Seven young engineers receive early career awards

Seven School of Engineering and Applied Sciences engineers recently received prestigious early career awards: five earned National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER awards, and two were awarded young investigator awards from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, an indication that the university is attracting some of the world’s brightest young researchers to the Buffalo Niagara region.

The grants will support research and educational outreach in cyberinfrastructure, drug delivery,  clean coal technology, improving safety in military operations, next generation Wi-Fi and how data mining can help improve various industries.

“These awards illustrate exciting and meaningful research underway at the University at Buffalo, with early-career investigators being recognized for innovative and promising approaches that address a wide array of society’s most challenging problems,” said Venu Govindaraju, vice president for Research and Economic Development.

Recipients of the grants come from six of the school’s eight departments: biomedical engineering, chemical and biological engineering, computer science and engineering, electrical engineering, industrial and systems engineering, and mechanical and aerospace engineering.

“These prestigious awards recognize some of our finest early-career faculty for their outstanding and innovative research and educational work. These awards are highly competitive, and to have secured so many in a single round is a strong indicator of the excellence of our faculty,” said Liesl Folks, dean of the

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She added that these faculty members are each on a trajectory to have a profound impact on their field of expertise.

National Science Foundation CAREER award

Paul Bauman

Faculty Position: Assistant professor
Department: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Year joined UB: 2014
Award Type: National Science Foundation CAREER award
Award amount: $499,306

Computer models help researchers push the boundaries of science in weather prediction, materials science and countless other fields. But these models can be improved. For example, they are limited by their lack of ability to incorporate uncertain information from experimental data. Bauman’s research addresses this problem by developing cyberinfrastructure that improves models and enables scientists to better design experiments.

Jing Gao

Faculty Position: Assistant professor
Department: Computer Science and Engineering
Year joined UB: 2012
Award Type: National Science Foundation CAREER award
Award amount: $500,613

With the proliferation of mobile devices and social media platforms, any person can publicize observations about any activity, event or object anywhere and at any time. Being able to harness this information and verify its accuracy is the focus of Gao’s research, which has the potential to improve the efficiency and cost of transportation, health care and other systems.

Dimitrios Koutsonikolas

Faculty Position: Assistant professor
Department: Computer Science and Engineering
Year joined UB: 2011
Award Type: National Science Foundation CAREER award
Award amount: $555,385

With the increasing reliance on wireless devices, the telecommunications industry predicts a 1,000-fold increase in bandwidth demand by 2020. Networks in use are already stressed. The award will support Koutsonikolas' research, which focuses on developing next generation Wi-Fi and cellular networks that aim to solve wireless traffic jams.

Haiqing Lin

Faculty Position: Assistant professor Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Year joined UB: 2013
Award Type: National Science Foundation CAREER award
Award amount: $500,000

The award will support Lin’s research into clean coal technology. He is developing a polymer-based membrane to remove carbon dioxide, which makes up the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions, from gasified coal before its combustion. The membrane could ultimately help lessen the impact of burning coal, an abundant natural resource in the United States and elsewhere, on climate change.

Jonathan Lovell

Faculty Position: Assistant professor
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Year joined UB: 2012
Award Type: National Science Foundation CAREER award
Award amount: $400,000

Lovell’s research focuses on developing safer and more efficient ways to control the delivery of medicine inside the body. The award will support research to develop tiny sacs that carry drugs to their intended destination and open up when triggered by light. The method shows great promise for delivering concentrated doses of medicine and limiting side effects.

US Army Research Laboratory Young Investigator Award

Matthew Bolton

Faculty Position: Assistant professor
Department: Industrial and Systems Engineering
Year joined UB: 2014
Award Type: US Army Research Laboratory Young Investigator award
Award amount: $100,000

Unanticipated human errors can contribute to failures in safety critical/ complex systems, such as Army UAV operations and/or fire procedures. Bolton’s research aims to develop a new human error modeling system that is based on where the person deviates from the instructions or plan of action. Engineers will be able to use these analyses to discover how human error could cause a system to fail so they can take corrective action.

Liang Feng

Faculty Position: Assistant professor
Department: Electrical Engineering
Year joined UB: 2013
Award Type: US Army Research Laboratory Young Investigator Award
Award amount: $149,946

Feng's research aims to improve information technology by investigating fundamentals of nanophotonics, exploring unique photonic materials and developing novel optoelectronic devices. The award will support his research to develop a novel light state in non- Hermitian optical materials. The technology offers great flexibility in effectively manipulating light transport on-demand, which will improve Army capabilities.