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3. Campus Projects to Reform Undergraduate and Graduate STEM Education


CADENS: The Centrality of Advanced Digitally ENabled Science

National Science Foundation Award #1445176
Donna Cox
Art & Design
Dates: October 1, 2014–September 30, 2017 (estimated)

Computational data science is at a turning point in its history. Never before has there been such a challenge to meet the growing demands of digital computing, to fund infrastructure and attract diverse, trained personnel to the field. The methods and technologies that define this evolving field are central to modern science. In fact, advanced methods of computational and data-enabled discovery have become so pervasive that they are referred to as paradigm shifts in the conduct of science. A goal of this Project is to increase digital science literacy and raise awareness about the Centrality of Advanced Digitally ENabled Science (CADENS) in the discovery process. Digitally enabled scientific investigations often result in a treasure trove of data used for analysis. This project leverages these valuable resources to generate insightful visualizations that provide the core of a series of science education outreach programs targeted to the broad public, educational and professional communities. From the deep well of discoveries generated at the frontiers of advanced digitally enabled scientific investigation, this project will produce and disseminate a body of data visualizations and scalable media products that demonstrate advanced scientific methods. In the process, these outreach programs will give audiences a whole new look at the world around them. The project calls for the production and evaluation of two principal initiatives. The first initiative, HR (high-resolution) Science, centers on the production and distribution of three ultra-high-resolution digital films to be premiered at giant screen full-dome theaters; these programs will be scaled for wide distribution to smaller theaters and include supplemental educator guides. The second initiative, Virtual Universe, includes a series of nine high-definition (HD) documentary programs. Both initiatives will produce and feature data visualizations and the CADENS narratives to support an integrated set of digital media products. The packaged outreach programs will be promoted and made available to millions through established global distribution channels. Expanding access to data visualization is an essential component of the Project. Through a call for participation (CFP), the Project provides new opportunities for researchers to work with the project team and technical staff for the purpose of creating and broadly distributing large-scale data visualizations in various formats and resolutions. The project will feature these compelling, informative visualizations in the outreach programs described above. A Science Advisory Committee will participate in the CFP science selections and advise the Project team. The project calls for an independent Program Evaluation and Assessment Plan (PEAP) to iteratively review visualizations and the outreach programs that will target broad, diverse audiences.

The project launches an expansive outreach effort to increase digital science literacy and to convey forefront scientific research while expanding researchers access to data visualization. The project leverages and integrates disparate visualization efforts to create a new optimized large-scale workflow for high-resolution museum displays and broad public venues. The PEAP evaluations will measure progress toward project goals and will reveal new information about visualization's effectiveness to move a field forward and to develop effective outreach models. The project specifically targets broad audiences in places where they seek high-quality encounters with science: at museums, universities, K-16 schools, and the web. This distribution effort includes creating and widely disseminating the project outreach programs and supplemental educator guides. The project visualizations, program components, HD documentaries, educational and evaluation materials will be promoted, distributed and made freely available for academic, educational and promotional use. Dissemination strategies include proactively distributing to rural portable theaters, 4K television, professional associations, educators, decision-makers, and conferences. To help address the critical challenge of attracting women and underrepresented minorities to STEM fields, the Project will support a Broadening Participation in Visualization workshop and will leverage successful XSEDE/Blue Waters mechanisms to recruit under-represented faculty and students at minority-serving and majority-serving institutions and to disseminate the Project programs and materials among diverse institutions and communities.

Education Component: This project will also train graduate students in NLP and develop materials that can be used to teach middle and high school students about NLP and to inspire them to pursue an education in computer science.


CAREER: Advancement of Microalgal Biotechnology via Quantitative Sustainable Design: An Integrated Research and Education Plan

National Science Foundation Award #1351667
Jeremy Guest
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Project Dates: 05/15/2010 – 4/30/2019

This project will advance the frontier of microalgal biotechnology through the integration of experimentation, modeling, and quantitative sustainable design (QSD), and will leverage this framework to improve the education and retention of a diverse student body in environmental engineering. Research will pursue energy-positive nutrient recovery from wastewater with microalgae, and will focus on overcoming critical knowledge gaps that limit our ability to design mixed community microalgal bioprocesses that might bring this transformation within reach. Objectives of the research are (i) to elucidate the mechanisms governing microalgal bioprocess performance across a landscape of possible designs, and (ii) to establish a path forward for energy positive nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) recovery from wastewater. Experiments with mixed communities of microalgae treating wastewater will be coupled with modeling to advance understanding of how key design parameters influence process performance, microbial community structure and function. These findings will be integrated in a QSD framework (including life cycle assessment, life cycle costing, sensitivity and uncertainty analyses) to identify technology targets and chart a path forward for microalgal wastewater biotechnology development.

Research efforts will be integrated with an education plan designed (i) to increase the intrinsic motivation of minority and female students in introductory- and advanced-level environmental engineering courses through an aspirational resource management framework, and (ii) to increase awareness of and ability to navigate trade-offs among environmental, economic, and performance sustainability criteria for engineered systems. These goals will be achieved by developing two online course modules that will be designed, tested, and deployed at UIUC, Bucknell University, and Parkland College. Modules will be designed through cognitive labs and will include external, independent formative and summative evaluations.

The project is aimed at developing a fundamental understanding of thermal transport in soft and hard matter, and across interfaces separating these materials. This understanding may lead to new pathways for developing small-scale transistors, discovering new cancer therapies, and creating novel energy harvesting thermoelectric materials.

