Winter 2014 Research Awards

Publish Date: 02/04/2014

Congratulations to CS Faculty who were awarded research funding in the winter of 2013/2014.

Dr. Doug Bowman, and his colleagues Jake Socha (Engineering Science and Mechanics) and David Laidlaw (Computer Science) were awarded funding for the proposal entitled "Immersive Visualization and 3D Interaction for Volume Data Analysis." Bowman describes the proposed work thusly: "Visualization of volume data is critical in a variety of application domains, such as medicine, geophysical exploration, and biomechanics. For effective analysis of a 3D volume, scientists and other users need to integrate various views and to peer inside the volume. However, despite many advances in volume rendering algorithms, neither traditional displays nor traditional interaction techniques are sufficient for efficient and accurate analysis of complex volume datasets. We are studying the use of displays with higher levels of fidelity, as well as natural and innovative 3D interaction techniques, to allow scientists to view and analyze volume datasets easily without prior segmentation. Based on our findings, we plan to design, prototype, and evaluate a next-generation interactive volume data analysis system with best-practice display characteristics and interaction techniques."

Dr. Bowman (PI) and co-PIs David Hicks (Education), Todd Ogle (Technology-Enhanced Learning & Online Strategies), David Cline (History) also recieved new funding from the NSF Cyberlearning program. Doug describes the project thusly: "This project will explore the use of mobile augmented reality, accessed via handheld smartphones and tablets, as a tool to improve learning and engagement in middle school history classes. We will develop a mobile app with which middle school students can physically and virtually explore a historic site, seeing it as it exists today and as it existed in the past. The app will also give students access to guiding research questions, source documents, and a personal journal for note taking. The goal is to help students learn not just the facts of history, but how to do historical inquiry. Our proof-of-concept app will use the historic Christiansburg Institute as a testbed." It is great to have CS faculty involved in this interdisciplinary research project.

Dr. Ed Fox received NSF funding from the for the proposal entitled "Integrated Digital Event Archiving and Library (IDEAL)." Co-PIs on this project include Steeve Sheetz, Andrew Kavanaugh, and Donald Shoemaker at VT and Kristine Hanna at Internet Archive. Ed describes this project thusly: "This sequel to the Crisis, Tragedy, and Recovery network project ( focuses on integrating digital library and archiving methods to collect and make accessible information (e.g., tweets and webpages) about events around the world of two types: (natural or man-made) disasters and government/community activities. It will refine methods for automatically identifying such events, topic identification, focused crawling, and other related interface and service support."

Dr. Fox was also awarded funding from the Qatar National Research Fund, with co-PIs: Co-Lead PI Mohammed Samaka (Qatar University), Co-PIs C. Lee Giles (Pennsylvania State University), and Richard Furuta (Texas A&M University). This funding will go towards this project: "to build digital library infrastructure and community for Qatar. We will leverage the SeerSuite software to build tailored collections and services, crawling governmental, scholarly, educational, and cultural collections already largely online."

Dr. Osman Balci, has won an award from the Society for Modeling and Simulation International (SCS). Their website states "the awards in this category are intended to recognize outstanding contributions to the science and technology of the modeling and simulation process." For more information on SCS, please see:

Dr. Wu Feng (PI), Dr. Eli Tilevich (co-PI) and UVA colleague Jennifer Chiu (co-PI) recieved a new grant from NSF entitled "Democratizing the Teaching of Parallel Computing Concepts". As Wu described the work: "The proposed research addresses the critical need in preparing future computer scientists to effectively utilize parallel computing resources to create the computing solutions required by modern enterprises. To that end, this research investigates how explicit parallel programming concepts can be introduced into a computer science curriculum most effectively, without imposing the typical cognitive overhead and overload traditionally associated with teaching parallel computing. This research engenders a unique cross-disciplinary collaboration between the fields of parallel computing, software engineering, and education."

Dr. Feng also recieved a new NSF award, in collaboration with Dr. Jun Wang of UCF, entitled "XPS: SDA: Collaborative Research: A Scalable and Distributed System Framework for Compute-Intensive and Data-Parallel Applications." According to Wu, "This project seeks to create a scalable cross-layer software framework to synergistically enable both compute-intensive and data-intensive parallel applications to run on distributed file systems. This framework consists of two interwoven research tasks that address the goals of the NSF XPS program: (1) an adaptive, data locality-aware, middleware system that dynamically schedules compute processes to access local data by monitoring physical data locations and (2) a framework that captures the computation and data I/O processing relationship from parallel applications and coordinates the scheduling of the corresponding process and I/O execution for maximum parallel efficiency." This is the fourth in a sequence of BIGDATA awards that Wu has received from NSF and/or AFRL over the past three years.

