Melbourne, FL, United States
Melbourne, FL, United States

The Florida Institute of Technology , is a private doctoral/research university in Melbourne, Florida. Florida Tech has five academic divisions with emphases on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics . The university's 130-acre primary, residential campus is located near the Melbourne International Airport and the Florida Tech Research Park; it is about 50 miles from the Kennedy Space Center and 75 miles from Orlando.The university was founded in 1958, as Brevard Engineering College, and has been known by its present name since 1966. In 2013, Florida Tech had an on-campus student body of 4,633, almost equally divided between graduate- and undergraduate-level students, with the plurality of them focusing their studies on engineering and the science. Across the 2012-2013 academic year, the university served approximately 16,000 students in total.Florida Tech is ranked among the best national doctoral-granting universities in the US and the world's best universities. The university has more than 60,000 alumni, including a National Teacher of the Year recipient, director of a NASA center, five astronauts, several astronaut candidates, the first female four-star general, two other four-star generals and nearly two dozen other generals, a 1992 Olympic medalist, a major league pitcher and others that serve as scientists, engineers, pilots, and managers in many high-technology enterprises. Wikipedia.

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Dwyer J.R.,Florida Institute of Technology | Uman M.A.,University of Florida
Physics Reports | Year: 2014

Despite being one of the most familiar and widely recognized natural phenomena, lightning remains relatively poorly understood. Even the most basic questions of how lightning is initiated inside thunderclouds and how it then propagates for many tens of kilometers have only begun to be addressed. In the past, progress was hampered by the unpredictable and transient nature of lightning and the difficulties in making direct measurements inside thunderstorms, but advances in instrumentation, remote sensing methods, and rocket-triggered lightning experiments are now providing new insights into the physics of lightning. Furthermore, the recent discoveries of intense bursts of X-rays and gamma-rays associated with thunderstorms and lightning illustrate that new and interesting physics is still being discovered in our atmosphere. The study of lightning and related phenomena involves the synthesis of many branches of physics, from atmospheric physics to plasma physics to quantum electrodynamics, and provides a plethora of challenging unsolved problems. In this review, we provide an introduction to the physics of lightning with the goal of providing interested researchers a useful resource for starting work in this fascinating field. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

van Woesik R.,Florida Institute of Technology
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2012

The risk of global extinction of reef-building coral species is increasing. We evaluated extinction risk using a biological trait-based resiliency index that was compared with Caribbean extinction during the Plio-Pleistocene, and with extinction risk determined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Through the Plio-Pleistocene, the Caribbean supported more diverse coral assemblages than today and shared considerable overlap with contemporary Indo-Pacific reefs. A clear association was found between extant Plio-Pleistocene coral genera and our positive resilience scores. Regional extinction in the past and vulnerability in the present suggests that Pocillopora, Stylophora and foliose Pavona are among the most susceptible taxa to local and regional isolation. These same taxa were among the most abundant corals in the Caribbean Pliocene. Therefore, a widespread distribution did not equate with immunity to regional extinction. The strong relationship between past and present vulnerability suggests that regional extinction events are trait-based and not merely random episodes. We found several inconsistencies between our data and the IUCN scores, which suggest a need to critically re-examine what constitutes coral vulnerability.

A novel computational QSAR approach that provides sub-molecular correlations that are specific to individual lobes of the pertinent molecular orbitals.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: I-Corps | Award Amount: 50.00K | Year: 2017

The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project has its origins in the use of Mesh-free Monte Carlo methods as a novel technology for simulation of multi-physics, multi-scale systems. This projects mesh-free simulation approach is applied to superconducting system design. The lack of engineering tools for integrated analysis and design of superconducting coils, in particular for complex phenomena such as superconducting quench, is a bottleneck that hinders the development of reliable superconducting systems. This project addresses the design and simulation of superconducting devices, enabling reliable, computationally efficient modeling, simulation and analysis of complex phenomena such as quench in full scale systems. Mesh-free modeling tools for multi-physics analysis of multi-scale systems benefit applications where large dimensions or multi-scale geometries makes meshing computationally prohibitive.

This I-Corps project involves software tools and simulation techniques for multi-physics simulation of multi-scale systems based on mesh-free Monte Carlo methods. The approach enables the computationally efficient simulation of coupled systems with multi-scale geometries where proper meshing for conventional finite element methods becomes prohibitive. The project enables a complete study of the potential commercialization of the software tools and simulation techniques being developed, as well as an assessment of technical areas and commercial applications which could benefit from the proposed approach for simulation of multi-scale systems. The project could enable simulation of multi-scale, multi-physics problems in a wide variety of potential applications based on a novel approach: mesh-free floating random walk Monte Carlo methods and may enable simulation of systems that are currently intractable using conventional finite element tools.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: STELLAR ASTRONOMY & ASTROPHYSC | Award Amount: 145.45K | Year: 2016

This team will use telescopes in Arizona and Chile to collect data on massive stars expelling gas and dust. Such material is eventually recycled in new star and planet forming regions. The researchers will measure stellar wind variability in two groups of stars: those with magnetic fields and those in binary systems. They will carry out observations ranging from hours to years to test mass loss models. They will also develop easy-to-use software tools for undergraduate students, making it easier for them to learn how to do research. Researchers from Florida and Tennessee will collaborate to complete the work, including students and a postdoctoral researcher.

