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(Last updated 1/26/04)



COLUMBUS, Ohio – Software from Ohio State University may soon have researchers standing inside virtual supernovae or querying scientific search engines, thanks to two new awards from the Department of Energy (DOE).

Han-Wei Shen
Hakan Ferhatosmanoglu

Han-Wei Shen and Hakan Ferhatosmanoglu, both assistant professors of computer and information science, recently received DOE Early Career Principal Investigator (ECPI) awards, which help exceptionally talented computer scientists and other researchers develop research programs early in their careers.

"We're pleased with the news that Dr. Shen and Dr. Ferhatosmanoglu have been honored with these awards. These two faculty members are excellent examples of the exceptional researchers we have been recruiting for our college,” said Jim Williams, dean of the College of Engineering.

“The fact that they received this award in just its second year of existence is further evidence of their important impact at Ohio State and the College of Engineering," he continued.

The engineers earned two of the largest award amounts given by DOE in this round of funding. Both will receive approximately $300,000 over three years.

Shen’s project, “An End-to-End Processing Pipeline for Large-Scale, Time-Varying Data Visualization,” will develop computer visualization algorithms to help scientists glean critical information from computer simulations. Because computers can generate vast amounts of complex data, scientists need an efficient way to create animations, manipulate data quickly, and pick out the most important results.

For example, astrophysicists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working on large-scale simulations of exploding stars known as supernovae. Shen wants his software to generate a three-dimensional virtual supernova; scientists will be able to “walk” around inside the exploding star using a computer mouse. Shen’s software will also allow them to perform efficient space-time data navigation and detect interesting features.

Ferhatosmanoglu’s project, “Scalable Storage and Efficient Retrieval of Large-Scale, High-Dimensional Scientific and Biomedical Data,” will build search engines for scientific data in areas such as high-energy physics and molecular biology. Just as Internet search engines enable people to search billions of online documents quickly, Ferhatosmanoglu’s software will let scientists search through the results of a complex computer simulation to get the information they need.

For instance, many researchers regularly search through GenBank, the national online repository of DNA-related data maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The GenBank database nearly doubles in size every 15 months, so normal search methods get slower over time. Ferhatosmanoglu said the search engine he is developing currently runs approximately 100 times faster than the one normally used for GenBank.

DOE awarded nearly $3 million in ECPI funding in 2003, to institutions including Columbia University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Johns Hopkins University. Begun in 2002, the ECPI program helps researchers establish careers in applied mathematics, computer science, and high-performance networking. Another area of focus is collaboratory research -- the development of software that helps physically separated laboratories work together.


Contact: Jim Williams, (614) 292-2836; Williams.1726@osu.edu
Han-Wei Shen, (614) 292-0060; Shen.94@osu.edu
Hakan Ferhatosmanoglu, (614) 292- 6377;

Written by Pam Frost Gorder, (614) 292-9475; Gorder.1@osu.edu