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Record number of UF faculty earn National Science Foundation awards – University of Florida


The National Science Foundation has recognized a record nine University of Florida faculty members from a wide variety of academic disciplines with 2022 Early Career Development Awards, one of its most prestigious honors.

The award recognizes junior faculty who possess the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. The impact of these awards is crucial to both the standing of UF faculty in the academy and their effect as a force multiplier for research funding.

“The CAREER Award is the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious grant in support of early career faculty, reserved for those who show the potential not only to lead their respective fields in discovery, but also to serve as academic role models in research and education,” said UF Vice President for research David Norton. “To have nine UF faculty members honored with CAREER Awards in a single year is testament to the current quality of our faculty across the university and to a promising future for UF research.”

The CAREER Award recipients for 2022 are:

Navid Asadi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Navid Asadi’s project “Backside Protection Against Contactless Optical Attacks on Integrated Circuits in Advanced Technology Nodes” will assess the security vulnerabilities of modern Integrated Circuits (ICs) against “contactless optical attacks from backside” and to provide a framework to develop proper countermeasures. The project will leverage access to state-of-the-art equipment and expertise available at the Florida Institute for Cybersecurity (FICS) Research’s SCAN Lab, home to more than $10 million of advanced imaging equipment for electronics physical assurance.

An educational component of the project will provide students training in advanced instrumentations, and new educational materials on optical attacks and countermeasures will be developed.

Dr. Asadi received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from K.N. Toosi University of Technology, his M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Amir Kabir University of Technology, and his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Connecticut. He serves as co-director of the SCAN Lab at the Florida Institute for Cybersecurity (FICS) Research and associate director of the Micro-Electronics Security Training (MEST) Center.

Read more about Dr. Asadi’s award here. (https://news.ece.ufl.edu/2022/06/03/asadi-receives-nsf-career-award/)

Dana Bartosova, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics

Dana Bartosova’s project aims to further her study of abstract topological dynamics. Topology, a branch of mathematics where the relationships between shapes are studied, has applications ranging from string theory in physics to differential equations. Dr. Bartosova’s research lies at the intersection of a variety of fields, studying the connections between topological dynamics, set theory and model theory — applying logic to the study of structures in mathematics. The project also includes an expansion of Math Parents Coffee, a community to support parents as they identify and face obstacles in academia.

Dr. Bartosova received her Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Toronto. Her expertise and research interests include topological dynamics, Ramsey theory, model theory, set theory, abstract harmonic analysis and ergodic theory.

Read more about Dr. Bartosova’s award here. (https://news.clas.ufl.edu/clas-professors-receive-nsf-career-awards/)

Jie Fu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Jie Fu’s project “Formal Synthesis of Provably Correct Cyber-Physical Defense with Asymmetric Information” will work to enhance the security and performance of cyber-physical systems, specifically autonomous robotic systems in dynamic, uncertain environments. The project continues progress made by Dr. Fu in her research area—integrated formal methods, learning, control, and game theory.

Dr. Fu received her M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Automation from Beijing Institute of Technology and her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware. She was also a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Read more about Dr. Fu’s project here. (https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2144113&HistoricalAwards=false)

Adam Ginsburg, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Astronomy

Adam Ginsburg’s project will expand his group’s observations of forming stars, searching for gas that is orbiting massive, young stars — those much bigger than our Sun — in dusty disks. These disks are the potential birth sites of planetary systems, providing clues to what our solar system might have looked like when planets were forming.

Dr. Ginsburg received his B.S. in Astrophysics from Rice University, and his M.S. and doctorate degree in Astrophysics from the University of Colorado. He is a Jansky Fellow at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, New Mexico.

Read more about Dr. Ginsburg’s award here. (https://news.clas.ufl.edu/clas-professors-receive-nsf-career-awards/)

Amanda Krause, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Amanda Krause’s project will help uncover the underlying mechanism for grain growth in ceramic materials to guide new processing methods for achieving their optimal performance.
Dr. Krause and her team will conduct grain growth studies using a new 3D microscopy tool that uses X-rays to characterize the internal structure of the ceramics non-destructively. This tool allows her to collect 4D data (3D plus time) to measure individual grain boundary velocities and correlate them to local features, something conventional microscopy techniques cannot deliver.

The project will also help train the next generation of ceramic engineers with the necessary skills for similar research, with a ceramic-processing kit currently under development for implementation in K-12 schools.

Dr. Krause received her Ph.D. from Brown University. She is director of the Krause Lab, which creates and studies structural ceramics for high temperature and extreme environments, engineering grain boundaries and other interfaces to have superior properties.

