Boca Raton, FL, United States
Boca Raton, FL, United States

Florida Atlantic University is a public university located in Boca Raton, Florida, with five satellite campuses located in the Florida cities of Dania Beach, Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Jupiter, and in Fort Pierce at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. FAU belongs to the 12-campus State University System of Florida and serves South Florida, which has a population of more than five million people and spans more than 100 miles of coastline. Florida Atlantic University is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a research university with high research activity. The university offers more than 180 undergraduate and graduate degree programs within its 10 colleges in addition to its sole professional degree from the College of Medicine. Programs of study span from arts and humanities, the science, medicine, nursing, accounting, business, education, public administration, social work, architecture, engineering, computer science, and more.Florida Atlantic opened in 1964 as the first public university in southeast Florida, offering only upper-division and graduate level courses. Although initial enrollment was only 867 students, this number increased in 1984 when the university admitted its first lower-division undergraduate students. As of 2012, enrollment has grown to over 30,000 students representing 140 countries, 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since its inception, Florida Atlantic has awarded more than 110,000 degrees to nearly 105,000 alumni worldwide.In recent years Florida Atlantic has undertaken an effort to increase its academic and research standings while also evolving into a more traditional university. The university has raised admissions standards, increased research funding, built new facilities, and established notable partnerships with major research institutions. The efforts have resulted in not only an increase in the university's academic profile, but also the elevation of the football team to Division I competition status, the on-campus stadium, more on-campus housing, and the establishment of its own College of Medicine in 2010. Wikipedia.

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Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: BG-01-2015 | Award Amount: 10.23M | Year: 2016

The objective of SponGES is to develop an integrated ecosystem-based approach to preserve and sustainably use vulnerable sponge ecosystems of the North Atlantic. The SponGES consortium, an international and interdisciplinary collaboration of research institutions, environmental non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, will focus on one of the most diverse, ecologically and biologically important and vulnerable marine ecosystems of the deep-sea - sponge grounds that to date have received very little research and conservation attention. Our approach will address the scope and challenges of ECs Blue Growth Call by strengthening the knowledge base, improving innovation, predicting changes, and providing decision support tools for management and sustainable use of marine resources. SponGES will fill knowledge gaps on vulnerable sponge ecosystems and provide guidelines for their preservation and sustainable exploitation. North Atlantic deep-sea sponge grounds will be mapped and characterized, and a geographical information system on sponge grounds will be developed to determine drivers of past and present distribution. Diversity, biogeographic and connectivity patterns will be investigated through a genomic approach. Function of sponge ecosystems and the goods and services they provide, e.g. in habitat provision, bentho-pelagic coupling and biogeochemical cycling will be identified and quantified. This project will further unlock the potential of sponge grounds for innovative blue biotechnology namely towards drug discovery and tissue engineering. It will improve predictive capacities by quantifying threats related to fishing, climate change, and local disturbances. SpongeGES outputs will form the basis for modeling and predicting future ecosystem dynamics under environmental changes. SponGES will develop an adaptive ecosystem-based management plan that enables conservation and good governance of these marine resources on regional and international levels.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Biomechanics & Mechanobiology | Award Amount: 399.75K | Year: 2016

Red blood cells experience a tremendous amount of shearing, stretching and bending as they circulate through the body. Progressive damage occurs in the circulating cells before they are removed and replaced with new ones. Much of the research on cellular biomechanics focuses on a single application of load, which does not reproduce the dynamic repetitive loading that the cells experience in the body. This research will use a new microfluidic tool to apply repetitive cell loading to create a fundamental understanding of the mechanical origins of damage in circulating red blood cells. The results will provide quantitative links between cellular biomechanics and cell biology, thus advancing our understanding of the significantly shortened lifespan of transfused red blood cells and those made abnormal by diseases. The multidisciplinary approach will broaden participation of underrepresented groups in Science and Engineering. The PI is placing special emphasis on encouraging women students to participate research at the interface of engineering and life sciences.

