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Press Release 15-108

NSF invests $20 million to enhance resilience of critical infrastructure

Infrastructure must outsmart disruptions to continue delivery of essential goods and services

image of a city in a flood

Increasingly interconnected infrastructure must meet demands and withstand environmental hazards.
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September 14, 2015

Americans rely upon critical infrastructure systems to provide services such as clean water, electricity, transportation and healthcare. These systems are becoming increasingly interconnected, while our demands on them and the hazards they face grow.

To address our nation's critical need for more resilient infrastructure and enhanced services, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has invested $20 million in new fundamental research to transform infrastructure, from physical structures to responsive systems.

"The new understanding of infrastructure, combined with advances in modeling and smart technologies, promises an opportunity for important, groundbreaking discoveries to improve resilience," said Pramod Khargonekar, NSF assistant director for engineering. "These research investments will help support national security, economy and people for decades to come."

The projects are the first in a new NSF activity known as CRISP: Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes. These three- and four-year projects, each with funding up to $2.5 million, are part of NSF's multiyear initiative on risk and resilience.

NSF's fiscal year 2015 investment in CRISP is a multidisciplinary collaboration between the Directorates for Engineering, Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE).

"Building a more resilient society requires making sound research investments not only in understanding the technology that supports critical infrastructure but also in understanding the human behaviors that determine how technology is put to use," said Fay Cook, NSF assistant director for SBE. "Multidisciplinary, cooperative research efforts like CRISP are essential for understanding how behavior and technology intersect."

Infrastructure of the future

CRISP researchers will study design and performance of these interdependent systems to enable them to perform, despite disruptions and failures from any cause, whether natural, technological or malicious.

This knowledge will lead to innovations in critical infrastructure, so that communications, power and water supplies, and other community support functions are strengthened, as these systems perform sustainably and securely, delivering even a broader range of goods and services.

CRISP project outcomes will develop fundamental knowledge needed to understand interdependencies and their impacts and also improve the effectiveness and efficiency with which infrastructure systems deliver those goods and services.

"The tight integration of computation into physical systems and infrastructure is enabling the smart technologies of today," said Jim Kurose, NSF assistant director for CISE. "NSF's investments to enhance safety, security and resiliency of our interdependent critical infrastructure systems are an important step in realizing the smart and connected communities of the future."

Investments from the CRISP program were announced as part of NSF's commitments at a White House event today launching the National Smart Cities Initiative.

NSF-funded 12 CRISP projects in FY 2015

  • Resilience Analytics: A Data-Driven Approach for Enhanced Interdependent Network Resilience: Kash Barker of the University of Oklahoma (OU) will lead the project, in partnership with James Lambert of the University of Virginia, Laura McLay of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Charles Nicholson of OU and Jose Ramirez-Marquez of Stevens Institute of Technology (1541165).

    • Andrea Tapia of Penn State will co-lead the project under a collaborative award (1541155), in partnership with Christopher Zobel of Virginia Tech and Cornelia Caragea of the University of North Texas.
  • Probabilistic Resilience Assessment of Interdependent Systems: Paolo Bocchini of Lehigh University will lead the project with Lehigh colleagues Brian Davison, Alberto Lamadrid, Richard Sause and Lawrence Snyder (1541177).

    Diana Mitsova-Boneva of Florida Atlantic University will co-lead the project under a collaborative award (1541089).

  • Lessons Learned from Decades of Attacks against Critical Interdependent Infrastructures: Alvaro Cardenas of the University of Texas at Dallas will lead the project with UT-Dallas colleague Jennifer Holmes (1541199).

    Ross Baldick of the University of Texas at Austin will co-lead the project under a collaborative award (1541159).

  • Population-Infrastructure Nexus: A Heterogeneous Flow-based Approach for Responding to Disruptions in Interdependent Infrastructure Systems: Xiaopeng Li of Mississippi State University will lead the project with Mississippi State colleague Mengqi Hu (1541130).

    Guangqing Chi of Pennsylvania State University will co-lead the project under a collaborative award (1541136).

  • Revolution through Evolution: A Controls Approach to Improve How Society Interacts with Electricity: Andrea Mammoli of the University of New Mexico (UNM) will lead the project in partnership with UNM colleagues Majeed Hayat and Francesco Sorrentino (1541148).

    Co-leading the project under a set of collaborative awards are Laura Brown of Michigan Technological University (MTU) with MTU colleagues Chee-Wooi Ten and Wayne Weaver (1541000), Chien-fei Chen of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (1541117) and Mahshid Rahnamay Naeini of Texas Tech University (1541018).

  • Simulation-Based Hypothesis Testing of Socio-Technical Community Resilience Using Distributed Optimization and Natural Language Processing: Scott Miles of the University of Washington will lead the project with UW colleague Mehran Mesbahi and Noah Smith of Carnegie Mellon University (1541025).

    Leonardo Duenas Osorio of Rice University will co-lead the project under a collaborative award (1541033).

  • Interdependent Electric and Cloud Services for Sustainable, Reliable and Open Smart Grids: Manuel Rodriguez-Martinez of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPM) will lead the project with UPM colleagues Fabio Andrade, Efrain O'Neill-Carrillo, Marla Perez-Lugo and Rafael Rodriguez (1541106).

  • Multi-scale Infrastructure Interactions with Intermittent Disruptions: Coastal Flood Protection, Transportation and Governance Networks: Mark Stacey of the University of California, Berkeley, will lead the project in partnership with Berkeley colleagues Samer Madanat and Alexey Pozdnukhov (1541181).

    Mark Lubell of the University of California, Davis, will co-lead the project under a collaborative award (1541056).

  • Towards Resilient Smart Cities: Walid Saad of Virginia Tech will lead the project with Virginia Tech colleagues Sheryl Ball, Myra Blanco and Danfeng Yao (1541105).

    Co-leading the project under a set of collaborative awards are Narayan Mandayam of Rutgers University at New Brunswick with Rutgers colleagues Arnold Glass and Janne Lindqvist (1541069) and Arif Sarwat of Florida International University with FIU colleague Ismail Guvenc (1541108).

  • Multi-Scale Modeling Framework for the Assessment and Control of Resilient Interdependent Critical Infrastructure Systems: Iris Tien of the Georgia Institute of Technology will lead the project in partnership with Georgia Tech colleagues Seymour Goodman and Calton Pu (1541074).

  • Resilient Cyber-Enabled Electric Energy and Water Infrastructures: Modeling and Control under Extreme Mega Drought Scenarios: Vijay Vittal of Arizona State University will lead the project with ASU colleagues Virginia Kwan, Larry Mays and Junshan Zhang (1541026).

  • Reductionist and Integrative Approaches to Improve the Resiliency of Multi-Scale Interdependent Critical Infrastructure: Quanyan Zhu of New York University will investigate in partnership with NYU colleagues Nasir Memon, Kaan Ozbay and Rae Zimmerman (1541164).


Media Contacts
Sarah Bates, NSF, (703) 292-7738,

Related Websites
Life savers: Resilient designs to weather hazards:
Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes (CRISP) solicitation:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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