February 7, 2017 Hongrui Jiang receives award for visionary research Written By: Sam Million-Weaver Departments: Electrical & Computer Engineering Categories: Awards University of Wisconsin-Madison electrical engineer Hongrui Jiang has received a prestigious Stein Innovation Award from the leading voluntary health organization Research to Prevent Blindness. The award recognizes his cutting-edge research of enabling technologies for the prevention or treatment of blindness. Jiang, the Lynn H. Matthias Professor in Engineering and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, is one of 10 researchers at nine institutions nationwide who have received this award. The Stein award typically recognizes eye doctors and clinicians who study strategies to reverse blindness through medical interventions. Jiang, by contrast, works on technologies that could someday restore sight to people who have lost their vision. Support from Jiang’s Stein Innovation Award will go toward developing implantable sensors for real-time measurement of intraocular pressure, which is an important aspect of evaluating patients at risk for glaucoma, a chronic degenerative eye disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. “We need a better understanding of the pathology and physiology of the disease to start working toward a cure,” says Jiang. He will collaborate closely on this project with Dr. Paul Kaufman, Mary Ann Croft and Dr. Michael Nork in ophthalmology and visual sciences at UW-Madison. Jiang is not an ophthalmologist, but rather, an electrical engineer—and his unique perspective on engineering has led him to collaborate with clinicians in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at UW-Madison on several projects related to improving or restoring people’s vision. His research often looks to natural systems for new approaches to developing optical technologies. Taking inspiration from such diverse creatures as lobsters, dragonflies, and elephantnose fish, Jiang has created sensors that do everything from seeing in the dark to magnifying miniscule objects with wide field of view. The award will provide $300,000 of support over three years.