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Jesse Schallek

Jesse Schallek announced as new Director of ARIA

We are excited to announce that Jesse Schallek is the new Director of ARIA. Jesse's combination of scientific insight, engineering advances, interpersonal relationships and creative drive makes him an ideal fit to lead ARIA to new and exciting discoveries. We thank Jennifer Hunter for her 11 years of leadership and wish her well as she embarks on new research directions at the University of Waterloo.


David Williams headshot

Williams inducted into National Academy of Inventors

The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising US and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the US Patent and Trademark Office, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society.

Previous NAI fellows from the University of Rochester are Kevin Parker, the William F. May Professor and dean emeritus of engineering and applied sciences; Wayne Knox, professor of optics; Jim Zavislan, professor of optics, and Jannick Rolland, the Brian J. Thompson Professor of Optical Engineering.

The most efficient photovoltaic cells used for solar power cost up to $50,000 per square meter. What if these cells could be replaced with a plastic solar concentrator less than 3 mm thick that concentrates sunlight 500 times at only $100 per square meter?

Diseases that cause blindness destroy the rods and cones in the retina. Ganglion cells rely on rods and cones to detect light as it comes into the eye. Could blindness be cured if ganglion cells could be coaxed by genetically engineered viruses to take on this function?

These tantalizing prospects are being pursued by two celebrated University of Rochester scientists whose work has already proven transformative, resulting in their election as 2021 fellows of the National Academy of Inventors.


Sara Patterson headshot

Sara Patterson wins second place in the 2021 Steadman Family Postdoctoral Associate Prize in Interdisciplinary Research

Postdoctoral fellow Sara Patterson won second place in the Steadman Family Postdoctoral Associate Prize in Interdisciplinary Research. Sara competed against eight of the strongest postdoctoral fellow finalists at UR who delivered talks about their research. She will receive a $750 cash prize. Congratulations, Sara!

Still from Schallek research video

Dana Foundation Q&A with awardee Jesse Schallek

When you visit the ophthalmologist or optometrist to check your vision, the doctor will likely use an imaging tool called an ophthalmoscope to get a detailed look at the back of your eye, where the retina, optic nerve, and vasculature reside. The resulting orange-ish image, accentuated with meandering red veins and blood vessels, helps the doctor determine whether your eyes are healthy.

But it's possible such images could do even more. The retina is the only portion of the central nervous system (CNS) that can be observed from outside the body. Your eye doctor, in fact, can get a glimpse of it simply using a bright light and that ophthalmoscope. Jesse Schallek, Ph.D., has always been excited by the idea of finding a way to take images of living biology in its natural state. Today, using adaptive optics technology, a method first used to optimize long-range telescopes, he and his team have transformed the traditional ophthalmoscope so that it can now visualize the inner workings of the eye at the level of a single cell. The resulting technology offers a unique window into the CNS, which may help ophthalmologists understand the pathology of debilitating visual conditions like diabetic retinopathy and other forms of neurodegeneration and brain-related disease. Here, Schallek discusses how astronomy inspired his imaging advances, the challenges of imaging translucent cells, and how artificial intelligence can help give this kind of imaging approach even more clinical value.


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