Read more about Dr. Krause’s award here. (https://mse.ufl.edu/need-krause-nsf-career-awards/)

Jeongim Kim, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Horticultural Sciences at UF/IFAS

Jeongim Kim’s five-year project will study mechanisms that control plant growth, specifically, to identify molecular mechanisms linking plant-growth regulation and stress responses, helping them deal with adverse environmental conditions such as pathogen attacks. The study will reveal how the growth control and defense mechanisms are linked, indicating to scientists whether it’s feasible to breed and grow generate stress-tolerant crops without sacrificing their yield. This project also includes a K-12 educational activity called Phyto-Detective, which will develop a series of videos aimed to raise awareness of phytochemicals for a young student audience.

Dr. Kim received her Ph.D. in Horticulture from Purdue University, where she also received her postdoctoral training.

Read more about Dr. Kim’s research here. (https://nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2142898&HistoricalAwards=false)

Ryan Need, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Ryan Need’s project will create new measurement capabilities and knowledge in the field of nanoscale ion diffusion. Dr. Need and their team will engineer the vacancies in the atomic structure of transition metal oxides, e.g., iron oxide or cobalt oxide, as a pathway for oxygen ions to move between materials, hoping to span the gaps between the existing ionic and electronic technologies to create greater energy efficiency, longer information storage lifetimes and the ability to support new computing paradigms like quantum computing.

The award also supports an educational outreach component to provide low-cost activity kits and free training videos to help K-12 teachers introduce students to materials science concepts. Free, online videos will complement these kits to reinforce the concepts learned and connect them back to the ongoing research.

Dr. Need received their Ph.D. from the University of California Santa Barbara. Their research interests include Thin Film Deposition, Interface and Defect Engineering, Emergent Phenomena, Quantum Materials, Nanoionics, Magnetism, X-Ray and Neutron Scattering

Read more about Dr. Need’s award here. (https://mse.ufl.edu/need-krause-nsf-career-awards/)

Kathe Todd-Brown, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment

Kathe Todd-Brown’s project will improve the predictive understanding of soil carbon dynamics by connecting different theories with diverse measurements. She will study the decay rate of soil by connecting observed decay trends with the theoretical understanding of the underlying processes through a new multi-scale modeling framework. Currently, soil decay rates are difficult to predict, and this has an impact on how well we can predict atmospheric greenhouse gas levels and set emissions targets. This new research will help improve predictions by linking the decay rates to soil properties processes through a new multi-scale modeling framework.

The project will also build a data-centered community to co-develop a standardized vocabulary for soil measurements.

Dr. Todd-Brown is a computational biogeochemist who uses mathematics and computers to understand how soil breathes. She received her B.S. in Mathematics from Harvey Mudd College and earned her Ph.D. in Earth System Science from the University of California Irvine.

Read more about Dr. Todd-Brown’s award here. (https://www.essie.ufl.edu/todd-brown-receives-nsf-career-award-to-predict-soil-carbon-dynamics/)

Xiao-Xiao Zhang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Physics

Xiao-Xiao’s project will investigate a quasiparticle called “exciton,” which is created when light is absorbed by a solid. Her study focuses on the interactions between light and matter in two-dimensional quantum materials and the coupling between electron spin and photons, useful for quantum information processing, which holds the key to the future design of quantum devices, like computers and lasers. Her project will also promote participation of women and youth in STEM.

Dr. Zhang received her Ph.D. from Columbia University. Her research interest involves probing the light-matter interaction and transient dynamics in nanoscale materials, fabricating novel functional 2D material platforms, such as monolayer semiconductors, magnetic materials and superconductors.

Read more about Dr. Zhang’s award here. (https://news.clas.ufl.edu/clas-professors-receive-nsf-career-awards/)

Aside from funding, emerging scholar-researchers also face the challenge of lacking sufficient know-how in navigating funding and resource opportunities, in addition to writing effective proposals.

Forrest Masters, associate dean for research and facilities in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, said university leaders have been working hard to help junior faculty navigate funding and resource opportunities and write effective proposals.

“In addition to offering workshops that present high-level overviews of the award space, we have created departmental-led teams to help junior faculty hone their proposal-development skills and increase their chances of earning that NSF CAREER award,” Masters said. “Faculty like me would not be where we are without the support and mentorship of our colleagues, particularly at the start of our careers. Providing vital proposal feedback to junior faculty members and seeing that come to fruition is a fantastic way to pay it forward.”



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