Awards and Research Highlights


Our more than 230 faculty members are widely recognized experts in their fields, designing innovative solutions to diverse challenges ranging from healthcare and medicine to sustainability and climate, artificial intelligence and computational engineering science, new materials and devices, and more.

Read more about some of the recent awards, grants, honors, and accomplishments earned by our community of scholars.

November 2021


Prof. Mijo Simunovic Named an NIH New Innovator

Mijo Simunovic, assistant professor of chemical engineering, has won the prestigious $2.4 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator honor, which supports exceptionally creative early career faculty to pursue high-risk, high-reward research regarding human health. Their work involves the advancement of human organ development modeling in labs and the potential realization of lab-grown replacement organs. READ MORE

Computer Science Profs Gail Kaiser, Ronghui Gu, and Jason Nieh Win a $4.5M DARPA Grant to Improve Secure Cyberphysical Systems, including Drones and Smart Cars

Drones and other cyberphysical systems such as smart cars and wearable fitness and health-monitoring systems are now part of our everyday lives.These systems are increasingly deployed to improve human safety, including applications such as making driving safer and replacing onboard human operators in dangerous situations. It is critical to ensure the security of such systems. But many of these smart systems use pre-existing codebases or source code that may contain vulnerabilities. This makes cyberphysical systems open to hacks and attacks, putting people at risk.

Columbia Engineering researchers and colleagues from Yale University received a $4.5 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to build more secure and efficient cyberphysical systems. The four-year project will leverage existing software with large legacy codebases to build mathematically correct and secure cyberphysical systems.

The project, entitled REFUEL, will create innovative tools to enable correct-by-construction, secure, and efficient cyberphysical systems that are compatible with widely used open-source software like Linux. Toward this end, the researchers are developing powerful secure enclave technologies that will host and protect components from attacks, with the further intent that software and hardware components, even from different vendors, can be combined efficiently with strong, formally-verified correctness guarantees.

Computer Science Professors Gail Kaiser, Ronghui Gu, and Jason Nieh are collaborating with Yale University Professors Zhong Shao and Abhishek Bhattacharjee on the multi-phase project.

Prof. Shree Nayar Nominated as a SPIE Luminary in Computer Vision

Shree Nayar, T. C. Chang Professor of Computer Science, was nominated as a “luminary” in computer vision, part of a Luminary Series held by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. The series features the research contributions of notable people in various fields of photonics throughout 2021. Nayar, a pioneer in electronic imaging, heads the Columbia Vision Laboratory (CAVE), which develops advanced computer vision systems. For the month of November, SPIE will feature a compilation of the papers he has published in SPIE Proceedings and journals on the SPIE Digital Library. All Nayar’s SPIE papers will be free to read for the entire month of November, and SPIE will also publish an article about him in SPIE News.

October 2021


Prof. Paz-Soldan Receives DOE Awards for Work to Advance Fusion Science and Control at National Facilities

Carlos Paz-Soldan, professor in the department of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics, has received two awards from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to advance the scientific and technical state of the art at national US fusion facilities on both coasts. These new awards complement Paz-Soldan’s existing DOE awards to build a comprehensive understanding of tokamak edge instability control by leveraging data from international facilities, as well as understanding the frontiers of science with regards to relativistic electron dynamics in fusion reactor prototypes. Read More

September 2021


Prof, Katayun Barmak and Colleagues Win NSF DMREF Award for Microstructure by Design

Katayun Barmak, Philips Electronics Professor of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and Materials Science and Engineering, and her colleagues, Professor Yekaterina Epshteyn, Department of Mathematics, University of Utah, Professor Chun Liu, Department of Mathematics, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Professor Jeffrey Rickman, Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Department of Physics, won a four-year $1.8 million National Science Foundation “Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future” (DMREF) award to integrate grain growth experiments, data analytics, simulation, and theory. The grant is jointly funded by the Division of Mathematical Sciences and the Division of Materials Research. Read More

Systems Biologist José L. McFaline-Figueroa Awarded $2.3M NHGRI Genomic Innovator Award

José L. McFaline-Figueroa, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, has won a $2.3M five-year Genomic Innovator Award from the National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health. The funding will help support his development of single-cell genomic tools to define the roles that genes play in the way cells respond to disease-relevant exposures, specifically how individual genes and specific cell types contribute to the response of cells to environmental and endogenous exposures associated with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and brain tumors. McFaline-Figueroa, the principal investigator of The Chemical Genomics Laboratory at SEAS, is focused on customizing these tools and leveraging new models to define how diseased cells of the brain respond to internal cues and their environment.

Multidisciplinary Research Team Awarded $1.2M NSF Grant to Improve Traffic Management in Real Time.

Professors Sharon Di (Civil Engineering), Qiang Du (Applied Mathematics), Gil Zussman, and Zoran Kostic (both Electrical Engineering) were recently awarded a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) program for their proposal "CPS: Medium: Hybrid Twins for Urban Transportation: From Intersections to Citywide Management."

With this funding, the team will create a virtual replica, or digital twin, of New York City that will continuously learn and dynamically update itself as the city traffic environment changes in real time. The twin will help traffic managers to monitor traffic patterns as they happen and quickly come up with adaptive management strategies. The researchers will use Columbia’s COSMOS, the only beyond-5G testbed in New York City, to get real-time traffic data, leveraging Cosmos’s rich sensor data and deep computational capabilities.

The digital twin is a hybrid of both machine learning and traffic modeling, reflecting the team’s multidisciplinary approach to how traffic congestion propagates in cities. They will train the system online by taking in real-time data collected from Cosmos sensors, including roadside infrastructure and in-vehicle sensors. With this data, the system can predict traffic conditions, accidents, and mitigate traffic congestion as well as optimize traffic flow so that people can travel across cities with fewer stops at intersections and reduced emission levels.

Professor Qiang Du Wins DOE Advanced Scientific Computing Grant

Qiang Du, Fu Foundation Professor of Applied Mathematics, was awarded $308,000 by the DOE’s Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research, for his proposal, “Reliable and Efficient Machine Learning for Leadership Facility Scientific Data Analytics.” The Data-Intensive Scientific Machine Learning and Analysis grant will help support Du’s collaborative project to establish mathematical foundations of scientific machine learning methods for extracting interpretable information from scientific data, inferring physical laws, and steering experiments toward scientific discovery. 

Columbia Engineering, Arts and Sciences, and Columbia Climate School to Launch $25M Climate Modeling Center

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the new center will integrate Columbia’s expertise in geoscience, AI, and data science to revolutionize climate projections both locally and globally. Read More

Chemical Engineer Allie Obermeyer Named ACS PMSE Young Investigator

Allie C. Obermeyer, assistant professor of chemical engineering, has been selected by the American Chemistry Society’s (ACS) Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PSME) as one of 14 PSME Young Investigators. Read More

Neural Engineer Qi Wang Wins $2M NIH R01 Grant

Qi Wang, associate professor of biomedical engineering, has been awarded a $2 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the neuromodulation of information processing in the thalamus. Read More