Junior Faculty Distinctions

Three Watson School faculty members are recipients of five-year Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program awards from the National Science Foundation.

> Kartik Gopalan, assistant professor of computer science, received nearly $400,000 to support his research on virtualization in cloud computing – large clusters of computers that could lower costs for businesses and revolutionize everyday tasks. See page 2.

> Qinru Qiu, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, received $409,000 for her research on low-power computing that could lead to smaller, more efficient computers. See page 12.

> Mohammad Younis, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, received $440,000 to focus on his research in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and their potential as smart sensors. He already has a patent for a MEMS device.

Scott Craver, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, was one of 100 recipients of the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). He’s the first Binghamton faculty member to earn a PECASE — the highest honor the federal government gives to scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers. The award includes a grant of $200,000 a year for five years.

Craver’s core research is in digital watermarks, which can be used for proof of ownership, as copy protection devices or to send covert messages. Commonly used in movies, music and images, they also can be used to protect scientific data, software and other types of information.

“Information security is something of a cat-and-mouse game: You try to detect; I try to evade,” Craver says.

He and his students develop algorithms to break watermark systems. “You need to think like an attacker,” he says. “The only way to figure out flaws in a security system is by figuring out how you’d break it.”


Start-Up Suite gives boost to young firms

Binghamton University’s Start-Up Suite at the Innovative Technologies Complex offers fledgling companies low-cost office space, a state-of-the-art conference room, access to high-speed printers, copiers and other business equipment and a receptionist. Companies that occupy the suite must have their roots in technology developed at the University and work in areas related to the life sciences.

Madhusudhan Govindaraju, associate professor of computer science, has founded a new firm, now housed in the Start-Up Suite. ZreyaTech will use XML and Semantic Web-based technologies to design and develop software tools and customized solutions in a variety of application domains including e-commerce portals, information retrieval, customized search engines and healthcare.

Two companies that have recently graduated from the Start-Up Suite:

> NanoMas Technologies, Inc., co-founded by Howard Wang, associate professor of mechanical engineering (see page 16), which develops inks and functional nanoparticulates for printing on flexible electronics for a variety of nanotechnology applications.

> Webscalers, co-founded by Weiyi Meng, professor of computer science, with colleagues Clement Yu from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Vijay Raghavan and Zonghuan Wu from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, develops new technologies that can accurately and easily search the content of the entire deep Web that is not accessed by search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

To learn more about the Start-Up Suite, contact the Watson School Dean’s Office at 607-777-2871.


Solar energy research gains ground

CASP monies to date include:

DARPA $3.75M
NASA $500,000
ONR $250,000
Salbec* $35,000
Applied for Feb 2010:
ONR $4M

Formed in 2008, Binghamton University’s Center for Autonomous Solar Power (CASP) is meeting the scientific challenges to reduce the cost of solar power and enhance energy efficiency — bridging the gap between technology and commercialization.

The multidisciplinary center draws expertise from engineering, computer science, chemistry and physics to focus on areas such as solar conversion efficiency, storage capabilities, solar module stability and power system cost reduction. With industry partners, the center develops new technologies for defense, energy, aerospace, consumer and industrial markets by focusing on solar power sources integrated with new product designs.


Ziegler to take over Binghamton Scholars

William Ziegler ’76, associate professor of computer science, has been named faculty director of the Binghamton Scholars Program.

The Binghamton Scholars Program is a selective four-year honors program for students of exceptional merit. These students take small classes together with an emphasis on communication skills and leadership.

William ZieglerZiegler, who will continue his duties in the Watson School and as faculty master of Newing College, said he is “truly honored” to direct the program.

“My first goal is to meet with all of the stakeholders, including the 350 student scholars currently in the program, to learn what they think it takes to be a first-rate Scholars Program,” he says. “Additionally, I want the Scholars Program to be a voice to the rest of BU, our community and beyond, of all the wonderful academic accomplishments that occur at BU every day. … Everyone sees how well we rank because of the students we attract, but I would like to see more written about the accomplishments of our students while they are here and after they graduate.”


Putting data centers on a low-energy diet

A holistic approach to data centers could result in millions of dollars of savings and a far smaller carbon footprint for the ever-expanding universe of information technology.

That’s the promise of research by Binghamton University colleagues Kanad Ghose, professor of computer science, and Bahgat Sammakia, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the University’s New York State Center of Excellence in Small Scale Systems Packaging and Integration (S3IP).

“The amount of energy spent running our data centers in the U.S. is about 2.5 percent of the total national energy expenditure,” Ghose says. “That doesn’t sound like a big number, but it’s enough to power a couple of good-sized cities for most of the year.”

Data centers are designed to handle peak loads, Ghose explains, but most of the time they operate at 40 to 60 percent of capacity, and that compromises energy efficiency. In addition, data centers require a lot of energy to keep them cool because of the heat generated by packing a lot of machines into a small space.

“The unfortunate fact is there’s a lot of waste in this,” Ghose says.

Most researchers focus on smart workload management when they talk about “green” data centers, but Ghose and Sammakia say that’s not enough. They’re looking for a comprehensive solution that spreads the workload and plans in advance for the workload allocation and the cooling budget. An experimental data center is the next step.

Sammakia, who’s also the University’s executive director of economic development, says the test facility will create hundreds of local jobs and attract industries to the area.

Ghose says their solution could result in savings of more than 25 percent. And the lessons drawn from data centers could pay off for desktop computers as well.

“The writing’s on the wall,” Ghose says. “Unless we address this now, things will become worse.”


ICK!ICK!

The fourth annual Binghamton University I’m a Complex Kid! (ICK!) Bioengineering Fair was held Saturday, March 20, at the Binghamton University Downtown Center. Sponsored by the Binghamton Bioengineers, the fair introduced students in grades 1 through 5 to bioengineering concepts such as modeling life, networking and biologically inspired design through 14 bioengineering-based activities including Kitchen DNA, Make-Your-Own-Cell Model and Slime Formation.

 

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