The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Xian Du and Meghan Huber Selected for NSF Game Changer Academies

Xian Du and Meghan Huber

Xian Du & Meghan Huber

Assistant Professors Xian Du and Meghan Huber of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department have been selected to be Panel Fellows in the 2021 cohort of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation’s (CMMI) Game Changer Academies for Advancing Research Innovation (CGCA).

The two MIE faculty members were selected from a pool of over 300 applications in part based on their academic career success, their commitment to ensuring NSF’s gold standard of peer review, as well as their stated ability to fully participate in all aspects of the program (six main sessions, seven discussion group sessions, and individual preparation).

Du heads MIE’s Intelligent Sensing Lab, which focuses on the scale up of flexible electronics printing processes from lab to industry using high-precision, in-line, inspection and pattern recognition technologies for large surface quality control. He also works on automatic, high resolution, accurate, and robust imaging tools for medical devices for noninvasive detection and description of biomarkers.

Such research gives Du the proper background for reviewing other projects. “My successful review experience comes from my broad research experience across manufacturing, control, robotics, and computer science, in industry and academia,” as he says.

Du says he wants to participate in the panel in order to help the CMMI to select the best proposals, learn how to write an excellent NSF proposal, and know more experts in the CMMI community.

Du already has experience with the CMMI. “I have been a panel reviewer within the CMMI division,” he says. “I have been a panel reviewer for funding programs other than NSF. I have submitted proposals for panel review by an NSF program.”

Du earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Tianjin University in China, his M.S. in Mechatronics Engineering from Shanghai Jiaotong University in China, and his Ph.D. in Innovation in Manufacturing Systems and Technology from the Singapore-MIT Alliance between the National University of Singapore in China and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Huber heads the Human Robot Systems (HRS) Laboratory, which lies at the intersection of robotics and human neuromotor control and addresses the challenges that robotic systems and humans face when learning to physically interact with one another.

As Huber says about her reason for applying for the CGCA, “Panel reviews are critical to the scientific research process because they inform which projects receive funding. I wanted to participate in this program to do my part in breaking down any potential barriers to supporting cutting-edge research, such as cognitive and other biases.”

As the acceptance letter from the CGCA Team said to Huber, “Through this program, you will join nearly 150 of your CMMI peers to build on NSF’s robust agenda for investing in transformative innovation and discovery.”

Huber received her B.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University, her M.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas, and her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Northeastern University.

During her doctoral training, Huber was a visiting junior scientist in the Autonomous Motion Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen, Germany, in 2014 and 2015. Later, she was a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2016 to 2020. (May 2021)