Office of Research, UC Riverside
UCR Federal Grants  
10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Faloutsos, Michail
Professor
Computer Science & Engineering

Award#
008249-002

Project Period
1/28/2016 - 8/31/2017

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
How does web-based malware spread? We use the term web-based malware to describe malware that is distributed through websites, and malicious posts in social networks. We are in an arms race against web-based malware distributors; and as in any war, knowledge is power. The more we know about them, the better we can defend ourselves. Our goal is to understand the dissemination of web-based malware by creating "MalScope", a suite of methods and tools that uses cutting-edge approaches to build spatiotemporal models, generators and sampling techniques for malware dissemination. From a scientific point of view, this project brings together two disciplines: Data Mining and Network Security. The outcome is a suite of novel, sophisticated, and scalable techniques and models that will enhance our understanding of malware dissemination at a large scale. We use two types of web-based malware dissemination data: (1) user machines accessing dangerous sites and downloading web-based malware; and (2) Facebook users being exposed to malicious posts. We already have and will continue to obtain more data from our industry partners (e.g. Symantec's WINE project), open-access projects, or collect on our own (e.g MyPageKeeper).

The broader impact of our work is that it will enable the development of security solutions for end-users and industry. A 15-minute network outage costs a 200-employee company about $40K, while identity theft costs about $1,500 per person on average. By knowing the enemy better, security researchers and industry can more effectively stop the interconnected manifestations of Internet threats: identity theft, the creation of botnets, and DoS attacks. The PIs have a track record of technology transfer, with collaborators at industrial labs (Yahoo, MSR, Symantec, AT&T, IBM), national labs (LLNL, Sandia), open-source software ("Pegasus"), and spin-off startups (StopTheHacker). Educational impacts include developing a new course, providing publicly available educational material, and open-source software.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Franco, Elisa
Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering

Award#
008631-002

Project Period
12/1/2016 - 11/30/2017

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
This award supports student travel to and participation in the 55th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control (CDC), to be held in Las Vegas, NV, December 12-14, 2016. For over fifty years, the CDC has been the world's leading annual forum for scientific and engineering researchers who share an interest in systems and control theory and the foundations of systems and control technology. As in previous years, the 55th CDC will feature the presentation of contributed and invited papers, tutorial sessions, as well as plenary and semi-plenary sessions and workshops. We anticipate that the conference will draw over 1500 participants, including more than 250 students and, recognizing the importance of students to the present and future of the Control Systems Society (CSS), hope that NSF will continue its long-standing tradition of supporting the student travel at CDC, and will join CSS in facilitating the student travel program.

The range of topics covered at the annual CDC is extremely broad, mirroring the varied applications of control and systems theory. The systems theoretic approach has played a critical role in the development of many contemporary infrastructures and technology affecting everyday life. Systems and control theoretic tools are central in the design, operation, and security of cyber-physical systems, where they can inform researchers about ways to make large networks (e.g., power, communication, computer, traffic) robust to deliberate and accidental disturbances.

The CDC provides a unique opportunity for students receiving proposed funds to interact with members of the professional community in a stimulating setting, and to exchange ideas with a broad group of colleagues. The large number of workshops before the conference and the interactive format of many of the presentations will allow additional opportunity for training and learning. Specific outreach effort will be devoted to advertising the conference and the student travel award program to under-represented minorities.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Balandin, Alexander A
Distinguished Professor
Electrical & Computer Eng

Award#
007719-002

Project Period
9/1/2015 - 8/31/2017

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
A large amount of energy is lost as waste heat in many engineering systems such as automobiles and turbomachinery. Significant energy gains may be obtained by efficiently scavenging such waste heat through appropriate energy conversion mechanisms. One particularly promising opportunity lies in the conversion of temperature gradients in time into electricity, referred to as the pyroelectric effect. This project will utilize experiments and theoretical modeling to explore the pyroelectric effect in nanowires, and will build prototype pyroelectric-based energy harvesting microdevices. Research will help understand the nature of pyroelectric effect in nanowires, including the amount of energy that may be realistically harvested from nanowire based devices, performance limits, etc. which will help guide further development of potential energy conversion devices. All three institutions involved in this collaborative research are minority serving institutions located in highly populated Hispanic areas. PIs will leverage this opportunity to excite and recruit minority and women students to the emerging nano/microscale energy harvesting area. The PIs will carry out outreach to local high schools to excite K-12 students about energy harvesting, and encourage them to consider further STEM education and careers.

