Milestones

Anastasia (Natassa) Romanou, research scientist in the department of applied physics and applied mathematics, is the lead author of one of the first studies to estimate how much and how quickly the ocean absorbs atmospheric gases and to contrast it with the efficiency of heat absorption. Romanou, who is also a climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, an affiliate of the Earth Institute, and colleagues at MIT, used two computer models that simulate the ocean to find that gases are more easily absorbed over time than heat energy. She noted that, “as the ocean slows down, it will keep uptaking gases like carbon dioxide more efficiently, much more than it will keep taking up heat. It will have a different behavior for chemistry than it has for temperature… we need to think differently about how the ocean responds to taking up heat and passive tracers or greenhouse gases.” The study was published in Geophysical Research Letters June 8, 2017. The team also wrote an article on the study for NASA and AGU news.(June 23, 2017)
A paper by Earth and Environmental Engineering Professor Pierre Gentine was selected by the editors of Geophysical Research Letters as a Research Spotlight on https://Eos.org and on the journal’s website. Research Spotlights summarize the research and findings of the best accepted articles for the broad Earth and space science community. Eos noted that Gentine’s study—"Failure of Taylor's hypothesis in the atmospheric surface layer and its correction for eddy-covariance measurements"—demonstrated that global atmospheric observations may need tweaking for turbulence: the “new study overturns an 80-year-old assumption about atmospheric turbulence that may finally resolve discrepancies in observations of atmospheric heat, water vapor, and carbon.” (June 23, 2017)
Five undergraduates won scholarships through the American Council of Engineering Companies of NY (ACEC). Joanna Zou (Civil Engineering) was awarded the NY Merit Scholarship of $5000 at the ACEC Excellence Awards Gala this spring, and Stephanie Berrios, Monte Cardenas-Metal, and John-Michael D’Andrea (all Civil Engineering), and Maxum Smith (Mechanical Engineering) won scholarships of $2500 at the ACEC NY 2017 Scholarship Lunch.
Mechanical Engineering professor Hod Lipson’s robot, PIX18, won first place and $40,000 in the 2017 Robot Art Competition. One of 38 teams from 10 countries who submitted 200 different artworks, Lipson builds robots and software capable of creating original artwork in oil on canvas. The project has gone through three generations of systems: the first was an articulated arm and the latter repurposed gantry robots. Lipson developed the software from scratch and used it to train decommissioned factory robots to paint. PIX18, which resides in Lipson’s apartment, is continuously learning and evolving. The winners were selected from public voting and judges who included working artists, critics, and technologists. Having completed the second year of a five-year international competition, Robot Art plans to hold an exhibition of robotic-created artwork following next year’s competition, in summer 2018.
ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) recently announced the inaugural class of its new Future of Computing Academy (ACM-FCA), and its 46 members include three professors with Columbia Engineering connections: Shipra Agrawal (assistant professor, industrial engineering and operations research), Lydia Chilton (who will join the computer science department as an assistant professor July 1), and Lauren Wilcox (who received her PhD in Computer Science Professor Steve Feiner’s lab in 2013 and is now an assistant professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing). ACM-FCA was established to support and foster the next generation of computing professionals to become the voice of the future of the computing field. This is a unique opportunity to expand their network beyond their immediate professional environment, and to work with other accomplished individuals from diverse areas of computing towards the common goal of shaping the future of the computing community and society. Members of the inaugural class are an international group, originally from 19 different countries including Bangladesh, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Morocco, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Turkey, the Ukraine, the United Kingdom, USA, and Vietnam.
Aaron Kyle, senior lecturer in biomedical engineering, has been awarded the 2017 Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching by President Lee Bollinger. This honor, made at the highest level of the University, recognizes Kyle’s methods and commitment to excellence in teaching.
Dustin Tran, a computer science PhD student, has been awarded a Google PhD Fellowship in Machine Learning for his work in Bayesian deep learning. Advised by David Blei (departments of computer science and statistics) and Andrew Gelman (departments of statistics and political science), Tran does research in the fields of Bayesian statistics, machine learning, and deep learning, with a particular focus on probabilistic modeling. His two-year fellowship recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students doing exceptional research in computer science and related disciplines. He is one of 33 PhD students to receive the 2017 fellowship
Neopenda, a startup founded in 2015 by biomedical engineering master’s students Sona Shah MS’16 and Teresa Cauvel MS’16, was named to Inc. magazine’s “30 under 30” list of coolest young entrepreneurs. Neopenda began as a class project in BME lecturer Katherine Reuther’s biomedical design class, when Shah and Cauvel teamed up to develop an innovative technology to help combat preventable newborn mortality. Their product was a wearable vital-signs monitor designed for use on newborns in developing nations, one they are continuing to develop. 
