Five young faculty at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have been recognized with National Science Foundation CAREER Awards this year

By Marlys Amundson

Five young faculty at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have been recognized with National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Awards this year; three from the computer science department, and one each from the chemical and biomolecular engineering and civil and environmental engineering departments.

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of the early career-development activities of faculty who effectively integrate research and education into their work.

“We are extraordinarily pleased to have so many of our exceptional young faculty honored by the National Science Foundation,” says Vijay K. Dhir, dean of the School. “We take great pride in having attracted so many gifted scholars who are conducting research in critical areas.”

Assistant professor Yi Tang, chemical and biomolecular engineering, is studying the metabolic pathway, the molecular assembly, and the combinatorial potential of tetracycline biosynthesis. Tetracyclines have been prescribed as broad spectrum antibiotics and have recently been shown to be promising in treating tumor metastasis, as well. The research may lead to the development of novel antimicrobial and anticancer drugs.

Ertugrul Taciroglu, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, is developing a computational platform for analysis and simulation of structural responses during extreme events such as explosions and high velocity impacts. The proposed platform will aid forensic engineers in vulnerability assessment studies, and in the development of blast/impact-resistant design and retrofitting techniques.

Assistant professor Eddie Kohler, computer science, is developing a new component-based design for file systems and disk storage with particular focus on file system consistency. The resulting design will make file systems easier to develop by factoring out common code, improve storage system robustness through first-class consistency support, and lead to new application designs that are far more resilient to system crashes.

Todd Millstein, an assistant professor of computer science, is investigating a framework that allows programmers to easily document, enforce, and validate relied-upon programming disciplines, which provide important additional structure on programs. The research has the potential to significantly improve the quality of software systems, by enabling programmers to make critical design requirements explicit and providing tool support for reasoning about these requirements.

Assistant professor Rupak Majumdar, also in computer science, is exploring new ideas to extend the capabilities of modern software verification tools to handle larger programs and more complex properties. Current techniques to ensure software reliability lag far behind requirements for more and more complex systems. The results of his research will immediately benefit any large software system where robustness and reliability are pressing concerns.

The five awards in 2006 follow seven CAREER awards received by UCLA engineering faculty over the past two years; two in civil and environmental engineering, two in electrical engineering; two in mechanical and aerospace engineering, and one in computer science. Among these, assistant professor Jennifer Jay was one of only 20 young NSF-supported scientists and engineers to receive the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Main Image: Professors Yi Tang, Ertugrul Taciroglu, Eddie Kohler, Todd Millstein, and Rupak Majumdar. Photo by Don Liebig.