The UC Davis College of Engineering kicks off its fourth annual Innovators Exhibit with a reception at 4 p.m. on Friday, February 26, in Kemper Hall’s Bruce and Marie West Lobby. The reception will be highlighted by a presentation from Alison Sheets, a senior biomechanics researcher at Nike. Her talk is titled “Applying Rigor to the Feet: How Engineering and Science Have Led to Innovations in Sports.”

Alison Sheets, a senior biomechanics researcher at Nike

Alison Sheets, senior biomechanics researcher at Nike

Sheets completed her doctorate in mechanical engineering and sports biomechanics at UC Davis in 2007, after obtaining an undergraduate degree at Cornell University. She earned a UC Dissertation Year Fellowship in 2006. Following work as a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University, she spent two years as an assistant professor at Ohio State University; she then joined Nike, where she leads the biomechanics research team. She is driven to understand the biomechanical mechanisms that limit human performance, with the goal of developing innovative solutions to overcome these limits.

“Questions like ‘Why can’t we run faster? Run for longer? Jump higher?’ keep me up at night,” Sheets admits, “and I use a variety of experimental and computational approaches to investigate these questions.”

This fourth annual Innovators Exhibit focuses on the ground-breaking careers of John Cromie, Katherine Ferrara, Ken Giles, Shu Lin, Ryan Smith and the collaborative team of Bahram Ravani and Steven A. Velinsky.

John Cromie specializes in early-stage concept design, composites manufacturing, and leadership of multifunctional engineering teams. After earning his undergraduate degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering at UC Davis in 2005, he began an industry career in mechanical design and integration at Lockheed Martin, while completing a master’s degree at Stanford University. As co-founder of Atlas Load Bearing Equipment Inc., he and partner Matt Coleman invented the TacPlate Modular System, to alleviate the chronic back and hip pain suffered by law enforcement officers because of their heavy duty belts. Cromie currently is a mechanical design engineer at Google[X], where he’s working on Project Loon.

Katherine Ferrara is a distinguished professor and founding chair of the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering, and director of the Center for Content Rich Evaluation of Therapeutic Efficacy (cCRETE). She completed her doctorate in electrical engineering at UC Davis in 1989. Her laboratory is known for early work in aspects of ultrasonics — radiation forces and phase inversion techniques — and more recently she has focused on molecular imaging and drug delivery. In 2012 she received the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control Society’s Achievement Award: the society’s top honor.

Ken Giles joined the UC Davis Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering in 1987, the same year he completed his PhD in agricultural engineering, with a minor in mechanical engineering, at Clemson University. He has become a global leader in agricultural chemical application; his research focuses on pesticide spraying, industrial spray coatings, and the reduction of “spray drift” and environmental contamination. The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers recently acknowledged his “exceptional and meritorious achievements” with their 2015 Cyrus Hall McCormick-Jerome Increase Case Gold Medal.

Shu Lin, an adjunct professor in the UC Davis Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has become a world leader in the field of coding techniques. One of NASA’s recent missions, the IRIS Solar Observatory, communicated its results via a 7/8 low-density parity-check (LDPC) code developed by Lin, which allowed the transmission of accurate messages over noisy “channels” that ordinarily would have corrupted the data. Lin chaired the Department of Electrical Engineering at Hawaii’s U:Manoa before joining the UC Davis College of Engineering in 1999, where he has furthered his research into algebraic coding theory, coded modulation, error control systems and satellite communications.

Ryan Smith co-founded and became CTO of Micromidas Inc. in 2008, the same year he earned his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at UC Davis. The Sacramento-based company has developed — and is commercializing — an innovative microbial process that will convert raw sewage into high-quality plastics. Smith has been instrumental in both the process and application development of furans, levulinates and hydrothermal carbons: significant materials that will become the building blocks for the next generation of end-use products. In 2010, he was named a PopTech Social Innovation Fellow, which recognized him as a “visionary change agent who is incubating high-potential solutions to pressing global challenges.”

Steven A. Velinsky joined the UC Davis Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in 1989, after earning his PhD in theoretical and applied mechanics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Bahram Ravani completed his doctorate in mechanical engineering at Stanford University, and joined the UC Davis Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in 1987. He and Velinsky founded the campus’ Advanced Highway Maintenance and Construction Technology (AHMCT) Research Center, which they have co-directed for 25 years. The Center has leveraged advanced robotics, automation and sensing technologies through the development of machines that are transforming hazardous and labor-intensive tasks into safer and more efficient operations.

The Innovators Exhibit will remain on display in the Bruce and Marie West Lobby of Kemper Hall through February 2017.