Advanced science.  Applied technology.


72nd Annual Meeting of Advisory Trustees and Board of Directors of Southwest Research Institute


8:45 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. — Staff Presentations


Monday, Feb. 17, 2020


Southwest Research Institute
6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238
Bldg. 263


72nd Annual Meeting of Advisory Trustees and Board of Directors of Southwest Research Institute, including presentations on key SwRI research programs.

Special Media Availability        

SwRI experts are available for interviews and to answer questions about the Annual Meeting presentations. Please contact Deb Schmid to RSVP or to schedule an earlier visit. Please check in at the security entrance at 6220 Culebra Rd. where you will be directed to Bldg. 263 for interviews. B-roll available upon request.

For more information, contact Deb Schmid, +1 210 522 2254, or Robert Crowe, +1 210 522 4630.

View the Annual Report


Stormwater Management

SwRI is supporting our community and improving our campus with a new stormwater management project, partially funded by the Environmental Protection Agency through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Working with EPA, TCEQ, the City of San Antonio and the San Antonio River Authority, SwRI is deploying low-impact development techniques to manage stormwater in ways that mimic natural processes to protect the local water quality.

Taylor Holt will discuss how SwRI is implementing “strategic landscaping” to beautify the grounds while managing stormwater, solutions that are good for SwRI, good for San Antonio and good for the planet.

Taylor Holt, Engineer, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division


Electric Power Grid Resilience

Electric towers in succession with a sunset in the background

In today’s world, every segment of modern life relies on power, from conveniences like phones and cars to more vital needs like clean water and healthcare. But what would happen if the electric grid that powers our lives goes down for days, weeks or even months? SwRI is working to help make the power grid more resilient to any number of possible threats, including a large-scale electromagnetic event, which can be caused by a major solar flare or a man-made electromagnetic pulse.

SwRI is part of a major citywide community initiative preparing for a long-term mass power outages caused by an electromagnetic event. Bill Ryan and Jody Little will discuss their work toward a resilient and secure power grid capable of withstanding a catastrophic electromagnetic disturbance. They will share how San Antonio is becoming a model for a nationwide initiative to bolster electric power grid resilience.

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Bill Ryan, Director, Applied Power Division

Jody Little, Manager, Defense and Intelligence Solutions Division

Energy Efficiency Via Connectivity and Automation in Vehicles

Blue car on a test stand

As vehicle manufacturers strive for single-digit percentage improvements in energy efficiency, SwRI powertrain engineers are developing software that uses connected and automated vehicle information streams to improve energy efficiency while decreasing CO2 emissions. As part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy NEXTCAR program, SwRI engineers are demonstrating vehicle efficiency improvements of more than 20% with no powertrain hardware changes or compromises to emissions, safety and drivability. This improvement is an order of magnitude over the typical incremental engine or transmission improvements. Sankar Rengarajan will discuss how driver behavior and vehicle autonomy accelerate improvements to vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions.

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Sankar Rengarajan, Group Leader, Powertrain Engineering

Machine Learning and Lifesaving Algorithms

Randy McDonnell

Artificial intelligence tools are becoming ubiquitous in many segments of society. Perhaps the best-known are machine learning algorithms used by Netflix to suggest movies and shows you might be interested in watching. In contrast, SwRI is using machine learning in a wide range of applications that improve safety and save lives. Dr. Steve Dellenback will discuss the basics of machine learning and how neural networks are created to allow a computer to infer decisions. Hakima Ibaroudene will then discuss how a team adapted vehicle algorithms to develop an automated method for detecting breast cancer tumor cells from tissue sample images. The technique took first place in the international BreastPathQ: Cancer Cellularity Challenge and is serving as a model for other diagnostic medical applications.