The objective of this research is to establish the fundamental correlations between the cellular dynamic and fatigue properties, the in vivo circulation history and influences from pathophysiological factors in human red blood cells. This work specifically addresses questions: (a) how to implement the dynamic viscoelasticity and fatigue measurements of individual cells at a relatively high throughput, and (b) how to quantify the pathophysiological influences on cellular biomechanics. This research will develop an experimental strategy for dynamic and fatigue measurement of single cells, by integrating knowledge and techniques of microfluidics, alternating current electrokinetics, digital modulation and biomechanics. The damage process in cell membranes caused by the mechanical forces in circulation is significantly analogous to material fatigue. Experimentally determined Wöhler curves in combination with Miners rule will be used for remaining life prediction in red blood cells influenced by in vivo aging and sickle cell disease. Novelty of this research lies in the new experimental strategy and a new perspective in cellular biomechanics.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: OCEAN TECH & INTERDISC COORDIN | Award Amount: 403.03K | Year: 2016

A myriad of particles with vastly varying shapes and sizes, ranging from suspended organic/inorganic material to single celled, colonial, and multi-cellular plankton, densely populate the worlds oceans. They are major drivers in fields as diverse as sediment transport, remote sensing/ocean optics, ecological studies of marine food webs, and carbon sequestration. Thus, instruments that can directly quantify particle characteristics, distribution, and concentration are critical to numerous science disciplines. Digital holography is an ideal tool to study particles, providing 3-D information within free stream sampling volumes that vastly exceed the 2-D cross sections sampled by conventional imaging instruments. Holographic images of undisturbed particles and their related flow fields can provide data critical to science questions requiring an understanding of particle motions and interactions, particle size, shape, fine-scale distribution, and spatial-temporal dynamics. The instrument being developed through this project could encourage interdisciplinary studies at the intersection of ocean optics, marine biology, biogeochemical cycles, and small-scale fluid dynamics, and lead to significant advancements in each of these areas.

The objective of this project is to design, fabricate and rigorously test/validate an autonomous digital holographic camera system capable of quantifying the characteristics of in situ particles within a size range of ~ 1 micron to 2 cm. The instrument will be designed to sample an undisturbed volume of water and quantify particle number, size and shape (e.g. cross-sectional area, surface area, aspect ratio, sphericity), the 3-D spatial structure of the particle field (e.g. nearest neighbor distances), and the local fluid flows at the scale of the particles (via holographic PIV of the imaged volume). Identification of particles with unique shape characteristics (e.g. bubbles, oil droplets, phytoplankton and zooplankton) and particle orientation will be achievable. The instrument will be compact, submersible, biofouling resistant, fully autonomous with self-contained data logging and power, with adjustable resolution and sampling volume, and will be adaptable for use on vertical profilers, AUVs, tow-bodies, and long-term deployment on moorings. The device will be designed with the goal of science versatility and future commercialization for routine use by the scientific community.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: BIOLOGICAL OCEANOGRAPHY | Award Amount: 289.13K | Year: 2017

Phytoplankton have an intimate connection to the hydrodynamic environment in which they live.
Previous studies have examined the role that turbulence and shear play in nutrient uptake, patch/layer formation, and predator-prey encounters, but the role of phytoplankton orientation to increase light capture (and ultimately primary production) has been largely overlooked. Compelling evidence of persistent horizontal orientation of chain-forming diatoms, obtained from novel in situ holographic imaging, has led to a hypothesis that in regions of strong stratification, shear flows will lead to systematic horizontal orientation of elongate phytoplankton forms that maximizes their cross-sectional area (and light capture) in the ambient downwelling light field. It has also been suggested that variations in phytoplankton size and shape are fundamental traits conferring selective competitive advantages in certain hydrodynamic environments, thus modifying/mediating community composition. The interdisciplinary research of this project crosses three scientific disciplines (biology, optics and fluid dynamics) and will advance our understanding of the function of diverse forms of phytoplankton, their interactions with fluid flows, and the resultant impacts on the optics of the environment. The project will support a number of undergraduate and graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers.

