Additional Indian American academics continue to emerge as National Science Foundation early career development award, or CAREER, winners.

Following West Virginia University assistant professor Antar Jutla being named a recipient (see India-West article here), faculty members at Cornell, Mississippi State and U.C. Irvine have also been named award recipients.

Aparna Chandramowlishwaran was the young faculty member at U.C. Irvine to earn an NSF CAREER Award.

Chandramowlishwaran is an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

The Indian American won a $500,000 award to advance her development of a software program that can help solve large-scale turbulent flow simulation problems in computational fluid dynamics, UCI said.

CFD is a branch of fluid mechanics that uses computers to crunch numbers and analyze data structures in order to simulate the interaction – and thus the behavior – of liquids and gases as they flow over surfaces, it said.

Chandramowlishwaran’s system, called HiPer, will perform physics-based simulations as well as CFD turbulent flow simulations on massively parallel machines, a feat currently infeasible due to cost and time constraints, according to the news release.

Through advances in numerical schemes, efficient parallel algorithms and new implementation strategies, this research can bring the power of massively parallel computing to CFD, thereby dramatically reducing cost and time needed to solve complex problems, it said.

“I'm extremely honored to receive this prestigious award and super excited to embark on one of my passionate research projects,” Chandramowlishwaran said in a statement. “I'm a big proponent of interdisciplinary research, and I strongly believe this high-risk, high-reward research direction that lies at the intersection of domain sciences and parallel computing has the potential to have a transformative impact if successful.”

Chandramowlishwaran, whose research interests are in the area of high-performance computing, domain-specific compilers, algorithm-architecture co-design, data analysis and scientific computing, earned a bachelor's from Anna University, and a master's and doctorate from Georgia Tech.

At Mississippi State University, Neeraj Rai was named a CAREER Award recipient.

Rai is an assistant professor in MSU's Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering. He was named a recipient for his work in developing efficient catalysts and processes that convert biomass into chemicals, fuels and other sustainable materials, according to an MSU news release.

The honor includes more than $500,000 in funding to support research expenses over a five-year period from the Catalysis program in the National Science Foundation’s Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems division.

This is the second national-level win for Rai in the past eight months. The Department of Energy also honored Rai with the DOE Early Career Award. Rai also is the first researcher in Mississippi honored with these two accolades, the university said.

“The most gratifying part of receiving these awards is the realization that your research ideas are well received by top researchers in the field. As our research is computationally demanding, working with MSU’s High Performance Computing Collaboratory puts me in the position to conduct research using one of the fastest supercomputers at an academic institute in the nation,” Rai said in a statement.

In addition to performing research, Rai will use this support to develop comprehensive K-12 educational outreach targeted at attracting and improving retention of underrepresented groups in STEM fields, the news release said.

Rai joined the Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering in MSU’s Bagley College of Engineering in 2013. Before joining MSU, Rai was a postdoctoral research associate at the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation, a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center at the University of Delaware.

He obtained his doctoral degree in chemical physics from the University of Minnesota and his bachelor’s in chemical engineering from the National Institute of Technology in Karnataka.

At Cornell University, an institution which had 11 assistant professors named recipients, computer science assistant professor Karthik Sridharan was among the NSF CAREER award winners.

Sridharan's award is for five years, and he will receive $130,000 to work on making socially responsible machine learning, a readily accessible technology that is applicable in large, multiuser interactive systems, Cornell said in a news release.

The project focuses on making ML a plug-and-play technology, developing methods for applications such as predicting user preferences in social networks, and developing algorithms for recommendation systems that are socially responsible and do not polarize users, it said.

Outreach will advance STEM education by developing ML-related educational components, the news release added.

Sridharan was previously a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Pennsylvania, jointly with Alexander Rakhlin and Michael Kearns. He obtained his doctorate from Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago.

The Faculty Early Career Development Program is an NSF-wide activity that offers the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

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