Week in Review: Dec 6 – Dec 12

December 11, 2015

Meet the Military-Funded Artificial Intelligence that Learns as Fast as a Human
A computer program, funded in large part by the U.S. military, has displayed the ability to learn and generate new ideas as quickly and accurately as can a human. While the scope of the research was limited to understanding handwritten characters, the breakthrough could have big consequences for military’s ability to collect, analyze and act on image data, according to the researchers and military scientists. That, in turn, could lead to far more capable drones, far faster intelligence collection, and far swifter targeting through artificial intelligence.

December 7, 2015

SF State physicist named fellow in American Physical Society
Zhigang Chen, San Francisco State University professor of physics and astronomy, has been elected to fellowship in the American Physical Society (APS) in recognition of his exceptional contributions to the field of physics.

The Cocktail Party Problem
Gerald Kidd (from left), Jayaganesh Swaminathan, and Elin Roverud, a SAR potdoctoral associate, study the cocktail party problem: why it’s so hard to distinguish one voice in a crowd and can musical training help?

Nanotube letters spell progress
Never mind the ABCs. Rice University scientists interested in nanotubes are studying their XYΩs. Carbon nanotubes grown in a furnace aren’t always straight. Sometimes they curve and kink, and sometimes they branch off in several directions. The Rice researchers realized they now had the tools available to examine just how tough those branches are.

MCornell Tech announced on Thursday, December 10, the formation of one of the world’s leading research groups specializing in cybersecurity, privacy and cryptography. All four scientists in the group are known for their influence on industry, non-profit and government practice, as well as for their highly-cited and award-winning research results.
http://tech.cornell.edu/news/cornell-tech-assembles-leading-global-experts-for-new-cybersecurity-team

Week in Review: Nov 29 – Dec 5

December 4, 2015

Nanoscale drawbridges open path to color displays
A new method for building “drawbridges” between metal nanoparticles may allow electronics makers to build full-color displays using light-scattering nanoparticles that are similar to the gold materials that medieval artisans used to create red stained-glass.

December 3, 2015

Scientists see the light on microsupercapacitors
Rice University researchers who pioneered the development of laser-induced graphene have configured their discovery into flexible, solid-state microsupercapacitors that rival the best available for energy storage and delivery.

December 2, 2015

With proper direction, drones can boost commerce
The use of drones as observation vehicles has become increasingly popular. But when a drone is assigned to monitor a particular region, it’s crucial to devise an algorithm that makes certain it goes to the right places. John Carlsson, assistant professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, is tackling this issue. His latest work, which focuses on resource distribution using drones, has received the Air Force Office of Scientific Research award granted to only 42 scientists and engineers in research institutions across the United States.

 

 

Week in Review: Nov 22 – Nov 28

November 24, 2015

Stanford physicists set quantum record by using photons to carry messages from electrons over a distance of 1.2 miles
Researchers from Stanford have advanced a long-standing problem in quantum physics – how to send “entangled” particles over long distances.
http://news.stanford.edu/2015/11/24/cryptography-quantum-tangle-112415/

ECE alum receives 2016 IEEE Donald G. Fink Award
IEEE has awarded the 2016 IEEE Donald G. Fink Award to an international team of researchers that includes an alumnus of the department of electrical and computer engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The award is given for the outstanding survey, review, or tutorial paper in any of the IEEE Transactions, Journals, Magazines, or Proceedings. The team reported on a “bioinspired CMOS current-mode polarization imaging sensor based on the compound eye of the mantis shrimp” in the Proceedings of the IEEE. Among the potential applications for the sensor is the early diagnosis of cancerous lesions.
http://engineering.jhu.edu/ece/2015/11/24/ece-alum-receives-2016-ieee-donald-g-fink-award/#.V5EKIzZf1ER

AIAA honors UTA’s Frank Lewis with 2016 Intelligent Systems Award
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics will honor professor Frank Lewis, head of the University of Texas at Arlington’s Advanced Controls and Sensors Group, with the society’s 2016 Intelligent Systems Award in recognition of his work to advance the capabilities of autonomous aircraft systems. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-11/uota-ahu112415.php

AFOSR – The importance of basic science in science diplomacy

by Erin Crawley
Air Force Office of Scientific Research

11/23/2015 – ARLINGTON, Va. – The Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has a rich history of global engagement, building international partnerships and funding world class basic research scientists to support the science and technology aspects of the Air Force mission.