SwRI, UT Health San Antonio researchers win automated cancer detection challenge

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Steve Dellenback, Ph.D. and PMP, Vice President, Intelligent Systems Division

Hakima Ibaroudene, Group Leader, Intelligent Systems Division

IR&D Program Overview

Technician reviewing elements of the CoDICE experiment

As a nonprofit research and development organization, SwRI uses part of our net income to invest in tomorrow’s innovations, to broaden the Institute’s technology base and to encourage our staff’s professional growth. In 2019, SwRI initiated 106 new projects, investing more than $8 million in internal research. These efforts include focused research programs, such as the Metals Additive Kickoff Emphasizing Research Synergies (MAKERS), designed to advance SwRI capabilities in emerging additive manufacturing applications. IR&D fulfills the Institute’s objective of conducting innovative activities for the benefit of industry, the government and humankind.

NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe Mission enters design phase

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R&D 100 Awards Panel Discussion

White antenna with blue sky and clouds in the background

Two Southwest Research Institute-developed technologies were selected as winners of prestigious R&D 100 Awards. R&D Magazine recognized SwRI’s Lotus Superhydrophobic Compositions and Coating Process (LotusFlo™) and AF-369 VHF/UHF Terrestrial Direction-Finding Antenna as among the 100 most significant innovations for 2019.

LotusFlo™ superhydrophobic application process showing long pipes connected to devices in an industrial setting

At a panel discussion, Dr. Michael Miller will discuss how LotusFlo addresses a common problem in the offshore drilling industry: sticky, tar-like substances found in crude oil that can impede fluids flowing through pipes. LotusFlo technology produces a superhydrophobic coating designed specifically to repel liquids and materials that often clog oil drilling pipes. The application process involves linking several 40-foot sections of pipe together, creating very low atmospheric pressures within, to deposit the glass-like coatings on the inner surfaces.

Brandon Nance will describe novel technology that allows its AF-369 antenna to improve its sensitivity by an order of magnitude so it can provide accurate direction finding (DF) for signals collected through electronic surveillance. Information derived from DF antennas can provide critical spatial awareness to intelligence analysts when radios and their users move or when unusual activity in a given geographic location may indicate an imminent threat. Most DF antenna products need three separate arrays to cover the same frequencies. The AF-369 provides the same performance and better accuracy at greatly reduced cost and complexity.

SwRI develops superhydrophobic coating for offshore drilling pipes

SwRI-developed direction-finding antenna wins 2019 R&D 100 Award

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Protein Analysis for Forensic Identification

Dr. Myles Gardner and Dr. Curt Hewitt, science and technology advisors from SwRI’s wholly owned subsidiary Signature Science in Austin and co-principal investigators on the IARPA Proteos program, will discuss a potential new avenue for human forensics — protein analysis — which could one day be used to help identify suspects and victims when little to no DNA is available. Useful DNA evidence is often damaged or missing from touch samples such as fingerprints. To overcome this challenge, the team has developed techniques to efficiently identify mutations in proteins often found in touch samples, associate them with DNA mutation profiles and calculate the probability of a match to specific individual. The team developed a panel of 154 common protein mutation markers to test the method and demonstrated that protein variant profiles can be matched to DNA mutation profiles with high accuracy. They are working with partners to enable these methods in forensic labs in the future.

Myles W. Gardner, Ph.D., Chemist, Signature Science LLC

Curt Hewitt, Ph.D., Forensic Scientist, Signature Science LLC

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission

Proposed landing site on Bennu asteroid

Dr. Vicky Hamilton from SwRI’s office in Boulder, Colorado, will discuss NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to near-Earth asteroid Bennu. The spacecraft will attempt to collect a sample of rocks and dust from Bennu’s rugged surface and return it to Earth. The spacecraft reached the asteroid just over a year ago, discovering an ancient surface littered with water-bearing minerals. Since then, the team has searched for a relatively smooth site to collect the sample, a challenge due to Bennu’s rocky surface. The team has selected primary and backup collection sites, and soon, OSIRIS-REx will attempt to collect surface particles up to 2 cm in size, departing from Bennu in 2021 and arriving back at Earth in 2023. Hamilton is part of the sample analysis team and will receive some bits of Bennu to study in an SwRI lab.

SwRI-led team discovers surprisingly old surface on near-Earth asteroid

SwRI-led team identifies water-bearing minerals on asteroid Bennu

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Osiris REx Video 1Osiris REx Video 2

Dr. Vicky Hamilton, Staff Scientist, Space Science and Engineering Division