ONR-funded Researchers Among Popular Science Magazine's 'Brilliant 10'

Story Number: NNS110123-03Release Date: 1/23/2011 7:56:00 AM
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By Rob Anastasio, Office of Naval Research Public Affairs

ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- Two researchers who made the "Brilliant 10" list, a list of top young scientists, in Popular Science's November 2010 magazine issue received funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

The two ONR-funded researchers are Dr. Chiara Daraio, a 2010 ONR Young Investigator Program (YIP) award winner, who researched and designed a nonlinear acoustic lens, which has the potential to break apart tumors; and Dr. Iain Couzin, who studies animal behavior and tracks the decision-making processes of groups.

YIP invests in academic scientists and engineers who show exceptional promise for creative study and have obtained a doctorate or equivalent degree within the past five years.

Couzin's work was supported by both ONR's Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department and Sea Warfare and Weapons Department. A principal investigator with the Science of Autonomy Program and assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, Couzin uses complex mathematical models to understand and even predict how animals behave in groups.

Marc Steinberg, a program manager in ONR's Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department, said Couzin's effort is groundbreaking for the scientific community.

"This is very well-deserved as he has been a pioneer in applying sophisticated mathematical modeling techniques towards understanding collective animal behavior," Steinberg said. "The work he has been involved with for [ONR] has had some very interesting results in gaining understanding of how animals in schools/flocks make decisions. The idea is that social interactions in animal groups may provide for simple methods that can yield good decision-making at the collective level, despite uncertainty."

Couzin said he was honored to be recognized by Popular Science.

"I was delighted to have been selected as one of the 'Brilliant 10,'" Couzin said. "What a wonderful way to encourage interest in collective behavior."

Couzin's research is being used by institutions and industry partners all over the world to explore the influence of organizational structures on distributed, autonomous system decision-making in a variety of environments. The military, in particular, is using these findings to design autonomous vehicles that can do more things in the most dynamic working environments.

Popular Science's annual "Brilliant 10" list honors pioneering young researchers solving some of science's most grueling questions. The magazine has been a leading source of science and technology news since its inception in 1872.

ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

For more news from Office of Naval Research, visit www.navy.mil/local/onr/.

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