Two Indian American researchers were named among 38 recipients of the 2021 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Awards.

The winners include Dr. Rehan Kapadia of the University of Southern California, and Dr. Tanushree Mitra from the University of Washington.

The recipients will share $20 million in funding to conduct innovative scientific research that will benefit the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

Kapadia, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, focuses his research at the intersection of material science and electrical engineering. Much of his work is in designing next-generation electronic and photonic devices and developing new techniques to better fabricate them.

Kapadia’s research titled, “Direct Generation of Electromagnetic Radiation with a Compact, Air-Stable, Optically Modulated Electron Emitter,” builds on his previous work in developing optically modulated electron sources for communication applications, said the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering.

For this specific project, it said, Kapadia “seeks to convert information carried by photons in a laser beam into information carried by an electron beam, thereby greatly increasing the power of communication signals.”

The research interests of Mitra, assistant professor in the Information School at the University of Washington, are in social computing, where she combines ideas from both computer science and social science to uncover insights about social life online via large datasets.

Currently, one major focus of her research, according to the university’s website, is understanding and designing defenses against problematic information in online social platforms.

Chosen for the grant is her research titled, “Influencing Communities and Narratives: New Techniques for Understanding Adversarial Influence Online.”

The Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program is a highly competitive and popular early-career award program in which prior academic achievement and potential for significant scientific breakthrough are key elements of the evaluation criteria. The final candidates were chosen from more than 260 applicants—all of whom are college and university faculty and obtained a Ph.D. on or after Jan. 1, 2013.

Awardees represent 25 academic institutions in 13 states, supporting naval-relevant research including autonomy, deep learning, optimization, artificial intelligence, wireless communications, energetics, power and energy, propulsion, turbulence, hypersonics, remote sensing, bio-sensors, bionic composites, nanocomposites, multi-function materials and additive manufacturing.

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