Office of Research, UC Riverside
UCR Federal Grants  
6/4/2019


Principal Investigator:
Aji, Vivek
Associate Professor
Physics and Astronomy

Award#
007718-005

Project Period
9/15/2015 - 8/31/2018

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
NONTECHNICAL SUMMARY

This award supports theoretical research and education to study new states of electronic matter with novel functionalities in many body systems. The PI will investigate states involving a large number of electrons in materials that arise from the interplay of two ingredients: 1) the interaction between pairs of electrons, and 2) strong spin-orbit interaction which quantifies the influence of an electron's spin, a fundamentally quantum mechanical phenomenon in which an electron appears to spin like a top, on its motion. Over the last decade a number of new phases of matter have been theoretically proposed and experimentally discovered. In many cases, their unique characteristics can be described with the help of concepts from the branch of mathematics dealing with shape, deformation and topology. The intersection of topology, spin-orbit coupling and many body physics is a rich and current area of study that may lead to new device technologies.

The PI will focus investigation on two specific kinds of materials systems. The first kind is comprised of the two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides. These are materials that are essentially a single atomic layer thick, made from a transition metal such as the elements Tungsten or Molybdenum, and a chalcogen such as the elements Sulphur or Selenium. The projects explore: i) how the coupling of spin and electron motion can lead to new magnetic properties with the potential for device applications; ii) what new magnetic states of matter are possible due to the interactions; and iii) whether consequences of topology allow for new ways of controlling device characteristics using circularly polarized light. The second kind is comprised of the topological semimetals, which are intermediate between a metal and a semiconductor. The PI will map out the possible phases and phenomena supported in these systems, and in parallel use the lessons learned to develop a better understanding of materials with strong spin-orbit interactions.

The research team will include one graduate student who will be trained in the needed technical expertise, and in developing an understanding of real materials. The award will help support an outreach effort at University of California-Riverside, by providing stipends for high school teachers to attend a week long Summer Academy for Teachers hosted by the Physics and Astronomy department.


TECHNICAL SUMMARY

This award supports theoretical research and education to study new states of electronic matter with novel functionalities in many body systems. The PI aims to discover and design new states of matter and associated properties arising from the interplay of spin-orbit coupling and interactions in many-body systems. Topologically nontrivial states such as topological insulators and Weyl semimetals arise in non-interacting systems. Natural questions that arise are: What happens when interactions are included? Do the topological aspects survive? Are new correlated phases realized which allow new functionalities? The PI will address these questions in the context of two-dimensional dichalcogenides and three-dimensional Weyl semimetals.

The projects on two dimensional dichalcogenides aim to characterize new magnetic phenomena that arise due to unique band structure afforded by spin-orbit coupling. For example the nature of the Kondo effect, where an impurity spin is screened by the host electrons, will be established. Opto-electronic coupling with spin specificity provides a new probe to test and manipulate this correlated phase which will be theoretically analyzed. Nontrivial topology also has potential application in spintronics due to the anomalous velocity acquired by the electrons in external electric fields. The PI will explore these new functionalities and the viability of a nonlocal spin-valve device, and whether these phenomena can be further enhanced in proximity to a magnetic insulator.

Weyl semimetals are topological yet possess no energy gap in the bulk. This is due to the topological protection of the band crossings and only interactions that couple nodes with opposite topological charge can open a gap. The PI will characterize the excitonic phases and their properties that arise due to electron-electron Coulomb repulsion. A combination of symmetry considerations, field theoretic techniques, and computation will be utilized to achieve the broad objectives of the program.

