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Four Projects Receive Funding from UA CyberSeed Program

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Four promising research projects received funding from The University of Alabama CyberSeed program, part of the UA Office for Research and Economic Development.

The pilot seed-funding program promotes research across disciplines on campus while ensuring a stimulating and well-managed environment for high-quality research.

The funded projects come from four major thrusts of the UA Cyber Initiative that include cybersecurity, critical infrastructure protection, applied machine learning and artificial intelligence, and cyberinfrastructure.

“These projects are innovative in their approach to using cutting-edge solutions to tackle critical challenges,” said Dr. Jeffrey Carver, professor of computer science and chair of the UA Cyber Initiative.

One project will study cybersecurity of drones and develop strategies to mitigate potential attacks. Led by Dr. Mithat Kisacikoglu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Dr. Travis Atkison, assistant professor of computer science, the research will produce a plan for the secure design of the power electronics in drones with potential for other applications.

Another project will use machine learning to probe the nature of dark matter using existing data from NASA. The work should position the research team, led by Dr. Sergei Gleyzer, assistant professor of physics and astronomy; and Dr. Brendan Ames, assistant professor of mathematics, to analyze images expected later this year from the Vera Rubin Observatory, the world’s largest digital camera.

The CyberSeed program is also funding work planning to use machine learning to accelerate discovery of candidates within a new class of alloys that can be used in real world experiments. These new alloys, called high-entropy alloys or multi-principal component alloys, are thought to enhance mechanical performance. This project involves Drs. Lin Li and Feng Yan, assistant professors of metallurgical and materials engineering, and Dr. Jiaqi Gong, who begins as associate professor of computer science this month.

A team of researchers are involved in a project to use state-of-the-art cyberinfrastructure technology and hardware to collect, visualize, analyze and disseminate hydrological information. The research aims to produce a proof-of-concept system. The team includes Dr. Sagy Cohen, associate professor of geography; Dr. Brad Peter, a postdoctoral researcher of geography; Dr. Hamid Moradkhani, director of the UA Center for Complex Hydrosystems; Dr. Zhe Jiang, assistant professor of computer science; Dr. D. Jay Cervino, executive director of the UA Office of Information Technology; and Dr. Andrew Molthan with NASA.

The CyberSeed program came from a process that began in April 2019 with the first internal UA cybersummit to meet and define future opportunities. In July, ORED led an internal search for the chair of the Cyber Initiative, announcing Carver in August. In October, Carver led the second internal cybersummit where it was agreed the Cyber Initiative would define major thrusts and develop the CyberSeed program.

“While concentrating in these areas specifically, the Cyber Initiative will continue to interact with other researchers across campus to identify other promising cyber-related research areas to grow the portfolio,” Carver said.


Adam Jones, UA communications, 205-348-4328, adam.jones@ua.edu