Current approaches to nutrient management at wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) use costly, energy-intensive processes that rely on bacteria and chemicals to remove nitrogen and phosphorus. This research will re-envision nutrient management at WWTPs by utilizing native microalgae for energy-positive biological nutrient recovery. In addition to increasing the embodied chemical energy of wastewater more than 2-fold, this approach may also advance the limit of technology by overcoming the critical barrier of dissolved organic nitrogen, a form of N that is often unable to be removed by existing nutrient removal processes but which can be rapidly assimilated by microalgae. The core concept of the research plan is microalgal technology development can be expedited through integration of experimentation, modeling, and QSD. This integrated process will elucidate molecular-scale barriers to systems-scale sustainability and seek to overcome them through process design. This approach will enable the setting of targets for technology performance, and identify critical areas for future research to achieve long-term adoption and sustainability. The research activities will be coupled with educational activities to increase the attraction and retention of underrepresented students by focusing on aspirational outcomes of environmental engineering and developing a new platform for education in sustainable design.


CAREER: Bayesian Models for Lexicalized Grammars

National Science Foundation Award #1053856
Julia Hockenmaier
Computer Science
Project Dates: 02/01/2011 – 1/31/2017

Natural language processing (NLP) is a key technology for the digital age. At the core of most NLP systems is a parser, a program which identifies the grammatical structure of sentences. Parsing is an essential prerequisite for language understanding. But despite significant progress in recent decades, accurate wide-coverage parsing for any genre or language remains an unsolved problem. This project will advance the state of art in NLP technology through the development of more accurate statistical parsing models.

Since language is highly ambiguous, parsers require a statistical model which assigns the highest probability to the correct structure of each sentence. The accuracy of current parsers is limited by the amount of available training data on which their models can be trained, and by the amount of information the models take into account. This project aims to advance parsing by developing novel methods of indirect supervision to overcome the lack of labeled training data, as well as new kinds of models which incorporate information about the prior linguistic context in which sentences appear. It employs Bayesian techniques, which give robust estimates and allow rich parametrization, and applies them to lexicalized grammars, which provide a compact representation of the syntactic properties of a language.

Education Component: This project will also train graduate students in NLP and develop materials that can be used to teach middle and high school students about NLP and to inspire them to pursue an education in computer science.


CAREER: Innovative Confinement Technology for Strong Main Shock-Aftershock Damage Mitigation

National Science Foundation Award #1055640
Bassem Andrawes
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Project Dates: 04/01/2011 – 3/31/2017

This project seeks to mitigate damage and to enhance the robustness and functionality of reinforced concrete bridges subjected to moderate-to-strong earthquakes and their aftershocks. For damage-control, the project will investigate the application of a new concrete confinement technology utilizing the shape memory alloys (SMAs) as the transverse reinforcement. This new technology capitalizes on the concept of active confinement. The research activities planned for this project include: (1) Conducting multi-axial monotonic and cyclic tests on concrete elements confined with the new reinforcement. (2) Developing general 3-dimensional plasticity model for concrete confined with SMA reinforcement with enhanced damage prediction feature. (3) Examining the durability and long-term performance of SMA reinforcement through laboratory tests and field tests conducted on real bridges in Illinois. (4) Developing models for realistic seismic hazard scenarios comprising moderate-to-strong main shock followed by a series of aftershocks. (5) Conducting seismic damage analyses to develop fragility curves for bridges reinforced with the new technology. (6) Conducting confirmatory hybrid simulation tests on reduced-scale reinforced concrete bridge piers strengthened with the new confinement technology.

This project will provide the earthquake engineering community with critical, in-depth, information about the new confinement technology. It will address the modeling, durability, and design issues that are crucial for this technology to reach its full potential in delivering immediate solutions to the problems of post-earthquake functionality, down time, and repair costs of critical lifeline bridges. To increase the awareness of this new technology among the practicing bridge engineers, the PI will organize a workshop to disseminate the project results to this group of engineers. The project will also promote the new hybrid simulation testing technique used in this project to the seismic research community. Finally, this project will also increase the awareness among the research and practitioner communities about the impacts of strong earthquake aftershocks on the design of civil engineering structures.

Education Component: The results of this project will be directly disseminated to the graduate and senior level civil engineering students through two graduate-level concrete design courses taught at Illinois. To encourage and promote the involvement of K-12 students from underrepresented groups in the field of Civil Engineering, an annual summer camp for female high school students will be organized.


CAREER: Large-Scale Recognition Using Shared Structures, Flexible Learning, and Efficient Search

National Science Foundation Award #1053768
Derek Hoiem
Computer Science
Project Dates: 05/01/2011 – 4/30/2017

This research investigates shared representations, flexible learning techniques, and efficient multi-category inference methods that are suitable for large-scale visual recognition. The goal is to produce visual systems that can accurately describe a wide range of objects with varying precision, rather than being limited to identifying objects within a few pre-defined categories. The main approach is to design object representations that enable new objects to be understood in terms of existing ones, which enables learning with fewer examples and faster and more robust recognition.

The research has three main components: (1) Designing appearance and spatial models for objects that are shared across basic categories; (2) Investigating algorithms to learn from a mixture of detailed and loose annotations and from human feedback; and (3) Designing efficient search algorithms that take advantage of shared representations.

The research provides more detailed, flexible, and accurate recognition algorithms that are suitable for high-impact applications, such as vehicle safety, security, assistance to the blind, household robotics, and multimedia search and organization. For example, if a vehicle encounters a cow in the road, the vision system would localize the cow and its head and legs and report "four-legged animal, walking left," even if it has not seen cows during training.

Education Component/Dissemination: The research also provides a unique opportunity to involve undergraduates in research, promote interdisciplinary learning and collaboration, and engage in outreach. Research ideas and results are disseminated through scientific publications, released code and datasets, public talks, and demonstrations for high school students.


