University of Rochester

Two University of Rochester Researchers Win NSF CAREER Award

February 22, 2010

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has offered its most prestigious award for young scientists, the CAREER Award, to two University of Rochester researchers: Paul Ampadu and Justin Ramsey. The NSF CAREER award is given to promising scientists early in their careers and is selected on the basis of creative proposals that effectively integrate research and education.

Paul Ampadu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, won his CAREER award for research to efficiently and reliably create networks of heterogeneous technologies on a single chip. He will receive $400,000 over five years.

Ampadu is working to address the critical reliability problem of integrating deep nanometer CMOS and emerging nanoelectronics processors and memories on a chip. These dissimilar blocks communicate with one another over closely spaced, unreliable links, requiring effective error control to improve link reliability at reduced energy and performance costs.

"Paul's research in networks-on-chip is an exciting area at the frontiers of electrical and computer engineering that surely will be important in future integrated circuits, especially those that combine a lot of different functions such as computing, communications, memory, signal processing and others," said Mark Bocko, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "As more functionality is packed onto a single integrated circuit the possibilities are endless, such as an iPhone on a single chip; however, the challenges are huge."

Ampadu was born in Ghana and educated in China and Taiwan before coming to the United States. He earned his doctorate in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Cornell University in 2004, and was appointed an assistant professor at the University of Rochester that same year.

In addition to his research, he is deeply involved in several community outreach efforts that seek to mentor underrepresented students in order to inspire, recruit, and retain them in the field of engineering. For his contributions to mentoring students, Ampadu recently received a national Black Engineer of the Year Special Recognition Award and has been selected to receive a University of Rochester Charles Drew Professors Choice Award.

Justin Ramsey, assistant professor of biology, won his CAREER award for combining basic research of plant evolution with educational and community outreach efforts related to Rochester-area forest habitats. He will receive $800,000 over five years.

Ramsey's research combines molecular analysis, greenhouse studies, and field experiments to understand how plants diverge into new species. He plans to use the funding to study the contributions of whole genome duplication (polyploidy) to the evolution of reproductive barriers in plants. Ramsey's education and outreach efforts are focused on natural areas on and adjacent to the University's South Campus. These habitats— which include old-growth forests, meadows, and wetlands— provide students with excellent educational opportunities within walking distance of campus.

"Justin is one of our young leaders in ecology. This area and the related area of sustainability are becoming increasingly important for our students," says Thomas Eickbush, chair of the Department of Biology. "Many students already gravitate to his laboratory to conduct independent studies. He discovered this priceless gem of a mature woodland in our backyard with a stunning diversity of plant and animal fauna. He is leading the way to making these woods a valuable preserve for future generations of students."

Ramsey completed his doctorate in botany at the University of Washington in 2003, and was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Guelph from 2004 to 2005. He joined the University of Rochester in 2006.