The technical goal of this combined experimental and theoretical-simulation research is to measure and characterize the pyroelectric effect in nanowires (GaN, ZnO, etc.) for developing micro- and nano-scale devices for thermal energy harvesting and sensors applications. Despite its potential to convert waste heat into usable electricity, the pyroelectric effect has been largely unexplored, in particular at the micro/nanoscale. This is partially due to lack of methodologies for characterization of this effect at small scales. Recent theoretical findings suggest a dramatically higher pyroelectric coefficient in nanowires, similar to enhancements observed in thermoelectric and piezoelectric performance of nanowires, albeit this prediction has not been confirmed experimentally. In this effort, a methodology based on microfabricated devices will be developed to quantitatively measure and characterize the pyroelectric properties of individual suspended nanowires. In addition, theoretical models and computational tools will be developed for (i) interpretation and analysis of the experimental pyroelectric data; (ii) prediction of the pyroelectric response of various nanostructured materials (individual nanowires; nanowires arrays); and (iii) optimization of the nanostructure parameters (material composition, size, shape, interface) for enhancing the pyroelectric voltage. The proposed models will include strong non-uniformity of the polarization distribution in nanostructures and possible phonon and electron confinement effects. Based on the learning from experiment and theory, prototype pyroelectric-based energy harvesting microdevices will be built using a single and an array of nanowires. Experimental data on pyroelectric coefficient of nanowires and dependence on nanowire size, temperature, etc. will contribute to the fundamental understanding of this effect. A fundamental understanding of pyroelectric transport in single nanowires may lead to a new paradigm of high efficiency energy conversion devices that take advantage of nanoscale engineering of materials to optimize pyroelectric performance.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Kumar, Sandeep
Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering

Award#
007643-002

Project Period
8/1/2015 - 7/31/2016

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
Gradient-structured materials are materials which have nanometer sized structure at the surface, and coarser structure at the core. Such materials have demonstrated impressive mechanical performance advantages over materials with homogeneous coarse-grained or nanocrystalline structures. So far, however, the ability to manufacture gradient structured materials for commercial use has not yet been realized. This award supports research to develop deeper scientific understanding of processing parameters that control the microstructures in both thin film and bulk materials, and in particular this EArly-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) award will support demonstration of the fabrication and synthesis of these novel gradient structures. The ability to fabricate these structures will allow for scientific investigation of their behavior, and the new knowledge gained from this research will enable the design of engineered materials with improved resistance to wear and corrosion, and also drastically improved yield strength and toughness. The benefits of this work will manifest in improved performance and product lifetimes for components subjected to extreme engineering environments in automotive, aerospace and machine tools industries.

The research objective of this early-stage work is to explore novel processing approaches for obtaining materials with controllable grain size gradients. To realize the goal of controllable grain size gradients in both thin-film and bulk samples, a systematic investigation of two processing approaches will be carried out, with the specific goal of understanding how processing parameters can be correlated with gradient microstructural evolution. These tasks include sputtering fabrication of gradient titanium thin-films with tailored layer thicknesses, grain size gradients, and graded-interfaces, and surface mechanical attrition treatment of titanium informed by numerical models of microstructural refinement. The scientific insights stemming from this research will provide a clearer picture on the effect of processing conditions on the microstructural evolution of gradient microstructure materials, and facilitate a better understanding of the property space available for gradient nanostructured materials, which may accelerate insertion into future structural and coating applications.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Ghosh, Abhijit
Associate Professor of Geophysics
Earth Sciences

Award#
007506-002

Project Period
6/15/2015 - 5/31/2016

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
This project is a rapid action to deploy a temporary seismological network following the Mw 7.9 earthquake of April 25, 2015 in Nepal. Data collected during the project will be made openly available to the seismological community one month after the array is uninstalled. This data collection impacts the Himalayan region known for its great seismological hazard. Aftershock deployment in the area of the 2015 earthquake will enable seismologists to conduct research, which will increase our understanding of the behavior of the Main Himalayan Thrust, a major underground fault responsible of this and other historical destructive earthquakes in the Himalayan region.

In this project 25 seismic stations will be deployed in the greater epicentral region of the April 25, 2015 earthquake, and in western Nepal where a long-standing gap has accumulated about 10 m of deficit of slip since it last ruptured in 1505. These data will be useful in particular to determine a well-constrained source model of the 2015 earthquake, define the geometry of the Main Himalayan thrust, and analyze the relationship between post-seismic deformation and aftershocks. This deployment will be closely coordinated with another rapid deployment by US universities with 20 additional seismic stations that will increase the size of the monitoring network.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Mahutga, Matthew C
Associate Professor of Sociology
Sociology

Award#
007533-002

Project Period
8/1/2015 - 7/31/2016

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
SES-1528703
Matthew Mahutga
University of California-Riverside

The causes of rising income inequality in advanced capitalist countries are not well understood by social scientists despite more than two decades of dedicated research. This project synthesizes literatures on the two most common researched causes of the increase in inequality: globalization and institutions. It advances both of these literatures by providing an explanation for the paradoxical findings on the distributional effects of economic globalization. This explanation identifies specific mechanisms by which globalization and national institutions interact to produce distinct distributional outcomes across time and space.

