FY16 research funding highlights

The OSU College of Engineering is among the nation’s largest and most productive engineering programs. Since 1999, the college has more than tripled its research expenditures by emphasizing highly collaborative research and innovation that address regional and global problems. It’s a leader in signature research areas, including precision health, clean energy, resilient infrastructure, and advanced manufacturing. The college also leads in targeted strategic areas, including robotics, materials research, and clean water.

In fiscal year 2015-2016, the college received $39.5 million in sponsored research awards. Most of the funding came from federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense.

Notable grants received during this past fiscal year include the following: 

  • Eight young faculty will share $4.3 million for their teaching or research initiatives. Six will receive National Science Foundation CAREER awards totaling $3.3 million, which supports young faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research and excellent education. Another two faculty will share $1 million from the Office of Naval Research Young Investigators Program for junior faculty showing exceptional promise for creative research.

The NSF CAREER award winners are:

- Ravi Balasubramanian, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, for his research proposal, “Restoring Musculoskeletal Function by Designing Implantable Passive Mechanisms.”

- Daniel Dig, an assistant professor of computer science, for his research proposal, “Program Analysis and Transformations of Asynchrony.”

- Devlin Montfort, an assistant professor of engineering education, for his research proposal, “Personal Epistemology in Engineering Education.” 

- Arun Natarajan, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, for his research proposal, “Scalable MIMO Spatial Filtering and Synchronization for Heterogeneous Wireless Networks.”

- Stephen Ramsey, an assistant professor of computer science and biomedical sciences, for his research proposal, “Deciphering the human regulome: genomics-based analysis of intergenic genotype-to-trait associations, made accessible and powerful.”

- Karl Schilke, an assistant professor of bioengineering, for his research proposal, “High-Density Non-Fouling Bioactive Coatings for Processing of Biological Fluids.” 

The 2016 ONR Young Investigators are:

- David Blunck, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, for his research proposal, “Ignition, Deflagration and Detonation Behavior of Fuel and Oxidizer Mixed with Combustion Products.”

- Yiğit Mengüç, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, for his research proposal, “Soft Marine Robotics with Cephalopod-Inspired Dynamic Motion Primitives and Electroactive Fluidic Sensing and Actuation.”

  • College of Engineering researchers have been awarded $1.5 million as part of its participation in the recently formed Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium. The consortium’s five-year mandate is to protect the nation’s electric grid from cyber threats. The consortium, comprised of eleven universities and national labratories, was awarded a total of $22.5 million, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and led by the University of Illinois. OSU, which has a growing expertise in the field of cybersecurity, will focus on projects to prevent manipulation of sensors and devices on the power grid that could lead to cascading power outages, according to Rakesh Bobba, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and a member of OSU’s cybersecurity team. 

  • Following one of the worst wildfire seasons on record, the U.S. Department of Defense has awarded the college $2 million to study the impact of smoldering combustion. The five-year project, headed by David Blunck, could lead to development of tools for firefighters, climate scientists, foresters and others to predict and prevent smoldering, manage controlled burns, and calculate potential pollution emissions. 

  • The National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $4.5 million grant to Oregon State in partnership with the University of Washington and as part of the Northwest Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure for research in nanoscale science, engineering and technology. Oregon State’s lead researcher for the grant, Greg Herman, a professor of chemical engineering, said that winning the NSF grant is evidence that OSU has made the right investments in materials and research infrastructure to be competitive with top universities in the country. 
  • Two college faculty will share an $810,000 grant from The Walmart Foundation to fund research into sustainable and environmentally-friendly fabric dyeing techniques and for plastic injection molding. The recipients from the college are Chih-hung Chang, a professor of chemical engineering, and Rajiv Malhotra, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. Hsiou-Lien Chen from the College of Business and Sara Robinson from the College of Forestry will share the award. In 2014, Walmart awarded Oregon State $590,000 in research grants, for a total of $1.4 million.