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[INTERVIEW] SUNY Korea Professor Suzana Brown Team, Grand Challenges C…

SUNY Koreaㅣ2020-09-11 13:07

[From left: Kyu Hyun Bae (PhD in Department of Technology & Society), Jonathan Boyack (MS student in Mechanical Engineering department), Suzana Brown (Professor in DTS), Maurice Bess (Research professor in DTS)]

Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact®. Grand Challenges Canada is funded by the Government of Canada and other partners, and Grand Challenges Canada supports integrated science and technology, social, and business innovation. Professor Suzana Brown's team from SUNY Korea received a support fund of approximately CAD 250,000 from Grand Challenges Canada. Please meet Professor Suzana Brown’s team through this interview.


Image from 'Grand Challenges'

Q1. It looks like Grand Challenges Canada has a number of global health programs and initiatives. Which grant did your team secure?

Suzana Brown: Our grant was funded under the Grand Challenges Canada program, Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge. It is a seed grant with a budget of approximately CAD 250,000. The title of our project is: “Redesigning Mobility Aid to Function in Challenging Environments and Limited-Resource Settings”

Q2. What led you to choose this area of research?

Suzana Brown: Before coming to SUNY Korea, my research centered on the use of technology in health for limited-resource settings. Since I have been at SUNY Korea, for the last 5 years, I have expanded my research agenda to the humanitarian use of technology. This grant is funding a project that will improve the lives of people with walking disabilities by improving crutches and canes so they can be used safely on unpaved paths and roads.

Q3. How do you think this project will influence the world?

Suzana Brown: Humanitarian crises hit vulnerable groups hardest, such as people with disabilities. In addition, conflicts result in an increase in disabilities caused by injuries or malnutrition. However, only 1 in 10 people in need have access to assistive devices. The purpose of our project is to develop and test an alternative design for a rubber shoe to be used on mobility aids such as crutches and canes. It will be a cost-effective alternative that would function in challenging environments such as unprepared/unpaved surfaces.

Q4. We found you’ll be working as a team and you’re the leader of this project. Could you introduce your team members?

Suzana Brown: The research team is the following: Myself (Suzana Brown, assistant professor at SUNY Korea), and two professors who used to work here but since have left: Dr. Achilles Vairis and Dr. Faheem Hussain. Dr. Vairis has 25 years of experience, including redesigning medical devices. He was a professor at SUNY Korea in the Mechanical Engineering Department from 2016 to 2019, and has since returned to his home university - Mediterranean University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece.

Dr. Hussain was an executive from the NGO Young Power in Social Action, our partner in Bangladesh, and was a professor at SUNY Korea between 2014 and 2018. He is currently a clinical professor at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University.

In addition, my lab in building A 302, called the Assistive Devices Lab, has the following team that works with me on the project. Professor Maurice Bess from the Department of Technology and Society (DTS) at SUNY Korea, who is our design expert and lab manager.

​Johnathan Boyack, MS/Ph.D. student from Mechanical Engineering at SUNY Korea, who is the technical expert and an executive hand of Dr. Vairis. My Ph.D. student, Kyu Hyun Bae, who just got accepted to DTS in SUNY Korea, and is working on a local Korean testing of our redesigned device.

Q5. As a professor of SUNY Korea, how do you feel about this achievement?

Suzana Brown: ​This grant is the first international grant that SUNY Korea received, establishing SUNY Korea as a global research institution. I hope we can continue to be successful in securing international funding in the future.

Q6. What is your future research goal?

Suzana Brown: The team has plans to expand the project to deal with issues faced by the disabled, as well as with the aging population in the Korean setting. My personal future research plans are to continue working on humanitarian technology and its application to medicine. I am also working with refugee camps in Africa, and how entrepreneurship helps refugees be more self-reliant. We are collaborating with a local Korean partner "Incheon association of people with physical disability" to get help with our testing in Korea.


Spring 2021 Stony Brook University Application
Early Deadline: November 30(Mon), 2020
Regular Deadline: February 5(Fri), 2021
Fall 2021 FIT Application
Regular Deadline: To be announced.
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