This study subjects the arguments to empirical scrutiny, a multilevel analysis of the Luxembourg Income Study's (LIS) individual wage data will be conducted. The bulk of NSF funds will support the harmonization of country-specific occupational categories in order to measure skill and work-place authority more directly than is currently possible, because both of these factors are the key mechanisms by which production globalization should affect inequality. In addition to advancing basic research on the causes of rising income inequality among advanced industrial democracies, this project will provide evidence-based assessments of the future implications of production globalization for income inequality, and of policy options at both the macro and micro levels. In tandem, these can help to ameliorate the impact of production globalization on income inequality, low-skill labor, and labor more generally, in the coming decades.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Stouthamer, Richard
Professor of Entomology
Entomology

Award#
007345-002

Project Period
6/1/2015 - 5/31/2017

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
This project will study the process of evolution of species that live in close association and benefit each other, symbioses. Wolbachia is a bacterium, commonly found in close associations with insects, that co-opts the reproduction of an insect host to ensure its own transmission. The specific lifestyle of Wolbachia, and the ways in which it manipulates insects, provide a unique opportunity to (1) study the evolution of symbiosis, and (2) develop alternative methods for controlling insect populations including disease transmitting mosquitoes and common pests of homes and crops. However, the successful transfer of Wolbachia from one species to new target insect species has proven difficult, likely because Wolbachia is not adapted to the new species of insect since they have not coevolved. The research project will use a novel system to create variation in the genome of an insect species that is already part of a natural symbiosis with Wolbachia. Changes in both the insect and Wolbachia will then be tracked over time, as Wolbachia adapts to the newly created genetic variation present in its host. Beyond informing the development of novel insect control strategies, elucidating the adaptive process in Wolbachia may help us understand other bacteria-host interactions.

The research approach is to create genetic variation in a host insect by making a series of recombinant isofemale lines of the parasitic wasp, Trichogramma pretiosum, and subsequently to track the performance of Wolbachia in each of those lines. Compared to the original host, Wolbachia performs poorly in the recombinant hosts initially, but is able to adapt to the new insects in a short time span. Using this system, changes to both Wolbachia and Trichogramma pretiosum can be used to identify genes and molecular pathways that are important in the early stages of symbiont establishment. A genome re-sequencing approach will be used to identify mutations in the Wolbachia genome. Reciprocally, transcriptional activity of the wasps will be compared at early and late time points using RNA-Seq, so as to identify how the insect responds to the evolving symbiont. This system provides a platform with which to study changes to the genomes, physiology, and phenotypes of symbionts and hosts during co-evolution.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Allen, Edith B
Professor of Botany & Plant Sciences, Emeritus
Botany and Plant Sciences

Award#
007415-002

Project Period
7/1/2015 - 12/31/2016

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
Nitrogen is a largely unrecognized component of air pollution and can negatively impact ecosystems. Excess nitrogen in the air is eventually deposited in the soil. While more nitrogen in the soil may seem beneficial for plant growth, many plant species are adapted to lower nutrient levels. Indeed, previous studies have shown that nitrogen deposition can be detrimental to ecosystem health. Southern California, which is notorious for its nitrogen-containing smog, has high levels of nitrogen deposition in the soil and many invasive plant species that also reduce native biodiversity. Nitrogen deposition may magnify the impact of invasive species because it often promotes growth of invasive annual plants over native shrubs and wildflowers. One possible explanation for the loss of native species is that added nitrogen makes them grow faster and use water less efficiently, causing them to be more susceptible to drought. Invasive plants on the other hand, may be able to grow fast with added nitrogen and still use water efficiently. The purpose of this research is to compare growth and water use by native and invasive plants under different levels of nitrogen addition. This work will lead to a better understanding of the environmental effects of nitrogen deposition, especially in dry habitats with problematic invasive species.

