Research Labs

Biomolecular Assemblies and Nanomechanics (BAN) Laboratory
PI: Dr. Preethi Chandran

The Biomolecular Assemblies and Nanomechanics (BAN) Laboratory is interested in the engineering design behind self-assembled nanoscale structures of semiflexible biopolymers (DNA, aggrecan, and collagen, etc), and in using these nanostructures as physical containers for drug delivery and tissue regeneration. Research efforts have resulted in the development of an integrated approach to study these bioassemblies, from the single-molecule interactions to the group polymer dynamics to the nanomechanics of the final complex. Techniques like Atomic Force Microscopy, Dynamic Light Scattering, and Rheology allow the investigation of the biomolecule physics at different stages of self-assembly. The lab is also engaged in developing a multi-scale modeling theory for semi-dilute biopolymers. This theory is based on our string-of-continuous-beams polymer model. The theory makes it possible to model coarse-grain biopolymer self-assembly at reduced cost but with high orders of polymer interaction.

Physical/Chemical Environmental Processes Laboratory
PI: Dr. Ramesh Chawla

Several products and by-products of industrial processes are very toxic and hazardous to the health of terrestrial and aquatic life forms. Industrialization has helped advance technology but at the cost of contaminating the natural environment. Wastewater and other industrial effluents leach through the earth crust, adsorb on to the surface of soil particles and contaminate subsurface aquifers resulting in the pollution of ground water and many drinking water sources. The laboratory focuses on fundamental and applied studies to remove these environmental contaminants or reduce them to non-toxic forms. Recent remediation efforts have targeted Hexavalent Chromium, Cr(VI), and Trichloroethylene, TCE, which have been classified by the USEPA as known carcinogens. Our group has investigated the reductive degradation of co-contaminant medium of TCE and Cr(VI) as well as the kinetics of their simultaneous transformation, using atomized iron powder.

Nanomaterials Processing Laboratory
PI: Dr. James W. Mitchell

The characterization and reaction chemistry of high-technology materials, especially those required in unprecedentedly high states of purity, are investigated using any of the appropriate analytical tools and methods. In the case of photonic and electronic materials, research activities cover a broad range, which includes assessing the state of purity of materials by developing novel analytical methods and instruments for extreme trace elemental analysis, devising new approaches for ultrapurification of analytical reagents and process chemicals through elucidation of chemical reaction pathways of trace elements, and innovating new contamination-free processes for generating precursors for synthesizing thin film materials and devices. Specific areas of research interests include 1) Nanomaterials Characterization Chemistry and Processing Research and 2) Synthesis and Processing of Ultrapure Reagents and Materials.

Bioprocess Engineering Laboratory
PI: Dr. Solmaz Tabtabaei

Expanding our energy supply sources with less environmental impacts requires creating more sustainable and secure energy systems. The laboratory research activities are mostly focused on developing novel catalytic processes for the sustainable production of advanced biofuels and biochemical from biomass resources. Experimental and theoretical approaches are used to understand the fundamental processes governing biomass conversion. The goal is also to develop environmentally clean bio-separation technologies for concurrent recovery of high-quality food and biofuel from plant-based materials with the aim of addressing major issues in sustainable energy, human nutrition, and the environment.

Bioenvironmental Engineering Laboratory
PI: Dr. John Tharakan

Areas of research interest to the laboratory include environmental engineering and biotechnology, appropriate technology development and education, and sustainable development. Bioenvironmental engineering research focuses on the use of biological technologies for the remediation of contaminated environmental media. Appropriate technology research has had specific focus on technologies for water treatment and conservation, renewable energy production using solar and biomass resources, and waste management and resource recovery. Collaboration with Engineers Without Borders student chapter also covers research work on appropriate water, sanitation and energy technology implementation in developing communities in Senegal, Kenya and El Salvador.

Bio-nano Interfaces, Functional Materials & Biotechnologies Laboratory
PI: Dr. Tao Wei

The laboratory focuses on fundamental studies of interfacial phenomena (adsorption, docking, charge transfer, self-assembling and complex gas-surface or liquid-surface chemical reactions), especially those related with bio-nano hybrids, for the purpose of developing functional materials and biotechnologies to tackle challenges in health, energy and environment. To achieve process-structure-function design, house-developed multiscale simulation framework (quantum, atomistic, mesoscopic and continuum scales) are combined with theories (Statistical Mechanics and quantum) and experiments at the interface between chemistry, physics and biology. Bthe fundamental studies, the lab is working on four specific areas: 1) biomaterials (peptide mimics/proteins, DNA/RNA/nucleic acids and lipids) and biotechniques (biosensors, drug delivery, bioremediation and bioenergy); 2) polymer-nanoparticle composite materials for water treatment and semiconducting polymers for polymer photovoltaics; 3) materials at severe conditions (such as high temperature and high pressure) for energy applications; and 4) low-dimensional or nanoporous materials (such as graphene sheet(s), CNT, zeolites and MOFs) for biosensing, energy and pollution control (water/air).

