Three WPI Professors Win NSF CAREER Awards

Contact: WPI Media Relations, +1-508-831-5609

WORCESTER, Mass. -- July 29, 2005 -- Three Worcester Polytechnic Institute assistant professors have won research funding from the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards program for junior faculty members -- the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. Donald R. Brown from WPI's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Neil T. Heffernan from Computer Science, and Jennifer L. Wilcox from Chemical Engineering each received grants of approximately $400,000 in recognition of their potential as promising researchers and educators. Since 1995, 19 WPI professors have won CAREER Awards.

The CAREER program supports early career-development activities of teacher-scholars who most effectively use research and education in advancing the mission of their organizations, with the goal of building a firm foundation for a lifetime of contributions to research and education.

Brown's CAREER Award is for a five-year research program to investigate and develop new, more efficient and reliable cellular phone and sensor networks using cooperative communication systems to coordinate resource allocation and synchronization. He joined the WPI faculty in 2000 after earning a Ph.D. in electrical engineering with a minor in mathematics from Cornell University.

Heffernan's research project focuses on the creation of a Web-based intelligent tutoring system to help 8th grade students and teachers prepare for the math portion of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Survey (MCAS). He became a member of the WPI faculty in 2002, and he earned a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Wilcox's project is researching ways to prevent the release of volatile metals selenium and arsenic into the atmosphere from the flue gases of coal combustion. She joined WPI in 2004, and completed a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Arizona.

"These new awards add to an already impressive list of research accomplishments by WPI's junior faculty in recent years," says Carol Simpson, WPI senior vice president and provost. "Furthermore, like most of WPI's applied research, the awards to Brown, Heffernan, and Wilcox will have direct societal benefit by improving the way we communicate, how our children learn math, and even the air that we breathe."