The team will use optical echelle spectrographs on moderate-sized telescopes with high resolving power (R=20,000) to study magnetic OB stars and several early-type binaries with colliding winds for 210 nights of dedicated time. The observations will provide equivalent velocity resolution of 15 km/s, which is high enough to see detailed structure in the massive star emission lines which are typically 1000-3000 km/s wide. They will use the data to test models of magnetospheric emission based on simulations of magnetized winds. They will also monitor a diverse selection of massive colliding wind binaries to quantify and model periodic and non-periodic behavior. The team will use telescopes in the Southern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA), which is a consortium of 12 universities.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Dynamics, Control and System D | Award Amount: 299.95K | Year: 2016

This project considers the development of techniques to assist in the design and optimization of micro-electro-mechanical-systems (MEMS) that utilize resonant vibrations. These micro-scale devices are important elements in many consumer electronics and products including wireless telephones, automobiles, and entertainment devices. The capabilities of these systems are often limited by a number of factors that restrict their range of operation, such as their maximum amplitude of vibration. This research pursues a fundamental understanding of these limitations and developing systematic tools for improving the performance of these devices. The broader impact of this project includes outreach, mentoring and training, inclusion of students from underrepresented groups, development of classroom materials motivated by the research, and dissemination of results. This project will result in multidisciplinary training of students, who benefit from the close collaboration and integrated theoretical and experimental research approach of the PIs. Also, the PIs and their graduate students will continue their longstanding participation in summer outreach programs to middle- and high-school students, and the inclusion of undergraduate research assistants. The PIs also plan to create an alumni mentoring program for graduate students, in which current graduate students will be connected with alumni who will offer professional advice and support.

Most commercial devices that employ vibratory MEMS are designed so that the resonant elements operate in their linear range and the designer can rely on simple models to analyze their response. However, this sets limits on their operating range that do not take full advantage of their potential. There have been recent efforts demonstrating significantly improved performance when nonlinear effects are systematically included in the MEMS design process. The focus of this project is to embrace nonlinear behavior in resonators, to develop an understanding of the attendant limits, and to develop and experimentally demonstrate design methods that allow one to optimize performance in this realm. The research focus is on MEMS that operate with one or two fundamental vibratory modes that can be described by weakly nonlinear models so that analytical methods, namely perturbation techniques, and the theory of normal forms, are applicable. These models are linked with multi-physics computational tools and optimization techniques, using normal forms to formulate objective functions for the applications of interest. Devices developed with these tools will be fabricated, characterized, and tested to validate the approach. Applications will include frequency generation, frequency conversion, and inertial sensing.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: RSCH EXPER FOR UNDERGRAD SITES | Award Amount: 360.00K | Year: 2016

The Advances of MAchine Learning in THEory and Applications (AMALTHEA) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site aims to provide top quality educational experiences to a diverse community of undergraduate students through research participation in the area of Machine Learning (ML). The relevance and importance of ML is not limited to specialized technological innovations, as it was in the past. Nowadays, it also increasingly influences everyday life through its contributions to applications such as voice/face recognition, credit fraud detection, intelligent recommendation systems and many others. Furthermore, ML is inherently multi-disciplinary as it draws from advances in multiple disciplines such as engineering, computing, statistics, mathematics, physics and biology, to name a few major ones. Since its start in 2009, AMALTHEA, one of the first ML-focused REU sites, involves 10 undergraduate students per year from a broad spectrum of disciplines, and the educational experience spans 10 weeks in the summer. The participants are exposed to cutting-edge ML research, as well as professional development activities, such as technical seminars and career-related workshops. Moreover, these participants perform closely-mentored research, whose results are going to impact the field of ML itself, as well as how ML is applied in other scientific disciplines. Over the 2016-2019 time span, the project will directly impact a diverse group of 30 motivated students, the majority of which may not have access to such research participation opportunities otherwise.

The projects thrust area is the theory of ML and how it can be integrated and applied to important real-life problems, hence exposing participants to both theory and applications. Past projects include applications such as automated anuran recognition from frog calls, uncovering criminal networks from crime locations, human-object interaction recognition, modelling of group dynamics in virtual worlds, speaker-independent speech recognition and license plate recognition among others. On the other hand, past contributions to the theory of ML have been steered towards topics such as functional data analysis, wavelet-based density estimation, non-linear dimensionality reduction, kernel methods and anomaly detection to name a few. Short video highlights of such projects can be found on AMALTHEAs YouTube channel located at Finally, additional information about these topics and their outcomes can be found on the projects web site located at

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: INTERNATIONAL COORDINATION ACT | Award Amount: 149.85K | Year: 2016

This award provides support to U.S. researchers participating in a project competitively selected by a six-country initiative on global change research through the Belmont Forum. The Belmont Forum is a group of the world?s major and emerging funders of global environmental change research. It aims to accelerate delivery of the international environmental research most urgently needed to remove critical barriers to sustainability by aligning and mobilizing international resources. Each partner organization provides funding for researchers from their country to alleviate the need for funds to cross international borders. This approach facilitates effective leveraging of national resources to support excellent research on topics of global relevance best tackled through a multinational approach, recognizing that global challenges need global solutions.

