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Four George Washington University Faculty Members Receive National Science Foundation CAREER Awards

School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Yongsheng Leng, Gabriel Parmer, and Guru Venkataramani and the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences' Svetlana Roudenko Awarded CAREER Grants for Excellence in Research and Teaching

March 14, 2012


WASHINGTON – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grants to four faculty members at the George Washington University. Three were awarded to the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) and one was awarded to the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS). CAREER grants are the most prestigious awards given by the NSF to junior faculty. These awards, each worth approximately $400,000 over five years, are awarded to junior faculty members who excel at both research and teaching.

“This is a ‘first’ for SEAS, and big news,” said David Dolling, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. “It’s the sort of accomplishment that any engineering school—including the top schools in the country—aims for, and we’re thrilled about it. Competition for the NSF CAREER awards is very stiff, and this is a nice validation of the successful hiring we have undertaken at SEAS over the past three years.”

The winners are Yongsheng Leng, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Gabriel Parmer, assistant professor of computer science; and Guru Prasadh Venkataramani, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. A fourth GW researcher, Svetlana Roudenko, also received a 2012 CAREER award. Dr. Roudenko is an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics in CCAS. Each award winner developed a proposal that described a research problem the NSF funding would help support. The proposals also included education and outreach components.

“By integrating her passions for research, teaching and outreach, Professor Roudenko will bring STEM education to life for many underrepresented students and demonstrate the applicability of math to solve real-world problems,” said Dr. Geralyn Schulz, CCAS Assistant Dean for Research. “Professor Roudenko's award thus exemplifies the mission of Columbian College—to be a catalyst for the study and advancement of a spectrum of social and scientific imperatives.”

Dr. Leng’s research involves developing a computational framework to investigate structural properties in liquid films, a type of material which is typically only a few nanometers thick. This research can be applied to the lubrication in car engines to increase engine efficiency. Dr. Leng's proposal also includes education and outreach components that involve local high school students at Washington, D.C.’s School Without Walls, as well as undergraduate and graduate students at the George Washington University.

Dr. Parmer’s research investigates methods to make computer systems essentially self-repairing—able to recover from faults and to resume predictable operation. His proposal is to develop a new operating system structure for real-time systems—the systems that control our physical world, such as the millions of lines of computer code running a Boeing aircraft’s flight systems. Dr. Parmer has already been lecturing about computer programming to high school students at Edison Academy in Alexandria, Va., and under the CAREER grant, he plans to expand his involvement with students there who are interested in advanced computing.

Better computing is also the focus of Dr. Venkataramani’s research. He is interested in improving efficiency in multi-core processors, which power many types of technology we use daily, including smartphones and tablet computers. According to Dr. Venkataramani, as more processors are added one would expect an equal addition in computing power, but in reality, there are many problems in scaling up program execution. His research proposal involves developing an integrated hardware-software approach to overcoming the bottlenecks in performance that develop when more cores are added to a system.

Dr. Roudenko ‘s research on a specific type of equation may help us learn how to predict the formation of ocean “super waves” that can damage ships, how to focus a laser beam through different media so that it can reliably burn—or not burn—a specific point, and how airline pilots can differentiate minor turbulence from the dangerous kind. Her work will focus on a theory to better explain how nonlinear evolution equations function, and will also focus on teaching students at many levels—from ninth graders up through graduate school—how to explore and enjoy mathematics. For the outreach and teaching portions of the grant, Dr. Roudenko will work to create vertical integration of math education, starting with young students.

-GW-

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