Faculty and Staff

Research, Technology, and Saving Lives

February 22, 2023
smart glasses on a table

“If we create technology that helps emergency care personnel make better decisions faster, we can literally save lives.”

Professor Zhan Zhang, PhD, would know—he’s been doing research in emergency care tech for almost a decade. He recently received a National Science Foundation grant to develop touchless smart glasses that will allow emergency care professionals to collect data, communicate with other specialists, and pull up medical protocol checklists with a gesture of the head or through voice controls. They’ll no longer need to take their hands—or their eyes—off the patient or risk transferring germs to and from a computer keyboard.

His work has earned him a few incredible distinctions: in Fall 2021, he made Pace history by earning grants from both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). In February 2023, he made history at Pace again, after being awarded nearly $500K through the NSF's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program, the most prestigious award for junior faculty across the US from a Federal agency.

If we create technology that helps emergency care personnel make better decisions faster, we can literally save lives.

Zhang could have easily gone into industry, but he loves research and educating the next generation of IT workers and researchers. And it’s not unusual for students to reach out and ask to work with Professor Zhang. “Students here all work very hard, and the first thing I ask them about is their goals. They always have goals and are very proactive. One of my students was interested in researching human-computer interaction. We worked for nine months on an application to help patients understand the meaning of their medical scans and lab results. After graduation, that student was hired full-time as a UX designer—and I just got a note that he’s been promoted to be the head of UX design. He deserves that. He is very talented.”

Professor Zhang also collaborates closely with other faculty members. “I recently worked with Dr. David Sachs on a telehealth project he created to make healthcare more accessible for older adults with financial constraints. He worked very hard to get that project funded—and I’ve heard that more than 2,000 are now using it.”

Community was one of the biggest reasons Zhang chose to be at Pace. “My colleagues do a lot of meaningful work, and I’m proud of that. We all mentor students and are concerned about keeping the curriculum relevant. Right now, we’re working on developing new interdisciplinary programs in health informatics, human-centered design, and a two-year master’s program in data science and computer security.”

Computer science and information technology is a field that never stops changing. And at Pace, the curriculum never stops evolving.

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