John Brooks, a PhD student advised by Professor Michael Mauel in the department of applied physics and applied mathematics, has won a fellowship from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program for his work on plasma physics. Established to support graduate students to do a part of their graduate thesis research at a DOE laboratory, the SCGSR award will fund Brook’s research at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, a DOE lab for plasma physics and nuclear fusion science. Brooks’ work will focus on developing an active feedback system that drives current in the Scrape-Off-Layer to control plasma instabilities.
Sarah Goler, a postdoctoral research scientist working with Jim Yardley, special research scientist in the department of electrical engineering, has been awarded a Dan David Prize Scholarship for the Past Time Dimension in the field of Archaeology and Natural Sciences. The Dan David Prize is a joint international corporation, endowed by the Dan David Foundation and headquartered at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Goler’s project, part of the Columbia Nano Initiative, is titled “Variation in Raman Spectra of Carbon Inks in Ancient Egyptian Papyri and Application for Non-destructive Dating.”
Nanfang Yu, assistant professor of applied physics, has won a DARPA Director’s Fellowship, awarded to a just a few of the top performers of the DARPA Young Faculty Award (YFA) recipients. The funding will support Yu’s research on actively tunable “flat optics.” He will investigate the fundamental physics of strong interactions between light and 2D metamaterials, or “metasurfaces,” and explore novel electrically tunable optical materials for applications in active photonic devices. His goal is to demonstrate ultra-thin and ultra-fast spatial light modulators that can shape optical wavefronts into complex patterns with high speed. This work could have a profound impact on many technological areas such as navigation and surveillance; remote detection of chemicals; obstacle detection and recognition for autonomous navigation; adaptive optics for telescope, ophthalmology, and biomedical imaging; and virtual reality and augmented reality glasses.
Rebecca Trojanowski, a PhD student working with Vasilis Fthenakis, senior research scientist and adjunct professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering, won the "Best Young Researcher Award: Biomass" at the 2017 World Sustainable Energy Days in Wels, Austria. The conference is one of Europe's largest sustainable energy conferences, with more than 700 attendees from 59 countries. Trojanowsi, whose work focuses on the performance of wood pellet stoves, was the only speaker from the U.S. in the young researcher session. Her paper was one of almost 80 papers submitted by young researchers in the fields of energy efficiency and biomass from 35 countries. 
Elizabeth Hillman Elizabeth M.C. Hillman, associate professor of biomedical engineering and radiology (physics), was elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s College of Fellows for her outstanding contributions to the development of innovative optical methodologies for functional and dynamic imaging of living tissues. AIMBE’s College of Fellows comprises the top two percent of medical and biological engineers in the country. Hillman engineers new visualization tools for imaging the brain in order to decipher how the brain drives behavior. (May 4, 2017)
Michal Lipson Ah-Hyung (Alissa) Park, Lenfest Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering and Chemical Engineering and Director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy, will receive the Rising Star Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) at its national meeting on April 3. The award recognizes women scientists who have demonstrated outstanding promise for contributions to their fields. Park's research focuses on sustainable energy conversion pathways with an emphasis on integrated carbon capture, utilization, and storage. Her lab's work includes fundamental studies of chemical and physical interactions of natural and engineered materials with carbon dioxide, such as the development of novel nano-scale hybrid materials for integrated CO2 capture and conversion, and innovative chemical and fuel synthesis pathways using unconventional energy sources such as shale gas, biomass, and municipal solid wastes while minimizing environmental impacts. (March 21, 2017)
Michal Lipson Michal Lipson, Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering and head of the Lipson Nanophotonics Group, has been selected for the 2017 R. W. Wood Prize from The Optical Society (OSA) for her "pioneering research contributions in silicon photonics." The award recognizes an outstanding discovery, scientific or technical achievement, or invention in the field of optics that opens a new area of research or significantly expands an established one. Lipson, a 2010 MacArthur Fellow, has invented several of the critical building blocks in the field of silicon photonics, which integrates optical micro-components into electronics to increase computing speed and capacity. (March 15, 2017)
Negar Reiskarimian Negar Reiskarimian, a PhD candidate in electrical engineering, has received several honors for her research into analog/RF/millimeter-wave integrated circuits and systems, focusing on non-reciprocal components for emerging wireless communications. Since December, she has received the IEEE Solid-State Circuit Society Pre-Doctoral Achievement Award; the Analog Devices 2017 International Solid-State Circuit Conference Outstanding Student Designer Award; CalTech's Young Investigator Lecturer in Engineering and Applied Science honor; and the 2017 IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society Graduate Fellowship. Reiskarimian is a member of Professor Harish Krishnaswamy's CoSMIC Lab and Columbia's FlexICoN project. Her work has resulted in the first integrated passive magnetic-free circulator built on a CMOS platform. (March 15, 2017)
