UMass Lowell Professors Win Grants for Innovative Research

Seed Funding Given by UMass President’s Office Annually

Profs. Holly Yanco and Robert Giles

Profs. Holly Yanco and Robert Giles

06/26/2012
By Edwin L. Aguirre

Two teams of UMass Lowell researchers — led by Prof. Holly Yanco of Computer Science and Prof. Robert Giles of Physics and Applied Physics — are among the recipients of nearly $750,000 in grants from this year’s UMass President’s Science & Technology Initiatives Fund. The rest of the grantees are faculty members from the Amherst, Dartmouth and Worcester campuses. 

“The Science & Technology fund advances the work of producing discoveries and technological breakthroughs that will improve lives, create jobs and preserve our planet,” says UMass President Robert L. Caret. “It supports the ideas and inventiveness of our faculty and fosters a culture of collaboration across all five campuses that attracts investments and underscores our role as an innovation engine for the Commonwealth.”

Yanco, who heads UMass Lowell’s Robotics Lab, received $135,000 through the fund to establish the NE Robotics Validation & Experimentation (NERVE) Center on campus. The center will provide robotics companies and research institutions with a National Institute of Standards and Technology-designed test course for year-round validation of robots and robotic systems. Yanco’s collaborators include UMass Amherst’s Rod Grupen as well as researchers from Tufts University. Worcester Polytechnic Institute and local robotics companies such as iRobot, QinetiQ and Black-I Robotics are likely to use the NERVE Center.

Giles, who directs UMass Lowell’s Submillimeter-Wave Technology Laboratory, was awarded $101,000 to develop terahertz-imaging technologies currently used in government and military defense for biomedical and health-care industry applications. The technologies will be used for imaging skin cancer cells, screening for cancerous tissues and testing for exposure effects of terahertz radiation. Partner institutions include UMass Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital/Partners HealthCare.

Investing in Faculty Discovery and Innovation

This is the ninth year of the President’s Science & Technology Initiatives Fund awards. Since 2004, the awards have provided $7.5 million in seed funding to more than 60 projects by UMass researchers, which, in turn, have generated $207 million in funding from external sources and led to the creation of nearly 20 research centers on all campuses, including UMass Boston.

UMass’ annual research expenditures climbed to $587 million in fiscal year 2011; that same year, the University generated $36.5 million in revenues from faculty discovery and innovation.