CAREER: Theory and Application of Reflective Microring Resonators

National Science Foundation Award #1055941
Lynford Goddard
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Project Dates: 03/01/2011 – 2/28/2017

The objectives of this program are to characterize, model, and utilize reflective microring reflectors. The PI proposes engineering novel device functionality by integrating a Bragg reflector in a microring resonator. The microring amplifies grating reflection, creating a compact mirror with high reflectivity, narrow linewidth, and no side lobe ripple. These benefits would reduce channel crosstalk and potentially result in lower power, higher data rate communication systems.

The research will advance scientific understanding of the device and demonstrate its potential as a fundamental element to the photonics community. The PI proposes to leverage his preliminary results in device theory, experience in lasers, sensors, and nanofabrication, and experimental capabilities and resources. This potentially transformative research may unlock new lines of research (new devices and models) and enable diverse applications (interferometry, metrology, RF photonics, and communications). Two specific applications will be explored: as cavities for on-chip absorption spectroscopy and as mirrors for tunable lasers.

The broader impacts will be to create novel devices for next generation communications and consumer electronics.

Education Component: Research and teaching will be integrated through the development of two courses: Principles of Experimental Research and Modeling of Photonic Devices. Recruitment, retention, and participation of students from underrepresented groups will be addressed through mentoring, REU internships, and a new electrical engineering summer camp for 10th-12th grade girls. Results from both research and teaching will be published to enhance the current understanding of reflective microring devices and engineering education/outreach methodologies.


Collaborative Research: Dimensions: Experimental adaptive radiation-genomics of diversification in bird lice

National Science Foundation Award #1342604
Kevin Johnson
Illinois Natural History Survey
Project Dates: 11/1/2013 – 10/31/2018

Adaptive radiation occurs when one species of organism diversifies into several species that occupy distinct ecological niches. The process is a common generator of biodiversity, yet the genetic changes underlying it have not been documented. Parasites, one of the most diverse groups of organisms on earth, are thought to adaptively radiate as they switch to new species of hosts. This process will be studied using birds and feather lice, which are host specific parasites that spend all of their time on the host's body. Lice will be transferred in controlled experiments between normal and novel species of captive hosts. Evolutionary changes in genomes of the lice will be documented as they undergo adaptive radiation.

The results of this work may have implications for basic research, as well as human and animal health. Genomic data will be deposited in public databases. One postdoctoral associate, two Ph.D. students, and several undergraduate students will be trained. Two educational modules demonstrating adaptation by natural selection will be developed for K-12 students: "cryptic critters" (K-6) and "hunker down" (7-12). These modules are cost effective and easy to implement. Their effectiveness will be assessed with assistance from the University of Utah Center for Science and Math Education.


CPS: Synergy: Collaborative Research: Engineering Safety-Critical Cyber-Physical-Human Systems

National Science Foundation Award #1330077
Alex Kirlik, Lui Sha Carolyn Beck, Naira Hovakimyan
Computer Science, Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering Mechanical Science and Engineering
Project Dates: 10/1/2013–9/30/2017

This cross-disciplinary project brings together a team of engineering and computer science researchers to create, validate, and demonstrate the value of new techniques for ensuring that systems composed of combinations of hardware, software, and humans are designed to operate in a truly synergistic and safe fashion. One notable and increasingly common feature of these "Cyber-Physical-Human" (CPH) systems is that the responsibility for safe operation and performance is typically shared by increasingly sophisticated automation in the form of hardware and software, and humans who direct and oversee the behavior of automation yet may need to intervene to take over manual or shared system control when unexpected environmental situations or hardware or software failures occur. The ultimate goal is to achieve levels of safety and performance in system operation that exceed the levels attainable by either skilled human operators or completely autonomous systems acting alone. To do so, the research team will draw upon their expertise in the design of robust, fault-tolerant control systems, in the design of complexity-reduction architectures for software verification, and in human factors techniques for cognitive modeling to assure high levels of human situation awareness through effective interface design. By doing so, the safety, cost and performance benefits of increasingly sophisticated automation can be achieved without the frequently observed safety risks caused by automation creating greater distance between human operators and system operation. The techniques will be iteratively created and empirically evaluated using experimentation in human-in-the-loop simulations, including a medium-fidelity aircraft and flight simulator and a simulation of assistive automation in a medical context.

More broadly, this research is expected to impact and inform the engineering of future CPH systems generally, for all industries and systems characterized by an increasing use of hardware and software automation directed and overseen by humans who provide an additional layer of safety in expected situations, Examples include highway and automotive automation, aerospace and air traffic control automation, semi-automated process control systems, and the many forms of automated systems and devices increasingly being used in medical contexts, such as the ICU and operating room. This research is also expected to inform government and industry efforts to provide safety certification criteria for the technologies used in CPH systems, and to educate a next generation of students trained in the cross-disciplinary skills and abilities needed to engineer the CPH systems of the future. The investigators will organize industry, academic, and government workshops to disseminate results and mentor students who are members of underrepresented groups through the course of this research project.