This project combines analysis of previously collected field data with laboratory experiments and modeling. For the field data analysis, phytoplankton orientation is quantified from in situ holographic images of the undisturbed water column along with concurrent high resolution measurements of critical physical (turbulence/shear/stratification) and optical parameters collected from a ship-based holographic bio-physics profiler. In the laboratory, the orientation response of different phytoplankton species and morphologies is evaluated in custom built shear tanks under controlled laminar and turbulent conditions to confirm that elongate forms can orient in certain hydrodynamic environments to maximize light capture. In addition, controlled growth/physiology experiments in various shear tank treatments will explore the effects of orientation on growth, photosynthetic parameters and productivity. Lastly, the project results will be incorporated into a global analysis of observed and modeled physical, bio-optical and ecologically-relevant parameters, to quantify the relevance of this phenomenon to primary production and the carbon cycle.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Campus Cyberinfrastrc (CC-NIE) | Award Amount: 498.01K | Year: 2016

Florida Atlantic University is installing intra- and inter-campus networking facilities to establish a 10-gigabit regional DMZ for research computing that supports data-intensive research and education in science and engineering. The DMZ establishes high-performance data pathways among multiple campuses and research partners and addresses critical performance bottlenecks on the critical path to the sustained growth of data-intensive science and engineering at Florida Atlantic University. The DMZ supports collaborative research and education activities across Florida Atlantics campuses, strengthens its connections to statewide research computing resources, and solidifies new ties to regional partners. The merit of the project lies in the research and training activities that the DMZ enables. The benefits of the infrastructure span disciplines, including computer science, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, medicine, chemistry, genomics, ocean engineering, and marine science; in areas that include big data research and training, transportation logistics, nanomaterials, biomarker analysis, computational chemistry, marine mammal classification, and undersea communication. The new DMZ enables Florida Atlantic University to more effectively engage in data-intensive science and engineering activities that are critical in sustaining the nations positions of technological and economic leadership.

The DMZ separates Florida Atlantics research network from its academic and administrative infrastructure to support congestion-free network transfers among researchers working across multiple campuses in an increasingly data-intensive research environment. The infrastructure establishes three types of connections: (i) The DMZ connects three of Florida Atlantic?s campuses, linking its main campus in Boca Raton to its Jupiter and Harbor Branch Oceanographic campuses in Jupiter and Fort Pierce, respectively. The infrastructure federates access to data centers resident at each campus and provides bridge access to those resources. (ii) The infrastructure extends the science and engineering DMZ to Floridas Scripps Research Institute and the Max Planck Institute for Neuroscience, building on new institutional agreements between the two research giants and Florida Atlantic, focused on collaborations headquartered in Jupiter. (iii) Finally, the infrastructure links all five sites to computation and storage capabilities provided through the Sunshine State Education and Research Computing Alliance (SSERCA) via Florida Atlantics existing link to the Florida Lambda Rail. In aggregate, the networking infrastructure provides high-speed data pathways among distributed research teams, as well as to computational and storage resources on each campus and the broader community of Sunshine State Education & Research Computing Alliance (SSERCA) institutions.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ADVANCE | Award Amount: 249.52K | Year: 2016

Florida Atlantic University (FAU) will implement an ADVANCE Institutional Transformation-Catalyst (IT-Catalyst) project to undertake institutional self-assessment activities and pilot best practices from ADVANCE institutions. FAU is an urban, minority-serving institution that has faced challenges in recruiting and retaining women faculty, particularly those from URM groups. FAU will administer baseline and follow-up surveys of tenure track and non-tenure track faculty, conduct an institutional policy review, review ADVANCE best practices, choose practices to pilot, and evaluate these strategies using institutional and survey data.

