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Three McCormick Professors Win NSF Award for Young Faculty

February 20, 2007 | by Megan Fellman

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Three faculty members from the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University have received Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards from the National Science Foundation.

They are Fabian Bustamante, Dongning Guo and Bryan Pardo, assistant professors in the department of electrical engineering and computer science.

The CAREER program is a foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards for new faculty members. The CAREER program recognizes and supports the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. CAREER awardees are selected on the basis of creative, career-development plans that effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their institution. The minimum CAREER award size is $400,000 for a five-year period.

Bustamante focuses on experimental research in large-scale distributed systems, such as Internet-wide group communication services, peer-to-peer data-sharing systems and multiplayer games, in both wide-area and mobile networks.

He received a CAREER award for his proposal titled “Ensuring Sustainable Scalability for Globally Distributed Systems.” Most large-scale systems -- sets of hundreds, thousands or even a million computers interconnected -- are designed to regularly and independently measure their environment for adaptation. As such systems grow in popularity, redundant measurements will result in an unsustainable degree of monitoring, says Bustamante, and restrict the variety, number and span of these services. He will use his CAREER award to define and explore a new model, called “3R,” for the design and implementation of distributed systems that focuses on “reducing” aggregated control and administrative overhead by strategically “reusing/recycling” environmental information gathered by ubiquitous services such as content distribution networks and some peer-to-peer systems.

Guo conducts research in the areas of wireless communications, information theory, communication networks and signal processing. His work is concerned with the fundamental capacity of communication systems and the design of practical systems for achieving the capacity.

He received a CAREER award for his proposal “Information Transmission and Optimal Estimation: Fundamentals and Applications.” Guo will use the award to explore the relationships between information theory and estimation theory and their application to wireless networks.

Pardo applies machine learning, probabilistic natural language processing and database search techniques to auditory user interfaces for human-computer interaction. He takes a broader view of natural language than is traditional in computational linguistics, including timbre and prosody (timing, pitch contour, loudness), with an emphasis on music and speech prosody.

Pardo received a CAREER award for his proposal titled “Making Music Documents Accessible in Musical Terms.” He will use the award to develop source separation and score alignment, two key technologies that are required to automatically find, label and manipulate important musical structures in audio recordings of music. Such technologies could be used in systems that would reliably access audio features, annotate the audio with new information and integrate the annotated audio with lyrics and musical scores, enabling a number of new musical applications and interactions for both specialists and the general public.

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