Published On: Thu, Aug 6th, 2020

Four FAU Researchers Selected To Recieve The Esteemed NSF Career Awards

Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has selected four researchers to receive the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career (CAREER) award. 

The coveted NSF’s award is offered by the CAREER program in support of early-career faculty who show the most promise as role models in research and education to enhance their mission within their department or organization. 

Waseem Asghar, Behnaz Ghoraani, Feng-Hao Liu, and Marianne E. Porter are among the four selected for the NSF Career Awards. 

Each received $500,000 or more to conduct their research in point-of-care detection of infectious diseases, early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, and cybersecurity as well as increasing the participation of students in STEM programs.

Over the next five years, Ph. D. associate professor, Waseem Asghar plans to produce a low-cost, disposable device for integrating fully automated assay with smart-phone-based readout to detect infectious diseases.  

Currently, infectious disease equipment is bulky and costly requiring multiple labor-intensive steps for testing viral infections. However, Asghar’s approach will hopefully work to minimize resources and time for developing a detailed analysis.  

In addition, the project helps broaden participation in the STEM fields and integrates educational activities with multidisciplinary research to engage high school teachers and students at different levels.

Ph.D., associate professor Behnaz Ghoraani plans to use her share of the award to create a cognitive screening tool to detect Alzheimer’s disease early using a smartphone and wearables for detecting at-risk individuals. 

Ghoraani hopes this will eliminate the need for specialists or specialized medical equipment. In addition, the data can also be applied to other engineering fields including neuroengineering, speech recognition, clinical diseases, and rehabilitation modalities for stroke recovery. 

Ghoranni is also a faculty fellow at FAU’s Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE). The project will focus on increasing the participation of females and underrepresented groups in STEM disciplines through training opportunities targeted towards middle and high school students. 

Feng-Hao Liu is a Ph.D, assistant professor who was awarded to develop mathematical tools and new ways of coding for preventing information leakage and secure portable devices such as smartphones and iPads, under physical attacks. 

According to FAU’s website, Liu’s research is expected to bring critical insights for developing safe outsourcing for cyberspace and security against these physical attacks.

Liu intends to create multiple research-intensive courses for students at the graduate and undergraduate level to increase program accessibility and outreach with middle and high school students.

The last recipient, Marianne E Porter, is a Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences in FAU’s Charles E.Schmidt College of Science. 

Porter received a total of $625,943 over five years for researching how marine animals tune, or dynamically adjust their movements using their skin and skeletons.

Currently, Porter teaches an animal locomotion course facilitating collaboration with researchers that seek to study ocean and mechanical engineering as well as machine learning.

Porter’s lab attracts a diverse group of graduate, undergraduate, and dual-enrolled high school researchers from a student population where 26 percent of STEM majors are Hispanic.

All four recipients of this coveted NSF CAREER award demonstrate how their expertise will contribute to their field for the enhancement of their communities. 

About the Author

- I am a senior at Florida Atlantic University majoring in Multimedia Studies with a concentration in Journalism and minor in Communications. I am a Newsroom Writer for the Boca Raton Tribune who strives to use my passion for writing not only to inform the public of current events but to encourage and empower the community to enact change.

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