Three engineers win NSF CAREER grants

Three faculty members from Penn State's College of Engineering have been awarded Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The winners are Matthew Parkinson, assistant professor of engineering design and mechanical engineering; Sofya Raskhodnikova, assistant professor of computer science and engineering; and Jian Xu, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics and adjunct professor of electrical engineering.

The prestigious NSF CAREER grant is given to junior faculty for excellence in research and education. The CAREER program is designed to help young engineers and scientists develop their research and teaching simultaneously as they begin their careers.

Parkinson's project, titled "Foundations of Designing for Human Variability," focuses on improving engineering design methods to better account for subgroups of people, such as the elderly or those with disabilities.

Parkinson serves as the director of the Engineering Design Program, the Center for Research in Design and Innovation and the OPEN Design Lab. His engineering design research includes areas such as biomechanics, biomedical design, ergonomics, rehabilitation engineering, motion modeling and prediction, optimization, product platforms and mechanical design.

Raskhodnikova's CAREER grant proposal is titled "Sublinear Algorithms -- Theory and Applications." Sublinear algorithms perform quick approximate computations -- in time sublinear in the length of the output -- and are useful for processing massive datasets. The project includes foundational theoretical work as well as designing sublinear algorithms for a variety of applications, such as comparing genomes, compressing media files and compiling census data.

In addition to Raskhodnikova's main interests in the design and analysis of sublinear-time algorithms for combinatorial problems she also works on data privacy, and more generally on randomized algorithms and computational complexity.

Xu's project, titled "Two-Photon Pumped Lasing Using Seminconductor Nanostructures by Design," focuses on the development and use of two-photon pumped lasers based on engineered seminconductor nanostructures.

Xu's research interests include seminconductor optoelectronics, nanophotonics and bioelectronics. At Penn State he established an optoelectronics laboratory which bridges the basic research on nanoscale semiconductor materials and engineering studies of their device applications in solar energy, display, lightwave communication and optical sensing.

Last Updated August 11, 2009