Four Northwestern University assistant professors — Christos Dimoulas, Xiumin Du, Daniel Horton and Hatim Rahman — have received the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, the foundation’s most prestigious award for junior faculty members.
Dimoulas is an assistant professor of computer science at the McCormick School of Engineering. He will receive $534,000 over five years from the NSF’s Division of Computing and Communication Foundations.
Du is an assistant professor of mathematics at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He will receive $498,420 over five years from the NSF Division of Mathematical Sciences.
Horton is an assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Weinberg. He will receive $600,000 over five years from NSF’s Chemical Systems, Bioengineering, Environment and Transport Division.
Rahman is an assistant professor of management and organization at the Kellogg School of Management. He will accept $485,595 over five years from the Social Sciences and Economics Division.
The CAREER Award is designed to support promising young faculty members who demonstrate a teacher-scholar role through an outstanding combination of research and education.
Dimoulas’ research combines theory and empirical experiment to investigate programming language pragmatics, i.e. whether programming language features help or hinder software developers in the context of work assignments, such as debugging, testing or code refactoring. He then used the findings to (re)design programming language features and tools with pragmatics in mind.
For his NSF CAREER project, Dimoulas will develop new empirical techniques for evaluating programming language pragmatics. The technique envisions the developer as a rational actor who uses language features to complete work tasks. In technique, these actors become computational processes, which are called rational programmers.
The specific strategies each rational programmer uses to decide how to act construct hypotheses about how language features assist the developer in the context of a given task. Building on this idea, Dimoulas and his group would use rational programmers to carry out large-scale simulations and investigate when and how different language features assisted developers.
Application of Dimoulas’ research will include integrating rational programmers in undergraduate and graduate programming language courses as a pedagogical instrument that students can use to examine the trade-offs involved when choosing between languages and language features.
Du’s research interests lie in harmonic analysis and its interaction with the theory of geometric measures and partial differential equations.
With NSF support, Du will study weighted Fourier extension approximations and variances and their applications in partial differential equations and geometric measure theory. The theory of Fourier restriction/extension is a central topic in harmonic analysis.
The key idea behind harmonic analysis is to express general functions or operators as the sum of simpler parts. Harmonic analysis has countless practical applications in signal processing, tomography, and quantum mechanics, among other areas. It is also a powerful tool for learning many theoretical aspects of mathematics.
The educational component of the project includes many activities to make the mathematics community more inclusive, enhance graduate student education, and better serve the Chicago area.
Horton will study the air quality, public health and equity implications of transport electrification for his NSF CAREER project. The work includes establishing a program focused on after-school sustainability for high school students, in partnership with Northwestern’s Science in Society.
Horton’s research group uses a numerical Earth system model to simulate the interaction of the built environment with meteorological and chemical processes. Her group’s research focuses on identifying the impacts of human-caused climate change, as well as investigating the benefits and trade-offs of various climate change solution proposals. His team is particularly interested in resolving the distribution of air pollutants at a fine spatial scale, to assess impacts, benefits and trade-offs among population subgroups.
Prior to joining Northwestern in 2015, Horton was a postdoctoral fellow in Stanford University’s Earth System Science department.
Rahman’s research examines how new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, are changing the way people work and the implications of these changes for future jobs. He is particularly interested in understanding how organizations use algorithms to control and evaluate workers and the impact of algorithmic controls on worker outcomes.
For his NSF CAREER project, Rahman will explore how to empower more adults without a college degree to get the higher paying STEM jobs created by AI and new technology. Since work is the primary means by which people gain social and economic mobility in the US, Rahman’s goal is to develop a new, holistic understanding of organizational and individual factors that will help adults overcome labor market barriers to access, participate in, and complete STEM education and training for employment. better ones created by new technologies.
Rahman will build on this understanding by studying organizations in Chicago that assist in the retraining process. Rahman’s long-term educational goal is to use his findings to develop a new Northwestern Prison Education Program curriculum to help people gain the STEM skills needed to re-enter the labor market.