Biofilm Engineering and Drug Discovery (BEDD) Laboratory
PI: Dr. Patrick Ymele-Leki

The BEDD research program focuses on (i) the development and implementation of high‐ and low- throughput screening assays for the identification of novel small molecules with antimicrobial activity, (ii) the development and characterization of physiologically and industrially relevant multispecies in vitro biofilm models for the identification of potential drug targets, and (iii) the in vivo assessment of cytotoxicity and pharmacokinetics parameters and hypothesis‐driven validation of antimicrobial drug targets for site colonization related to biofilm formation. Long-term research goals are to enhance current antimicrobial arsenal and further understanding of complex microbial communities. Current work and collaborative research projects include (i) the investigation of the impact of biofilm structural features (i.e., porosity, diffusional distance, biomass, and biovolume) and physical fluid forces on the efficacy of known antimicrobial agents; (ii) the evaluation of potential antimicrobial challenge mechanisms as a strategy for in situ biofilm control; and (iii) the identification of novel chemical probes and microbial targets and development of novel drug delivery strategies in biofilm settings.

Passive Seismic Protective Systems (PSPS)
PI: Dr. Claudia Marin-Artieda

Research efforts on Passive Seismic Protective Systems (PSPS) at Howard University focus to advance knowledge about PSPS to secure critical infrastructure such as buildings—its contents and components—and bridges that are subject to extreme load conditions—earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes. Current research involves theoretical and numerical analysis together with real-environment, full-scale experimental testing on the dynamic interaction of structural systems, nonstructural components and systems, and their protective measures under earthquake shaking.

Current research on PSPS has been supported by the National Science Foundation in the following projects:

  1. Passive Seismic Protective Systems for Nonstructural Systems and Components in Multistory Building.
  2. Innovative Seismic Retrofits for Reinforced Concrete Buildings.
  3. Full-Scale Structural and Nonstructural Building System Performance during Earthquakes

Research activities on PSPS include: 1) experimental and theoretical simulations, 2) modeling of dynamic response of structures, nonstructural components and systems, and protective measures to predict the responses by using analytical and computational mechanics tools, 3) validating through experimentation mathematical models that predict behavior of mechanical systems under extreme loading condition, and 4) finding simple procedures and methodologies to support design procedures and verification processes in engineering practice.

The Howard University Structural Simulation Laboratory
PI: Dr. Claudia Marin-Artieda

The Howard University Structural Simulation Laboratory (HUSSL) is an undergraduate research and educational facility dedicated to foster the understanding of structural engineering fundamentals, visualization and experimental demonstrations of concepts on general behavior of structural elements and systems, introduction to structural design using high-performance materials and systems, introduction to emerging technologies for multi-hazard protection of civil engineering structures. The HUSSL research projects emphasize experimental and theoretical simulations, modeling of responses of structures under different load conditions and protective measures. HUSSL also is the base of operations of the Ambassadors of Engineering program. This Ambassador program is managed by CEE students engaging Howard University undergraduate engineering students in outreach from K-12 grades and the general public, and promotion of careers in engineering.

Environmental And Water Resources Engineering (EWRE)
PI: Dr. Kimberly Jones
The research efforts in the Environmental And Water Resources Engineering (EWRE) group foster education and research on water quality and treatment, wastewater treatment, storm water monitoring and quality, fate and transport of contaminants, and hazardous waste treatment. These centers fosters opportunities for collaboration in broad fields such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, and systems engineering in order to prepare graduates for exciting environmental careers in government, private sector and academia.

Motion Control and Drives Laboratory
Director: Dr. Ahmed Rubaai

The Motion Control and Drives Laboratory specializes in experimental research in real-time software/hardware systems and control in a broad range of industrial systems applications. The lab supports undergraduate/graduate education and research in hardware-in- the-loop simulation and rapid prototyping, real-time computing software/hardware systems, advanced modeling and control techniques, digital controller prototyping, intelligent and learning control systems, variable frequency power electronic motor drives, with an emphasis on emerging applications in areas ranging from robotics, mechatronics, intelligent structures, renewable energy and smart grid, factory automation, motion control business, building automation and smart homes, power system automation and SCADA, and research applications related to Homeland Defense.

