Two Assistant Profs Win CAREER Awards from National Science Foundation


AUSTIN, Texas – Biologist Misha Matz and computer scientist Michael Walfish are among six assistant professors at The University of Texas at Austin who received Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards totaling nearly $3 million from the National Science Foundation.

The CAREER awards recognize promising young faculty and supports their research with five years of funding.

Mikhail “Misha” Matz, an assistant professor in the Section of Integrative Biology, will be the first to address genetics of coral adaptation in nature with his $674,000 in funding, which will clarify some of the most fundamental mechanisms of evolution in the oceans. The project is to establish genetic markers to assess the risk of extinction of individual reefs, which will help prioritize conservation efforts.

Michael Walfish, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, will investigate ways of outsourcing computation without having to trust or assume that the entities providing computing resources are actually working correctly with his $450,000 in funding. This could make cloud computing safer, spurring the adoption of cloud services, causing more people to pay less for computing.

Other CAREER award recipients from the university are:

Amit Bhasin, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering. The $400,000 project is to conduct research and provide the fundamental knowledge to chemically modify asphalt binders that will yield superior self-healing and mechanical properties.

Constantine Caramanis, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The $400,000 project is to develop a new methodological framework to understand high dimensional complex phenomena from potentially corrupted and incomplete data. This research has the potential to significantly affect abilities to discover important structure in complex problems, from bioinformatics to social networks.

Christopher Ellison, Department of Chemical Engineering. The $500,000 project is to provide better understanding of polymer physics to improve advanced materials design. The research could lead to improvements in hard drive lubricants, to make data storage more reliable, and microelectronics manufacturing, to manufacture smaller, more efficient electronic components.

Jung-Fu Lin, Department of Geological Sciences. The $538,000 project investigates the alloying effects of major candidate light elements on the phase diagram and elasticity of iron under relevant pressures and temperatures of the Earth’s core in order to address pressing issues of its composition, thermal structures and seismic features.

For more information, contact: timgreen [at] mail [dot] utexas [dot] edu (Tim Green), Office of the Vice President for Research, 512-475-6596.