Tuesday, August 23, 2016

UNO Computer Science Faculty Awarded More Than $500k for Vital Research

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Turning algae into biofuel. Helping NASA do a better job sharing information about its patented work. And strengthening cybersecurity education using cutting-edge techniques.

These are just three of the latest projects University of New Orleans’ Department of Computer Science researchers are working on thanks to new grant funding totaling more than $500,000.

Algae as Fuel

Md Tamjidul Hoque, assistant professor of computer science, has been awarded $141,453 by the Louisiana Board of Regents Industrial Ties Research Subprogram to develop the software tools and theoretical underpinning needed to help convert algae into biofuel. The grant also has a three-year institutional match of $36,720.

“Algae are found to have good potential for providing biofuel at a higher rate compared to any other plants,” said Hoque. “Algae can be developed as an excellent microbial cell factory that can harvest solar energy and convert atmospheric carbon-dioxide to useful products and thus can establish the missing link in the fuel-cycle.”

Hoque’s project is a collaboration among UNO, BHO Technology and the Louisiana Emerging Technology Center in Baton Rouge. His lab will develop advanced algorithms for analyzing and optimizing gene regulatory network-based biofuel production modeling in algae.

Managing NASA's Patents

Hoque is also principal investigator with co-principle investigator Shengru Tu, professor of computer science, on a $60,073 grant from the NASA Stennis Space Center to develop an automated tool to help NASA improve management and marketing of its intellectual properties portfolio.

A team of experts manually identified roughly 1,500 patents held by NASA, currently categorized into 15 categories. Using this grant, Hoque and Tu will create more precise and user-friendly search tools that will enable users to more easily discover relevant intellectual property belonging to NASA.

Stronger Cybersecurity Education

Irfan Ahmed, assistant professor of computer science, has secured a National Science Foundation $300,000 grant in collaboration with University of Texas at Dallas.

With the award, researchers plan to leverage a cutting edge cybersecurity technique called “virtual machine introspection” for use in the classroom. The resulting technology will deepen hands-on learning, giving students a more complete understanding of how cyberattacks occur and what it takes to prevent them.

“The outcome of this project will contribute to the health, safety and economic wellbeing of our society by helping to improve the state-of-the-art in cybersecurity education, especially for performing hands-on technical cybersecurity exercises,” Ahmed said.

Using a separate $96,000 grant from the U.S. Army Research Office, Ahmed also recently installed a model test bed of control systems—often called Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems—designed to supervise industrial processes at work. The test bed also gives students hands-on training in understanding and protecting industrial control systems."

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