Two assistant professors receive NSF CAREER awards

Remco Chang and Qiaobing Xu, assistant professors in computer science and biomedical engineering, respectively, received the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award, giving them grants to pursue research in their fields.

Chang is an assistant professor of computer science who received the award for his research on how users interact with computers. He said that his goal of his research is to improve interaction between people and computers in order to make the analysis of large data easier to understand and visualize.

According to Chang, the way users interact with a computer is unique to each individual, a pattern he described as “almost like a fingerprint.”

Chang explained that he started to realize how rich this user interaction pattern was about six or seven years ago, when the financial crisis began. He said that our ability to collect data is rapidly increasing, and with huge amounts of data, analysts are not sure how to approach it. Chang wants to focus on what the computer can do to help make this data more digestible so that analyzing millions of records of data is less overwhelming for analysts, he said.

Xu, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, received the award for his research on new protein-based therapies for diseases such as cancer. He is trying to find a new approach to deliver the protein-based drugs into the cells to stop cancer from growing and prevent other diseases. He started the research four years ago, he said.

Chang explained that in order to qualify for the award, one has to be an assistant professor, tenured within five years. Each qualified applicant is given a maximum of three tries to win the award, and protects the interests of young starting faculty, according to Chang.