Research Highlights

Major Research Awards

Here is a small sample of the many notable awards from federal agencies, corporations, and other entities that have supported research at WPI in recent months:

$2.1 million award from the National Science Foundation to develop and test additional content for the ASSISTments mathematics intelligent tutoring system

Neil Heffernan, Elke Rundensteiner, and George Heineman (Computer Science) and Janice Gobert (Social Science and Policy Studies) received a five-year, $2.1 million award from the National Science Foundation to develop and test additional content for the ASSISTments mathematics intelligent tutoring system by pairing computer science graduate students with GK-12 teachers in Worcester.

$1.5 million award from the National Science Foundation to develop a computerized tutoring system

Janice Gobert (Social Science and Policy Studies), Carolina Ruiz and Neil Heffernan (Computer Science), and Ryung Kim (Mathematical Sciences) received a five-year, $1.5 million award from the National Science Foundation to develop a computerized tutoring system to help middle school students develop a deep understanding of scientific concepts by teaching them to "think like scientists".

$1.25 million award from the Department of Energy to aid in the development of stainless steel membranes

Yi Hua Ma and Nikolaos Kazantzis (Chemical Engineering) received a three-year, $1.25 million award from the Department of Energy to aid in the development of stainless steel membranes coated with palladium and palladium alloys for use in novel chemical reactors to separate hydrogen from natural gas and other sources (including biofuels) to power fuel cells.

$999,000 award from the Department of Homeland Security

James Duckworth, Sergey Makarov, and David Cyganski (Electrical and Computer Engineering) received a $999,000 award from the Department of Homeland Security to develop a system that can precisely locate and track the movement of emergency workers inside buildings and also monitor their health and physiological status. Read more

$860,000 award from the U.S. Army to advance the field of neuroprosthetics—next-generation artificial limbs

Grant McGimpsey and Stephen Lambert (Bioengineering Institute), Ted Clancy (Electrical and Computer Engineering), and Kristen Billiar and George Pins (Biomedical Engineering) received a two-year, $860,000 award from the U.S. Army to advance the field of neuroprosthetics—next-generation artificial limbs that may one day be permanently implanted and perform most of the movements and functions of natural limbs.

$750,000 award from the National Science Foundation

Diane Strong and Sharon Johnson (Management) and Isa Bar-On (Mechanical Engineering) received a three-year, $750,000 award from the National Science Foundation to develop theories that can transform health care delivery processes in the United States with a deep understanding of the change dynamics needed to make effective use of health information technology. This award provides funds for collaborations with Fallon Clinic and UMass Memorial Health Care.

Two awards totaling $572,000 from Altra Biofuels Inc. to develop novel methods for producing ethanol from cellulose in plant and wood waste.

Alex DiIorio (Biology and Biotechnology) received two awards totaling $572,000 from Altra Biofuels Inc. and its subsidiary EdenIQ to develop novel methods for producing ethanol from cellulose in plant and wood waste. Cellulosic ethanol is viewed as an attractive alternative to ethanol produced from corn, as it uses material not needed for food.

$450,000 award from the National Science Foundation

Matthew Ward and Elke Rundensteiner (Computer Science) received a three-year, $450,000 award from the National Science Foundation to develop technologies that will enable analysts to capture, visualize, manage, analyze, and interactively explore patterns and discoveries in data using the visual analytics process.

$450,000 award from the National Science Foundation to develop fundamental computational principles and algorithms

Charles Rich (Computer Science) received a three-year, $450,000 award from the National Science Foundation to develop fundamental computational principles and algorithms that will significantly improve the ability of autonomous robots to collaborate with humans in a broad range of situations.

 

WPI Faculty Achievements

WPI One of First Universities to Receive New NIH EUREKA Award

Tanja Dominko (Biology and Biotechnology) recently received a three-year, $880,000 award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a novel way of transforming adult skin cells into stem-like cells. The grant was one of only 38 from a new NIH program called EUREKA (Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration), which funds highly innovative research projects that could have an extraordinarily significant impact on many areas of science.

Institute Award

Yi Hua (Ed) Ma, Frances B. Manning Professor of Chemical Engineering and director of WPI’s Center for Inorganic Membrane Studies, received the Institute Award for Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) at its annual meeting in October 2007. The award is one of the organization’s most prestigious honors. Ma, an AIChE fellow, was honored for lifetime research excellence, in particular his development of a novel chemical reactor with an ultrathin palladium membrane to separate hydrogen derived from natural gas or renewable sources.

Materials Honors

Diran Apelian, Howmet Professor of Mechanical Engineering and founder and director of WPI’s Metal Processing Institute, became the 52nd president of The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS) in March 2008. In 2007 Apelian received two of the society’s highest honors: the Acta Materialia Inc. J. Herbert Hollomon Award and the Brimacombe Prize. Apelian addressed the 2007 TMS annual meeting, which observed the society’s 50th anniversary, as one of six Anniversary Laureates. Apelian is one of only 100 living TMS Fellows.

Fulbright Scholars

Thomas Robertson, assistant professor of history, and Seth Tuler, adjunct assistant professor of interdisciplinary and global studies, were recently named Fulbright Senior Scholars. Robertson will work in Nepal examining the social, environmental, and political consequences of Cold War–era American rural development programs. Tuler, who has twice advised at WPI’s Bangkok Project Center, will help improve the communication of environmental health risk factors in Thailand.

Congressional Exhibit

Dalin Tang, professor of mathematical sciences and biomedical engineering, represented the American Mathematical Society at the annual Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) exhibition and reception on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in June 2007. CNSF is an alliance of more than 100 scientific societies, universities, and corporations that advocates for increased NSF funding. Tang presented results from his research on the growth, progression, and rupture of human atherosclerotic plaque.