FAUs team aims to leverage two existing initiatives, broadening their foci to include women and URM STEM faculty: a research mentoring program in which senior faculty are paired with junior faculty to develop proposals, and a leadership development program which will also now include training for department heads on recruiting and retaining women and URM faculty. An on-campus AWIS taskforce will also visit other ADVANCE institutions to learn about best practices and will also sponsor AWIS workshops. FAUs administrative and institutional leaders have communicated their commitment to the project and to the adoption of ADVANCE best practices.

The ADVANCE program is focused on developing systemic approaches to increase the participation, retention, and advancement of women in academic STEM careers. The IT-Catalyst track funds projects that aim to conduct institutional self-assessments and implement ADVANCE strategies that have been shown to be effective to address gendered issues for STEM faculty.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Mechanics of Materials and Str | Award Amount: 399.73K | Year: 2016

This award supports an investigation into water transport in composite materials containing voids due to direct contact with liquid water, and the associated degradation of the performance of the material. The potential degradation of the matrix polymer and the interface will be measured and the test data will be used to calibrate models for such degradation. Polymer matrix composite materials are used in structural applications exposed to water. As polymer matrix composite materials are gaining wide acceptance for several important structures, there has been concern about possible degradation of the performance from exposure to moisture in the form of humid air. Less considered is the influence of direct contact of the composite with liquid water. Such exposure under the presence of voids in the composite may allow water transport in the form of capillary flow. Capillary flow represents a very rapid mechanism of transport which will elevate diffusion into the polymer, and cause increased rate of degradation of the organic polymer and fiber/matrix interface. A substantial fraction of the US export and economy relies on the automotive, aircraft and ship building industries, and results from this research will benefit the US economy and society. This research involves multiple disciplines such as microfluidics, materials science and solid mechanics. The multi-scale approach outlined will involve students from underrepresented groups in science and engineering, and is expected to impact the engineering education program in a very positive manner.

Voids and porosity are detrimental structural imperfections in polymer matrix composite materials, not only due to strength reduction, but they provide extra paths for water absorption and filling beyond moisture diffusion in matrix. This project specifically addresses the fundamental problems of the interferences between structural defects, moisture uptake, and mechanical strength and fracture mechanisms of underwater composite materials. Specific objectives are: (1) quantify structural defects in composite materials using scanning electron microscope and micro-computed tomography methods, establish a reliable water uptake model and validate with microfluidics testing; (2) characterize the fiber/matrix interface strength of dry and water-aged composite materials, using in situ scanning electron microscopy on miniature transverse single-fiber and composite tensile specimens; (3) establish a multiscale micromechanical model for prediction the strength of a macroscopic composite exposed to water aging. Predictions will be compared to and validated by the experimental measurements for water-aged glass/vinylester and glass/epoxy composites.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: COMPUTER SYSTEMS | Award Amount: 253.14K | Year: 2016

The Internet of Things echoes the ubiquitous computing vision, capturing a deeply connected world populated by intelligent objects, structures, and materials. Resource-constrained devices that operate from ephemeral energy sources have a prominent role to play in this vision. This project is enabling a new class of embedded system that is inherently robust and adaptive in the presence of dynamic load and harvesting conditions - conditions that will be pervasive in the emerging Internet of Things. The project is designing and evaluating fundamental hardware and software extensions that are radically different from existing approaches, with potentially transformative results. At the same time, the project is providing research training for undergraduate and graduate students, contributing to broadening participation, and driving progress toward a new system for detecting underground leaks in irrigation systems.

