COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State Electrical and Computer Engineering Ph.D. student Allyanna Rice can't help but be impressed by 70 years of innovation, in particular in the way of wearable antennas on display at the ElectroScience Laboratory on OSU's campus.
“It's cool to see kind of the history of our lab. It's been around since the 40s,” said Rice.
The natural evolution of technology has brought her to this point.
She's working on a wearable device with professor Asimina Kiourti meant to keep astronauts fit for long journeys through space, mindful that long periods of zero gravity can be detrimental to health.
“Antenna's on the sleeve and we have a transmitter and one is a receiver," said Rice. "The receiver will receive a signal from the transmitter where we can get information about body tissue such as the bone and then we also have these loops which are intended for monitoring muscle atrophy."
A valued partnership with Ohio State and NASA over the years has benefited both educators and students alike.
“Personally love working with NASA, they're extremely visionary," said Dr. Asimina Kiourti, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State. "So you just don't see like five or 10 years down the road, you see decades down the road. So it's very exciting and inspiring for all of us."
Rice was inspired last summer, as she spent a part of her fellowship at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
She plans to be there again this summer researching, learning, and working on more prototypes.
“It was definitely inspiring to see all the cool things like where the astronauts train, do mock-ups of the spaceship. It makes you see the bigger picture,” said Rice.
"She's been teaching me. She's been teaching her other students about the parts and aspects that we didn't know. So yeah it's very exciting to see her grow like that,” said Kiourti.
Rice thinks her device can make a difference in real-time because, right now, muscle and bone loss vitals are only measured before and after a flight.
Realizing her invention could one day be used in space is a feeling that has Rice beaming with pride.
“I feel like there's a lot of work that needs to go into it, but it definitely helps keep me motivated to keep going and make it as good as I can," Rice said.
Rice has two more years in the fellowship and said she hopes the technology can one day be used on earth for cancer detection or monitoring bone loss which is caused by osteoporosis.