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Four Cornell faculty members receive NSF 'Early Career' awards

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Four Cornell University faculty members are among this year's recipients of National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Awards. The Faculty Early Career Development Program offers NSF's most prestigious award for new faculty members. The program recognizes and supports the early career development activities of those teacher-scholars who are considered most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.

Johannes Gehrke and Andrew Myers, assistant professors of computer science, and Anna Scaglione, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, each will receive five-year grants of about $350,000 to support their research. John A. Marohn, assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology, will receive a five-year grant of about $500,000.

Andrew Myers received a B.S. in physics and computer science at Stanford University in 1988. He earned a master's in 1994 and a Ph.D. in 1999 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the Cornell faculty in January 1999. He has worked at DEC Systems Research Center, Palo Alto, Calif., and Silicon Graphics Inc., Mountain View, Calif.

His research aims to give computer users more security when running programs supplied by an outside source. The most familiar examples are Java applications that are downloaded by web sites, but there also are important examples in business-to-business transactions. Increasingly, users must allow "visiting" programs access to confidential data but need to prevent that data from being corrupted and to control what part of that data is sent back to the visitor's home base. Myers' approach is to build safeguards into the programs in ways that the local computer can verify. The system, called Java Information Flow, requires that programs be written in a special version of the Java programming language that builds in security features and allows the host computer to verify them and set the rules about what can be done with data. The NSF grant supports his project called Practical Language-Based End-to-End Security.

Johannes Gehrke did his undergraduate study in computer science at the University of Karlsruhe, Germany. He received a master's degree from the University of Texas in 1995 and a Ph.D. in 1999 at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the last under an IBM graduate fellowship. He joined the Cornell faculty in August 1999. Gehrke received the IBM faculty award in both 2000 and 2001 and the James and Mary Tien Excellence in Teaching Award from the Cornell College of Engineering in 2001.

His research has focused on "data mining," the mechanisms by which computers can scan through large databases to note trends or oddities and present statistics about them, or collect data on specific subcategories. In the project funded by the NSF award, "Towards Sensor Database Systems," he will be extending this idea to data collected from large arrays of sensors. His grant is entitled Possible applications include surveying vibration sensors to detect problems in isolated areas of a factory or pulling in data from many temperature sensors to compute average temperature.

Anna Scaglione joined the faculty of the Cornell School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in July 2001 as assistant professor. Previously she was an assistant professor with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of New Mexico, 2000-2001, and a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Minnesota, 1999-2000. She received her undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Rome in 1999.

Scaglione's research concerns the design of modems for wireless telephone and computer communications. In a wireless device, the modem is the hardware that converts digital data into a radio-frequency signal. Her goal is to find better ways of "multiplexing," so that many digital signals can occupy a single frequency, and to incorporate methods to prevent or correct for errors caused by interference in a busy urban environment. "If we want to give to each user the ability to use the Internet from each cell phone, the algorithms need to be more sophisticated," she explains. With her co-authors, she received the 2000 IEEE Signal Processing Transactions award for her paper "Redundant Filterbank Precoders and Equalizers Part I and II." The NSF grant will support continued development of the ideas she advanced in that paper.

John Marohn received a B.A. in physics and a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Rochester, both in 1989, and a Ph.D. in chemical physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1996. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Research Council/U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Md. He was the recipient of a W. R. Grace and Company Graduate Fellowship.

Marohn joined the Cornell faculty as assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology in 1999. Since that time, he has also been a member of the Cornell Center for Materials Research.

He is building two new types of ultrasensitive scanned-probe microscopes in which a tiny probe is moved slowly over a surface, to which it is attracted by a magnetic or electric force. By measuring the deflection of the probe, Marohn has been able to measure spin magnetization and electric charge below a surface. He uses these tools for non-destructive study of thin films, including organic conductors and semiconductors, seeking to answer long-standing questions regarding charge trapping and conductivity. Nearly all of the charge initially passed into an organic device gets "stuck" somewhere and is immobile, Marohn explains. Only after the "charge traps" are filled can current flow, and this has stymied the development of high-efficiency organic transistors. "We want to take 'pictures' of the traps with our electric force microscope," Marohn says.

In addition to continuing this research, Marohn will use some of the NSF grant to incorporate materials chemistry experiments into freshman chemistry laboratories, introduce the physics behind scanned-probe microscopes into undergraduate courses and involve undergraduates in cutting-edge materials science research. He also plans outreach to K-12 students.

Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide additional information on this news release. Some might not be part of the Cornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their content or availability.

o Johannes Gehrke: http://www.cs.cornell.edu/johannes

o Anna Scaglione: http://people.ece.cornell.edu/scaglione

o Andrew Myers: http://www.cs.cornell.edu/andru

o John Marohn: http://www.chem.cornell.edu/department/Faculty/Marohn/marohn.html

o NSF CAREER Awards page: http://www.nsf.gov/home/crssprgm/career/start.htm

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