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VANCOUVER, Wash. – Hearing loss marks the number one  disability during times of war and the number three most common in the U.S. As such it has quickly risen up the list of national concerns. 

 
Jie Xu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at WSU Vancouver, recently received a  DARPA Young Faculty Award to assist him in his research into hearing loss. 
 
The DARPA YFA program describes it’s purpose as “to identify and engage rising research stars in junior faculty positions at U.S. academic insitutions and introduce them to Department of Defense needs.”
 
The YFA provides funding, mentoring and industry contacts within the DoD to young scientists, engineers and mathematicians to help them continue their research within the context of national security  and DoD concerns.  
 
The award is given out annually by DARPA, through the DoD, and comes with a maximum grant of $300,000. Xu received $193,000.
 
Xu won the award through his research into microfluidics, a technology that dealing with the precise control and manipulation of fluids and objects.
 
“Traditionally, chemical and biological experiments are performed in macroscopic beakers,” Xu said. “With microfludic technology, we can build tiny fluid processors to perform chemical and biological experiments with a much faster speed, higher sensitivity and much less sample consumption.”
 
The DoD awarded the grant to Xu specifically for his research into “Ear-on-a-Chip” microfluidic systems. These systems will help scientists gain understanding into the causes of hearing loss and lead to future cures.
 
Xu began working at WSU Vancouver last year, after receiving his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He works within the School of Engineering and Computer Science and teaches four classes a year including thermodynamics, heat transfer,  fundamentals of fluids and thermal systems design.