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Five engineering faculty receive NSF CAREER awards

Engineering faculty members (clockwise from top left) Lori Dalton, Lisa Hall, Brian Kulis, Arnab Nandi and Anastasios Sidiropoulos each recently received the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development Award. Engineering faculty members (clockwise from top left) Lori Dalton, Lisa Hall, Brian Kulis, Arnab Nandi and Anastasios Sidiropoulos each recently received the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development Award. Five College of Engineering faculty members recently received the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award—the National Science Foundation’s top award given to support the work of the nation’s most promising junior faculty. 

Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Professor Lori Dalton, H.C. “Slip” Slider Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Lisa Hall and Computer Science and Engineering Assistant Professors Brian Kulis, Arnab Nandi and Anastasios Sidiropoulos each received a five-year grant to support their research and related outreach and education efforts. 

Dalton was awarded $449,341 to develop optimal Bayesian computational and statistical methods for small-sample classification to address the problem of predictive and replicable scientific discovery in biomedicine and beyond. A major application for her work is in diagnosis and prognosis prediction for cancer patients when there are relatively few examples. 

Hall received a $475,000 grant for her research to understand how polymer structure controls overall materials properties. Her research involves theoretical and computational studies of polymeric materials for potential applications as non-flammable polymer electrolytes in a new generation of safe, lightweight batteries. The goal is to develop and use innovative computational and theoretical tools to model ionic conductance in block copolymer based materials. 

Kulis received $482,255 for data analysis and machine learning research. His project aims to design and analyze new methods for large-scale data analysis based on Bayesian nonparametric models. As part of the project, he is developing algorithms for problems such as analyzing the evolution of communities in large networks, image classification and automatic determination of topics in document collections.

Nandi’s $498,000 grant will support research in gesture-driven querying of databases. His work aims to rethink the traditional database query paradigm to support gestural interaction, making data interaction accessible to an entirely new category of devices and users. He and his team created a database architecture for next-generation interfaces called GestureDB. Its interaction-focused design is expected to have a transformative impact for users with disabilities and in environments such as factory floors and laboratories, where data access is key, but keyboards are not available. It also has implications in data-driven fields such as bioinformatics and big data analytics.

Sidiropoulos was awarded $500,921 for his project, “Geometric frontiers in algorithm design.” His research will look at the use of diverse mathematical tools in the setting of geometric data analysis, forging new connections between mathematics and computer science. His goal is to make the analysis of complex data sets, such as DNA sequences and collections of news articles, faster and more efficient. By resolving some of the main problems inherent in the analysis of such geometric data sets, his work aims to facilitate improved solutions for a variety of computational tasks. 

CAREER awardees exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellence in education and the integration of both within the context of the mission of their organizations.