3 UB Faculty Members Receive Prestigious NSF Awards

Release Date: November 15, 2000 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Three faculty members in the University at Buffalo's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have received National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development awards.

The award is NSF's most prestigious honor for junior faculty members. Awards range from $200,000 to $500,000, and in duration from four to five years.

Stelios T. Andreadis, Ph.D., of Williamsville, assistant professor of chemical engineering; Ann M. Bisantz, Ph.D., of Batavia, assistant professor of industrial engineering, and Ashim Garg, Ph.D., of Williamsville, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, have received awards totaling $700,000.

Bisantz, who will receive $300,000 over four years, will conduct research on understanding, modeling and supporting human decision-making in complex situations -- a topic she has investigated in the past.

A UB alumnus -- she received bachelor's and master's degrees in industrial engineering -- Bisantz joined the UB faculty in 1997.

"I'm looking at how people make decisions in situations where they need to think about uncertain information -- and in cases where they have to make those decisions quickly," she said. "They can't always wait for the uncertainty to resolve itself."

A medical diagnosis, she noted, is one such example in which individuals often have to make snap judgments.

"Think about an emergency room -- people have to make decisions about what's wrong with people and how to take care of them very quickly," she said. "And they might not be able to tell from all of the available information what specifically is wrong with someone."

Bisantz said she will conduct her research through interactive, computer-simulated experiments "in which participants will make decisions in complex environments," such as manufacturing, aviation, transportation and military situations.

Her research, for which she will cull subjects from the university, will take place in a laboratory environment, she added.

Bisantz said she hopes once the research is completed, she can use the data to develop computer displays, decision aids and training methods, all of which "can lead to improved decision-making performance."

A UB faculty member since 1998, Andreadis will use his four-year, $200,000 NSF award to study gene therapy.

"Although several technologies for gene transfer exist, recombinant retroviruses are used in the majority of gene-therapy clinical trials," he said.

But gene therapy is not being implemented rapidly, Andreadis explained, due to the low efficiency of gene transfer currently attainable with recombinant retroviruses. In "identifying rate-limiting steps of retroviral transduction-the transfer of genetic material from one cell to another by means of a virus-and production by virus producer cells," and designing experiments to overcome the limitations, Andreadis said, "the efficiency of transduction to the levels required for delivery into human cells and most importantly stem cells" will increase.

The thrust of his research, he said, is to "transfer genes to keratinocytes, the cells of the epidermis, which are used to prepare three-dimensional skin substitutes."

These engineered tissues then could be "applied clinically to treat genetic diseases of the skin, or as protein factories to synthesize and secrete proteins...to promote healing of burn traumas or injuries."

Andreadis said his research will focus on developing methods to increase the transduction efficiency of the keratinocyte stem cells, the cells with the highest potential for tissue regeneration.

Garg, who has been a faculty member since 1997, received a four-year, $200,000 grant to conduct information visualization research and education. The goal of his research, he said, "is to develop more effective techniques for visualizing information and helping in information-processing tasks." His project specifically will develop techniques to help construct better graph visualizations, detect clusters in a database using visualization, construct visualizations with greater speed using pre-visualization methods, and compress three-dimensional models.

Garg said he hopes his research eventually results in the development of software that would benefit users of data mining, computer graphics and interactive visualization application. He said he also plans to teach a course on information visualization, develop corresponding course material and familiarize students with research in the field.

Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
News Content Manager
Tel: 716-645-4605