Computer Science Assistant Professor Suman Jana, Associate Professor Martha Kim, and Professor Vishal Misra have been selected for Google Faculty Research Awards. The awards connect faculty with Google engineers and help cover tuition for a graduate student. Jana will receive $62,000 to improve fuzzing, a software testing technique that uses random data, or fuzz, to discover code vulnerabilities. Kim will receive $70,000 to develop more efficient ways of transcoding video, the process of converting user-generate video to sizes and formats for use on any viewer while lowering storage and processing costs. Misra will receive $75,000 for work on bandwidth allocation strategies for networks of data centers. (March 15, 2017)
Adam Sobel Adam Sobel, professor of applied physics and applied mathematics and of environmental sciences and the director and chief scientist of the Columbia Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate, has been elected to the American Meteorological Society Council, the principal governing body of the AMS. Sobel, who wrote the 2014 book Storm Surge: Hurricane Sandy, Our Changing Climate, and Extreme Weather of the Past and Future, sees the AMS as playing important roles not only within the scientific community, but as an interface between academia, government, and the private sector on weather and climate issues, as well as in educating the public. (February 13, 2017)
Renata Wentzcovitch Renata Wentzcovitch, professor of materials science and engineering, has been elected vice chair of the American Physical Society’s Division of Computational Physics (APS/DCOMP). Wentzcovitch, who joined Columbia Engineering in January 2017, will serve on the APS/DCOMP executive committee as vice-chair for one year starting in April, then as chair-elect for one year, followed by one year as chair of the executive committee, and then one year as past chair. Her research group focuses on computational quantum mechanical studies of materials. (February 13, 2017) 
The Volatility Smile Emanuel Derman, director of Columbia’s master of science in financial engineering program and professor of professional practice in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR), has published a new book titled The Volatility Smile. In it, Derman and co-author Michael B. Miller, founder and CEO of Northstar Risk Corp. and adjunct associate professor in IEOR, discuss financial modeling, including the Black-Scholes-Merton model, and the relationship between implied volatility and strike price for financial options that, when graphed, can look like a smile. Derman’s previous books include Models. Behaving. Badly and My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance. (February 13, 2017) 
Karen Kasza Karen Kasza, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has won a competitive grant through Columbia University Provost’s Grant Program for Junior Faculty Who Contribute to the Diversity Goals of the University. The grant program, created in 2013, provides up to $25,000 for each recipient and has supported 82 projects across the university. Kasza’s grant is for her work on tools for manipulating the mechanical forces generated by cells. Her research focuses on understanding the principles underlying the mechanics, self-organization, and morphogenesis of living tissues. (February 13, 2017) 
Vidrovr Video analytics startup Vidrovr has been awarded a $225,000 National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research grant for research and development of an inference engine that can leverage the data and structure within video to automatically discover and train classifiers for better tagging and searchability. The startup was created by Columbia PhD candidates Joseph Ellis MS ’14 (Electrical Engineering) and Daniel Morozoff AM ’14 (GSAS) and was recently accepted to the Techstars startup accelerator. The Vidrovr team developed a news and social media video processing system called News Rover that applies machine learning algorithms to identify people and objects on screen in real time, add tags, and link text to other text- and image-based information online. (February 13, 2017) 
Cathecare George Deodatis, Santiago and Robertina Calatrava Family Professor of Civil Engineering and chair of the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, has been elected to serve as vice president now and then as president beginning October 1, 2017, of the Engineering Mechanics Institute (EMI). The mission of the EMI, which in 2007 replaced the Engineering Mechanics Division of the American Society of Civil Engineers, is to “serve the engineering community through the development and application of engineering mechanics by anticipating and adapting to new challenges that will face tomorrow’s engineers and by creating an environment that facilitates professional growth to ensure that these future challenges will be met.” (February 10, 2017) 
  Three undergraduate computer science majors have been recognized by the Computing Research Association (CRA) for showing outstanding research potential in computing research. Terra Blevins CC’17 was named a finalist for the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher award for her work on natural language processing in Professor Kathy McKeown’s lab. Ruoxin (Amy) Jiang ’17 won honorable mention for her work, under Professor Suman Jana’s guidance, in computer security, specifically on exploring ways to streamline the API libraries (SSL) used by developers to make their applications secure. Jun Ho Yoon ’17 also received honorable mention for his research on machine learning and computational genomics, working in Itsik Pe’er’s computational biology lab. (February 10, 2017)
Daniel Bienstock Keren Bergman, Charles Batchelor Professor of Electrical Engineering and chair of the department of electrical engineering, is one of the 10 women in networking communications that you should know, according to Networking Networking Women (N2 Women), a “discipline-specific community for researchers in the communications and networking research fields.”
