Saluki Pride: Arash Komaee works to unlock next generation of surgical robotic tools

Ensconced in a laboratory packed with high-tech equipment, SIU Carbondale’s Arash Komaee is working on technology that might result in a new generation of surgical instruments. His efforts may someday lead, for example, to physicians using magnetize tools that can safely be operated inside a patient’s body using sufficiently strong magnets outside the body.

Komaee’s work, funded by a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation, seeks to develop magnetic manipulators to be used in noninvasive medical, biomedical and nanotechnology applications.

The concept offers many potential benefits, such as noninvasive surgical, imaging and drug targeting procedures. Komaee’s work supports the efforts of many researchers, engineers, physicians and private companies currently pursuing design and development of noninvasive medical devices, contributing to broader efforts aimed at improving the quality of care, patient safety and access to affordable health care.

Get to know ARASH KOMAEE

Name: Arash Komaee

Department/job title: School of Electrical, Computer, and Biomedical Engineering, associate professor

Years at SIU: 6.5

Give us your elevator pitch for your job:

Like any other faculty member in a research university, I have three categories of assigned tasks. First are “services,” which include serving in different committees, serving in the Faculty Senate, writing a variety of reports, etc. Second, I do teaching at both graduate and undergraduate levels, more often graduate level. I do my best to be a good teacher.

Finally, and my favorite, I spend lots of time on research. This includes working on scientific problems individually or together with my doctoral students, authoring research papers, reviewing and correcting my students’ writing, and preparing research proposals to financially support my team. My research area is systems theory and control, which has a theoretical side classified as a subject of mathematics, and an applied side concerning automation and smart control of engineered systems like various robots.

My current focus is on a project sponsored by the National Science Foundation aimed at design and development of noncontact magnetic manipulators. These complex machines have attracted great attention for their transformative potential to develop new generations of minimally invasive medical procedures in which magnetized surgical tools or drug carriers can navigate the natural pathways of the patient’s body by precise control of external magnetic fields.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Research, no doubt! Dealing with new problems each day, finding new answers you did not know yesterday, and if you are lucky, posing new problems from time to time are my highest pleasure.

At the top of my “bucket list’ is to …

I do not have such a list commonly understood as “static” goals.  My life is dynamic with dynamic goals. As time goes and I learn more about myself and the world, I constantly update my goals; often push them forward when I get close to them. This gives me continuous motivation for my entire life.  

My favorite activity away from work is …

I am seldom away from work, not because I have to; because what I do at work is most interesting to me.

Why did you choose the academic life?

This seems most interesting to me.

My favorite toy growing up was…


I am happiest when I…

When I find a new problem to think about.

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