NSF News 08-169
New Research to Probe Human Mind and Future Infrastructure Systems
NSF awards from the Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation
October 2, 2008
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The National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) has announced 12 grants for fiscal year 2008, awarding a total of $23,779,056 over four years to 54 investigators representing 20 institutions.
Interdisciplinary teams will pursue transformative, fundamental research in two areas of great promise: understanding the brain and how its abilities may be used through cognitive optimization and prediction; and developing ways to make complex, interdependent infrastructure systems more resilient and sustainable.
What researchers learn from the brain may open many new paths of discovery, in areas such as computing, robotics, medicine and education. Understanding how the brain moves the hand, for example, could illuminate entirely novel ways to help people who are paralyzed or use prosthetic limbs. Understanding how the brain visually recognizes objects will enable advances in artificial vision systems, robotic intelligence and more.
The second area of research will examine complex challenges in our nation's interwoven infrastructures as demands on these interdependent systems are changing. Researchers will investigate how to increase their resiliency and sustainability as, for example, numerous electric vehicles interact with the power grid. In addition to drawing electricity from the grid, electric vehicles may send stored energy to the grid. New research may find a role for these vehicles in stabilizing the electric power grid during a catastrophe and in managing fluctuations in electricity from renewable energy sources.
"These areas represent two exciting, emerging frontiers of engineering inquiry that can address important national needs and grand engineering challenges," says Sohi Rastegar, director of EFRI. "They will require an interdisciplinary approach to achieve a significant leap or paradigm shift in engineering knowledge."
The NSF Directorate for Engineering created EFRI in 2006 to fund high-risk, interdisciplinary research that has the potential to transform engineering and other fields. The grants demonstrate the EFRI goal to inspire and enable interdisciplinary teams of experts to expand the limits of our knowledge.
Summaries of the 12 projects: http://www.nsf.gov/eng/efri/fy08awards.jsp.
Steve Potter holds a device used to create an interface between a neural network and a computer.
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Lamine Mili visiting the Edison Lab in Fort Myers, Fla., in 2004.
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Sohi Rastegar, NSF, (703) 292-8305, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.