Public Release: 

Department of the Navy announces 2015 young investigators

Office of Naval Research

ARLINGTON, Va. -- It's a career-defining moment for 36 college and university faculty today, as the Department of the Navy announces the recipients of its 2015 Young Investigator Program, one of the oldest and most selective scientific research advancement programs in the country.

Collectively, awardees will receive $18.8 million in grants to fund research across a range of naval-relevant science and technology areas. This is a banner year for the program, administered by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), which increased funding by 50 percent over last year.

"These recipients demonstrate the type of visionary, multidisciplinary thought that helps the U.S. Navy anticipate and adapt to a dynamic battlespace," said Dr. Larry Schuette, ONR's director of research. "The breadth of their research and combined value of awards underscore the significance the Navy places on ingenuity, wherever it's harbored, and support the framework for a Naval Innovation Network built on people, ideas and information."

This year's candidates were selected from 383 research proposals based on merit and potential breakthrough advances for the Navy and Marine Corps. All are college and university faculty who have obtained tenure-track positions within the past five years.

The Young Investigator Program is designed to promote the professional development of early-career academic scientists - called investigators, or YIPs - both as researchers and instructors. For awardees, the funding supports laboratory equipment, graduate student stipends and scholarships, and other expenses critical to ongoing and planned investigational studies.

Winners represent 31 academic institutions across the country in disciplines including nanoelectronics, robotics, machine learning, biofilm mechanics, acoustics, structural and fluid dynamics, quantum science, ocean-atmospheric interaction, solar cells, large data simulation, communication, neural and cognitive science, and undersea technologies. Each selectee receives annual monetary awards over a three-year period for research efforts that hold promise in advancing naval technology.

The 2015 YIP winners are: Dr. Joseph Bardin, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Dr. Danielle Bassett, University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Simone Baumann-Pickering, University of California, San Diego; Dr. Michael Bell, University of Hawaii; Dr. Emma Brunskill, Carnegie Mellon University; Dr. Luis Campos, Columbia University in the City of New York; Dr. Yuejie Chi, Ohio State University; Dr. Matei Ciocarlie, Columbia University in the City of New York; Dr. Morris Cohen, Georgia Institute of Technology; Dr. Aaron Cramer, University of Kentucky; Dr. Emily Fox, University of Washington; Dr. Mohammad Hafezi, University of Maryland College Park; Dr. Niels Holten-Andersen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Taylor Hughes, University of Illinois; Dr. Christine Ikeda, University of New Orleans; Dr. Sinan Keten, Northwestern University; Dr. Lu Li, University of Michigan; Dr. Nanshu Lu, University of Texas at Austin; Dr. Stephen Lynch, Pennsylvania State University; Dr. Nina Mahmoudian, Michigan Technological University; Dr. Ali Mani, Stanford University; Dr. Jason Marden, University of Colorado; Dr. Sara Mednick, University of California; Dr. Majid Minary-Jolandan, University of Texas at Dallas; Dr. Austin Minnich, California Institute of Technology; Dr. Jelani Nelson, Harvard University; Dr. Evan Reed, Stanford University; Dr. Walid Saad, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Dr. Themistoklis Sapisis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Hyodae Seo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Dr. Emily Shroyer, Oregon State University; Dr. Yonas Tadesse, University of Texas at Dallas; Dr. Tadd Truscott, Utah State University; Dr. Harris Wang, Columbia University in the City of New York; Dr. Fengnian Xia, Yale University; and Dr. Fuzhong Zhang, Washington University.

Over the years, research by YIP recipients has led to breakthroughs in nanoscience, fiber-laser systems, ultrafast optoelectronic devices and more.

The Young Investigator Program began in 1985 when ONR selected 10 winners. Since then, the program has grown steadily to include a total of 656 recipients, representing institutions of higher education from across the nation.


ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 55 countries, 634 institutions of higher learning and non-profit institutions over 960 industry partners. ONR through its commands including headquarters, ONR Global and the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C., employs more than 3800 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel.

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