It seems now more than ever in this globalized era, that if the United States wants to hold its place as the world leader in technological advances and cutting-edge science, continued international engagement is a strategic must. Combining diplomatic efforts with U.S science and technology goals can be a wise approach to achieve that objective.

Dr. E. William Colglazier, former Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State (STAS), and currently a Visiting Scientist at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), would agree. A strong advocate of science diplomacy, he has worked with AFOSR Program Officer, Dr. Sofi Bin-Salamon, on international collaborations with South Africa, Italy and Australia over the past three years. The relationship between AFOSR and Dr. Colglazier rested on a single overarching principle – mutual trust. From that foundation, AFOSR and STAS set forth on an interagency strategy that opened unique pathways to build international partnerships.

“What I found is that AFOSR is one of those institutions that learned very early on the importance of what globalization is in terms of maintaining U.S. excellence in science and technology. I certainly want the U.S to be the world leader. If the U.S. is going to stay in the forefront, we’ve got to find out who the very good people are in other places doing interesting work and go out and engage with them,” Colglazier said.

Colglazier continued, “So the fact that AFOSR is engaged around the world, it has offices overseas, plus it can fund basic unclassified fundamental research, is surely the crown jewel of American science.”

link graphic A photo of Dr. E. William Colglazier, former Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State, and currently a Visiting Scientist at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Over the past three years, Dr. E. William Colglazier, a strong advocate of science diplomacy, collaborated with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to build partnerships with leading scientists and engineers of South Africa, Italy and Australia to strengthen and advance international engagement through science. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Cherie Cullen)

Colglazier’s first engagement with AFOSR was when he was invited to collaborate on the 2011 South Africa Joint Services & Technology Workshop, held in South Africa. “I think AFOSR found it useful to go with someone from the State Department in a joint effort with the Department of Defense (DoD) to help emphasize why it is in the interest of the South African researchers as well as in the interest of the U.S. to develop these relationships,” Colglazier said.

At the time, AFOSR was scouting the best universities, research laboratories, and companies performing unique fundamental science in South Africa, Italy and Australia that might be relevant to AFOSR’s mission. Since then the joint efforts of Dr. Colglazier and Dr. Bin-Salamon led to an unprecedented DoD basic research engagement in continental Africa by building linkages with S&T organizations such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR); the African Laser Centre, the Minerals Technology Laboratory, and many others. These relationships created partnership opportunities not just for AFOSR, but also for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Army Research Laboratory, Office of Naval Research, Army Corp of Engineers, and United States Africa Command. In addition, AFOSR has gone on to fund and build relationships with top African scientists in the areas of materials science, physics, sensors and electronics and hosted the 2014 Joint Services & OSD Africa Technical Exchange, Arlington, VA.

Colglazier sees this new DoD basic research engagement in continental Africa as a great example of what he calls science diplomacy. He says using diplomacy to help advance our relations with other countries and advance the global scientific enterprise is essential.

“While historically, the U.S. has engaged in science and diplomacy efforts both in times of peace and war, it is especially important now for there to be universal acceptance by the U.S. government of the importance of international science and cooperation and its impact on protecting the United States,” Colglazier said.

To further support the efforts in Africa during this time, Dr. Bin-Salamon reached out to Professor Geraldine Richmond, Presidential Chair in Science, Professor of Chemistry at University of Oregon, National Academy of Science member, and President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, to join forces with AFOSR to visit CSIR and universities in South Africa in hopes of expanding research activities in Africa.

Richmond is a passionate advocate for women in science and is also the Director and co-founder of COACh, a grass-roots organization based at the University of Oregon, assisting in the advancement of women scientists and engineers in both the U.S. and in developing countries. “At that time I accompanied Sofi and a team from AFOSR along with other agencies, to visit CSIR and universities in South Africa, I was very interested in helping to increase research collaborations between scientists in the U.S. and in Africa, especially women scientists who often get overlooked in international collaborations,” Richmond said.

