Seed Funding for Science

Promising OSU faculty receive a boost from the NSF CAREER program.


October 12, 2016

Starting a research lab can be like launching a small business. Funding must be secured, space arranged, equipment purchased and staff and students hired. While institutional startup funds give an initial boost, ongoing support is crucial. That’s where the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program comes in. In the last fiscal year, based on proposals approved over the previous five years, 11 Oregon State researchers received funding to jump-start studies in computer science, engineering, robotics, mathematics, physics and other fields.

sarma_0Anita Sarma, Computer Science

Networking for software development

Computer software may be written by individuals, but it takes a community to successfully implement it. Sarma works at the interface of the technical and social details that underlie new software code. Her goal is to ensure that new features work smoothly within existing programs and that software developers can leverage the social and communication networks to achieve success.

ramseyStephen Ramsey, Computer Science and Biomedical Sciences

Genetic regulation in disease

Teasing out the tangle in the body’s genetic machinery can help researchers find new treatments for diseases from cancer to the flu. Ramsey uses bioinformatics, a powerful combination of molecular biology and computer modeling, to understand how genes are activated. His goal is to understand the regulatory networks that underlie chronic diseases and inflammation.

digDaniel Dig, Computer Science

Improved smartphone apps

As smartphones have proliferated, so have mobile apps, but these software programs can become unresponsive and “freeze.” By analyzing more than 1,000 apps, Dig has found two main problems: underuse and misuse of a technique called asynchronous programming. Asynchrony is at the heart of keeping apps running smoothly, says Dig. Dig’s team has sent hundreds of patches to programmers to fix problems in their code.

rosulekMichael Rosulek, Computer Science

Data security

Cryptography conjures notions of spies, secret codes and international intrigue. However, data security has become a matter of standard practice in business, social media and other spheres as well as government. Rosulek develops computational tools that can be used to protect data in use as well as information
stored in archives.

schilke-cbeeKarl Schilke, Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering

Surface coatings for biomedical devices

Treating diseases such as sepsis (blood poisoning) and diabetes means processing biological fluids like blood through filters and other devices. Schilke is developing methods to modify the interior surfaces of such devices to make treatments safer and more effective. Technologies under investigation in his lab include surface coatings that provide desirable biological function (pathogen capture) while also being nontoxic, stable, inexpensive and compatible with blood and other fluids.

montfort1Devlin Montfort, Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering

Engineering education

Our assumptions about how we know something and what counts as knowledge — aka, our epistemologies — affect our ability to collaborate and solve problems. Montfort works with engineering faculty and students to explore and evaluate their own epistemologies against the demands of engineering practice. His work will lead to the development of new educational methods to produce more agile, effective engineers in the future.

balasubramanian-mimeRavi Balasubramanian, Mechanical Engineering

Body and machine

Balasubramanian seeks to design implantable, miniature, passive mechanisms — such as soft tendon networks and pulleys — for attaching muscles to tendons and bone in orthopedic surgery.  These mechanisms, inspired by their use in robotic devices, will enable re-engineering the human body through surgery to provide customized force and movement transmission based on a patient’s desired manipulation and locomotion function.

natarajanArun Natarajan, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Expanding data networks

An exponential increase in wireless network capacity is required over the next decade to enable existing and emerging applications centered around wireless-capable devices such as smartphones and Internet-of-Things networks. Natarajan’s research focuses on techniques for two purposes: increase the amount of data that can be packed in densely utilized spectrum bands; demonstrate high-capacity wireless networks operating at high frequencies where a large amount of spectrum is still underutilized. These techniques are also being translated to radar and wireless imaging systems for sensor applications

david-jiXiulei Ji, Chemistry

Batteries for renewable energy

Carbon-based materials have the potential to increase our ability to store energy and convert it from one form, such as solar or wind, to another, such as electricity. Ji is investigating the atomic-scale structure of advanced electrode materials in order to develop new approaches that can be beneficial for renewable energy systems. Among the applications under study in his lab are new batteries and configurations of devices for energy storage and conversion.

minotEthan Minot, Physics

Carbon nanotubes

Minot investigates two forms of carbon — graphene and nanotubes. These nanoscale materials offer opportunities for more efficient solar energy harvesting, medical diagnostics and chemical sensing. The CAREER Award focuses on the photovoltaic properties of carbon nanotubes, while other ongoing projects delve into biosensing applications of graphene.

mondalDebashis Mondal, Statistics

Statistical methods for spatial information

Spatial data — information about where something is located in a two- or three-dimensional space — are used to solve problems from groundwater contamination and medical diagnostics to the distribution of galaxies. Mondal is developing new statistical theories and methods to analyze spatial data in ways that lead to new models and computations in a wide range of disciplines.

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