Muyinatu Bell, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who is also the principal investigator of the Photoacoustic & Ultrasonic Systems Engineering Lab (PULSE), was recently awarded a Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).

She is one of 36 junior faculty members across the U.S. to receive the $5,000, one-year award, which aims to enrich the research and growth of those in the first years of tenure-track positions. Each winner’s institution matches the ORAU award, providing $10,000 in funds for the recipient to use for equipment, travel, and other research-related needs.

Bell’s award will support the PULSE Lab’s work to develop and test a new breast tissue imaging method that can differentiate between benign fluid-filled masses and potentially malignant solid masses with the goal of greater accuracy than ultrasound techniques used in most breast clinics today.

“Fluid-filled masses are often benign, but with current uncertainty rates, many fluid-filled masses undergo the same costly, time-consuming, and anxiety-provoking diagnostic work-ups as malignant masses, which are often solid,” Bell said. “Our long-term goal is to significantly improve breast cancer screening and detection for the benefit of patients and for the redistribution of more healthcare system resources to cancer patients who need them most.”

The project, titled “Robust Short-Lag Spatial Coherence Imaging of Hypoechoic Breast Masses,” was spotlighted in a recent issue of BME Magazine, published by Duke University, where Bell earned her doctorate.

This award rounds out a string of honors for Bell, who was recently elected as a Senior Member of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. Senior Members are recognized for their professional experience and their active involvement with the optics community, as well as for significant performance that sets them apart from their peers.

Bell was also recently elevated to the grade of IEEE Senior Member, a designation given to only 10 percent of the institute’s members to recognize those who have made significant contributions to the profession.