Richmond says the importance of basic science often comes up in discussions at the outset of these joint efforts, in both developing and developed countries. She says this is where AFOSR can assist in international collaborative ventures.

“In many less developed countries, in Africa and Asia, basic science, what I call ‘discovery science’, is a luxury that many believe they cannot afford.   With limited resources I often see the strategy of these countries to instead want to invest in development or applications science rather than discovery science, relying on the more scientifically advanced countries to provide that fundamental knowledge. While I believe that this is a wise choice it is short term oriented. Many of the scientists in those countries still have an interest in doing fundamental science but they generally know that they will likely need international collaborations to do that, or funding from outside of their country. AFOSR can play a role in both assisting in collaborations between U.S. scientists and those in less developed countries and also help to fund discovery science in those countries,” Richmond explained.

“I believe that we have a lot to learn from such joint ventures. In many parts of the world, problems that they face today often foreshadow what we in the U.S. will face in the future. Climate change is a good example of that.   Learning and working with scientists in these countries not only helps them cope with those problems but also helps us prepare for the future. AFOSR can help to bring scientists from different countries together to solve common problems, creating international networks that are necessary for solving global problems that do not have boundaries. This is where AFOSR can have a huge impact,” Richmond said.

That same year Bin-Salamon and Colglazier worked together to build strategic basic research and diplomatic collaborations between the U.S. and Australia by working with the Australian government and the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF). This eventually led AFOSR to leverage the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) that resulted in many successful partnerships with the Australian research landscape involving the Australian Department of Education and Training; the Department of Industry and Science; Australian Academy of Science, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation; and Australian universities.

Over the past four years the extensive collaborative efforts between AFOSR and the Australian Government resulted in three successful major engagements, with the most recent one, the US-Australia Enabling Technologies Technical Exchange Meeting, taking place in May 2015 in Arlington, Va.

Two key players from the Education, Science and Technology Branch of the Embassy of Australia, Mr. Michael Schwager, former Minister-Counsellor for Education, Science and Technology and Ms. Laura Rahn, Deputy Director for Science and Technology, along with Mrs. Rosie Hicks, ANFF CEO, collaborated with AFOSR to be inclusive of Australian researchers from all Australian universities and publically funded research agencies as part of the program agenda. Australian researchers were chosen to participate depending on possible new areas of collaboration between Australian and U.S. participants and the potential to enhance international cooperation in the development, operation and use of research infrastructure.

The result was an amazing gathering of more than 80 participants from the U.S. and Australia. Thirty-five researchers from 17 Australian universities and four publically funded research agencies were in attendance and presented to a range of U.S. research funding agencies and universities. This year’s workshop was the largest one thus far, attracting more candidates and participants than in previous years, creating a collaborative innovative environment for researchers to discuss their cutting edge research.

“In addition to the Enabling Technologies Workshop, the Australian Government also supported a pilot research placement program in 2014 which placed Australian researchers in AFOSR funded labs across the U.S.. This was a successful way to continue the ongoing linkages between Australian and AFOSR funded researchers by enabling them to interact face to face in the lab with their US counterpart,” said Schwager, Head of the Science & Commercialisation Division in the Australian Federal Department of Industry & Science.

Schwager continued, “It is through these activities that the Australian Government hopes to strengthen our connections with AFOSR further and to foster future innovations.”

Following engagements in continental Africa and Australia, the pattern of creating relationships between AFOSR and global civilian research organizations repeated in Italy in the following years.

In 2013 Colglazier introduced Bin-Salamon to Mr. Giulio Busulini, Scientific Attaché at the Embassy of Italy in Washington D.C., to establish a science and technology dialogue with the Italian S&T community. Since then they have been coordinating together on several fronts, to include very successful collaborations with Italian science organizations.

