College awards Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grants


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State College of Engineering recently awarded funding to four projects through its Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grants program.

The program supports research that will increase the competitiveness of faculty in attracting high-impact multidisciplinary and center-level research funding from the state and federal government, industry or foundations.

“The response to this year’s competition was truly remarkable, with almost forty proposals submitted,” said Chris Rahn, associate dean for innovation in the College of Engineering. “I wish we had funds to support them all.”

Thirty-nine submissions were reviewed by an ad-hoc committee of faculty members and external experts who then provided recommendations to the College of Engineering dean and associate deans.

“The four awardee teams stood out for the novelty and potential impact of their proposed research,” said Rahn. “The funded work will contribute to composite mechanics, big data analytics, additive manufacturing, and health — mirroring the breadth of research excellence in our College.”

The four projects selected for funding are:

  • “Development and Experimental Validation of Variational Collocation Meshfree Simulation of Fracture of Nanoparticle Toughened Composite Materials,” by Michael Hillman, L. Robert and Mary L. Kimball Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Charles Bakis, Distinguished Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics
  • “Enabling the rapid querying of massive sequence datasets,” by Paul Medvedev, assistant professor of computer science and engineering in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Anton Nekrutenko, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, Eberly College of Science
  • “High Precision In-Situ Testing to Improve Advanced Manufacturing,” by Guha Manogharan, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering and industrial and manufacturing engineering, and Saurabh Basu, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering
  • “Focused ultrasound histotripsy as a novel therapeutic approach to tendon injury: an assessment of structural and mechanical properties,” by Meghan Vidt, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and Julianna Simon, assistant professor of acoustics

This cohort marks the first time since the program’s inception four years ago that an awarded project features a researcher from outside the College of Engineering.

“[College of Engineering] Dean [Justin] Schwartz encouraged proposals from other colleges, and Eberly College of Science Dean [Douglas] Cavener is sharing the cost of the seed grant,” said Rahn. “It is very exciting for us to use these funds to build bridges across the University. These collaborations have excellent potential for high impact on the grand research challenges of the day.”

Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grants can be used to support graduate students, fund labs and purchase equipment, software, materials and supplies.

“The four awardee teams should feel proud that their proposals rose to the top of a very competitive pool,” said Rahn. “I look forward to seeing the results from their seed grant research.”


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Megan Lakatos



Home of the first established industrial engineering program in the world, the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (IME) at Penn State has made a name for itself in the engineering industry through its storied tradition of unparalleled excellence and innovation in research, education, and outreach.

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