Interdisciplinary innovation fueled by President’s Research Excellence program

Posted: December 5, 2022

Two College of Engineering faculty members are leading projects chosen for President’s Research Excellence (PRE) program funding in 2022, while another nine are co-investigators on teams that also earned grants.

Jeff Bielicki

The PRE program supports the university’s goals to help grow its research and innovation enterprise by attracting more externally sponsored research funding, enabling basic and use-inspired research and discoveries, and addressing large, complex societal challenges.

A team led by Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering Professor Jeff Bielicki was awarded a $200,000 Catalyst grant. PRE Catalyst grants support cross- and interdisciplinary teams to pursue large-scale, high-impact research that addresses emerging or existing challenges of national and international societal importance.

Bielicki’s project will investigate transitions to a hydrogen economy that enhance sustainability. It is a multi-disciplinary, convergent collaboration of faculty from engineering, chemistry, law, policy and sociology, and positions Ohio State to respond to many basic, applied and convergent opportunities.

Xueru Zhang

Computer Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Xueru Zhang earned one of 15 $50,000 Accelerator grants, which are designated for small teams formed to pursue curiosity-driven, novel, high-risk and high-reward research. She and her colleagues will develop a framework for fair machine learning models in healthcare to improve health equity and adapt to various real-world clinical settings.

“When we bring together different expertise and different points of view, we have the potential to solve some of society’s biggest problems,” said Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska, vice president for knowledge enterprise at Ohio State. “This funding provides a vital seed for Ohio State researchers to explore their ideas to solve complex problems and a mechanism to drive convergent research across the university.”

Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Daniel Gallego-Perez and Assistant Professor Natalia Higuita-Castro are co-investigators on a PRE Catalyst grant led by College of Medicine Associate Professor Kristin Stanford. The team will investigate age-induced impairments specific to adipose tissue, their effects on inter-tissue communication, and whether or not promoting adipose tissue plasticity mitigates aging-induced risks for disease.

Seven College of Engineering researchers are co-investigators on PRE Accelerator grants, including:

  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Research Scientist Christopher Lucas, “Cis-inhibition of Notch pathway activity in development and disease: Identification and analysis of novel ligand receptor interactions,” led by Molecular Genetics Professor Susan Cole.
  • Materials Science and Engineering Professor David McComb and Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Professor Shamsul Arafin, “Developing the ‘van der Waals’ vacuum as a host for quantum bits,” led by Physics Professor Jay Gupta.
  • Computer Science and Engineering Associate Professor Thomas Bihari and Lecturer Leon Madrid, “Developing a Transformative Social-Emotional Learning Program for Adolescents,” led by Educational Studies Associate Professor Tzu-Jung Lin.
  • Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering Assistant Professor Ryan Winston, “What lies beneath: Using microsporidian parasites to control mosquito breeding in stormwater catch basins,” led by Entomology Assistant Professor Sarah Short.
  • Computer Science and Engineering Professor Rajiv Ramnath, “Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to Accelerate Life-Saving 911 Care,” led by Dr. Henry Wang, professor of Emergency Medicine.

Since the program began, 43 teams of Ohio State researchers have been awarded $3.3 million through the President's Research Excellence program. Of the projects chosen for Catalyst funding in 2021, College of Engineering faculty lead three and are involved as co-investigators in four. Seven teams led by engineering faculty earned 2021 Accelerator grants, and ten teams included an engineer as a co-investigator.

Categories: ResearchFaculty