The research team will include one graduate student who will be trained in the needed technical expertise, and in developing an understanding of real materials. The award will help support an outreach effort at University of California-Riverside, by providing stipends for high school teachers to attend a week long Summer Academy for Teachers hosted by the Physics and Astronomy department.
(Abstract from NSF)

2/27/2019


Principal Investigator:
Zhu, Qi
Associate Professor
Electrical & Computer Eng

Award#
008467-002

Project Period
10/1/2016 - 9/30/2019

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
This project addresses timing attacks in cyber-physical systems, where attackers attempt to compromise the system functionality by changing the timing of computation and communication operations. Timing attacks could be particularly destructive for cyber-physical systems because the correctness of system functionality is affected not only by the data values of operations but also significantly by at what time operations are conducted. The discoveries and methodologies developed in this project will provide fundamental advances in addressing timing attacks, and lead to the design and implementation of more secure cyber-physical systems in a number of key sectors, including automotive and transportation systems, industrial automation, and robotics. In addition to disseminate the research results through publications and workshops, the PIs will collaborate with industry partners on transitioning the research findings into practice. The PIs will also integrate the research into the curriculum at UCR and leverage it for K-12 education through the use of Lego Mindstorm platforms.

The project will build a framework for identifying, analyzing and protecting cyber-physical systems against timing attacks. Building the framework consists of three closely-related research thrusts: 1) Investigate potential timing-based attack surface, and further analyze what types and patterns of timing variations the attacks may cause and how attackers may try to hide the traces of such attacks. 2) Based on the identified attack surface and strategies, analyze how timing changes caused by these attacks may affect the overall system properties, in particular safety, stability and performance. 3) Develop control-based and cyber-security defense strategies against timing attacks. This includes run-time security detectors and mitigation/adaptation strategies across control layer and embedded system layer, as well as design-time mechanisms to provide systems that are resilient to timing attacks. This project will focus on vehicle networks and multi-agent robotic systems as main application domains.
(Abstract from NSF)

2/27/2019


Principal Investigator:
Zhu, Qi
Associate Professor
Electrical & Computer Eng

Award#
008415-002

Project Period
9/1/2016 - 8/31/2019

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
A longstanding problem in the design of cyber-physical systems is the inability and ineffectiveness in coping with software and hardware evolutions over the lifetime of a design or across multiple versions in the same product family. The objective of this project is to develop a systematic framework for designing extensible cyber-physical systems that can enable efficient and correct updates with minimal redesign and re-verification efforts. The intellectual merits are (1) a new and unified framework that optimizes system extensibility by addressing both functional correctness and platform feasibility, and (2) new algorithms for functional verification with platform consideration, software architecture synthesis driven by extensibility metrics, and integration of verification and synthesis for joint design space exploration. The project?s broader significance and importance are (1) enabling engineers to cope with continual changes in cyber-physical design components or operating conditions, thereby significantly reducing redesign and re-verification cost, (2) providing a general framework for designing extensible systems that is applicable to a wide range of systems including robotic, automotive, and avionic systems, and (3) providing new methodologies and techniques that facilitate the training of undergraduate and graduate students to meet the design challenges of cyber-physical systems.

Many cyber-physical systems today are one-off designs -- systems designed without future changes in mind. The proposed extensibility-driven design (EDD) framework treats extensibility as a first-class design objective and addresses it with a holistic consideration of functional properties and platform implementation. An EDD design flow provides the following capabilities. At the initial design stage, EDD identifies certain constraints (e.g., timing) that are critical for functional correctness, and explores the design space to maximize the amount of future software and hardware changes that can be made without violating these constraints. During design updates, EDD first determines whether it is possible to accommodate the updates through software architecture re-synthesis, so as to avoid costly re-verification. In the cases where the updates violate existing platform constraints and requirements, EDD selectively modifies some of them to explore feasible changes while minimizing re-verification efforts.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Faloutsos, Michail
Professor
Computer Science & Engineering

Award#
008249-002

Project Period
1/28/2016 - 8/31/2017

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
How does web-based malware spread? We use the term web-based malware to describe malware that is distributed through websites, and malicious posts in social networks. We are in an arms race against web-based malware distributors; and as in any war, knowledge is power. The more we know about them, the better we can defend ourselves. Our goal is to understand the dissemination of web-based malware by creating "MalScope", a suite of methods and tools that uses cutting-edge approaches to build spatiotemporal models, generators and sampling techniques for malware dissemination. From a scientific point of view, this project brings together two disciplines: Data Mining and Network Security. The outcome is a suite of novel, sophisticated, and scalable techniques and models that will enhance our understanding of malware dissemination at a large scale. We use two types of web-based malware dissemination data: (1) user machines accessing dangerous sites and downloading web-based malware; and (2) Facebook users being exposed to malicious posts. We already have and will continue to obtain more data from our industry partners (e.g. Symantec's WINE project), open-access projects, or collect on our own (e.g MyPageKeeper).