Cathecare PhD student Tingjun Chen (Electrical Engineering) and Professors Javad Ghaderi (EE), Dan Rubenstein (Computer Science), and Gil Zussman (EE) won the Best Paper Award at ACM CoNEXT’16, the premier conference on emerging networking technologies. The paper, “Maximizing broadcast throughput under ultra-low-power constraints,” was published in Proceedings of the ACM CoNEXT’16, Dec. 2016. (February 2, 2017) 
Cathecare CatheCare, a startup born out of last year’s Senior Design expo,won silver in the undergraduate category at the Collegiate Inventors Competition in November. Created by Aonnicha Burapachaisri, Charles Pan, Aishwarya Raja, and Chanond Sophonpanich, CatheCare is a safe, easy-to-use device that eradicates 99.9 percent of bacteria that builds up in a central venous catheter. The team has filed for an LLC, is refining its prototype, has achieved initial proof-of-concept testing, and filed a provisional patent. They plan to file a patent in the next few months and are in discussions with several hospitals in Thailand to set up clinical trials.
Andrew Laine Columbia professors James Hone (mechanical engineering) and Cory Dean (physics), together with UVA professor Avik Ghosh (electrical and computer engineering), co-authored a study, “Electron optics with p-n junctions in ballistic graphene,” that has been included in Physics World’s Top Ten Breakthroughs of 2016. The researchers directly observed—for the first time—negative refraction for electrons passing across a boundary between two regions in a conducting material. First predicted in 2007, this effect has been difficult to confirm experimentally. The team was able to observe the effect in graphene, demonstrating that electrons in the atomically thin material behave like light rays, which can be manipulated by such optical devices as lenses and prisms. Their findings, published in Science (9/30/2016), could lead to the development of new types of electron switches, based on the principles of optics rather than electronics. (December 13, 2016)
James Hone Mischa Schwartz, Charles Batchelor Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, was awarded the Henri Busignies Memorial Award by the Radio Club of America for lifetime contributions to electrical engineering and education that have benefited humanity. The award will be OR WAS presented in New York City on Nov. 18. (November 21, 2016)
Andrew Laine Feniosky Peña-Mora, Edwin Howard Armstrong Professor of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering and of Computer Science, was inducted October 20 as a member of the National Academy of Construction's 2016 class, one of 30 honored for their “stellar careers and contributions to the engineering and construction industry.” (November 14, 2016)
Andrew Laine Applied Mathematics Professor Guillaume Bal has been named a 2017 fellow of the American Mathematical Society, in recognition of his contributions to inverse problems and wave propagation in random media. (November 10, 2016)
Andrew Laine Andrew Laine, Percy K. and Vida L. W. Hudson Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Professor of Radiology (Physics), and Biomedical Engineering Department Chair, was elected a 2016 fellow of the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE), in recognition of his "distinguished contributions to and leadership in the field of medical and biological engineering in an international level." (November 7, 2016)
Alan West Alan West, Samuel Ruben-Peter G. Viele Professor of Electrochemistry and Chemical Engineering Department Chair, was elected to the 2016 Class of Electrochemical Society (ECS) Fellows. He is now among a select group of members who have "amassed advanced individual technological contributions in the field of electrochemical and solid-state science and technology." (November 2, 2016)
X. Edward Guo Biomedical Engineering Professor X. Edward Guo received a new $1.7 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases to study and test the novel regulation pathway of bone cells in response to mechanical loading. His research group discovered that in response to mechanical loading, bone cells (specifically osteocytes), are able to secrete important biological factors through muscle-like cellular contractions. Genevieve Brown, a graduate student who is working on this research, received the best basic science award from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research at the annual meeting in September. (October 14, 2016)
Daniel Bienstock Pierre Gentine, Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering, has been given the Clarence Leroy Meisinger Award by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The award, which is given to early career scientists who have demonstrated outstanding ability, recognizes “research achievement that is, at least in part, aerological in character and concerns the observation, theory, and modeling of atmospheric motions on all scales.” (October 10, 2016)
Daniel Bienstock Keren Bergman, Electrical Engineering Department Chair and Charles Bachelor Professor of Engineering, has won the IEEE Photonics Society (IPS) 2016 Engineering Achievement Award, for her "pioneering contributions to optical interconnection networks and photonic-enabled architectures that advance communications and computing systems." The award was presented at the IEEE Society’s October 3 meeting. (October 6, 2016)