Critical Zone Observatory for Intensively Managed Landscapes (IML-CZO)

National Science Foundation Award #1331906
Praveen Kumar, Alison Anders, Praveen Kumar, Timothy Filley, Thanos Papanicolaou
Civil and Environmental Engineering Geology
Project Dates: 12/1/2013–11/30/2018

Intensively managed landscapes, regions of significant land use change, serve as a cradle for economic prosperity. However, the intensity of change is responsible for unintended deterioration of our land and water environments. By understanding present day dynamics in the context of long-term co-evolution of the landscape, soil and biota, IML-CZO aims to support the assessment of short- and long-term resilience of the crucial ecological, hydrological and climatic services. These include freshwater quality and quantity, provision for food, fiber and (bio)fuel, nutrient transformations, and terrestrial carbon storage. The goals of this project are to quantify the fluxes and transformations, as well as interactions, thresholds, and dynamic feedbacks of water, nutrients, and sediment in IMLs, and to characterize how rapid land use changes have altered the vulnerability and resilience of these systems. An observational network of two sites in Illinois (3,690-km2 Upper Sangamon River Basin) and Iowa (270-km2 Clear Creek Watershed), and a partner site in Minnesota (44,000-km2 Minnesota River Basin), which together capture a range of geological diversity of the low relief glaciated and tile-drained landscape in the Midwest, will drive the scientific and technological advances. The guiding hypothesis for the scientific effort is that through human modification, the critical zone of IMLs has passed a tipping point (or threshold) and has changed from being a transformer of material flux, with high nutrient, water, and sediment storage, to being a transporter. This change threatens the resilience of the landscape to accommodate future impacts associated with ongoing human activity, including climate change and bioenergy crop production. Further, it increases the vulnerability of IMLs by compromising the sustainability of key critical-zone services on which ecological systems and human populations depend. Understanding and quantifying shifts in the response of the critical zone to human development remains a challenge, and current assessments are at best qualitative. IML-CZO research will identify threats to resilience of the critical zone, and will also inform management strategies aimed at reducing the vulnerability of the system to human activities that threaten sustainability. We will develop methods and knowledgebase that are broadly applicable across the Midwest and similar low-gradient landscapes worldwide.

The project will provide leadership in developing the next generation of work force and informing sustainable management strategies. The IML-CZO will be a launch pad for several new educational and outreach initiatives, and it will be an integral resource to connect and partner with existing organizations. It will draw on and add to several resources and programs available throughout the region. The CZO will provide a testbed for student-led sensing and data collection initiatives, and is expected to stimulate new research ideas and further advance the sensors and measurements curriculum. The CZO will also work to bring together collaborations with National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, IOWATER, Minnesota and Illinois RiverWatch Volunteer programs to enlist "citizen scientist" (age 10 - 70) in the work of the CZO. IML-CZO will also serve as a training ground for several undergraduate and graduate students, and post-doctoral research associates by engaging them in interdisciplinary research.


Engineering Research Center for Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS)

National Science Foundation Award #1449548
Andrew Alleyne
Mechanical Science and Engineering
Dates: August 1, 2015–July 31, 2020 (estimated)

Nearly all modern electronic systems are hitting a power density wall where further improvements in power density pose significant challenges. The NSF Engineering Research Center for Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS), aims to enhance or increase the electric power density available in tightly constrained mobile environments by changing the design. The management of high-density electrical and thermal power flows is a safety-critical societal need as recent electrical vehicles and aircraft battery fires illustrate. Engineering education conducted in silos limits systems-level approaches to design and operation. POETS will create the human capital that is explicitly trained to think, communicate, and innovate across the boundaries of technical disciplines. The Engineering Research Center (ERC) will institute curricular reform to train across disciplines using a systems perspective. It will develop pedagogical tools that allow greater stems-level understanding and disseminate these throughout the undergraduate curriculum. POETS will target undergraduate curriculum modifications aimed at early retention and couple it with undergraduate research and K-12 teacher activities. POETS' research will directly benefit its industry stakeholders comprised of power electronics Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and Small to Medium sized businesses in the OEM supply chain. An Industry/Practitioner Advisory Board will help direct efforts towards ready recipients of POETS research developments. POETS will harness the outputs of the ecosystem and drive research across the "valley of death" into commercialization.

POETS uses system level analysis tools to identify barriers to increased power density. Design tools will be used to create optimal system-level and subsystem-level designs. Novel algorithm tools will address the multi-physics nature of the integrated electro-thermal problem via structural optimization. Once barriers are identified, POETS will cultivate enabling technologies to overcome them. The operation of these systems necessitates development of heterogeneous decision tools that exploit multiple time scale hierarchies and are not suitable for real-time use. Implementation of these management approaches requires new 3D power electronics architectures that surpass current 2D designs. The thermal management will be tightly coupled with new 3D electronic systems designs using topology optimization for power electronics, storage, etc. The new designs will tightly interweave elements such as solid state thermal switches and modular multi-length scale elements; i.e. spreaders, storage units, phase change and mass flow system interacting with convection units. Fundamental research advances will support development of the 3D component technologies. New materials systems will be developed by manipulating nanostructures to provide tunable directionality for in plane and out-of-plane thermal power flows. These will be coupled with micro- and nano-scale thermal routing based on new conduction/convection systems. Buffers made from phase change material will be integrated into these systems to augment classes of autonomic materials with directed power flow actuation. Novel tested systems will integrate the system knowledge enabling technologies and fundamental breakthrough into modular demonstrations.