In addition, Bin-Salamon and Busulini worked diligently with representatives from U.S. Department of State, Italian Ministry of Research, the Italian Ministry of Defense, and the Italian Industries Federation for Aerospace, Defense and Security; to organize the AFOSR/Italy Technical Exchange as part of the US-Italy Defense S&T Dialogue. The effort established interagency engagements with the National Research Council of Italy (CNR) through the AFOSR/NIH/CNR Technical Exchange and the AFOSR/DARPA/NCI Strategic Workshop, and CIRA Italian Aerospace Research Centre that manages one of the top hypersonics testing facility in the world. In unprecedented fashion, CIRA has participated in AFOSR Program Reviews to engage the USAF basic research enterprise, and the Embassy of Italy worked in concert with AFOSR to support projects and researcher exchanges between Italian universities and AFOSR-funded academic laboratories. By opening new doors with CNR and CIRA, there are now opportunities to enable scientist from the U.S. to use the CIRA testing facilities for basic research purposes. Collaborators hope this will also create opportunities for more technology transfers for the DoD and aerospace industry.

“CIRA gave their first presentation to AFOSR at the US-Italy Joint Defense S&T Dialogue, held in 2013 in Washington, D.C., and showed to the U.S. Program managers how they might use the testing facilities for specific scientific areas. In addition, during this meeting, CIRA also communicated their interest in some joint research efforts,” Busulini said.

Appreciative of the newly established relationship with AFOSR, Busulini said, “This collaboration enabled us to bring CIRA in the conversation. Our relationship with AFOSR helped to accelerate the progress to start a more open dialogue in basic research”, Busulini said.

Another positive outcome resulting from the science and technology dialogue between AFOSR and the Italian Government is that the Ministry of Defense of Italy is moving toward more collaborative opportunities in basic science.

“AFOSR has mechanisms in place that make it very simple to fund and co-fund opportunities while making more efficient and economically beneficial investments. Additionally, the AFOSR model encourages long-term science and technology strategies that enable international partners to better connect with new scientific frontiers,” Busulini said.

While the success of these collaborations with continental Africa, Australia and Italy are the result of a lot of hard work by very committed and dedicated governments, scientists, program officers, academic institutions and industry partners, some of these relationships never would have been established without Colglazier in the mix.

“Dr. Colglazier’s partnership was central in our initiative to create a new international basic research landscape for AFOSR,” said Dr. Bin-Salamon. “By working together in a way that complemented our resources, we achieved successes that would not have occurred otherwise.”

A photo of Dr. E. William Colglazier and Dr. Sofi Bin-Salamon.

Dr. E. William Colglazier and Dr. Sofi Bin-Salamon share a common view of partnering with scientists around the world to advance the U.S. scientific enterprise while enabling the international community to solve global problems. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Cherie Cullen)

Through science diplomacy we can increase our global reach and help to influence a better future. “For me, science diplomacy is not about using science as a tool to advance our diplomatic goals like influencing the behavior of other countries and their investments, but it is also about using diplomacy in international engagement to advance the U.S. scientific enterprise,” added Colglazier.

The efforts of the State Department and AFOSR working together have helped to strengthen that enterprise. Colglazier expressed his appreciation in working with AFOSR, “Dr. Sofi Bin-Salamon has been a very valued colleague of mine and I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s been my partner in terms of engagement together, in Africa and in other countries. He’s an example of one of these bright young scientists who has come into the public policy sphere through these fellowship programs, originally through the AAAS, and who have become civil servants and very important components of the strategy of agencies like AFOSR for international engagement around the world.”

Dr. Colglazier is currently a Visiting Scientist at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Find more information about Dr. Colglazier’s work in this area at: The United States Looks to the Global Science, Technology, and Innovation Horizon, and Platform of Enhancing Global Academic Strategic Collaboration in Science (PEGASCIS).

ABOUT AFOSR:

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research, located in Arlington, Virginia, continues to expand the horizon of scientific knowledge through its leadership and management of the Air Force’s basic research program. As a vital component of the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFOSR’s mission is to discover, shape and champion basic science that profoundly impacts the future Air Force. Through its international enterprise AFOSR supports the Air Force science and technology community by identifying foreign technological capabilities and accomplishments that can be applied to Air Force needs.

