Institute for CyberScience announces 2017 ICS Seed Grant recipients

April 12, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Institute for CyberScience (ICS) has announced that 20 Penn State faculty are recipients of 2017 ICS Seed Grant Program awards. The awards, ranging from $4,000 to $25,000, support researchers doing innovative interdisciplinary research, laying the groundwork needed to apply for large external funding awards. This is the second year ICS has offered a seed grant program to advance computational and data-enabled research at Penn State; a total of $409,000 was awarded.

Of the 33 proposals submitted, 20 were selected for funding. This represents a major increase over the 2016 ICS Seed Grant Program, where 6 projects were funded; 15 of the selected proposals involve collaboration by faculty in different colleges and the remainder are smaller initiation grants.

“The growth of the Seed Grant Program shows that ICS is making a significant impact promoting interdisciplinary, cyber-enabled research among the Penn State community,” said ICS Director Jenni Evans. “I am pleased that faculty are engaging in multi-faceted collaborations that will bring novel perspectives to key scientific problems.”

The program will fund research in a wide spectrum of fields, including materials science, neurobiology, hydrology, political science, and geology.

The 2017 ICS Seed Grant principal investigators, their research projects and their award amounts are:

  • Kofi Adu, assistant professor of physics. “Ultra-Conductive Wires: A Theoretical Approach,” $25,000.
  • John Carroll, distinguished professor of information sciences and technology. “Community Data: Science Learning through Citizen Participation,” $10,000.
  • Rebekah Dawson, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics. “The Third Workshop on Extremely Precise Radial Velocities,” $4,000.
  • Bruce Desmarais, associate professor of political science. “Measuring Scalable Social Connectivity in Complex Networks of Intercity Flows,” $25,000.
  • Michael Hallquist, assistant professor of psychology. “A Neurodevelopmental Computational Account of Social Influences on Decision-Making,” $25,000.
  • Wenrui Hao, assistant professor of mathematics. “Predicting Glucose Level Using Cardiovascular Activities through Deep Learning Techniques,” $25,000.
  • Kathleen Hill, assistant professor of education. “Repurposing of Decommissioned Supercomputers for K-12 Education (RDS K-12),” $25,000.
  • David Hughes, assistant professor of entomology and biology. “Digital Innovation in Food Security Using a 28,000 Farmer Living Lab in Kenya,” $25,000.
  • Dongwon Lee, associate professor of information sciences and technology. “From Breitbart to Washington Post: Analyzing Fake News,” $25,000.
  • Alan MacEachren, professor of geography. “Comment Analytics: Leveraging Big Unstructured Data to Understand Spatial and Temporal Variations in Public Response to Government Policy,” $25,000.
  • Alfonso Mejia, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Data-Driven Identification and Characterization of Community Structure in the U.S. Economic Commodities-Water Network,” $5,000.
  • Tong Qiu, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Sensing Mechanism and Real Time (SMART) Computing for Granular Materials,” $25,000.
  • Chaopeng Shen, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Machine-Learning-Assisted Groundwater Stratigraphy and Transmissivity Database and a Cyberinfrastructure Supporting Community Inputs,” $25,000.
  • Alok Sinha, professor of mechanical engineering. “Calculating Vibrational Response of Carbon Nanotube Composites Using Modified Modal Domain Analysis,” $25,000.
  • Susan Sinnott, professor of materials science and engineering. “Expanding the 2D Toolbox: 2D_growth Algorithm Development to Enable 2D Material Identification,” $25,000.
  • Janis Terpenny, professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering. “The Dark Side of Digital Innovation: Understanding Cyber Threats for Digital Manufacturing,” $25,000.
  • Donghai Wang, associate professor of mechanical engineering. “Data-Enabled Understanding and Discovery of Innovative Sodium Battery Materials,” $25,000.
  • Yi Wang, senior scientist, materials science and engineering. “Revolutionary Theory for Thermoelectric Materials,” $10,000.
  • Christelle Wauthier, assistant professor of geosciences. “Toward a Better Understanding of Magma-Fault Interactions during Early Stage Rifting: Joint Analysis and Modeling of Geodetic and Seismic Datasets,” $5,000.
  • Sulin Zhang, professor of engineering science and mechanics and bioengineering. “Understanding the Molecular Origins of Impaired Deformability and Shape in Diseased and Aged Red Blood Cells through Multiscale Modeling,” $25,000.

The Institute for CyberScience is one of the five interdisciplinary research institutes under the Office of the Vice President for Research, and is dedicated to supporting cyber-enabled research across the disciplines. ICS builds an active community of researchers using computational methods in a wide range of fields through co-hiring of tenure-track faculty, providing seed funding for ambitious computational research projects, and offering access to high-performance computing resources through its Advanced CyberInfrastructure. With the support of ICS, Penn State researchers harness the power of big data, big simulation, and big computing to solve the world’s problems. For more information, visit or email  

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Last Updated April 21, 2017