July 21, 2011 | Research Alert

Research Alert

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Research Prizes and Honors

[Have you or a colleague won a research-related prize or honor? Let the Research Alert know.]

Student Wins Best Paper at Antennas and Propagation Symposium

Yang ZhaoYang Zhao, a graduate student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, won the 2011 Best Student Paper award at the 2011 IEEE Antennas and Propagation Symposium.

Her paper is titled, "Broadband Circular Polarizers Using Plasmonic Metasurfaces." Zhao is supervised by Dr. Andrea Alù.


News and Information

NSF, USAID Start Program for Collaboration with Developing World

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) today launched an international joint initiative to address global development challenges.

PEER, "Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research," capitalizes on competitively-awarded investments to support and build scientific and technical capacity in the developing world.

PEER will employ a merit review process similar to the one used to evaluate proposals by the NSF when it chooses among proposals to fund extraordinary science and engineering. USAID announced that it has selected the National Academy of Sciences to administer the PEER program and has allocated $7 million for the initiative.  This will be strategically coupled with merit-reviewed, NSF-funded research at U.S. institutions to address challenges at the interface of water, renewable energy, food security, climate change and disaster mitigation with an expected leveraging of $25 to $50 million.

Quoted-UT Researchers in the News

The Daily Ticker
July 15, 2011
HEADLINE: Galbraith: It's hard to be optimistic about Europe

James Galbraith (James Galbraith, a professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Department of Government, assessed the chances of European governments reaching a good end to the fiscal crisis in the European Union.)

"It's clear the path of piecemeal crisis-by-crisis, weekend-by-weekend approach is clearly not going to get them where they need to go," Galbraith says. "It's past the point of thinking there's anything that any individual country, not matter how determined," can do to stem the crisis."

Research Opportunities

Important University Research Deadlines

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The University of Texas at Austin Stimulus Package Web page is online.

Funding Sources

Department of Defense

Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC)
Deadline: Oct. 11, 2011

Department of Energy

Exascale Research and Development
Deadline: Sept. 2, 2011

National Institutes of Health

NIMH Research Education Grants
Deadline: Letter of Intent, Aug. 25, 2011; Application, Sept. 25, 2011

Research to Understand and Inform Interventions that Promote the Research Careers of Students in Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences
Deadline: Letter of Intent, Sept. 21, 2011; Application, Oct. 21, 2011

Instrument Development for Biomedical Applications
Deadline: Oct. 11, 2011

National Science Foundation

Deadline: July 15, 2011

Electronics, Photonics, and Magnetic Devices
Deadline: Oct. 7, 2011

Advanced Technological Education
Deadlines: Oct. 20, 2011

Condensed Matter and Materials Theory
Deadline: Oct. 31, 2011

Arts, Humanities and Culture

Society for the History of Technology
Karen Johnson Freeze Fellowship Fund
Deadline: Aug. 21, 2011

National Endowment for the Humanities
Enduring Questions
Deadline: Sept. 15, 2011

Dedalus Foundation
Institutional Grants
Deadline: Oct. 17, 2011

Other Funding Opportunities

Fund for Astrophysical Research
Theodore Dunham Jr Grants for Research in Astronomy
Deadline: Oct. 3, 2011

Research Grants for the study of dense deposit disease
Deadline: Oct. 31, 2011

Research Project

Perceptually Grounded Learning of Instructional Language

Raymond MooneyRESEARCHER: Raymond Mooney, professor, Department of Computer Science, principal investigator
AGENCY: National Science Foundation
AMOUNT: $450,000

This project is developing methods that allow a computer to automatically learn to understand and generate instructions in human language. Traditional approaches to natural-language learning require linguistic experts to laboriously annotate large numbers of sentences with detailed information about their grammar and meaning. In this project, instructional language is initially learned by simply observing humans following instructions given by other humans.

Once the system has learned reasonably well from observation, it also actively participates in the learning process by following human-given instructions itself, or giving its own instructions to humans and observing their behavior. The approach is being evaluated on its ability to interpret and generate English instructions for navigating in a virtual environment (e.g. "Go down the hall and turn left after you pass the chair.").

A novel machine learning method infers a probable formal meaning for a sentence from the resulting actions performed by a human follower, and then existing language-learning methods are used to acquire a language interpreter and generator. The learned system is being evaluated in a range of virtual environments, testing its ability to follow human-provided natural language instructions to achieve prescribed goals, as well as to generate natural language instructions that humans can successfully follow to find specific destinations. The methods developed for this project will contribute to the development of virtual agents in games and educational simulations that learn to interpret and generate English instructions, and eventually aid the development of robots that can learn to interpret human language instruction from observation.

The Research Alert is an electronic publication from the Office of the Vice President for Research at The University of Texas at Austin. It includes news of research honors and awards, news of research programs and deadlines, researchers quoted in news media, a listing of funding opportunities and a look at a current research project. It is available by e-mail and on the Web.

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