Working together in a Collaborative Research Action, the six partner organizations have provided support for research projects that utilize a strong inter- and trans-disciplinary approach to examine climate, environmental, and related societal change in mountain regions. This award provides support for the U.S. researchers to cooperate in a consortium of partners from at least three of the participating countries and that brings together natural scientists, social scientists and research users (e.g., policy makers, regulators, NGOs, communities and industry).

This project seeks to use fossils, ancient and modern DNA samples from Morocco, Cameroon, South Africa, China, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil, and modeling techniques to investigate how ecosystems in mountain ranges have changed over the past 21,000 years and to establish an index of vulnerability which can be used across different mountain ecosystems. This information will contribute to an understanding of how social and ecological changes may impact food security in these regions.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: AERONOMY | Award Amount: 188.66K | Year: 2016

The Coupling, Energetics, and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions (CEDAR) program, a broad-based, community-guided, upper atmospheric research program, seeks to understand the behavior of atmospheric regions from the lower atmosphere upward through the ionized upper layers of the atmosphere. Of particular interest is the question of the scale of coupling of the lower atmosphere, where phenomena such as thunderstorms exist, to the ionized layer near 100-120 km. The physics of lightning phenomenology within thunderstorm events are very complex and highly time-dependent with complex morphology characterizing the coupling of lightning bolts to the ionosphere with consequential significant temporal behavior of the ionized density of the lower ionosphere region. These electrical discharges are initiated inside thunderstorms and are rooted in one of the main thundercloud charge layers. This award would study the physical processes underlying the particular transient lightning bolt structures referred to as blue starters, jets, and gigantic jets, which are the upward electrical discharges from thunderstorms that terminate at 20-30 km, 40-50 km and 70-90 km altitude, respectively. These are generated suddenly within a fraction of a second from thunderstorms. The research supported by this award would examine the energetics and dynamics of these TIL (Transient Luminous Event) phenomena. Typically, the initial vertical development has a speed of ~100 km/s, but after 100-300 ms, the upward discharge leading to gigantic jets suddenly accelerates to reach the lower ionosphere with a speed greater than 1000 km/s. The funded research would be primarily observational involving the construction of a high-speed (5,000 frames per second) spectrograph that can analyze the energetics of the jets and starters through the fast acquisition of visible atomic and molecular spectra allowing high-speed measurements of the relative intensities of the red-to-blue colors emitted by the lightning bolt along its path between the storm and the ionized layer. Analysis of these spectra would provide the time variations of the vertical temperature profile within the ionized air pathway of the lightning bolt. This information about the temperature profile would be used to quantify the energetics underlying the formation of these morphological features of the lightning bolt. This award has the potential of transformative research that would provide a major advance in the knowledge and understanding of the physics of transient plasma discharges which should prove to be extremely valuable and of high importance to the study of laboratory electrical discharges and tropospheric lightning investigations; such findings would be of great value to other disciplines such as power transformers, laser fusion research, and plasma discharge systems. The award would support significant activity in STEM education and student training similar to that recently conducted by the PI and his group. Finally, this award has a strong potential of attracting public attention via local TV and newspaper interviews. The grant awardees indicated also that they would provide the public with excellent public access to the research with frequent open lectures that would generate strong interest by the public in lightning phenomena.

The award represents a strong potential for exciting and transformative science. The proposed research would examine in detail fundamental science questions that are related to jet and starter dynamics and their electrical coupling between the lower atmosphere and ionosphere. Moreover, the proposed observational approach is sophisticated providing critical high-time resolution spectral information on the spectral properties of starters and jets that would be studied to produce height profiles of temperature along the path of the conductive path between the top side of the thunderstorm and the lower ionosphere region established by the lightning bolt.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: CRII CISE Research Initiation | Award Amount: 175.00K | Year: 2016

Crucial and critical needs of security and trust requirements are growing in all classes of applications such as in automobiles and for wearable devices. Traditional cryptographic primitives are computation-intensive and rely on secrecy of shared or session keys, applicable on large systems like servers and secure databases. This is unsuitable for embedded devices with fewer resources for realizing sufficiently strong security. This research addresses new hardware-oriented capabilities and mechanisms for protecting Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This research has the potential to significantly enhance the security capability of today and emerging applications, particularly those that can benefit from reliable authentication using hardware features.

The project concerns a hardware-based authentication framework using strong physical unclonable functions (PUFs) for enhanced security for Internet of Things (IOT) devices. It focuses on new authentication techniques, incorporating lightweight cryptographic primitives with PUFs, and novel pre-boot authentication and storage encryption functions for trusted platform modules (TPM). The project will evaluate the proposed techniques against a threat model, including model-building, replay, and probing attacks.

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