UMBC Watch

" We are delighted to be partnering with Princeton and the other fine institutions in the Engineering Research Center's critical work. ”

— President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III


UMBC Joins Princeton in Engineering Research Center


May 25, 2006 - UMBC and Princeton University are partners in a newly announced multimillion-dollar National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center based at Princeton. The Center - named MIRTHE, for Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment - is expected to revolutionize sensor technology, yielding supersensitive devices that can detect minute amounts of chemicals found in the atmosphere, emitted from factories or exhaled in human breath.

The goal of the Center's research is to produce portable devices so low in cost and easy to use that they transform the way physicians monitor patients, states track air quality, governments guard against terror attacks and scientists understand the evolution of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Other MIRTHE partner institutions are Rice University, The Johns Hopkins University, Texas A&M University and City College of New York. NSF and industrial funding for the Center could exceed $40 million over 10 years. The Center is also partnering with several educational outreach partners to apply MIRTHE research in improving science and engineering education.

The Center's work at UMBC will be led by MIRTHE Deputy Director Anthony Johnson, director of UMBC's Center for Advanced Studies in Photonics Research (CASPR) and past president of the Optical Society of America. "This is an exciting day for engineering research in the Baltimore-Washington region," Johnson said. "With seven faculty researchers each from Johns Hopkins and UMBC, this is incredible news for science in the state of Maryland."

As Deputy Director of MIRTHE, Johnson brings a wealth of knowledge about the design, workings and manufacture of next-generation sensors. UMBC is also home to several NASA-Goddard-affiliated atmospheric, environmental and earth science research centers and the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, where MIRTHE technologies should improve monitoring of pollution in the soil, water and air. Another potential application is an "invisible fence" sensor system that can vastly improve detection of chemical and biological hazards for military troops in the battlefield and homeland security first responders.

For more on CASPR, please see:


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