Wolfgang Fink

Current Position Title: 
Associate Professor
Alternate Position: 
Edward & Maria Keonjian Endowed Chair
Phone: 
520-621-8734
Email: 
wfink@email.arizona.edu


Short Bio

Associate Professor Dr. Wolfgang Fink is the inaugural Edward & Maria Keonjian Endowed Chair of Microelectronics with joint appointments in the Departments of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Systems & Industrial Engineering, and Ophthalmology & Vision Science at the University of Arizona. He is a Visiting Associate in Physics at the California Institute of Technology, and holds concurrent appointments as Visiting Research Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Neurological Surgery at the University of Southern California. Dr. Fink is the founder and director of the Visual and Autonomous Exploration Systems Research Laboratory at Caltech and at the University of Arizona. He was a Senior Researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 2000 through 2009. He obtained a B.S. and M.S. degree in Physics and Physical Chemistry from the University of Göttingen, Germany, and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Tübingen, Germany in 1997. Dr. Fink, pursuing an inter-disciplinary systems engineering approach in human-machine interfaces, evolutionary optimization and autonomous systems, has focused his research on biomimetic (implantable) systems, biomedical sensor development, artificial vision, computer-optimized design, cognitive systems, and autonomous robotic space exploration.

Prior to his appointment at the University of Arizona, Dr. Fink was a member and a Principal Investigator of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Artificial Retina Project, a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary effort to develop an implantable microelectronic retinal device that restores useful vision to people blinded by retinal diseases (RP and AMD). This effort involved several national laboratories, universities, and industry. Furthermore, Dr. Fink is Caltech’s founding Co-Investigator of the NSF-funded Biomimetic MicroElectronic Systems Engineering Research Center, awarded in 2003 to USC, Caltech, and UC Santa Cruz. The broad goals of the Center were to develop retinal implants for the blind, intramuscular stimulators for the paralyzed, and cortical implants for stroke patients.

With funding from NSF, DOE, DOD, NASA, and Industrial Directed Research programs, Dr. Fink has developed and prototyped biomedical instruments and tests such as: (1) Methods for early cataract detection; (2) Computer-visualization of optical eye defects; (3) 3D computer-automated threshold Amsler grid test for comprehensive visual field testing; (4) Characterization and classification algorithms for an objective, quantitative, and fully automated analysis of visual field defects; (5) Optically powered and optically data-transmitting implantable intraocular pressure sensor for glaucoma management; (6) Opto-mechanical and digital ocular sensor reader systems, allowing for eye self-exam and monitoring implanted ocular sensors and fill-levels of implanted drug delivery devices; (7) Training algorithms for the optimization of visual perception afforded by artificial vision implants for the blind; (8) Tactile feedback device for blind artificial vision implant carriers; (9) Portable real-time artificial vision support system and electric stimulation optimization for artificial vision prostheses (featured in Popular Mechanics 11/2010: “Digital Sight for the Blind”); (10) Robotic surrogate for the blind (featured in Popular Science 8/2010: “Rise of the Helpful Machines”); and (11) Hyperspectral analysis software for retinal oximetry.

Amongst numerous awards, Dr. Fink shared in 2009 the R&D Magazine’s R&D 100 Award and R&D 100 Editors’ Choice Award (the highest of all R&D 100 Awards in 2009), both for the DOE-funded Artificial Retina Project. In 2012, he was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). Dr. Fink's work has been documented in numerous publications as well as in multiple patents in the areas of biomedical devices, MEMS fabrication, multi-dimensional optimization, and autonomous systems.


Collaborations


Dr. Fink has collaborations with the UA Departments of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Systems & Industrial Engineering, Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering, Hydrology & Water Resources, Optics, Ophthalmology & Vision Science, and Lunar & Planetary Laboratory. Outside UA, Dr. Fink collaborates with Caltech, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the University of Southern California. He also collaborates with researchers in industry and other academic institutions.


