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Young engineering faculty at ASU build track record of high performance

March 12, 2015

Young faculty members in Arizona State University's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering are building a track record of high performance.

This year already, eight members of the engineering faculty have been awarded National Science Foundation CAREER and Air Force Office of Scientific Research YIP Awards. One researcher has doubled down, receiving both a CAREER and YIP Award.

“These highly-competitive and prestigious grants are awarded to young faculty with the best ideas in the U.S. Our young faculty are amazingly innovative and are already pushing the boundaries of their fields,” said Paul Johnson, dean of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “In addition to being outstanding researchers, they are exceptional teachers, and their grant activities involve outreach to inspire the next generation of engineers.”

According to the National Science Foundation, the CAREER Award “supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”

According to the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the YIP (Young Investigator Research Program) "supports scientists and engineers who have received doctoral or equivalent degrees in the last five years and show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research."

This year’s CAREER Award winners include:

Pavan TuragaPavan Turaga, assistant professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering and School for Arts, Media + Engineering

The award supports research to create new algorithms that can uncover underlying qualities of human movement. Turaga will create systems that can assess movement quality in home-based interventions for mobility disorders. This educational and outreach project focuses on informing technological innovations with humanistic insights, encouraging engineering students to draw on insights from the humanities and arts (and vice versa) and building hybrid digital-physical systems with interdisciplinary teams of students. Turaga teaches a course on motion capture for integrative systems where students from across disciplines create projects that span from interactive art installations to scientific projects involving interventions for mobility disorders.

Liping WangLiping Wang, assistant professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy

The fast depleting reserves of conventional energy sources and ever-changing environmental impacts have resulted in an urgent need for high-efficiency renewable energy sources and energy saving materials. Wang will use the award to focus on selectively controlling thermal radiation with novel man-made nanostructures. He will also develop an educational and outreach program, including but not limited to graduate and undergraduate student mentoring, invited seminars, international student/scholar exchange and K-12 education to take every opportunity to train next-generation engineers and researchers in STEM.

Jagannathan RajagopalanJagannathan Rajagopalan, assistant professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy

The award supports fundamental research that lays the foundation to employ nanocrystalline metals and alloys as smart, functional materials that have applications in aerospace, medicine and robotics. The research activity is integrated with a materials science education and outreach through a new mentoring program and scientific demonstrations for high school students, teacher workshops, course enhancements and training of undergraduate and graduate students in multidisciplinary materials research.

Sarah StabenfeldtSarah Stabenfeldt, assistant professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering

The award supports research that addresses fundamental gaps in understanding and modulating neural regeneration after brain injury. It will provide substantive research skill sets for the next generation of engineers and scientists, and a unique educational program will be developed for students ranging from high school to graduate school to actively conduct the proposed research. Additionally, Stabenfeldt will develop a guided-inquiry scientific module for high school students aimed at developing scientific analytical skills.

Pingbo Tang, assistant professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment

The award will help pioneer a change-based risk analysis method that uses diverse spatiotemporal data for predictive defect detection of aging civil infrastructure systems and early warning of structural collapse for proactive infrastructure management. Change analysis games developed in this effort are to be integrated into the engineering curriculum, K-12 summer workshops and industry outreach activities. A focus of this award is to engage people from underrepresented groups, especially Hispanics and Native Americans.

Srabanti ChowdrySrabanti Chowdhury, assistant professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering

A significant amount of energy – more than 10 percent – is wasted as heat due to inefficient power conversion. The award will help Chowdhury develop a very low loss power transistor with an integrated drive circuit for power conversion applications. The solution will reduce or eliminate the wasted energy, thereby effectively extending the lifetime of available energy resources, adding global energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The educational and outreach components are aimed at fostering interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines and developing scientific knowledge at the undergraduate and K-12 levels. These activities are focused on working with a diverse group of students, particularly women and other underrepresented groups.

Oliver KosutOliver Kosut, assistant professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering

Wireless and wired network systems are subject to attack, and cannot be trustworthy until they operate reliably in the presence of an active adversary that alters the natural behavior of the system. This award funds research that provides new techniques to bolster the resilience of communication networks in the presence of these potentially damaging attacks, with an eye toward the fundamental trade-offs between security and performance. To be effective, these solutions need to be correctly understood and used by people. Kosut also will develop an education and outreach program for students of all ages about security vulnerability and protection for networked systems.

This year’s YIP awardees include:

Paolo ShakarianPaulo Shakarian, assistant professor in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering

Getting a communication to “go viral” on social media is the goal of many public information and marketing efforts. Yet large information cascades are rare, suggesting they are difficult to engineer in practice. The award will advance research aimed at identifying what “inhibitory characteristics” in a social network cause a message to stop spreading and eventually die out. Shakarian’s work could aid in helping public service announcements reach multitudes of people during a health crisis or natural disaster.

Srabanti ChowdrySrabanti Chowdhury, assistant professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering

The award will advance research on transistor scaling technology that enables today’s high-speed electronics, like wireless communication and advanced imaging and radar, to operate at higher performance levels. The project takes a design-oriented approach exploiting the unique features of reciprocal space using III-Nitrides and Zinc Oxide to simultaneously achieve high power and high frequency performance.

The notable number of young ASU engineering faculty who have won the highly sought after awards and research support this year builds on equally impressive success last year. Ten additional junior faculty members were recognized in 2014 with a total of 11 awards for their work in a wide range of engineering endeavors. A total of 20 prestigious awards have been netted over the past two years, bringing more than $11.5 million to support both research and education in the Fulton Schools of Engineering.
Read more about last year’s award winners and their research pursuits in an expanded version of this article.

Read more about faculty awards in the Fulton Schools Fact Book.