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Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute Announces 2024 Research Awards

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The Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute (Picker ISI) has announced this year’s awards supporting interdisciplinary approaches in innovative research. The awards bring together Ƶ faculty and other researchers with complementary expertise to open new areas of study and to tackle existing problems in creative, new ways.

“I am pleased by the breadth and depth of research projects that we funded this year,” said Professor of Biology and Mathematics Ahmet Ay, director of the Picker Institute. “While distinct in scope, they all reflect Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute's dedication to interdisciplinary research.”

This year, there are six Picker ISI awards:

Paul Harnik, assistant professor of earth and environmental geosciences; Rebecca Metzler, professor of physics; and Damhnait McHugh, professor of biology, have received a $100,000 award for their project “Determining the Impacts of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Calcifying Marine Animals.”

Cosmin Ilie, assistant professor of physics — in collaboration with Katherine Freese (University of Texas), Andreea Petric (the Space Telescope Science Institute), and Jillian Paulin (University of Pennsylvania) — has been awarded $84,500 in funding for the project “Probing the Nature of Dark Matter With the First Stars and Galaxies in the Universe.”

Kelly Isham, assistant professor of mathematics — in collaboration with Kartik Lakhotia (Intel) and Laura Monroe (Los Alamos National Laboratory) — has been awarded $31,250 for the project “Exploring the Mathematics of Large-scale Computer Network Design: Toward Zettascale.”

Anzela Niraula, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences and neuroscience, in collaboration with Jacques Robert (University of Rochester), has been awarded $9,581 for the project “The Immune System as the Brain’s Sculptor During Metamorphosis.”

Associate Professor Wan-chun Liu and Professor Spencer Kelly, from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Neuroscience, have received an award of $8,344 for their project “Song-Entangled Beat Gesture in Songbirds: A Window to the Mind and Brain.”

Professor of Physics Beth Parks, with colleagues Silver Onyango (Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda) and Crystal North (MGH/Harvard), has received an award of $7,120 for the project “Sensors for Enabling Personal Behavior Changes to Reduce Air Pollution Exposure in Uganda.”

“These projects are important not only because of their scholarly merit but also because they will enrich the research opportunities our university provides for our students,” Ay said. “Furthermore, they lay the framework for creating new interdisciplinary courses and expanding our university’s curricula.”

A brief description of each project can be found on the Picker ISI Funding History page.