Identifying how trait differences between native and invasive plant species influence community composition over environmental gradients is critical to a mechanistic understanding of how ecosystems will respond to global change. Nitrogen deposition is reported as major driver of plant diversity loss, invasion and vegetation-type conversion in some areas of Europe and North America. In arid systems, nitrogen and water will have interactive effects on water-use efficiency and growth, and these responses may mediate survival. Trade-offs among plant traits, such as water-use efficiency and relative growth rate, are known to play an important role in community assembly and species coexistence. Native and invasive plants may differ in this trade-off, and added nitrogen may influence these dynamics. The use of stable isotopes (13C) for the estimation of integrated water-use efficiency in conjunction with a plant functional trait-based approach and community-level data will allow for exploration of this important tradeoff as a mechanism of invasion under N deposition. The researchers will address this hypothesis by measuring the growth and water-use efficiency of native and invasive plants along an experimental gradient in nitrogen deposition in the Santa Monica Mountains of southern California.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Hanneman, Robert A
Emeritus Professor
Sociology

Award#
007004-002

Project Period
8/1/2014 - 7/31/2015

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
The proposed research examines the extent to which major corporate bond rating agencies, as gatekeepers to corporate investment capital, promote the adoption of normative practices to firms through the bond rating process. According to new-institutional theories, when facing uncertainty, institutional notions about best practices often guide organizational behavior rather than rational calculations based on economic efficiency. The high level of uncertainty present in the bond rating industry and the lack of accountability that comes from the few rating agencies creates an environment in which institutional notions about best practices potentially inform rating decisions.

The project focuses on quantitative analysis of firm ratings. I hypothesize that those firms engaging in normative behaviors (e.g. using popular forms of financial reporting, engaging in typical levels of product diversification, etc.) will be rewarded with higher credit ratings. I utilize regression modeling to predict firm credit rating as a function of engaging in normative behaviors. I further test whether or not engaging in the normative behaviors promoted by major bond rating agencies is in fact a good predictor of firm health or default. This research will make contributions to the existing organizational literature in sociology. By examining the extent to which bond rating agencies perpetuate institutionalized best practices, it tests theories of institutional isomorphism that claim industry norms often trump economically rational behavior in organizational fields. If theories of legitimacy can be used to explain some of the variance in credit ratings, we will gain a better understanding of how economic processes that appear irrational from a neoclassical economic perspective continue to exist. Also, through the content analysis of publicly available rating documents, this research directly observes a mechanism driving institutional isomorphism by analyzing the means through which rating agencies communicate appropriate behaviors to corporate bond issuers.

This research will contribute to broader society by examining the ways in which the existing bond rating sector, and by extension the entire securities rating sector, might be prone to systemic risk. This research examines an understudied group of powerful social actors who influence the resources of major global corporations. By illuminating details of the existing securities rating industry, this research will provide insight that will help to more broadly understand credit systems.
(Abstract from NSF)

10/8/2018


Principal Investigator:
Julian, Ryan R
Professor of Chemistry
Chemistry

Award#
006966-002

Project Period
9/1/2014 - 8/31/2017

Funding Agency
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Summary
Professor Ryan R. Julian of the University of California Riverside is supported by the Chemical Measurement and Imaging (CMI) Program in the Division of Chemistry and the Instrument Development for Biological Research (IDBR) Program in the Directorate for Biological Sciences to further develop his mass spectrometry methodologies, which were initially developed for the identification and characterization of peptides and proteins. The project will expand the scope of biomolecules to which mass spectrometry can be applied, opening up new avenues of scientific research in numerous fields including molecular biology, biochemistry and medicine. Specifically, the proposed methods for improved oligosaccharide analysis are destined to be broadly useful as these are biologically and biomedically important molecules for which existing tools are only moderately useful. In this context, the project promises to enhance our understanding of life processes. In the course of conducting this research, graduate and undergraduate students will acquire valuable skills in bioanalytical technologies, mass spectrometry and chemical synthesis. The PI will actively participate in UCR programs (GradEDge and AGEP) that are focused on the successful advancement of minority students within the graduate school, and the research team will participate in science fairs and science demonstrations at local K-12 schools

The project is organized in three specific objectives: (1) to explore the utility of radical directed dissociation (RDD) for the elucidation of the structure of oligosaccharides and to delineate the unique fragmentation pathways that RDD produce in oligosaccharides. The focus of this objective will be on a range of targets including glycosaminoglycans, O- and N- linked glycans and glycopeptides; (2) to use RDD to identify antioxidant peptides and determine their solution phase antioxidant capacity. The inherent antioxidant capacity of biologically relevant proteins and the factors that influence antioxidant capacity will be investigated, and a combination of sequence substitution and MS/MS experiments will be used to reveal information about how radicals are sequestered; and (3) to utilize photocaged covalent labels and photochemistry to map the higher order solution phase structure of proteins, in particular multiprotein complexes.
(Abstract from NSF)

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