The broader impact of our work is that it will enable the development of security solutions for end-users and industry. A 15-minute network outage costs a 200-employee company about $40K, while identity theft costs about $1,500 per person on average. By knowing the enemy better, security researchers and industry can more effectively stop the interconnected manifestations of Internet threats: identity theft, the creation of botnets, and DoS attacks. The PIs have a track record of technology transfer, with collaborators at industrial labs (Yahoo, MSR, Symantec, AT&T, IBM), national labs (LLNL, Sandia), open-source software ("Pegasus"), and spin-off startups (StopTheHacker). Educational impacts include developing a new course, providing publicly available educational material, and open-source software.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Franco, Elisa
Associate Professor Adjunct
Mechanical Engineering

Award#
008631-002

Project Period
12/1/2016 - 11/30/2017

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
This award supports student travel to and participation in the 55th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control (CDC), to be held in Las Vegas, NV, December 12-14, 2016. For over fifty years, the CDC has been the world's leading annual forum for scientific and engineering researchers who share an interest in systems and control theory and the foundations of systems and control technology. As in previous years, the 55th CDC will feature the presentation of contributed and invited papers, tutorial sessions, as well as plenary and semi-plenary sessions and workshops. We anticipate that the conference will draw over 1500 participants, including more than 250 students and, recognizing the importance of students to the present and future of the Control Systems Society (CSS), hope that NSF will continue its long-standing tradition of supporting the student travel at CDC, and will join CSS in facilitating the student travel program.

The range of topics covered at the annual CDC is extremely broad, mirroring the varied applications of control and systems theory. The systems theoretic approach has played a critical role in the development of many contemporary infrastructures and technology affecting everyday life. Systems and control theoretic tools are central in the design, operation, and security of cyber-physical systems, where they can inform researchers about ways to make large networks (e.g., power, communication, computer, traffic) robust to deliberate and accidental disturbances.

The CDC provides a unique opportunity for students receiving proposed funds to interact with members of the professional community in a stimulating setting, and to exchange ideas with a broad group of colleagues. The large number of workshops before the conference and the interactive format of many of the presentations will allow additional opportunity for training and learning. Specific outreach effort will be devoted to advertising the conference and the student travel award program to under-represented minorities.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Balandin, Alexander A
Distinguished Professor
Electrical & Computer Eng

Award#
007719-002

Project Period
9/1/2015 - 8/31/2017

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
A large amount of energy is lost as waste heat in many engineering systems such as automobiles and turbomachinery. Significant energy gains may be obtained by efficiently scavenging such waste heat through appropriate energy conversion mechanisms. One particularly promising opportunity lies in the conversion of temperature gradients in time into electricity, referred to as the pyroelectric effect. This project will utilize experiments and theoretical modeling to explore the pyroelectric effect in nanowires, and will build prototype pyroelectric-based energy harvesting microdevices. Research will help understand the nature of pyroelectric effect in nanowires, including the amount of energy that may be realistically harvested from nanowire based devices, performance limits, etc. which will help guide further development of potential energy conversion devices. All three institutions involved in this collaborative research are minority serving institutions located in highly populated Hispanic areas. PIs will leverage this opportunity to excite and recruit minority and women students to the emerging nano/microscale energy harvesting area. The PIs will carry out outreach to local high schools to excite K-12 students about energy harvesting, and encourage them to consider further STEM education and careers.