Exploration of Pressure- and Field-Tuned Phenomena and Phases in Mn- and V-based Spinels

National Science Foundation Award #1464090

S. Lance Cooper
DMR Division of Materials Research
MPS Directorate for Mathematical & Physical Sciences

Dates: 9/1/15–8/31/18 (estimated)

"Magnetically responsive" materials have magnetic and conducting properties that can be sensitively tuned with pressure and magnetic field, and exhibit a range of scientifically interesting and technologically useful properties, including coexisting magnetic and electric orders, magnetic-field-induced shape and conductivity changes, and strain controlled magnetism. Understanding the physical mechanisms responsible for these exotic properties is not only important scientifically, but is an essential prerequisite to optimizing these materials for use in technological applications. This project combines the use of high pressures, high magnetic fields, and visible laser light to identify and control the underlying mechanisms responsible for magnetically responsive behavior in a select group of magnetically responsive materials. Among the goals of this project are to identify the key physical mechanisms that give rise to magnetically responsive behavior, to control these mechanisms in order to create novel properties of scientific and technological interest, and to investigate as-yet-unexplored phase regions to uncover new, and potentially useful, physical properties. The diverse techniques employed in this research - including high-pressure techniques using diamond anvil cell technology, high-magnetic-field and low-temperature methods, optical and laser techniques, and materials growth methods - provide the graduate and undergraduate student researchers outstanding training for a diverse range of careers in academia, industry, or national laboratories. This project is also dedicated to imparting scientific literacy and enthusiasm for science in both the general public and K-12 students, through public lectures on science, middle-school scientific demonstrations, and lab tours that highlight the excitement of the materials studied and the scientific techniques used in this project.


Sustained-Petascale In Action: Blue Waters Enabling Transformative Science And Engineering

National Science Foundation Award #1238993
William Kramer
Computer Science
Dates: October 1, 2013–March 31, 2018 (estimated)

This a renewal award to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) to operate Blue Waters, which is a leadership class compute, network, and storage system, that will deliver unprecedented large scale and highly usable computing capabilities to the national research community. Blue Waters provides the capability for researchers to tackle much larger and more complex research challenges across a wide spectrum of domain than can be done now, and opens up entirely new possibilities and frontiers in science and engineering. This system is located at the newly constructed National Petascale Computing Facility at UIUC.

This award enables investigators across the country to conduct innovative research in a number of areas including: using three-dimensional, compressible, finite difference, magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) codes to understand how internal solar magnetoconvection powers the Sun's activity, and how that activity heats the chromosphere and corona and accelerates charged particles to relativistic energies; applying adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) technologies to study flows of partially ionized plasma in the outer heliosphere; implementing multiscale methods to study protein induced membrane remodeling key steps of the HIV viral replication cycle and clathrin coated pit formation in endocytosis; testing of the hypothesis that transport fluxes and other effects associated with cloud processes and ocean mesoscale eddy mixing are significantly different from the theoretically derived averages embodied in the parameterizations used in current-generation climate models; and, exploring systems-of-systems engineering design challenges to discover optimal many-objective satellite constellation design tradeoffs that include Earth science applications. Large allocations of resources on the new system have been awarded to scientists and engineers by NSF through a separate peer-reviewed competition.

The Blue Waters system and project are aligned with NSF's Advanced Computing Infrastructure Strategy to promote next generation computational and data intensive applications. These applications are being developed by multiple teams of researchers who will revolutionize and transform our knowledge of science and engineering across many disciplines. The system supports new modalities of computation, new programming models, enhanced system software, accelerator technologies and novel storage. The robust design and configuration of Blue Waters ensures that it will meet the evolving needs of the diverse science and engineering communities over the full lifetime of the system.

The broader impacts of this award include: provisioning unique infrastructure for research and education; accelerating education and training in the use of advanced computational science; training new users on how to use petascale computing techniques; promoting an exchange of information between academia and industry about the petascale applications; and broadening participation and collaborations in computational science with other research institutions and projects nationally and internationally.


Engineering Research Center for Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS)

National Science Foundation Award
Andrew Alleyne
Mechanical Science and Engineering

Nearly all modern electronic systems are hitting a power density wall where further improvements in power density pose significant challenges. The NSF Engineering Research Center for Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS), aims to enhance or increase the electric power density available in tightly constrained mobile environments by changing the design. The management of high-density electrical and thermal power flows is a safety-critical societal need as recent electrical vehicles and aircraft battery fires illustrate. Engineering education conducted in silos limits systems-level approaches to design and operation. POETS will create the human capital that is explicitly trained to think, communicate, and innovate across the boundaries of technical disciplines. The Engineering Research Center (ERC) will institute curricular reform to train across disciplines using a systems perspective. It will develop pedagogical tools that allow greater stems-level understanding and disseminate these throughout the undergraduate curriculum. POETS will target undergraduate curriculum modifications aimed at early retention and couple it with undergraduate research and K-12 teacher activities. POETS' research will directly benefit its industry stakeholders comprised of power electronics Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and Small to Medium sized businesses in the OEM supply chain. An Industry/Practitioner Advisory Board will help direct efforts towards ready recipients of POETS research developments. POETS will harness the outputs of the ecosystem and drive research across the "valley of death" into commercialization.

POETS uses system level analysis tools to identify barriers to increased power density. Design tools will be used to create optimal system-level and subsystem-level designs. Novel algorithm tools will address the multi-physics nature of the integrated electro-thermal problem via structural optimization. Once barriers are identified, POETS will cultivate enabling technologies to overcome them. The operation of these systems necessitates development of heterogeneous decision tools that exploit multiple time scale hierarchies and are not suitable for real-time use. Implementation of these management approaches requires new 3D power electronics architectures that surpass current 2D designs. The thermal management will be tightly coupled with new 3D electronic systems designs using topology optimization for power electronics, storage, etc. The new designs will tightly interweave elements such as solid state thermal switches and modular multi-length scale elements; i.e. spreaders, storage units, phase change and mass flow system interacting with convection units. Fundamental research advances will support development of the 3D component technologies. New materials systems will be developed by manipulating nanostructures to provide tunable directionality for in plane and out-of-plane thermal power flows. These will be coupled with micro- and nano-scale thermal routing based on new conduction/convection systems. Buffers made from phase change material will be integrated into these systems to augment classes of autonomic materials with directed power flow actuation. Novel tested systems will integrate the system knowledge enabling technologies and fundamental breakthrough into modular demonstrations.


