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Rahul Mazumder And Ankur Moitra Of MIT Receive ONR 2018 Young Investigators Awards

Press Release

The Office of Naval Research recently announced its 2018 Young Investigator Program award recipients with at least a handful of Indian American researchers among the honorees.

The program awarded $16 million to the 31 scientists whose research holds strong promise across a wide range of naval-relevant science and technology areas, ONR said in a news release.

“To meet the demand signal from the 2018 National Defense Strategy, we must attract the best and brightest minds to work on naval war-fighting challenges. The Young Investigator Program does just that, and I’m honored to announce the recipients for 2018,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. David Hahn.

“Since 1985, this program has attracted outstanding scientists and engineers from across academia to support our Navy and Marine Corps, and as we return to an era of great power competition, that is more important than ever before,” Hahn added.

The program is a highly competitive process, rewarding the achievements made by young faculty members.

This year’s candidates were selected amongst more than 340 highly qualified applicants based on past performance, technical merit, potential for scientific breakthrough and long-term university commitment. All are college and university faculty who have obtained tenure-track positions within the past five years, it said.

Among the recipients included Abhinav Gupta, Rahul Mazumder, Prateek Mittal, Ankur Moitra and Ram Vasudevan.

Gupta, of Carnegie Mellon University, was selected for his proposal, “Knowledge Graphs for Planning Perception.”

Gupta is an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to this, he was a post-doctoral fellow at CMU working with Alyosha Efros and Martial Hebert. Before that, he worked at the University of Maryland and the University of Pennsylvania.

Mazumder, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was selected for the proposal, “Combinatorial Statistical Inference with Mathematical Optimization.

Mazumder is an assistant professor in the Operations Research and Statistics group at MIT Sloan School of Management.

He is affiliated with the Operations Research Center and a core faculty member of the Center for Statistics.

Before joining MIT, he was an assistant professor at Columbia University. Prior to Columbia, he was a postdoctoral associate at MIT. He completed his doctorate in statistics from Stanford University and earned his undergraduate and master's degrees from the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata.

Mittal, of Princeton University, was selected for his proposal, “Synergistic Integration of Statistical and Logic-Based Reasoning for Adversarial Learning Mechanisms.”

Mittal is an assistant professor in Princeton's Department of Electrical Engineering. He is an associated faculty member in both the Department of Computer Science and the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton.

His research interests include the domains of privacy enhancing technologies, trustworthy social systems and Internet/network security.

Moitra, also of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was named for the proposal, “An Algorithmic Theory of Robustness.”

Moitra is a Rockwell International Career Development associate professor, a David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellow, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow and principal investigator of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory all at MIT.

The major goal in his work is to give algorithms with provable guarantees for various problems in machine learning.

Vasudevan, of the University of Michigan, was chosen for the proposal, “Real-Time Certified, Safe Control Synthesis for Autonomous Systems.”

Vasudevan is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan. His research interests include optimization, modeling, design and control of nonlinear and hybrid dynamical systems especially as related to human and robot interaction with one another and the environment.

He is a three-time graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where he earned his bachelor's in 2006, master's in 2009 and doctorate in 2012, all in electrical engineering.

Awardees represent 22 academic institutions nationwide, in disciplines including advanced semiconductors, bio-inspired robotics, mathematical optimization, remote sensing and morphing aircraft, the office said.

The awards support laboratory equipment, graduate student stipends and scholarships, as well as other expenses critical to ongoing and planned investigational studies. Typical grants are $510,000 over a three-year period, the news release noted.

Introduced in 1985, the program is one of the nation’s oldest and most selective science and technology basic research programs.

Its purpose is to fund early-career academic researchers whose scientific pursuits show outstanding promise for supporting the Department of Defense, while also promoting their professional development, it added.

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