Electromagnetic Imaging and Modeling Laboratory (EMM)
Director: Dr. John M. M. Anderson

EMM is focused on the problem of detecting land mines and improvised explosive devices using forward looking ground penetrating radar. The EMM Laboratory team members are developing new algorithms for reconstructing radar images and improved modeling methods for determining certain material properties of potential targets within a scene-of-interest. The Army Research Office and Army Research Laboratory are supporting the activities of the EMM Laboratory.

Affective Biometrics Laboratory
Director: Dr. Gloria Washington

In the Affective Biometrics Laboratory, research is performed on how human emotion and/or identity can be recognized through the use of physical or behavioral characteristics including heart rate, skin temperature and sweat pores, brain waves, and body language gathered from images, video, and biological sensors.

Embedded Systems Security Laboratory

In the Embedded Systems Security Laboratory, the research and teaching laboratory explores the relationships between safety and security in the context of real-time embedded systems with a specific focus on cyber-physical systems.

Computational Biology and Algorithms Laboratory
Directors: Dr. Chunmei Liu and Dr. Legand Burge

The Computational Biology and Algorithms Laboratory works on designing algorithms for biological problems, as well as on theoretical computer science and graph algorithm studies.

Computer Networks and Distributed Systems Laboratory
Directors: Dr. Jiang Li and Dr. Legand Burge

The Computer Networks and Distributed Systems Laboratory studies various cutting-edge topics in computer networks (such as cognition-based networks) as well as the deployment and use issues of distributed software/hardware systems. Both theoretical and experimental aspects are taken into consideration. Collaboration is done with other research groups on cross cutting problems such as network security.

Software Engineering Laboratory
Directors: Dr. Peter Keiller and Dr. Harry Keeling

The Software Engineering Laboratory research group focuses on how to analyze, design, build, test, and maintain safe and reliable software systems. The group has published extensively in international software engineering journals and conferences. Group members work on a very broad research base which includes, research into embedded and real-time systems, communications, databases, software design techniques, user interfaces and human-computer interaction, distributed systems engineering, software measurement and quality, software testing, software processes, reuse, requirements engineering, and software tools.

Cybersecurity and Wireless Networking Innovations Laboratory (CWiNS)
Director: Dr. Danda B. Rawat

The mission of the CWiNS lab is to advance the state-of-the-art technologies in cybersecurity and wireless networks for emerging networked cyber physical systems (smart grid, transportation, Internet of Things, UAV). The CWiNS group engages in fundamental research as well as applied research. The CWiNS lab provides a diverse and rich educational and research environment promoting interdisciplinary research projects. The CWiNS lab also serves as a diverse and rich educational center serving the students of the university as well as its region.

Signal Processing and Communication Laboratory

The Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS)
Director: Dr. Sonya T. Smith, PI
Co-PIs: Dr. James Hammonds; Dr. Charles Kim (EECS)

The Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS) center attacks the thermal and electrical challenges surrounding mobile electronics and vehicle design as a single system. The POETS ERC aims to pack more power into less space for electrical technologies on the move by integrating novel 3-D cooling circuitry, power converters and algorithms for smart power management. The results of the research will enable the manufacture of lighter, more compact and more efficient power electronic systems for electric vehicles, airplanes, construction equipment, handheld tools and other mobile applications.

Applied Fluid Dynamics Research Laboratory (AFDRL)
Director: Dr. Sonya T. Smith

The Aerodynamics Research Laboratory provides experimental and computations fluid dynamics (CFD) solutions for fluid dynamics applications. The research concentrates on problems involving airfoil aerodynamics, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and problems in unmanned air vehicle design (UAVs). In the lab research also includes biological fluid flow research for drug delivery and auditory mechanics. The lab contains a 17” test-section subsonic wind tunnel for airfoil design and validation and a 125-node HPC cluster for CFD modeling.

Applied Mechanics and Materials Research Laboratory (AMMRL)
Directors: Dr. Gbadebo Moses Owolabi and Dr. H.A. Whitworth

The Applied Mechanics and Materials Research Laboratory (AMMRL) supports research activities in the areas of materials testing and characterization for advanced materials at various strain rates and temperature. AMMRL is located in Room G 021, L.K. Downing Engineering Building at Howard University. The laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art instruments. These include: split Hopkinson pressure bars; two uniaxial load frames (one MTS and one Instron machine); two biaxial thermomechanical servohydrualic test systems; high speed digital cameras with frame rate of 1 million frames per second; a digital image correlation system with frame rate of 60 frames per second; an infra-red tomography system; long distance optical microscope with cameras; Nikon MA200 metallurgical microscopes and several specimen preparation tools including Struer’s secotom-15 (for cutting sample) and labopol-5 (for polishing).

