News Release 

Army awards grants to seven academic teams

U.S. Army Research Laboratory

Grant Announcement

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. -- The U.S. Army awarded grants to seven academic teams across scientific disciplines to advance basic science research and enable the development of technologies critical to national defense.

The teams will research topics in human agent-teaming, artificial intelligence, novel materials and quantum physics, among others.

The awards are a part of the Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative, known as MURI. Army Research Office, an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory, represents the Army's portion of the MURI program.

The awards are typically funded at $1.25 million per year for three years with an option for two additional years and supports research teams whose efforts intersect more than one traditional scientific and engineering discipline.

Since its inception in 1985, the tri-service MURI program has successfully convened teams of investigators to combine insights from multiple disciplines to both facilitate the growth of newly emerging technologies and address DOD's unique problem sets.

"The multidisciplinary teams are key to accelerating research progress in areas critical to future technological superiority of the Army," said Dr. Barton H. Halpern, Army Research Office director. "MURIs also serve the important purpose of helping to train students in science and engineering areas of importance to DOD."

The highly competitive MURI program complements the department's single-investigator basic research grants and has made immense contributions to both defense and society at large. Recently, a MURI led to the development of a new machine learning algorithm that can isolate patterns in brain signals that relate to a specific behavior and then decode it, potentially providing Soldiers with behavioral-based feedback. Doing so, is the first step in developing brain-machine interfaces that help restore lost function for people with neurological and mental disorders.

This year, the seven MURI projects funded through the Army Research Office include:

  • Emergent Topological and Hierarchical Ordered Structures, Dr. Ramesh Ramamoorthy, University of California, Berkley, in collaboration with researchers at Cornell University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Arkansas
  • Cohesive and Robust Human-Bot Cybersecurity Teams, Dr. Somesh Jha, University of Wisconsin in collaboration with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, University of California San Diego, Pennsylvania State University, University of Melbourne, Macquarie University, and University of Newcastle
  • Understanding and Engineering Transient Mechanical Responses in Nanoparticle-Reinforced Heterogeneous Particulate Systems, Dr. Jennifer Lewis, Harvard University in collaboration with researchers at University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign, and the University of Chicago
  • Rethinking Reinforcement Learning with Astrocyte-Neuron Computations, Dr. Mriganka Sur, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in collaboration with researchers at University of Minnesota, and California Institute of Technology
  • Theory and Engineering of Large-Scale Distributed Entanglement, Dr. Saikat Guha, University of Arizona in collaboration with University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale University
  • Multi-functional devices in precisely engineered van der Waals homojunctions, Dr. Philip Kim, Harvard University, in collaboration with researchers at Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Princeton University
  • Tunable III-Nitride Nanostructures for N=N and C-H Bond Activation, Dr. Zetian Mi, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor in collaboration with researchers at Yale University, University of California, Santa Barbara, and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

For the fiscal 2021 competition, ARO, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Office of Naval Research solicited proposals in 25 areas important to DOD and the military services. The winning teams, which represent 57 academic institutions nationwide, will receive five-year grants, contingent upon satisfactory research progress and the availability of funds, to pursue basic research that spans multiple scientific disciplines. A complete list of MURI awards is online..


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DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. As the Army's corporate research laboratory, ARL is operationalizing science to achieve transformational overmatch. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more successful at winning the nation's wars and come home safely. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the Army Futures Command.

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