The technical goal of this combined experimental and theoretical-simulation research is to measure and characterize the pyroelectric effect in nanowires (GaN, ZnO, etc.) for developing micro- and nano-scale devices for thermal energy harvesting and sensors applications. Despite its potential to convert waste heat into usable electricity, the pyroelectric effect has been largely unexplored, in particular at the micro/nanoscale. This is partially due to lack of methodologies for characterization of this effect at small scales. Recent theoretical findings suggest a dramatically higher pyroelectric coefficient in nanowires, similar to enhancements observed in thermoelectric and piezoelectric performance of nanowires, albeit this prediction has not been confirmed experimentally. In this effort, a methodology based on microfabricated devices will be developed to quantitatively measure and characterize the pyroelectric properties of individual suspended nanowires. In addition, theoretical models and computational tools will be developed for (i) interpretation and analysis of the experimental pyroelectric data; (ii) prediction of the pyroelectric response of various nanostructured materials (individual nanowires; nanowires arrays); and (iii) optimization of the nanostructure parameters (material composition, size, shape, interface) for enhancing the pyroelectric voltage. The proposed models will include strong non-uniformity of the polarization distribution in nanostructures and possible phonon and electron confinement effects. Based on the learning from experiment and theory, prototype pyroelectric-based energy harvesting microdevices will be built using a single and an array of nanowires. Experimental data on pyroelectric coefficient of nanowires and dependence on nanowire size, temperature, etc. will contribute to the fundamental understanding of this effect. A fundamental understanding of pyroelectric transport in single nanowires may lead to a new paradigm of high efficiency energy conversion devices that take advantage of nanoscale engineering of materials to optimize pyroelectric performance.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Kumar, Sandeep
Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering

Award#
007643-002

Project Period
8/1/2015 - 7/31/2016

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
Gradient-structured materials are materials which have nanometer sized structure at the surface, and coarser structure at the core. Such materials have demonstrated impressive mechanical performance advantages over materials with homogeneous coarse-grained or nanocrystalline structures. So far, however, the ability to manufacture gradient structured materials for commercial use has not yet been realized. This award supports research to develop deeper scientific understanding of processing parameters that control the microstructures in both thin film and bulk materials, and in particular this EArly-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) award will support demonstration of the fabrication and synthesis of these novel gradient structures. The ability to fabricate these structures will allow for scientific investigation of their behavior, and the new knowledge gained from this research will enable the design of engineered materials with improved resistance to wear and corrosion, and also drastically improved yield strength and toughness. The benefits of this work will manifest in improved performance and product lifetimes for components subjected to extreme engineering environments in automotive, aerospace and machine tools industries.

The research objective of this early-stage work is to explore novel processing approaches for obtaining materials with controllable grain size gradients. To realize the goal of controllable grain size gradients in both thin-film and bulk samples, a systematic investigation of two processing approaches will be carried out, with the specific goal of understanding how processing parameters can be correlated with gradient microstructural evolution. These tasks include sputtering fabrication of gradient titanium thin-films with tailored layer thicknesses, grain size gradients, and graded-interfaces, and surface mechanical attrition treatment of titanium informed by numerical models of microstructural refinement. The scientific insights stemming from this research will provide a clearer picture on the effect of processing conditions on the microstructural evolution of gradient microstructure materials, and facilitate a better understanding of the property space available for gradient nanostructured materials, which may accelerate insertion into future structural and coating applications.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Mahutga, Matthew C
Associate Professor of Sociology
Sociology

Award#
007533-002

Project Period
8/1/2015 - 7/31/2016

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
SES-1528703
Matthew Mahutga
University of California-Riverside

The causes of rising income inequality in advanced capitalist countries are not well understood by social scientists despite more than two decades of dedicated research. This project synthesizes literatures on the two most common researched causes of the increase in inequality: globalization and institutions. It advances both of these literatures by providing an explanation for the paradoxical findings on the distributional effects of economic globalization. This explanation identifies specific mechanisms by which globalization and national institutions interact to produce distinct distributional outcomes across time and space.

