Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering

Department of Defense awards grants to engineers for equipment, instrumentation

Department of Defense awards grants to engineers for equipment, instrumentation

San Diego, Calif., July 24, 2015 -- The Department of Defense awarded 14 grants to researchers at the University of California, San Diego, that will help scientists buy a range of equipment to image the brain, study coastal environments and design and build better antennas for electronics.

The Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) grants support the development of instruments that have a wide range of military applications. Three researchers from the Jacobs School of Engineering received grants: Shaya Fainman and Daniel Sievenpiper in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Geno Pawlak in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

In addition, eight researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and chemistry professor Neal Devaraj also received awards.

“These awards will enable significant advancements that have immediate importance to military applications and long-term societal benefits,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “I am especially proud of our researchers this year because of the unprecedented number of awards our university received. This underscores the significance of our work, as well as the positive impact and return on investment that our campus provides.”

The awards, administered through the Office of Naval Research (ONR), continue a history of collaboration between UC San Diego and the U.S. Navy. The connection started with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography during the years immediately prior to World War II, when the Navy would charter Scripps’ sole research vessel, E.W. Scripps, for research. 

"DURIP is an important component in ONR's strategy for development and employment of new research instrumentation,” said Frank Herr, director of ONR’s Ocean Battlespace Sensing Department.  “Our at-sea research initiatives often rely on DURIP instruments to bring forth the novel science at the heart of the proposed efforts."

Below are in-depth descriptions of the grants received by Jacobs School researchers:

Shaya Fainman, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received an award to purchase a tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS) system, which is a high-resolution characterization tool for nanotechnology research. Fainman’s research focuses on the design and realization of ultrafast and nanoscale optical systems. The TERS system will add strain characterization capabilities in the studies of nonlinear metamaterials, nanolasers and nanophotonic devices. The new instrument will also advance researchers’ capabilities in biomolecule detection and brain imaging.


Mechanical engineering professor Geno Pawlak has received funding for an instrumentation system that will allow his team to make in situ measurements of water properties and hydrodynamic forcing in coastal environments. Pawlak's research focuses on turbulence and stratified flow dynamics in coastal environments. The system includes two novel wave-powered autonomous vertical profilers called WireWalkers, developed by the Ocean Physics Group at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. These instruments have been shown to be reliable for fast, high-resolution profiling in coastal waters. The instrumentation array is designed to analyze the structure of internal waves on a vertical and temporal axis, as well as biological responses in tropical reefs. It will be deployed in support of the North Arabian Sea Circulation project funded by ONR in the Seychelles archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

Kal Seshadri, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering received an award to design and build a "High Pressure Combustion Experimental Facility" (HPCEF) that will allow researchers to characterize fundamental aspects of combustion for jet fuels, diesel, gasoline and biofuels. This will be one of the few facilities in the world that will allow fundamental experimental studies on combustion to be carried out at elevated pressures up to 60 bar---about 60 times the pressure in the earth's atmosphere. The data at these elevated pressures will be used to test the accuracy of predictive models required to advance current understanding of fundamental chemical processes that characterize the combustion of these fuels. The data will provide fundamental knowledge that is relevant to the Army's need for high-performance propulsion systems, that are designed to  operate at high temperature and high pressure.  In addition, the data will be crucial in developing alternative fuels, thus contributing to energy independence, security and minimizing global warming. Seshadri is an expert in energy conversion in reacting flows. His research is focused on then mathematical description of fundamental aspects of reacting flows with application to ignition and extinction of flames, the combustion of commercial fuels, alcohols and biodiesel, and the mechanisms involved in the formation of pollutants and the destruction of toxic compounds.

Electrical and computer engineering professor Dan Sievenpiper received a grant to purchase two separate pieces of equipment to aid his research in electromagnetics. The first is a major addition to his high-performance computing cluster, which enables more students to perform larger and faster simulations to design antennas, metamaterials, circuits and other electromagnetic structures. The second is an arbitrary waveform generator. This device will work with the group’s existing equipment to measure the effects of high-power microwave signals on electronics. This will enable the group to develop coatings to protect sensitive electronics from damage due to high-power microwaves. Sievenpiper's research is focused on novel electromagnetic structures for antennas and other applications.

Other researchers who received awards were: oceanographers Matthew Alford, Falk Feddersen, Shaun Johnston, Andrew Lucas, Eric Terrill, Jennifer MacKinnon and Amy Waterhouse, as well as physical oceanographer Ken Melvile and marine bioacoustician Ana Širović. Pawlak, from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, works closely with Alford and Lucas

Print News Release  Email News Release

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Media Contacts

Ioana Patringenaru
Jacobs School of Engineering
Phone: 858-822-0899 Liezel Labios
Jacobs School of Engineering
Phone: 858-246-1124