Classes Taught

•    ECE 411/511 (Fall): Numeric Modeling of Physics & Biological Systems
•    ECE 330 (Spring): Computational Techniques


Honors & Awards

•      2012: Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)
•      2010: NASA patent award for “Inverse Tomographic Approach to Create Arbitrary Sidewall Geometries in 3D using LiGA Technologies”
•      2010: NASA patent award “Optically powered and optically data-transmitting wireless intraocular pressure sensor device”
•      2010: NASA patent award for “Automated objective characterization of visual field defects in 3D”
•      2010: NASA patent award for “Multi-agent autonomous system and method (3/3)”
•      2010: NASA patent award for “Multi-agent autonomous system (2/3)”
•      2009: NASA Board Award for “Field-Deployable Integrated Air-Ground Multi-Agent Autonomous Remote Planetary Surface Exploration”
•      2009: Co-recipient of R&D Magazine’s R&D 100 Editors’ Choice award 2009 for the DOE-funded Artificial Retina Project
•      2009: Co-recipient of R&D Magazine’s R&D 100 award 2009 for the DOE-funded Artificial Retina Project
•      2009: NASA patent award for “Multi-agent autonomous system (1/3)”
•      2006: 1st place (World Champion) of the IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation (CEC) 2006 International “Huygens Probe” Optimization Competition, held at the IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence (WCCI) 2006 in Vancouver, BC, Canada from July 16-21, 2006
•      2006: NASA Techbrief Award for “Spectral retrieval and degeneracy analysis by means of Evolutionary Computational Methods (ECM)”, Terrile, Fink et al.
•      2006: NASA Techbrief Award for “Stochastic Evolutionary Algorithms (Simulated Annealing) for Deployment Path Planning & Optimization for Joint-based Robotic Limbs”, Fink et al.
•      2006: NASA Techbrief Award for “Efficient Optimization of Low-Thrust Spacecraft Trajectories”, Lee, Fink et al.
•      2006: NASA Techbrief Award for “Evolutionary Computing Methods for Retrieving Spectral Data”, Terrile, Fink et al.
•      2005: Silver Award, awarded to the Evolutionary Computation Group at JPL, for demonstrating Human Competitive Performance (Humie Award) for “Evolutionary Computational Techniques for the Automated Design of Space Systems” from the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) held in Washington DC.
•      2004: NASA Techbrief Award for “Field-Deployable Integrated Air-Ground Multi-Agent Autonomous Remote Planetary Surface Exploration”, Fink et al.
•      2002: NASA Space Flight Awareness (SFA) Launch Honoree Award for work in support of NASA’s human spaceflight program
•      1997: Ph.D.-degree in Theoretical Physics, summa cum laude, Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of Tübingen, Germany


Patents

•      U.S. 6,578,966: “Computer-based 3D visual field test system and analysis”
•      U.S. 6,769,770: “Computer-based 3D visual field testing with peripheral fixation points”
•      U.S. 6,990,406: “Multi-agent autonomous system”
•      U.S. 7,101,044: “Automated objective characterization of visual field defects in 3D”
•      U.S. 7,131,945: “Optically powered and optically data-transmitting wireless intraocular pressure sensor device”
•      U.S. 7,321,796: “Method and system for training a visual prosthesis”
•      U.S. 7,481,534: “Optomechanical and digital ocular sensor reader systems”
•      U.S. 7,734,063: “Multi-agent autonomous system”
•      U.S. 7,742,845: “Multi-agent autonomous system and method”
•      U.S. 7,762,664: “Optomechanical and digital ocular sensor reader systems”
•      U.S. 8,078,309: “Method to create arbitrary sidewall geometries in 3-dimensions using LIGA with a Stochastic Optimization Framework”
•      U.S. 8,260,428: “Method and system for training a visual prosthesis”
•      1 European Patent: E.P. 1276411 (same as U.S. 6,578,966)




University of Arizona College of Engineering
Department of Biomedical Engineering 1127 E James E. Rogers Way P.O. Box 210020 Tucson, AZ 85721-0020