The technical plan involves four related thrusts: (1) The team is exploring a new energy harvesting and discharge architecture based on the concept of federated energy storage. The new architecture enables dynamic control of charge and discharge priorities, as well as real-valued inputs regarding each component?s charge state. (2) The team is exploring new operating system services for managing charge and discharge priorities, as well as for querying the current charge state of each component. (3) The team is exploring new approaches to calculating component service life based on state-of-charge information. (4) Finally, the team is building an operational testbed for evaluating the utility of the resulting techniques, leveraging ongoing work in the detection of residential irrigation leaks.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: INDUSTRY/UNIV COOP RES CENTERS | Award Amount: 200.00K | Year: 2016

Phase II I/UCRC Florida Atlantic University Site: Center for Health Organization Transformation

The proposal requests Phase II funding for the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) to establish a site for the Texas A&M University led Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT). The research agenda proposed by FAU site coincides with the most expansive changes in the healthcare industry in the U.S. Recent changes in healthcare system have introduced a series of changes in the healthcare industry, including the creation of new healthcare organizations such as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and new programs to improve healthcare quality, safety, and efficiency through the promotion of healthcare information technology. There is also an increased focus on disease prevention and wellness/health promotion. These changes necessitate new research on healthcare processes, patient centered healthcare delivery, and alternative payment models. The FAU site will build upon the already established CHOT partnerships and provide further complementary expertise. FAU?s proposed site will complement existing CHOT strengths by contributing expertise from the domains of engineering, business, medicine and nursing. The FAU site offers an interdisciplinary team of researchers to conduct research in the areas of (1) patient centered care delivery (e.g. patient satisfaction, community health, care coordination, wellness and preventative care and transition of care, (2) healthcare information technology (e.g., clinical decision support systems, health information systems, big data analytics, health applications, home health solutions), (3) medical technology (e.g., medical devices, user-centered health devices, healthcare digital infrastructure, sensors and robotics in healthcare), and (4) healthcare delivery systems (e.g., economic and policy evaluation, alternative payments, population health, vulnerable populations). The FAU site will create synergies with existing CHOT sites and attract additional industry partners, expanding CHOT?s collaborations between academic research and health-industry leaders.

The FAU site broadens participation of underrepresented groups in several ways. FAU has a large Hispanic population with more than 48% of undergraduate students currently enrolled in FAU?s College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) are from underrepresented populations. The project team will actively engage students in research that enable research performed by the graduate and undergraduate students to be shared with other students; the Center will expand opportunities of mentoring and graduating students from multiple disciplines such as engineering, nursing and business from under-represented populations at the BS, MS, and PhD levels.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: RSCH EXPER FOR UNDERGRAD SITES | Award Amount: 339.98K | Year: 2017

This award establishes a new Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site at Florida Atlantic University. Faculty in the Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering will host cohorts of undergraduate students for summer research in the area of sensing and smart systems. Smart systems represent an emerging class of distributed systems that provide real-time awareness of conditions, trends, and patterns to support improved decision-making and automated control. Smart systems offer a significant application potential that should be appealing to undergraduate researchers. The recruitment and selection procedures will ensure that the program engages a diverse demographic, including a significant number of women and veterans as well as members of underrepresented minorities. Many of the participants will be recruited from institutions where there are limited research opportunities for undergraduates. In addition to conducting research the students will participate in other professional development activities such as industry field trips, professional seminars, speakers, career guidance, and graduate school preparation. An external evaluator will measure the success of the site and the impact on the students. The culminating event of the summer will be a mini-conference where the students present their research results in a professional setting.

The REU site is led by faculty mentors from the Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering. The faculty of the Institute have significant research expertise and offer state-of-the-art facilities that should provide a compelling research experience to undergraduates. The undergraduates will be woven into existing research groups and projects that are working on current and emerging applications that have real-world connections. The research will focus on three main areas of application expertise including infrastructure systems, marine and environment, and health and behavior. The projects span diverse contexts of exploration and application unified in their focus on sensing and smart systems. The resulting exploration space presents a myriad of challenges at the confluence of computing and data-intensive science and engineering. The site focus and associated research projects present and outstanding opportunity for catalyzing interdisciplinary exploration and discovery that will excite students and demonstrate scientific discovery and exploration at a high level.

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