Research Projects

Current projects

The following are the main projects that keep me busy these days (2015-2016):

  • The NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track I The Solar Energy-Water-Environment Nexus in Nevada proposal, a state-wide project that received about $23 million for the period 2013-2018 ($20 million from NSF and $3 million from NSHE). I am project co-PI, organization (UNR) PI, and cyberinfrastructure (CI) lead scientist for this project, whose Project PI and State Director is Dr. Gayle Dana from the Desert Research Institute (DRI) and NSHE (Nevada System of Higher Education) EPSCoR Office. The other organization PIs are Dr. Robert Boehm, Dr. Jacimaria Batista (UNLV), and Dr. Markus Berli (DRI). The project has three main components: the scientific nexus (solar energy-environment-water research), cyberinfrastructure (CI), and human infrastructure/workforce development. In the CI component I oversee research and development work done by over 12 faculty, 4 software/data engineers, several CI technicians, 6 graduate students, and 3 undergraduate students in the areas of data processing and analysis, software engineering and human-computer interactions, communication networks, and database architecture and data management. My own research in this project focuses on software engineering and human-computer interaction (HCI), with emphasis on practices, process models, and software tools that can streamline CI engineering and facilitate scientific and education work. More information on this new project can be found from the project’s Nexus website and from this early Nevada Today press release. The centerpiece of the project’s cyberinfrastructure is the Nevada Research Data Center (NRDC).

  • Another funded project, this time under NSF EPScoR RII Track 2 program, Collaborative Research: The Western Consortium for Watershed Analysis, Visualization, and Experiments (WC-WAVE). The project is led by Dr. Gayle Dana (DRI and Nevada NSF EPSCoR Office), with 3 co-PIs in Nevada and about 25 senior personnel in the Western Consortium states of NV, NM, and ID. Idaho PI is Dr. Peter Goodwin (U. of Idaho and ID NSF EPScoR Office) and New Mexico PI is Dr. William Michener (U. of New Mexico and NM NSF EPSCoR Office). The project runs from August 2013 to July 2016 and the total funding received is $6,000,000 (each state: $2,000,000; UNR budget: $872,700). Given that mechanisms for observed and projected hydrologic change in high-elevation catchments are poorly understood, especially with respect to snowpack dynamics, surface-water/groundwater linkages, and interactions with vegetation, the Western Consortium will work on investigating them and collaboratively advancing watershed science, workforce development, and education with CI-enabled discovery and innovation. As senior personnel/UNR co-PI, co-lead of the CI data group, and member of the CI visualization group I contribute to the CI team’s efforts to create a virtual watershed framework aimed at facilitating interdisciplinary watershed research and discovery through innovative visualizations and streamlined data management. A couple of early press releases about this project are available from the Desert Research Institute, Nevada and Eurekalert.

    Projects recently completed

  • The earlier NSF EPSCoR RII funded project Nevada Infrastructure for Climate Change Science, Education and Outreach, a state-wide grant application that received about $21.7 million for the period 2008-2013 ($15 million from NSF and $6.7 million from NSHE). I have served as UNR co-PI and the leader of the projects CI component, which is one of the project’s six groups. The CI group, involving participants from UNR, UNLV, and DRI, consists of 3 faculty members (Dr. Sergiu Dascalu, Dr. Fred Harris, Dr. Shahram Latifi), 3 software developers (Mike McMahon, Eric Fritzinger, Dr. Richard Kelley), and 3 PhD students (Likhitha Ravi, Ivan Gibbs, Ershad Sharifahmadian). On a rolling basis 1 or 2 Master and 1 to 3 undergraduate students have also been involved. Together with the other members of the CI group I worked on new software solutions for model and data interoperability (e.g., the DEMETER software framework, the SUNPRISM environment), other tools to facilitate scientific research, and system and software architecture. More information on the project, which will end on August 31, 2013, can be found in this NSF Science 360 video and on the Nevada Climate Change Portal (NCCP), the centerpiece of the cyber infrastructure developed in the state with support from this grant. In the recently funded proposal (mentioned above), NCCP will evolve into a larger, multi-discipline and multi-project oriented Nevada Research Data Center (NRDC) that will initially incorporate solar energy and additional water and environment data and information, and later data and information from other scientific projects pursued in Nevada.

  • Another NSF EPSCoR supported project, in which I have served as UNR co-PI, has focused on Cyberinfrastructure Developments for the Western Consortium of Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico . Throughout 2009-2013 the project received $6 million ($2 million for each state) and involved collaborating with partners from New Mexico (e.g., Dr. William Michener, the PI of the multi-institutional, multi-national NSF-funded Data ONE project, and Dr. Karl Benedict, both from the University of New Mexico) and Idaho (e.g., CI group lead Dr. Dan Ames, from Idaho State University). Our Nevada group consisted of two faculty members (Fred Harris and Sergiu Dascalu), one postdoctoral research associate (Dr. Rakhi Motwani), 2 PhD students (Jigar Patel and Qiping Yan), and one Master student (Aarti Dhone). In collaboration with our Western 3-State Consortium partners, the Nevada CI group has focused on topics pertaining to model and data interoperability as well as on exchanging metadata and data across the three states.

  • The ONR-funded grant Large-Scale Biologically Realistic Models of Brain Dynamics Applied to Intelligent Robotic Decision Making (2009-2013, $827,000). Started in the former Goodman Computational Brain Lab at UNR by the late Professor Phil Goodman, the project is led by Dr. Frederick C. Harris, Jr., the Director of the new UNR Brain Computation Lab. In this project I served as co-PI and contributed with my software engineering and HCI expertise to topics that encompass goal-related navigation of neuromorphic virtual robots, real-time human-robot interaction, visualization of large-scale neural networks, CPU/GPU-based simulation environment for large scale neural modeling, and software translators between the Brain Lab’s own NCS (NeuroCortical Simulator) modeling language and the more general NeuroML. Also involved in the project have been a Research Assistant Professor (Dr. Laurence Jayet Bray, from July 2013 at George Mason University), 1 PhD student (Roger Hoang), 3 Master students (Gareth Ferneyhough, Devyani Tanna, Nate Jordan) and 3 undergraduate students (Alex Jones, Denver Liu, Justin Cardoza). Collaborators on this grant have included scientists from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, and University of Bonn, Germany.

    Other current activities

  • Preparation of two grant applications, both for NSF.

  • Exploration and supervision of several software-engineering and human-computer interaction topics for graduate dissertations and theses (I currently advise 6 PhD and 5 Master students).

  • Work on a couple of journal publications.

  • Work on several conference papers.