Two local universities win DOD awards to beef up ‘defense ecosystem’

Equipment will be expected to advance ‘cutting-edge’ research

The Department of Defense is helping Wright State University and the University of Dayton purchase new research equipment.

The two local universities are among dozens nationwide to receive awards to lay the groundwork for defense-oriented research.

At Wright State, the award will go toward the study of human performance. Wright States received an award to purchase equipment for “high-throughput luminometry” research, the department said.

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Similarly, the University of Dayton received an award for equipment to further “X‐ray Crystallographic Computed Tomograph” research.

Wright State’s Mike Kemp, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology, said the award will go to the purchase of equipment to support a collaborative project between his laboratory and the lab of Saber Hussain, a fellow Wright State professor in the same fields.

The objective is to better understand how certain stresses — such as extreme temperatures, changes in oxygen and altered sleep-wake cycles — affect human circadian rhythms.

“One of the areas of research in my lab is on our body’s circadian rhythms, which affects many aspects of our physiology — blood pressure, sleep-wake cycles, and many other processes — that show changes over the course of a 24-hour day,” Kemp said.

The goal is to model some of these effects on circadian rhythms in cultured cells in vitro through the generation of special cell lines, Kemp said.

The new equipment will allow Wright State researchers to monitor changes in real-time for up to a week, and then to determine how “Air Force-relevant stressors” impact these rhythms, Kemp said.

In all, the DOD announced awards to 147 university researchers totaling $59 million under the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP).

Ohio State University, the University of Toledo and the University of Cincinnati also won awards.

These awards are meant to finance the purchase of research equipment at 77 institutions across 30 states in fiscal year 2023, “enabling universities to perform state-of-the-art research that augments current and develops new capabilities,” the DOD said.

“DURIP awards provide essential research infrastructure to enable the pursuit of new knowledge. They help maintain the cutting-edge capabilities of our institutes of higher education,” said Bindu Nair, director of the Basic Research Office, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. “These awards will sustain the scientific excellence of our universities, train the next generation STEM workforce, and facilitate scientific advances that will build a resilient defense ecosystem.”

The DOD announcement did not say how much each university received. But the department said it has long championed the country’s scientific ecosystem.

Representatives of the DOD and UD were not able to immediately answer questions.

Areas of focus with this year’s awards include design, development, and characterization of novel materials, quantum computing and quantum spectroscopy, microelectronics, geophysics and human performance.

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