This study subjects the arguments to empirical scrutiny, a multilevel analysis of the Luxembourg Income Study's (LIS) individual wage data will be conducted. The bulk of NSF funds will support the harmonization of country-specific occupational categories in order to measure skill and work-place authority more directly than is currently possible, because both of these factors are the key mechanisms by which production globalization should affect inequality. In addition to advancing basic research on the causes of rising income inequality among advanced industrial democracies, this project will provide evidence-based assessments of the future implications of production globalization for income inequality, and of policy options at both the macro and micro levels. In tandem, these can help to ameliorate the impact of production globalization on income inequality, low-skill labor, and labor more generally, in the coming decades.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Ghosh, Abhijit
Associate Professor of Geophysics
Earth Sciences

Award#
007506-002

Project Period
6/15/2015 - 5/31/2016

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
This project is a rapid action to deploy a temporary seismological network following the Mw 7.9 earthquake of April 25, 2015 in Nepal. Data collected during the project will be made openly available to the seismological community one month after the array is uninstalled. This data collection impacts the Himalayan region known for its great seismological hazard. Aftershock deployment in the area of the 2015 earthquake will enable seismologists to conduct research, which will increase our understanding of the behavior of the Main Himalayan Thrust, a major underground fault responsible of this and other historical destructive earthquakes in the Himalayan region.

In this project 25 seismic stations will be deployed in the greater epicentral region of the April 25, 2015 earthquake, and in western Nepal where a long-standing gap has accumulated about 10 m of deficit of slip since it last ruptured in 1505. These data will be useful in particular to determine a well-constrained source model of the 2015 earthquake, define the geometry of the Main Himalayan thrust, and analyze the relationship between post-seismic deformation and aftershocks. This deployment will be closely coordinated with another rapid deployment by US universities with 20 additional seismic stations that will increase the size of the monitoring network.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Allen, Edith B
Cooperative Extension Specialist and Professor, Emeritus
Botany and Plant Sciences

Award#
007415-002

Project Period
7/1/2015 - 12/31/2016

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
Nitrogen is a largely unrecognized component of air pollution and can negatively impact ecosystems. Excess nitrogen in the air is eventually deposited in the soil. While more nitrogen in the soil may seem beneficial for plant growth, many plant species are adapted to lower nutrient levels. Indeed, previous studies have shown that nitrogen deposition can be detrimental to ecosystem health. Southern California, which is notorious for its nitrogen-containing smog, has high levels of nitrogen deposition in the soil and many invasive plant species that also reduce native biodiversity. Nitrogen deposition may magnify the impact of invasive species because it often promotes growth of invasive annual plants over native shrubs and wildflowers. One possible explanation for the loss of native species is that added nitrogen makes them grow faster and use water less efficiently, causing them to be more susceptible to drought. Invasive plants on the other hand, may be able to grow fast with added nitrogen and still use water efficiently. The purpose of this research is to compare growth and water use by native and invasive plants under different levels of nitrogen addition. This work will lead to a better understanding of the environmental effects of nitrogen deposition, especially in dry habitats with problematic invasive species.

Identifying how trait differences between native and invasive plant species influence community composition over environmental gradients is critical to a mechanistic understanding of how ecosystems will respond to global change. Nitrogen deposition is reported as major driver of plant diversity loss, invasion and vegetation-type conversion in some areas of Europe and North America. In arid systems, nitrogen and water will have interactive effects on water-use efficiency and growth, and these responses may mediate survival. Trade-offs among plant traits, such as water-use efficiency and relative growth rate, are known to play an important role in community assembly and species coexistence. Native and invasive plants may differ in this trade-off, and added nitrogen may influence these dynamics. The use of stable isotopes (13C) for the estimation of integrated water-use efficiency in conjunction with a plant functional trait-based approach and community-level data will allow for exploration of this important tradeoff as a mechanism of invasion under N deposition. The researchers will address this hypothesis by measuring the growth and water-use efficiency of native and invasive plants along an experimental gradient in nitrogen deposition in the Santa Monica Mountains of southern California.
(Abstract from NSF)

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