Two Miami University scientists are recognized among the nation’s top young faculty in their field by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Janet Burge, assistant professor of computer science and software engineering, and Michael Brudzinski, assistant professor of geology, have each been awarded a CAREER grant from the NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program. They each received more than $500,000 of research funding for five years.
The NSF CAREER Award is one of the Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who “exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations,” according to the Foundation.
Burge, who joined the Miami faculty in 2005 after earning a doctorate at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, worked for more than 20 years in industry as a software engineer and research scientist. Her research interests include design rationale, software engineering, artificial intelligence in design and knowledge elicitation.
Her project, “Rationale Capture for High-Assurance Systems,” funded for $527,684, will develop the ideas behind and tools required for a Rationale Management System that captures design decisions made during software development. The project will explore how using design rationale — the reasons behind making decisions — in the classroom helps students learn, according to Burge.
She will develop new courses in software engineering and a program that connects senior computer science and software engineering majors working on their senior design projects with high school students. Together, they’ll build devices to help people with disabilities communicate better.
Brudzinski joined Miami in 2004. He earned a doctorate at the University of Illinois in 2002 and was a postdoctoral research fellow and scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests include studying the Earth’s structure and composition, as well as how the Earth deforms. A long-term focus of his research is to investigate processes related to subduction, a feature of plate tectonics and connected with geohazards like earthquakes and tsunamis.
His project, “Implementing Inquiry-Based Approaches in Geoscience Education and Research,” funded for $515,952, will examine whether inquiry-based approaches to education and research can aid in the growing disparity between the workforce needs and students trained in the geosciences.
Brudzinski explains that this project builds on the internally funded TOP 25 course revision project at Miami that is helping to convert the introductory geology course from lecture-based to inquiry-based by expanding the effort to upper division courses and high school advanced placement courses.
According to Brudzinski, the inquiry-based approach is also a natural one to investigate a new observation found along faults at the edges of tectonic plates called episodic tremor and slip (ETS). He stressed that one of the broader impact outcomes of the integrated teaching and research plan is to improve retention and development of science majors and graduate students by improving access to newly developed areas of research (such as ETS) that address problems of societal importance, such as what causes earthquakes.