Dr. Joesph Tront recieved new scholarships for CS and ECE students.  These funds will provide support for the CS 5 year BS/MS program, including the new MS-level cyber courses and the certificate.

Dr. Wenjing Lou recieved a new networking grant with co-PI Tom Hou (ECE) from NSF entitled "Cognitive Security: A New Approach to Securing Future Large Scale and Distributed Mobile Applications" . Wenjing describes the research covered  by this grant thusly: "In a world of trillions of objects the traditional methods of assigning and verifying identity break down.   In mobile worlds one often needs verification of transient location.   This project addresses these needs by moving from traditional cryptographic authentication techniques to ones based on credentials can be collected or learnt through normal operations and be used to verify a node’s identity or claims.   For example, location claims can be verified by constructing a "fingerprint" of the ambient radio signals presented at a certain place at a certain time and social identity can be verified by deriving the personal verification questions from a user’s online social network. The project is an international collaborative project. Virginia Tech will be collaborating with a research team from Japan led by Prof. Nei Kato of Tohoku University. The project will involve multiple areas of information technology, including security, wireless communications and networking, and machine learning." This work is among 7 projects publicized by NSF as joint US-Japanese efforts on next-generation networking technologies.

Dr. Aditya Prakash  was awarded the NSF award entitled: "EAGER: Immunization in Influence and Virus Propagation on Large Networks". Aditya describes the research in this grant thusly: "This project will explore the problem of data-aware immunization on large networks (in contrast current policies are typically pre-emptive). Given a graph, like a social network or the blogosphere, in which an virus (or meme or rumor) has been spreading for some time, how to select the k best nodes for immunization/quarantining immediately? The work has several applications in public health and epidemiology, viral marketing and social media like Twitter."

Dr. Deborah Tatar and Steve Harrison were awarded the NSF grant "EAGER - Against the Wind: Reflective Opportunities in Microcoordination". Deborah describes the work thusly: "In a short period of time, computerization has moved from providing a counterpoint to life, with the potential to highlight and shade experience, to constituting a constant force, almost defining our experience of life. A core part of human intelligence lies in how we arrange our world. If computer systems are central in our interactions with other people and institutions, those systems must: (1) allow us to arrange them so that we are more likely to act as the selves we wish we were; (2) help us understand whether people and institutions are treating us as we ought to be treated; and (3) create and encourage reflective opportunity about these matters. Our larger goal is to pursue the reflective opportunity design space through creating designs that prioritize seams in interaction and allow people to nudge one another and themselves in particular directions."

Dr. Jeff Reed (PI) and co-Pis Wenjing Lou, Tom Hou, Hanif Sherali have recieved new funding from NSF for their proposal entitled "A New Dimension in Radio Spectrum, Sharing through Network Cooperation". This four year grant is an NSF medium. Wenjing sent the abstract of the work work: "Existing spectrum-sharing paradigms have set clear boundaries between primary and secondary networks. There is very limited node-level cooperation between primary and secondary networks. This project develops a new and bold paradigm that explores policy-based network cooperation as a new dimension for spectrum sharing between primary and secondary networks. The benefits of this paradigm are numerous, as it allows integrating resources from two networks. To move this new paradigm from concept to reality, this project aims to (1) develop fundamental understanding of policy-based cooperation through mathematical models and optimization, (2) explore new achievable rate regions through the use of advanced physical layer technologies, and (3) develop distributed optimization algorithms that can offer performance approaching the theoretical limits. For prototype, the project implements the policy-based cooperation on a 48-node testbed. The project investigates a new paradigm and technologies that enable more flexible and efficient sharing of the radio spectrum. New mathematical models developed in this research will help gain fundamental understanding of the benefits of the new paradigm. The use of advanced physical layer technologies will further push the performance envelopes of achievable rate regions. New textbooks will be developed and used in classrooms at Virginia Tech and other universities. Special efforts to broadening participation by female and underrepresented students are planned through an on-going NSF REU site for cognitive radio communications and Virginia Tech's participation in Pacesetters, a program organized by the National Center for Women and Information Technology."

Congratulations again to all the PIs. This is a great inter-departmental research effort!