National Center for Professional and Research Ethics

National Science Foundation Award: Press release
Nicholas Burbules; Michael Loui; William Mischo
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Coordinated Science Laboratory
Education
University of Illinois Library

This online center, called the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics, will develop, gather, preserve and provide comprehensive access to resources related to ethics for teachers, students, researchers, administrators and other audiences. As such, it will provide information and expertise for instructors who teach ethics, students with questions about research integrity, researchers and engineers who encounter ethical challenges in practice, administrators in universities and businesses who oversee ethics and compliance policies, scholars who conduct research on professional and research ethics, and others with questions or interests in these areas.


A New Integrated Approach to Undergraduate Course Instruction

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Award
Yi Lu
Chemistry

Dr. Lu proposes developing a new integrated, inquiry-based course involving all levels of undergraduate students, from freshmen to seniors, with the theme of the role of chemistry in life and society. The course will help recruit, motivate, and retain minority students as science majors. The course will be a single class that spans the four-year undergraduate education; students may take up to one semester per year. First-time students will attend lectures as well as presentations by other students. They will also choose an open-ended topic to research. The second time students take the course, they will give a literature seminar on their chosen topic. The third time, they will give a proposal seminar on how they will investigate their topic and resolve problems. The fourth time, they will give a seminar to report the results of their investigations.

Students at all levels who have similar topics will be put into groups to work together; seniors will be expected to act as mentors to the more junior students. In addition, each group will be assigned a more senior mentor, such as the instructor, a teaching fellow, a graduate teaching assistant, or a research assistant. The goal of the course is to interest students who may not otherwise choose science courses or a science major. In addition, to recruit minority students from other universities, the course will be offered in the summers and fellowships will be provided to defer expenses.


Novel Methods to Assess the Effects of Chemicals on Child Development

National Institutes of Health Award #1P01ES022848-01
Susan L. Schantz
College of Veterinary Medicine

Dates: June 15, 2013–May 31, 2018 (estimated)

The primary goals of this Children's Center are to use a multidisciplinary approach to address critical gaps in our knowledge about the impact of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (phthalates/BPA) on child development, to actively involve junior investigators in this research effort, and to actively communicate our research findings to parents, childcare providers and healthcare providers. There are three common themes that unite the three research projects and the Outreach and Translation Core (COTC) of this Center: (1) assessment of exposures during two critical developmental windows (prenatal and adolescent), (2) investigation of joint effects of phthalate/BPA exposure and a high fat diet/obesity, and (3) investigation of the role of oxidative stress and inflammation in mediating effects. At the heart of the research effort will be two human cohorts (Project 1)-a prospective pre-birth cohort currently in progress in Urbana, Illinois and an adolescent cohort to be assessed as part of a long-standing prospective study in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The Center will also include laboratory animal projects (Projects 2 and 3) which will model the timing of exposures in these human cohorts, a COTC, and this administrative core which will provide oversight, coordination and integration of all Center-related activities. The responsibilities of the Administrative Core will include organizing and scheduling monthly meetings of the Internal Advisory Committee and monthly research team meetings of the Center investigators, organizing yearly meetings of the Center scientists with the six-member External Advisory Committee, coordinating the career development activities of the Center, and facilitating interactions of the Pediatric Health Specialist with the COTC to communicate research findings to the healthcare community. As Director and Associate Director of the Children's Center, Drs. Susan Schantz and Jodi Flaws will be responsible for conducting Internal and External Advisory Committee meetings and regularly evaluating the research progress of each of the projects, as well as the outreach activities of the COTC. They will also be responsible for general fiscal oversight of the Center. Dr. Flaws will have full authority to make decisions in Dr. Schantz's absence. Relevance: Phthalates and BPA are endocrine disrupting chemicals that are found in many consumer products. Exposure is widespread, but the impact of this exposure on child health and development is not well-understood. This Center's research will fill an important gap in our knowledge by investigating the effects of these chemicals, both alone and combination with a high fat diet on reproductive and neural development.


Professional Science Masters Program

Sloan Foundation
Bryan White, Hans Blaschek, Nicki Engeseth
Agricultural, Consumer and Economic Sciences

The Illinois Professional Science Master's (PSM) is a non-thesis graduate program that offers an MS degree, allowing students to pursue advanced training in science or mathematics while simultaneously learning critical business skills through an integration of four key curriculum components: science or mathematics courses, "plus" business courses, industry seminar, and internship. Program options include Agricultural Production, Bioenergy, or Food Science and Human Nutrition.


REU Site: nano@illinois REU—Summer Nanotechnology Research Experience for Undergraduates

National Science Foundation Award #1359454
Catherine Murphy, Umberto Ravaioli
Chemistry, Micro and Nanotechnology Lab

Dates: March 1, 2014–February 28, 2017 (estimated)

The purpose of this project is to establish an REU site in the area of nanotechnology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with support from the NSF Division of Engineering Education and Centers. Students participating in the program will be embedded in a rich environment providing integrated research and educational experiences in a wide range of nanotechnology areas, from nanoelectronics to nanophotonics, nanomaterials and nanobiotechnology. The ultimate goal is to solidify the students' interest in graduate research and education and contribute to the diversity of the national workforce pipeline, through experiences designed not only to expose the participants to cutting edge and interdisciplinary technical aspects of nanotechnology but also to infuse critical thinking, leadership, communication, team-building, and ethics training. Additionally, the assessment and evaluation activities will be embedded throughout the program to determine the effectiveness of the various training components and students will be tracked longitudinally to determine the impact of the program on individuals, institutions and the field as a whole. The REU program will engage ten domestic undergraduate students (rising sophomores to rising seniors) in a ten week summer curriculum on the University of Illinois campus each year, combining a range of common activities (orientations, seminars and workshops) with personalized experiences in the laboratories affiliated with this effort. Students will spend at least 30 hours per week doing research with faculty and graduate student mentors, and will be fully engaged in normal laboratory activities attending group meeting performing literature reviews, running experiments and simulations and keeping laboratory notebooks. Research topics will be assigned matching the interest of the participants and representative projects may include: design of plasmonic nanoparticles for live cell sensing; DNA sequencing through solid state nanopores; design and fabrication of nano-porous conformal films for photonic applications; simulation of charge transport in nanosystems. Capstone of the experience will be participation, during the tenth week of the program, in the campus-wide Illinois Summer Research Symposium where students will present the results of their work.


