National Science Foundation Recognizes NYU-Poly Professors Hai Li and Oded Nov with CAREER Awards

Two more members of the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) faculty have joined the prestigious ranks of those honored with the National Science Foundation's CAREER Award. Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Hai Li and Assistant Professor of Technology Management Oded Nov both received awards this month. 

The CAREER Award is the National Science Foundation's top accolade in support of junior faculty who stand to assume significant leadership roles in their fields. 

“We congratulate Professors Li and Nov for being selected by the NSF as among the most promising young teachers and scholars in the nation,” said NYU-Poly Provost Katepalli Sreenivasan. “Their awards mean that roughly one-third of NYU-Poly’s eligible faculty members are conducting research under these prestigious grants – a testament to the energy and intellectual climate at NYU-Poly.”

Li will receive $450,000 over a five-year period to fund the optimization of a new method of on-chip memory storage applicable to everyday devices like cell phones and computers, as well as large-scale data centers and servers used by major corporations. 

Her research addresses an ongoing design challenge in consumer electronics products: how to balance the demand for increased memory capacity with the desire for ever-smaller, faster devices. Li's work will focus on developing a highly efficient emerging memory technology called spin-transfer torque random access memory, or STT-RAM, as a replacement for traditional flash memory, which requires an electrical charge to store data. 

“STT-RAM offer several advantages to today’s memory storage,” explained Li. “Because static random access memory, or SRAM, uses electrical charges, it is power-intensive and easily disturbed, making it a less stable method of memory storage. STT-RAM uses stable magnetic energy to store memory directly on the chip, so we’ll be able to create high-density, high-speed memory with low power requirements.”

Nov's research aims to transform technology-mediated social participation — the ways in which humans use social technologies for collaboration and collective action.  

Just as information about a person’s genetic profile can aid in the development of targeted medical treatments, an understanding of users’ motivations and personality traits can be used to develop individually-tailored, theory-driven system and interface design aimed at increasing participation in technology-mediated social efforts. Nov’s research will focus on online citizen science projects, which tap the participation of everyday individuals to contribute to scientific research. 

“Web-based citizen science projects have shed light on everything from the migration patterns of butterflies to objects in our solar system,” said Nov. “Our work will apply tenets of social psychology to develop and test methods of enhancing participation in citizen science research and making it more effective.”  Nov will receive a $500,000 award to conduct his research over the next five years. 

Other NYU-Poly faculty members who are conducting research with CAREER Award grants are Yong Liu, associate professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, and Maurizio Porfiri, associate professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department.