Pictured left to right,William Winsborough, Ali Tosun, Kleanthis Psarris, Carola Wenk and  Dakai Zhu
Photo left to right, William Winsborough, Ali Tosun, Kleanthis Psarris,
Carola Wenk and Dakai Zhu.

Computer science faculty celebrate record NSF grants

By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist

(Nov. 30, 2007)--The UTSA Department of Computer Science is coming off a big year in competitive National Science Foundation (NSF) research funding and they're looking to build on that momentum.

This year, NSF awarded five competitive research grants to Department of Computer Science faculty for a total of more than $1.2 million. Having passed NSF's rigorous review process with notoriously low NSF funding percentages, these grants help solidify the department's commitment to achieving nationally recognized research excellence. These five new grants bring the total to 15 currently active NSF research grants by computer science faculty. The awarded grants fund cutting-edge research in multiple areas within computer science.

Ali Tosun, UTSA assistant professor of computer science, received a $300,000 NSF award for developing techniques to place data in parallel disks. His techniques will improve the performance of many applications that manage large datasets including biological applications, scientific visualization and geographical information systems.

Fellow NSF award recipient, Kleanthis Psarris, professor and chair of computer science, works on program analysis techniques and software development for multicore processors. Almost every standard desktop personal computer today contain more than one processor on a single chip (multicore) and are capable of executing multiple instructions in parallel. With his $200,000 grant, Psarris will advance the performance of software on multicore machines and help achieve higher performance in scientific applications.

Associate Professor William Winsborough's $180,000 NSF grant is in the emerging area of computer security. He will develop novel computer security systems that manage not only authorization (such as logging in to a computer), but also participant obligations. The ubiquitous use of security systems in corporate, government, military, and even personal applications shows the broad application field of Winsborough's research. He and his colleagues research in automated trust negotiation, which allows two parties to exchange digitally signed credentials that contain attribute information to establish trust and make access control decisions, was recognized by Microsoft as a leader in this emerging field Winsborough is one many UTSA Computer Science faculty members working in computer security, including recently hired Ravi Sandhu, director of the UTSA Institute for Cyber-Security Research.

Dakai Zhu, assistant professor of computer science, is working on real-time embedded systems, which are systems similar to the Mars rover. With his $180,000 NSF award he plans to design software to save energy consumption while providing reliable services for real-time embedded systems. With his software, such systems may double or triple operation times without downgraded system reliability.

In addition to the four regular NSF research grants, NSF awarded a $400,000 NSF CAREER award to Carola Wenk, UTSA assistant professor of computer science. The CAREER award is NSF's most prestigious honor for junior faculty members and supports exceptionally promising college and university faculty members committed to the integration of research and education. Wenk's research will advance geometric shape matching in theory and practice by integrating algorithms research into real-world applications. Her applied projects range from advancing image analysis in computational biology to incorporating the current traffic situation into in-car navigation systems using GPS tracking data from vehicles.

The Department of Computer Science has two faculty members with NSF CAREER awards.

"We receive this NSF funding because we perform cutting edge research," said Wenk. "With these grants the Department of Computer Science is making a big contribution to UTSA's goal to become a top tier research university."

But the department is not only celebrating research funding. As the interests continue to expand, so are the numbers of students applying for graduate programs in Computer Science at UTSA. An international recruiting campaign has helped bring in students from England, Germany, China, India and the United States. The Department of Computer Science is also producing a considerable number of Ph.D. graduates. In academic year 2006-07 six students completed their Ph.D. in Computer Science, a number they expect to match or exceed during the current academic year.

"Current research productivity of Computer Science faculty, an increasing number of peer reviewed publications in prestigious journals and conferences in the field, a higher number of competitive research grants, and the growing number of Ph.D. students and graduates, all but certain guarantee the UTSA Computer Science department's inclusion in the top 100 Computer Science departments in the United States in the near future," said Psarris.

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