SHF: Large: Collaborative Research: Designing the Programmable Many-Core for Extreme Scale Computing

National Science Foundation Award #1347722
Jose Mestre ,Jonathan Tomkin , Jennifer Greene , Matthew West, Geoffrey Herman
Physics, Geology, College of Education, College of Education, Mechanical Science and Engineering,
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Dates: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2016

This project is using transformational learning theory and an Immunity-to-Change model as justification for forming Communities of Practice (CoPs) to change the teaching culture in gateway STEM courses at the University of Illinois. The Immunity to Change model focuses on the discomfort caused by the many teaching reforms that take the instructor out of the role of routinely providing expertise to the students as the dominant form of interaction with them. When the same instructors are working in or representing their research, it is important to present themselves in ways that demonstrate their expertise. This dissonance is a barrier to changing the teaching practices of research-active faculty in many instances because the teaching practices require them to take on the role of facilitator rather than expert

Hence, this project is based on the core idea that teaching in gateway courses should be jointly owned and created by the faculty, rather than being the sole province of individual, independent instructors. This process is being initiated through the formation of Communities of Practice (CoPs) around each undergraduate STEM discipline in ten departments, which are located in two colleges - Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering. Through the CoP process, the teaching culture is changing, as faculty are adapting evidenced-based reforms and changing their instruction in gateway courses. These gateway courses in ten departments in two colleges enroll over 17,000 students annually, and several of the gateway courses are required for nearly all STEM majors on campus. The Community of Practice approach is operating both within each department and also at the aggregate level across all ten departments. Each CoP is collaboratively exploring a domain of knowledge to support the development of improved practice by connecting faculty who need to adapt their teaching to evidence-based pedagogies with faculty whose beliefs already support those pedagogies.

CoPs are providing an organizational structure that promotes long-term situated learning that is exposing and challenging instructors' tacit beliefs that impede change. CoPs also depend on high levels of collaboration for success and effectively spread tacit knowledge, which decreases the learning curve for novices, reduces creation of redundant resources or reenactments of failures, and promotes creativity. The emphasis on CoPs will further engender common ownership of the reforms, countering the current individualistic teaching culture, thereby institutionalizing the reforms so that they are used in the gateway courses as new faculty are assigned to teach them.

CoPs are engaging in a development cycle of innovate to evaluate, facilitated by a large evaluation team and an instructional support team. The evaluation team is providing both formative and summative feedback to CoPs using both qualitative (e.g., student attitudes) and quantitative (e.g., performance outcomes) measures that are in turn being used to improve teaching and learning. In addition, the evaluation team is also studying the functioning of the CoPs, including the extent to which teams are operating as CoPs, and providing detailed descriptions of features of effective and less effective CoPs. The instructional support team is providing just-in-time training to the CoPs by attending their weekly meetings and organizing monthly gatherings for all CoPs. The remaining PIs are working to maintain the top-down administrative support from deans and department heads to sustain the bottom-up reform efforts of the CoPs.


SHF: Large: Collaborative Research: Designing the Programmable Many-Core for Extreme Scale Computing

National Science Foundation 1012759
Hong Jiang
CCF Division of Computer and Communication Foundations
CSE Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering

Dates: September 1, 2010–December 31, 2016 (estimated)

The society is increasingly demanding scientific accountability behind risk management of lifeline networks such as hazard mitigation planning, infrastructure maintenance and post-disaster responses. For rapid and condition-based risk management of lifeline networks, it is essential to have system reliability analysis (SRA) methods that can integrate analyses across physical scales, and can interface models and data from multiple fields of science and engineering smoothly for quantifying system-level risk. The proposed project will develop multi-scale SRA methods employing advanced network clustering algorithms for efficient, accurate and collaborative risk assessment of large-size networks. The project will also create a near-real-time network risk alert system through integration of a rapid SRA method with a hazard alert system to facilitate rapid decision support on hazard responses. In addition, an efficient time-varying network SRA method will be developed in which network reliability is continuously updated based on inspection results of network component deterioration in order to sustain the network reliability with optimal use of limited resources.

The analysis methods and numerical tools developed in this project will help practitioners understand the hierarchical structure of lifeline networks and its impacts on network risk and decision making, develop network risk alert systems customized for actual risk management practice, and perform condition-based maintenance considering actual deterioration progress and its impacts on network-level risk. Education-focused research tasks include the development of interactive cyber-environment on network theory, virtual experiment on network downtime, interactive computer software simulating network flow and connectivity, and mobile phone applications to demonstrate IT-based risk management. The research results will be incorporated into the graduate level courses on risk and reliability of complex infrastructure systems. Active efforts will be made to recruit students from the groups that are underrepresented in science and technology fields using the well-established institutional fellowship programs.


