UF Engineers Receive NSF Early CAREER Awards to Support Innovative Research

In Department of Chemical Engineering, Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering, Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Featured, Honors & Awards, ICYMI

Six college faculty members have received National Science Foundation (NSF) Early CAREER Awards in 2020.

The Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida is pleased to announce that seven faculty members have received National Science Foundation (NSF) Early CAREER Awards in 2020. The awardees are spread across varied disciplines and specialties within the College. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

This year’s CAREER Award recipients are:

Sharon Lynn Chu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering

Sharon Lynn Chu’s research project, Bridging Formal and Everyday Learning through Wearable Technologies: Towards a Connected Learning Paradigm, will investigate how to connect fourth- to sixth-grade students’ out-of-classroom, everyday experiences with formal in-classroom science instruction through the use of wearable and visualization technologies. Students will use wearable technologies to capture their everyday experiences related to science and reflect on these experiences through a web-based interface. A dashboard application will support teachers in tailoring their classroom science lesson plans accordingly.

Dr. Chu received her B.S. in Social Science from the National University of Singapore, her M.S. in Computer Science & Applications, from Virginia Tech, and her Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction from Texas A&M University. She is part of the department’s Human-Centered Computing group and directs the Embodied Learning & Experience (ELX) Lab. The ELX Lab conducts research in human-computer interaction, focusing on cyber learning (technologies to support learning) and positive computing (technologies for health and well-being).

Read more about Dr. Chu’s award.

Matthew Hale, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Matthew Hale’s project, A Unified Theory of Private Control Systems, will research the development of new models, mathematical tools, and computational algorithms to address emerging complex multi-agent systems such as remote sensing, economic dispatch models with renewable energy, and efficiency estimation in transportation networks.

Dr. Hale received his B.S. in Engineering summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Georgia Tech. His work is driven by designing and analyzing multi-agent coordination algorithms that function well under challenging conditions, such as asynchronous information sharing, noisy communications, and user privacy requirements. His work deploys these algorithms on teams of flying and ground robots, providing both validation of the underlying theory and further research directions.

David Hibbitts, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering

David Hibbitts’ project, Elucidating Mechanisms and the Effects of Zeolite Framework, Acid Site Location and Strength in Methanol-to-Hydrocarbon Reactions, will explore reaction mechanisms of zeolite-catalyzed methanol-to-hydrocarbons reactions in order to improve how we convert natural gas, shale gas, and biomass resources to liquid transportation fuels and chemicals via methanol. The computational methods developed during this project will be released to the public, providing researchers around the globe access to the protocols.

Dr. Hibbitts received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Clemson University and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia. He did his post-doctoral work at the University of California – Berkeley. His research interests at UF include the determination of reaction mechanisms and structure-function relationships for the conversion of biomass- and fossil-derived feed stocks into fuels and chemicals through heterogeneous catalysts.

Read more about Dr. Hibbitts award.

Ryan W. Houim, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Ryan Houim’s CAREER Award project, Understanding the Influence of Thermal Radiation on the Ignition and Propagation of Dust Explosions, will study the influence of thermal radiation on dust explosions using state-of-the-art granular multiphase models, radiation approximations, and numerical simulation techniques.

Dr. Houim received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from North Dakota State University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Pennsylvania State University. He was a National Research Council post-doctoral fellow at the Naval Research Laboratory and a research assistant professor at the University of Maryland prior to joining UF. His research is focused on understanding the dynamics of multiphase and chemically reactive flows using numerical simulation techniques.

Sanjeev Koppal, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Sanjeev Koppal‘s project, Fast Foveation: Bringing Active Vision into the Camera, will support Dr. Koppal’s research in the area of foveation, the process through which the eye fixates on the object of interest in a visual field. Koppal’s research applies foveation to computer vision—cameras combined with artificial intelligence which attempt to automate the tasks done by human visual systems. The fast-foveating cameras will be able to automatically scan a visual scene, determine the item of interest, and focus on that item, much more quickly and efficiently than current systems.

Dr. Koppal received a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Southern California, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Koppal specializes in computational photography and computer vision.

Read more about Dr. Koppal’s award.

Xiaoyu Song, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Civil & Coastal Engineering

Xiaoyu Song’s project, A Non-local Mathematical and Computational Paradigm for Failure in Unsaturated Soils: Integrated Research and Education through High Performance Computing, will work to better characterize and predict failures in unsaturated soils under environmental loads.

Dr. Song received a B.E. and M.E. in Civil Engineering from Tongji University and an M.S. in Civil Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (Geomechanics) from Stanford University. His research experience includes theoretical and numerical modeling of strain localization in unsaturated soils triggered by multi-physics processes, computational modeling plasticity and failures of geomaterials from the nanoscale to the continuum scale, and high-performance computing in geotechnical engineering.

Read more about Dr. Song’s award.

Tuba Yavuz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Tuba Yavuz’s research project, Towards a Secure and Reliable Internet of Things through Automated Model Extraction and Analysis, will investigate scalable analysis of system software to reason about system-level behavior. Software is often developed according to a programming model, which imposes certain structural and semantic associations for data and code. Understanding these associations provides guidance on how to analyze the components in isolation and how to effectively explore the state space during analysis.

Dr. Yavuz received a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science from Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, and her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Her research interests include automated verification, model checking, and automated model extraction.

Read more about Dr. Yavuz’s award.