To stay up-to-date on the latest AFOSR happenings, please join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Week in Review: 11/15/15 – 11/21/15

November 21, 2015

Hawker hunters
FALCONRY is less fashionable now than it was in days of yore. But, over the past few years, sharp-eyed ramblers in south Wales may have witnessed an updated version of this ancient pastime. Since 2012, in a project sponsored by the United States Air Force, Caroline Brighton and Graham Taylor of Oxford University have been flying peregrine falcons (see picture) and Harris’s hawks over the Black Mountains of Monmouthshire to study how these birds chase their prey. Ms Brighton hopes to gain a doctorate from the research. The USAF hopes the birds may be able to teach it a trick or two about intercepting targets, both in the air (the speciality of peregrines) and on the ground (the speciality of Harris’s hawks). http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21678765-american-air-force-sponsoring-zoologists-oxford-hawker-hunters

November 20, 2015

New UTA research will automatically check for bugs in cyber-physical systems
Taylor Johnson, an assistant professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department, and co-PI Christoph Csallner, an associate professor in that department, will investigate how to automate improvement of development environments for cyber-physical systems with a $498,437 grant from the National Science Foundation.
http://www.uta.edu/news/releases/2015/11/johnson-csallner-nsf.php

Strange quantum phenomenon achieved at room temperature in semiconductor wafers
Entanglement is one of the strangest phenomena predicted by quantum mechanics, the theory that underlies most of modern physics: It says that two particles can be so inextricably connected that the state of one particle can instantly influence the state of the other—no matter how far apart they are. https://news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/11/20/strange-quantum-phenomenon-achieved-room-temperature-semiconductor-wafers

November 17, 2015

New form of secret light language keeps other animals in the dark
A new form of secret light communication used by marine animals has been discovered by researchers from the Queensland Brain Institute at The University of Queensland. The findings may have applications in satellite remote sensing, biomedical imaging, cancer detection, and computer data storage. Dr Yakir Gagnon, Professor Justin Marshall and colleagues previously showed that mantis shrimp (Gonodactylaceus falcatus) can reflect and detect circular polarising light, an ability extremely rare in nature. Until now, no-one has known what they use it for.
http://www.qbi.uq.edu.au/content/new-form-of-secret-light-communication-keep-other-animals-dark

Brushing up peptides boosts their potential as drugs
Peptides promise to be useful drugs, but they’re hard to handle. Because peptides, like proteins, are chains of amino acids, our bodies will digest them and excrete the remnants. Even if delivered to their targets intact through intravenous injection, peptides mostly can’t get into cells without help. Chemists at the University of California, San Diego, have found a simple, potentially broadly useful way to send peptides into cells and tissues. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-11/uoc–bup111615.php

Tough enough: Stanford and IBM test the limits of toughness in nanocomposites By slipping springy polystyrene molecules between layers of tough yet brittle composites, researchers made materials stronger and more flexible, in the process demonstrating the theoretical limits of how far this toughening technique could go. http://news.stanford.edu/2015/11/16/composite-new-material-111615/

UT Arlington work to safeguard cyber-physical systems made with legacy subsystems

A University of Texas at Arlington computer scientist will work to ensure that using legacy components in cyber-physical systems – those that have been reused from prior versions of a cyber-physical system in subsequent versions – will not result in failures due to unforeseen requirements made between software and physical components.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-11/uota-uaw111615.php

November 16, 2015

Bats use weighty wings to land upside down
In order to roost upside down on cave ceilings or tree limbs, bats need to perform an aerobatic feat unlike anything else in the animal world. Researchers from Brown University have shown that it’s the extra mass in bats’ beefy wings that makes the maneuver possible.
https://news.brown.edu/articles/2015/11/batflip

UW team refrigerates liquids with a laser for the first time
In a study to be published the week of Nov. 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team used an infrared laser to cool water by about 36 degrees Fahrenheit — a major breakthrough in the field.
http://www.washington.edu/news/2015/11/16/uw-team-refrigerates-liquids-with-a-laser-for-the-first-time/

Tough enough: Stanford and IBM test the limits of toughness in nanocomposites
Researchers at Stanford and IBM have tested the upper boundaries of mechanical toughness in a class of lightweight nanocomposites toughened by individual molecules, and offered a new model for how they get their toughness.
http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/november/composite-new-material-111615.html

Brushing Up Peptides Boosts their Potential as Drugs
Chemists at the University of California, San Diego, have found a simple, potentially broadly useful way to send peptides into cells and tissues.
http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/brushing_up_peptides_boosts_their_potential_as_drugs