Digital Manufacturing Laboratory (DML)
Former Director: Dr. Grant Warner

The Digital Manufacturing Laboratory (DML) is a member lab in the Consortium for Additive Manufacturing (CAM). CAM is funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and is comprised of several HBCUs in partnership with federal manufacturing facilities and labs, including NNSA’s KC Plant, Oakridge National Lab, and Y-12. CAM is exploring the applicability of Additive Manufacturing to the US War Reserve (WR) and Work for Others (WFO) mission space. A major technical hurdle is the development of material standards that characterize the performance of the materials after they have been processed into a part. DML activities are focused on the verification of the material properties of additively manufactured parts under changing manufacturing parameters.

Surface Engineering and Nanofluids Laboratory (SENL)
Director: Dr. Mohsen Mosleh

In the Surface Engineering and Nanofluids Laboratory (SENL) research focuses on understanding the interactions of contacting surfaces in different scales and devising innovative engineering solutions to reduce/eliminate their degradation over time. Surface engineering techniques are being used in a variety of applications including automotive, aerospace, power, electronic, biomedical, textile, petroleum, chemical, machine tools and construction industries. The main thrusts of research include cutting Nano fluids for manufacturing processes, Nano fluids for thermal and lubrication management, Nano lubricants for energy efficiency in engines and transmissions, vehicle tribology, rolling contact fatigue, hybrid bearings, surface texturing, contact mechanics, and Nano tribology.

Stout Infrastructure, Geotechnics and Materials (SIGMa) Laboratory
Director: Dr. Hessam Yazdani

SIGMa is a research and innovation group within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Howard University. The inter- and transdisciplinary research at SIGMa is dedicated to enhancing the sustainability and resilience of civil and marine infrastructure through 1) developing high-performance and multifunctional materials using multiscale characterization and modeling and artificial intelligence, 2) addressing the geotechnical aspects of infrastructure such as renewable energy sources, 3) incorporating reliability and optimization into the design of interacting geotechnical and structural systems and 4) improving the durability of civil and marine infrastructure.

The Howard University Environmental Biotechnology Laboratory
Director: Dr. Jeseth Delgado Vela

The goal of the Environmental Biotechnology Lab is to understand microbial ecology within the urban water cycle and consequently inform water treatment approaches and technology development. We are particularly interested in harnessing microbial communities to improve the urban water cycle. Our research harnesses microbial communities by understanding (1) how to use microbes to manage the nitrogen cycle in water and resource recovery facilities, (2) how to engineer biofilms to perform desirable engineering outcomes, (3) how to exploit signaling molecules microbes use. We pair the latest tools in molecular biology, bioinformatics, and process modeling with lab-, pilot-, and full-scale studies of biological treatment systems. To read more about current projects and opportunities please go to All inquiries should be directed to Dr. Jeseth Delgado Vela, by phone at: 202-806-6630 or by email at:

Hardware Design Lab
Former Director: Dr. Michaela E. Amoo

The Hardware Design Lab is a 690 ft2 facility located on the 3rd floor of the L.K. Downing Building at 2300 6th St in the District of Columbia. The focus is application specific FPGA-design for a variety of applications including autonomous platforms, controls, and quantum information science and engineering (QISE). The lab has six custom-designed workstations, each featuring a Dell Precision Workstation with multi-core Xeon Processors, Agilent/Keysight arbitrary wave form generator (AWG), function generator, oscilloscope, multimeters, and variable power supplies, in addition to a tool kit, solder station, and Panavise circuit board holder. Licensed software packages include Xilinx (Vivado Design Suite, XSDK, ISE), Mentor Graphics ModelSim PE, Intel (Quartus Prime PRO, FPGA SDK), Mathworks (Matlab & Simulink).

State-of-the-art equipment includes Xilinx Virtex UltraScale FPGA VCU110 development boards, Intel Stratix 10 MX FPGAs, Xilinx SoC Zed Boards, Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA-XC7A100T development boards, and Intel TerAsic DE1-SoC development boards. Older FPGA boards include Xilinx Virtex 4. The lab also boasts a range of Intel RealSense depth and tracking cameras, TFMINI Micro LIDAR, Sharp InfraRed sensors, and a 3D systems Capture Laser scanner for rapid-prototyping.