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Press Release 08-169
New Research to Probe Human Mind and Future Infrastructure Systems

NSF awards from the Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation

Photo of the anatomically correct testbed hand.

The Anatomically Correct Testbed Hand has three fully actuated fingers.
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October 2, 2008

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) has announced 12 grants for fiscal year 2008, awarding a total of $23,779,056 over four years to 54 investigators representing 20 institutions.

Interdisciplinary teams will pursue transformative, fundamental research in two areas of great promise: understanding the brain and how its abilities may be used through cognitive optimization and prediction; and developing ways to make complex, interdependent infrastructure systems more resilient and sustainable.

What researchers learn from the brain may open many new paths of discovery, in areas such as computing, robotics, medicine and education. Understanding how the brain moves the hand, for example, could illuminate entirely novel ways to help people who are paralyzed or use prosthetic limbs. Understanding how the brain visually recognizes objects will enable advances in artificial vision systems, robotic intelligence and more.

The second area of research will examine complex challenges in our nation's interwoven infrastructures as demands on these interdependent systems are changing. Researchers will investigate how to increase their resiliency and sustainability as, for example, numerous electric vehicles interact with the power grid. In addition to drawing electricity from the grid, electric vehicles may send stored energy to the grid. New research may find a role for these vehicles in stabilizing the electric power grid during a catastrophe and in managing fluctuations in electricity from renewable energy sources.

"These areas represent two exciting, emerging frontiers of engineering inquiry that can address important national needs and grand engineering challenges," says Sohi Rastegar, director of EFRI. "They will require an interdisciplinary approach to achieve a significant leap or paradigm shift in engineering knowledge."

The NSF Directorate for Engineering created EFRI in 2006 to fund high-risk, interdisciplinary research that has the potential to transform engineering and other fields. The grants demonstrate the EFRI goal to inspire and enable interdisciplinary teams of experts to expand the limits of our knowledge.

Summaries of the 12 projects: http://www.nsf.gov/eng/efri/fy08awards.jsp.


Media Contacts
Joshua A. Chamot, NSF, (703) 292-7730, jchamot@nsf.gov
Cecile J. Gonzalez, National Science Foundation, (703) 292-8538, cjgonzal@nsf.gov

Program Contacts
Sohi Rastegar, NSF, (703) 292-8305, srastega@nsf.gov

Related Websites
Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI): http://www.nsf.gov/div/index.jsp?org=EFRI
COPN Program Contacts: http://www.nsf.gov/staff/sub_div.jsp?org=EFRI&orgId=5128&from_org=EFRI
RESIN Program Contacts: http://www.nsf.gov/staff/sub_div.jsp?org=EFRI&orgId=5129&from_org=EFRI

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
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For the News Media: http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/


Photo of Steve Potter holding a device that creates a neural network - computer interface.
Steve Potter holds a device used to create an interface between a neural network and a computer.
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Photo of Lamine Mili in front of the Edison Lab in Fort Myers, Fla.
Lamine Mili visiting the Edison Lab in Fort Myers, Fla., in 2004.
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