Sustained-Petascale In Action: Blue Waters Enabling Transformative Science And Engineering

National Science Foundation Award #1238993
William Kramer, William Gropp, Cristina Beldica
National Center for Supercomputing Application, Computer Science

Dates: 10/1/2013 – 3/31/2018 (estimated)

This a renewal award to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) to operate Blue Waters, which is a leadership class compute, network, and storage system, that will deliver unprecedented large scale and highly usable computing capabilities to the national research community. Blue Waters provides the capability for researchers to tackle much larger and more complex research challenges across a wide spectrum of domain than can be done now, and opens up entirely new possibilities and frontiers in science and engineering. This system is located at the newly constructed National Petascale Computing Facility at UIUC.

This award enables investigators across the country to conduct innovative research in a number of areas including: using three-dimensional, compressible, finite difference, magneto hydrodynamic (MHD) codes to understand how internal solar magneto convection powers the Sun's activity, and how that activity heats the chromosphere and corona and accelerates charged particles to relativistic energies; applying adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) technologies to study flows of partially ionized plasma in the outer heliosphere; implementing multiscale methods to study protein induced membrane remodeling key steps of the HIV viral replication cycle and clathrin coated pit formation in endocytosis; testing of the hypothesis that transport fluxes and other effects associated with cloud processes and ocean mesoscale eddy mixing are significantly different from the theoretically derived averages embodied in the parameterizations used in current-generation climate models; and, exploring systems-of-systems engineering design challenges to discover optimal many-objective satellite constellation design tradeoffs that include Earth science applications. Large allocations of resources on the new system have been awarded to scientists and engineers by NSF through a separate peer-reviewed competition. .

The Blue Waters system and project are aligned with NSF's Advanced Computing Infrastructure Strategy to promote next generation computational and data intensive applications. These applications are being developed by multiple teams of researchers who will revolutionize and transform our knowledge of science and engineering across many disciplines. The system supports new modalities of computation, new programming models, enhanced system software, accelerator technologies and novel storage. The robust design and configuration of Blue Waters ensures that it will meet the evolving needs of the diverse science and engineering communities over the full lifetime of the system. The broader impacts of this award include: provisioning unique infrastructure for research and education; accelerating education and training in the use of advanced computational science; training new users on how to use petascale computing techniques; promoting an exchange of information between academia and industry about the petascale applications; and broadening participation and collaborations in computational science with other research institutions and projects nationally and internationally.


The Computational Microscope

National Science Foundation Award #1440026
Klaus Schulten
Theoretical and Computational Biophysics
Dates: September 1, 2014–August 31, 2017 (estimated)

Cells are the building blocks of life, yet they are themselves a collection of proteins, small molecules, and solvent, none of which are, in and of themselves, alive. How living things can arise from the "behavior" of molecules, which are simply obeying the laws of physics, is the essential conundrum of modern biology. The rise of scientific supercomputing has offered the chance to study living systems at the levels of atoms, cells, and all levels in between. With Blue Waters, it is now possible to take the most critical step from inanimate to animate matter by describing assembly and cooperation of thousands of macromolecules made of billions of atoms. The ability to explore living systems via the "computational microscope" of molecular dynamics simulations has a profound impact not only on the progress of basic science, but also in the treatment of disease and the development of drugs. This project will use Blue Waters to study three types of biomolecular systems: the microtubules that make up the cell's cytoskeleton, the chemosensory array that acts as a "bacterial brain", and two highly relevant retroviruses: HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and RSV (Rous sarcoma virus). The first project will model microtubules, in their native form, as well as the interactions between the microtubule, its regulatory partners, and anti-cancer agents. Simulations of the microtubule and its interactions with drugs can help drive the development of new microtubule-attacking cancer therapies. The HIV part of the virus project builds on prior success in modeling the full HIV capsid to evaluate the effects of HIV drugs on capsid stability and to model the essential interactions between the capsid and host cell factors. Simulations of the HIV capsid provide the necessary detailed knowledge of the vital infection process to develop new HIV therapies. The RSV part of the virus project has constructed the first model of an intermediate stage in virus capsid maturation, which will be used to describe the maturation process of retroviruses may open the doors to a new type of anti-viral drug which attacks that maturation process. The chemosensory array project seeks to answer how input from many chemical sensors on the bacterial surface are transduced across hundreds of nanometers in the array, leading the cell to decide if it should continue swimming or change direction, to adapt to changing environments. The chemosensory array is a universal structure in bacteria, but absent in eukaryotes, offering a new target for antibiotic drugs - a desperately needed advancement in combating bacterial resistance to current antibiotics. Each of the projects proposed presents an opportunity for petascale computing to contribute to mankind?s health and to answer one of mankind's oldest questions: "What is life?"


University of Illinois Mathematics GAANN Fellowship Project

US Department of Education Award #P200A090062
Karen Mortensen, Randy McCarthy
Mathematics


Vertically Integrated Training With Genomics (VInTG) IGERT

National Science Foundation Award #1069157
Andrew Suarez, Gene Robinson, William McMillan, Carla Caceres, Sandra Rodriguez-Zas
Institute for Genomic Biology, School of Integrative Biology

Dates: September 1, 2011–August 31, 2017 (estimated)

Vertically Integrated Training With Genomics (VInTG) will provide support for as many as 30 graduate students over the next five years. Students will learn ways to both ask and answer the big research questions of the coming decades, says principal investigator Andrew Suarez, associate professor of Animal Biology and Entomology and IGB affiliate.

VInTG will address two "grand challenges" in biology: How do genomes interact with the environment to produce biological diversity? and How are biological systems integrated from molecules to ecosystems? Answering these questions will help both science and society determine how to maintain food security under climate change; how to integrate genetics and ecology to study emerging infectious diseases; and how organisms' responses to climate change influence biodiversity and ecosystem function.