed vertical structures that could withstand at least 100 pounds during compression testing. In the Student Additive Manufacturing Contest, all of the awards were swept by WVU students from the Student Chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering in their first appearance in the competition. From first to third, the students are: Logan Melvin, mechanical engineering major from Weirton, W.Va.; Jacob Winokur, aerospace engineering major from Chesapeake, Va.; and Brendan Guthrie, aerospace engineering major from Charleston, W.Va.


We know that small particles, smaller than a particle of talcum powder, can cause cardiovascular disease, worsen the symptoms and make the disease more deadly. Hydraulic fracturing generates fine particulate matter, but little is known about its effects on the heart. Assistant professor Travis Knuckles in the School of Public Health will explore how particulate matter in the air from fracking sites can make it harder for the body to control how much blood enters the capillaries, the narrowest blood vessels, and turn oxygen into ATP, a chemical that is a primary energy source for cells. His research is supported by the National Institutes of Health.


In the first of its kind, a study led by assistant professor Nilanjana Dwibedi in the School of Pharmacy shows the risk factors that could lead patients to long-term opioid therapy, which can lead to addiction and other poor health outcomes. The study looked at 491,422 adults aged 28-63 and showed that 13 in 1,000 patients started chronic opioid therapy after their initial opioid prescription. Four leading predictors that increased the risk by at least four times of a transition to chronic opioid therapy were duration of action of the medication, type of opioid compounds, diagnosis of a drug use disorder and pain conditions. In the study, only 32 percent of working-age adults had a diagnosis of pain conditions when they received their first opioid prescription. The study “Predictors of Transitioning to Incident Chronic Opioid Therapy Among Working-Age Adults in the United States” published in “American Health & Drug Benefits” also found that the rate of patients who were transitioned to long-term opioid therapy were higher in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Nevada.

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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Summer 2018

One WVU Tech computer science student is developing a way to use mushrooms to combat the global plastic trash glut.

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