Jennifer Parham-Mocello

Jennifer Parham-Mocello (left), assistant professor of computer science, has received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a new computer science curriculum for Oregon students.

As the 10th largest engineering program in the nation, the College of Engineering at Oregon State University is also among the most productive. It’s a proven leader in signature research areas, including artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced manufacturing, clean water, materials science, clean energy, computing, resilient infrastructure, and health-related engineering.

In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the College of Engineering received more than $59.3 million in sponsored research awards, with funding from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The following is an overview of notable grants received during that time: 

  • Karl Haapala, associate professor of manufacturing engineering and the Tom and Carmen West Faculty Scholar, received a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help ensure that current and future workers in the manufacturing sector have access to high-quality engineering education and technical training. Haapala and his team will design, develop, and evaluate online courses in mechatronics, a multidisciplinary branch of engineering that includes both electronic and mechanical systems.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy awarded a $1 million grant to a group of Oregon State engineers, led by Barbara Simpson, assistant professor of structural engineering, to simulate the combined and complex effects of wind and wave forces on turbines by conducting physical experiments and numerical modeling. The group includes Bryony DuPont, associate professor of mechanical engineering and the Boeing Professor of Mechanical Engineering Design, Bryson Robertson, associate professor of coastal and ocean engineering and co-director of the Pacific Marine Energy Center, Pedro Lomónaco, director of the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, and Ted Brekken, professor of electrical and computer engineering.
  • The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation awarded a $1.5 million grant to Erica Fischer, assistant professor of structural engineering, and a team of researchers to develop and deploy an affordable and easy-to-use sensor network to assess pipeline contamination that can be deployed to regions of high wildfire risk.
  • A pair of computer science faculty were each awarded $1 million grants from the National Science Foundation to make computer science more accessible and interesting to a broad range of young people in the state of Oregon. Working in partnership with teachers and administrators at a middle school in Corvallis, Oregon, Jennifer Parham-Mocello, assistant professor of computer science, and her colleagues will develop and investigate a new curriculum to teach algorithmic thinking to sixth and seventh graders using tabletop games such as Connect Four and Battleship. Jill Hubbard, instructor in computer science at OSU-Cascades, in partnership with Portland State University and the University of Oregon project are using their grant from the NSF for a project—Computer Science for Oregon—that aims to provide high school students in Oregon with more equitable access and participation in computer science courses.
  • Alena Paulenova, professor of radiochemistry, is leading an $800,000 Department of Energy study in collaboration with researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Nevada Las Vegas, to obtain fundamental data on the speciation and redox properties of neptunium, zirconium, and technetium in radiation fields, with an end goal of optimizing aqueous processing of the used nuclear fuel.
  • Adam Higgins, associate professor of bioengineering, was awarded a $437,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to build a lab for biomedical prototyping and characterization.
  • Four faculty won National Science Foundation CAREER awards. Brian Fronk, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, received $527,992 to probe the physical phenomena governing the heat transfer properties of near-critical fluids, with potential applications including highly efficient engines, advanced aerospace applications, and electronics cooling. John Labram, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, was awarded $500,000 to study opto-electronic circuits based on a new class of materials, metal halide perovskites, that may be used in devices such as solar cells and light-emitting diodes. Amir Nayyeri, assistant professor of computer science, was awarded $600,000 to research mapping problems in computational geometry and topology with the goal of producing new algorithms for technologies such as medical imaging. Melissa Santala, assistant professor of materials science, received $755,610 to study phase change materials that have potential for low-power, non-volatile computer memory. 
  • Chih-hung Chang, professor of chemical engineering, received a $550,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a novel 3D nanomaterial printer for the additive manufacturing of multiscale materials.
  • The United States Department of Agriculture awarded Joe Davidson, assistant professor of robotics, a pair of grants, one for $375,000 and one for $438,000, from to teach robots to prune fruit tree and pick fruits like humans, respectively. 
  • Zhenxing Feng was awarded a $434,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to increase the operating voltages of aqueous batteries, which have the potential to be cheaper and more durable than lithium batteries, to be comparable to those of lithium batteries.