Jian Ren recipient of the Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award


February 19, 2009

Photo of Jongeun ChoiJongeun Choi, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and of electrical and computer engineering, and Jian Ren,Photo of Jian Ren assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, have each received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award.

Choi received the award for his proposal, “Multi-Agent Systems and Gaussian Processes: Applications in Environmental Sciences.” Ren received the award for his proposal, “Towards Cognitive Communications in Wireless Networks.”

Each received a five-year $400,000 grant.

Choi’s work is in developing and analyzing distributed learning and cooperative control algorithms so that a network of mobile sensing vehicles can gather data and learn an unknown field of interest in order to perform specific tasks. Choi’s research has applications in the environmental sciences.

Due to recent drastic global climate changes, it is necessary to monitor the changing ecosystems over vast regions on land, in our oceans, and in our lakes, Choi explains.

“Emerging technologies in robotic sensor networks and field prediction algorithms can offer great potential to deal with such issues,” he says. “The main purpose of my work is to develop control algorithms for a network of mobile sensing vehicles to explore and predict an unknown field of interest.”

Applications include prediction and tracing of harmful algal blooms in lakes, toxic contaminants in public water systems, and pollutants in the air. “For instance, tracing and predicting harmful algal blooms in a lake could be accomplished using proposed algorithms and a network of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) with fluorescence-based sensors,” Choi says.

In other applications, a group of autonomous mobile robots, combined with chemical warfare sensors, could be used for detecting a concentration field of chemical warfare agents.

The project offers training experiences for undergraduate and graduate students and provides opportunities to foster collaborative research with MSU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.

During summer residential programs sponsored by the College of Engineering’s Diversity Programs Office and the Office of Recruitment and K-12 Outreach, K-12 and underrepresented students will be able to try out some of the biologically inspired mobile robots – robots that mimic flocking birds or swimming fish – that have been developed in Choi’s lab.

Ren’s research will significantly improve the efficiency, security, and interoperability of communications between versatile wireless devices. His work introduces innovative methodologies in architecture development, system design, and secure and efficient network management.

Ren explains that today's “cognitive radio” – an intelligent wireless communication system that is aware of its surrounding environment – can perceive a spectrum hole (or lack of activity on a frequency within a portion of the radio spectrum) and then transmit on the unutilized frequencies.

However, he says, lack of user coordination and network control raises serious issues in efficiency, security, and resource waste in wireless environments.

“My research is an effort to develop an ideal human-technology platform for e-commerce, national security, environmental protection, health monitoring, and many future applications that could benefit from fast and reliable information exchange,” says Ren.

The technological advances resulting from this project will be integrated into undergraduate and graduate curricula, as well as into K-12 outreach activities. Thus, Ren’s work will have a significant impact on the training of a highly skilled and diverse workforce in the area of cybersecurity and wireless networking.

The CAREER award, one of NSF’s most prestigious and competitive awards for junior researchers, recognizes those who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research.

“These CAREER awards are tangible expressions of validation from Jongeun’s and Jian’s peers concerning their research goals and plans,” says Satish Udpa, dean of MSU’s College of Engineering. “I am delighted to see their peers confirm that they are on a very productive research trajectory.”

Choi received a BS in mechanical design and production engineering from Yonsei University at Seoul, Republic of Korea, in 1998. He received his MS and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 2002 and 2006, respectively.

Ren earned his BA and MS from Shaanxi Normal University in China in 1988 and 1991, respectively. He received a PhD degree in electrical and computer engineering from Xidian University in 1994.

Award Abstracts

View Choi’s NSF award abstract at http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=0846547.

View Ren’s NSF award abstract at http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=0845812.

Award Videos

Jonguen Choi talks about his NSF award (.wmv)
(file size: 16.33 MB, file length: 00:01:48)
Jonguen Choi of the MSU Colege of Engineering talks about the significance of his NSF Faculty Early Career Development Award.

Jian Ren talks about his NSF award (.wmv)
(file size: 7.7 MB, file length: 00:01:50)
Jian Ren of the MSU College of Engineering talks about the significance of his NSF Faculty Early Career Development Award.

Award Description: 
CAREER: Towards Cognitive Communications in Wireless Networks
Electrical & Computer Engineering