Daniel Bienstock Industrial Engineering and Operations Research Professor Daniel Bienstock and Electrical Engineering Associate Professor Gil Zussman received four grants totaling $2.5 million for their joint work on power grid resilience. Spread across the Data Science Institute, the Columbia Nanoscience Institute, Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, and Electrical Engineering, the grants include: 1) a DOE grant as part of the Grid Modernization Laboratory to develop tools to monitor the stochastic and dynamic state of the transmission grid.; 2) DARPA grant as part of RADICS program.; 3) ARPA-E grant to develop methods for generating synthetic power grid topologies to enable better vulnerability analysis; and 4) DTRA grant extension to study the impact of physical attacks on power grids and telecommunications networks. (October 4, 2016)
Qiang Du Robert Farrauto, professor of professional practice in the department of Earth and Environmental Engineering, co-authored his third book, "Introduction to Catalytic and industrial Catalytic Processes" with Lucas Dorazio and Calvin Bartholomew. Published by Wiley and Sons, the textbook introduces chemical, environmental, and mechanical engineering graduate and senior level students to the fundamentals of catalysis and their application in the production of petroleum, chemical, and alternative energy products as well as environmental pollution abatement. (September 29, 2016)
Qiang Du Qiang Du, Fu Foundation Professor of Applied Mathematics, was part of a research team recently named a finalist by Supercomputing 2016 in the ACM Gordon Bell Prize in High Performance Computing. For many years, Du has been working on the phase field modeling of microstructure evolutions, an important research subject in computational materials science. Selected as one of six finalists, this new paper—“Extreme-Scale Phase Field Simulations of Coarsening Dynamics on the Sunway Taihulight Supercomputer”—presents a scalable algorithm to numerically integrate phase field equations and its efficient implementation, as well as simulations at an unprecedented scale on the world’s most powerful supercomputer.

Professor Du also shared a SIAM Outstanding Paper Prize with his PhD student Xiaochuan Tian presented at the SIAM (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics) 2016 annual meeting in July. This major prize is awarded each year to recognize papers that exhibit originality, research that brings a fresh look at an existing field or that opens up new areas of applied mathematics. Their winning paper provided analysis and comparisons of different algorithms for the numerical solution of nonlocal models such as the peridynamic theory of continuum mechanics. (September 27, 2016)

Steven M. Bellovin Ponisseril Somasundaran, LaVon Duddleson Krumb Professor of Mineral Engineering in the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Mineral Processing Council (IMPC) at their 28th annual IMPC Congress, held in September in Quebec City. The award recognizes a lifetime of “distinguished achievement and outstanding contribution to the advancement of the art, science and industrial practice of mineral processing together with participation in and contribution to the IMPC”. Congress President Cyril O’Connor of the University of Cape Town presented the award. (September 26, 2016)
Christopher Jacobs Biomedical Engineering Professor Christopher Jacobs received the 2016 Richard Skalak Award for the best paper published in Journal of Biomechanical Engineering. In his paper, “Epigenetic Changes During Mechanically Induced Osteogenic Lineage Commitment,” he demonstrates that fluid shear stress stimulation of cells rapidly promotes the availability of genes for expression and specifically increases gene expression of later osteogenic markers. (September 13, 2016)
Steven M. Bellovin An international team led by Steven A. Sabbagh, senior research scientist and adjunct professor in the department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics (APAM), has won a three-year $3.3 million grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to study high performance tokamak plasma disruption prediction and avoidance in the long-pulse Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) located in Daejeon, South Korea. The grant is shared by Columbia, the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the National Fusion Research Institute in Daejeon. APAM Associate Research Scientist Young-Seok Park will be lead researcher for Columbia. (September 9, 2016)
Steven M. Bellovin Computer Science Professor Steven M. Bellovin, co-author of "Keys Under Doormats," has been named a winner of the Electronic Frontier Foundation 2016 Pioneer Award. Published in July of 2015, “Keys Under Doormats” both reviews the underlying technical considerations of the earlier encryption debate of the 1990s and examines the modern systems realities, creating a compelling, comprehensive, and scientifically grounded argument to protect and extend the availability of encrypted digital information and communications. (August 9, 2016)

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