News

Csaba Andras Moritz, a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the director of the Nanoscale Architectures Laboratory, was featured prominently in a story in Popular Mechanics about how scientists are developing ways of storing data using synthetic DNA. As the Popular Mechanics story explains, scientists in Nature report that they have converted a record number of digital megabytes into genetic code. The entire set of Shakespearean sonnets, a 26-second clip of Martin Luther King’s "I Have a Dream" speech, a photograph—they’ve all been recorded onto synthetic DNA, where they could be safely stored for thousands of years. But, as the article says, “don’t start shopping around for a DNA hard drive yet. It takes a lot of time to both write and read DNA sequences, and it also requires laboratory equipment.”

David Irwin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been issued a five-year, $461,434 grant from the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. The NSF grant will support Irwin’s research for boosting energy efficiency in houses and buildings, which represent the largest segment of society’s energy usage. The title of Irwin’s project is “Model-based Energy Management for Sustainable Buildings.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF), National Weather Service, and the City of Fort Worth have given the Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA), centered at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a two-year, $1.34-million grant designed to accelerate the application of CASA’s revolutionary weather-tracking radar system, now being tested in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The CASA radars provide high-resolution, near-surface views of hazardous weather events such as tornadoes, thunderstorms, and flooding and allow emergency managers to broadcast faster, more accurate, more targeted storm warnings and forecasts to the public.

UMass Amherst alumnus Patrick Ascolese, who graduated from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in 2002, is currently working on République, an upcoming game for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, PC, and Mac. It is the first full-length project for Camouflaj, the new video game company he joined in 2011. In Republique players control a network of cameras, computers, and everything else electronic to keep a woman named Hope safe from pursuers. The idea for the game came from the increased surveillance people face on a daily basis, according to Ascolese. He said it is a “what if” look if legislation such as the Stop Online Piracy Act ever leads to an Orwellian state.

Qiangfei Xia of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been issued a five-year, $400,000 grant from the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program to develop emerging nanoelectronic devices. The title of his project is “CAREER: Scaling of Memristive Nanodevices and Arrays." Xia’s NSF research addresses the biggest obstacle for the continued operation of Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. The law is named after Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore, who first predicted the trend in his 1965 paper.

Michael Zink of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is the featured researcher in a video produced by the National Science Foundation (NSF) about the NSF-funded Global Environment for Networking Innovation (GENI) program. GENI is a fast, programmable "virtual laboratory" that enables university researchers to experiment on so-called future internets. GENI is also a key part of a White House Initiative called US Ignite, which aims to realize the potential of fast, open, next-generation networks. In the video, Zink talks about his team's use of GENI for better weather forecasting. Watch video: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_videos.jsp?cntn_id=124472&media_id=72661&org=NSF

On December 26, the Springfield Republican published a feature article on the DIORAMA emergency management software system being perfected by Professor Aura Ganz of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Ganz has been awarded a four-year, $1.6-million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue her research on her computerized disaster-management response system. Ganz says the system is designed to organize chaotic, mass-casualty, disaster scenes, such as airliner, bus, and train wrecks, and cut the evacuation time of survivors in half. For the past several years, Ganz has been developing her DIORAMA I system, funded with the help of a $400,000 exploratory NIH grant.

Professor Lixin Gao of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been selected as a Fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), an honor achieved by only one percent of that organization. She was cited by the ACM “for contributions to network protocols and internet routing.” Gao now becomes the first faculty member in the ECE department to earn selection as a Fellow of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the ACM.

Effective December 1, Professor Christopher V. Hollot, the head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department since 2007 and a UMass Amherst faculty member since 1984, has been appointed by university Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs James V. Staros as the Interim Dean, replacing Ted Djaferis, who served admirably in that role for the last three and a half years. Provost Staros announced that Dean Hollot “will serve in that capacity until the arrival of the new dean, which is currently projected in Spring 2013.” The entire College of Engineering welcomes Dean Hollot in his upgraded role and looks forward to the leadership, good cheer, and motivation that he will provide in his new position.

The Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC), New England’s premier consortium of university, industry, and government leaders collaboratively facing cyber security challenges, has named doctoral student Georg T. Becker of the UMass Electrical and Computer Engineering Department as the winner of its Best Cyber Security Solution. The event, designed to showcase New England’s emerging cyber security talent, was held at the November 15th ACSC Second Annual Conference, where students presented their work in poster format to national and regional cyber security experts. Becker’s winning project, which earned him a $1000 award, was titled “Side-channel based watermarks for embedded devices” and focused on cost-effective technology to block product piracy and IP theft through side-channel based watermarks.