Faculty Grant Awards

Our faculty engage in groundbreaking research and creative activities to advance their field and improve lives. Below is a selected list of current grant-funded projects.

two teens coding 

Bridges to CS4All

Lucia Dettori

Grantor: National Science Foundation

Bridges to CS4All is a collaboration between DePaul University, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and the Learning Partnership to integrate and expand the teaching of computer science in the CPS high school curriculum. CPS will coordinate recruiting teachers to integrate computational modules into their math and science courses, supporting the development of a cadre of teacher leaders in the professional learning communities that will be formed within the school, and enable the development of students’ computational thinking skills to better prepare them for a full-year CS course.


Chicago Alliance for Equity in Computer Science (CAFÉCS)

Lucia Dettori

Grantor: National Science Foundation

The Chicago Alliance for Equity in Computer Science (CAFÉCS), is a researcher-practitioner partnership between DePaul, Chicago Public Schools, Loyola University, University of Illinois Chicago, and The Learning Partnership supporting the Computer Science for All Initiative (CS4All) at CPS. The goal of CS4All is to ensure that all CPS high school students take at least one relevant and compelling CS course and middle and elementary school children are exposed to computational thinking integrated in other disciplines.

The goal of CAFÉCS is to design, implement, and study support and accountability frameworks to reach district-wide deployment of the Exploring Computer Science (ECS) course in CPS high schools, which fulfills the recently instituted CS graduation requirement. The project focus on ensuring a fidelity of implementation and long-term sustainability that fully incorporates the ‘equity,’ ‘inquiry,’ and ‘CS concepts’ strands of ECS.


CHA Program in Interdisciplinary Design & CHA Program in Documentary Filmmaking

Michael Flores

Grantor: Chicago Housing Authority

The CHA Programs in Documentary Filmmaking, Game and Graphic Design, and Screenwriting are designed to introduce teens who live in Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) public residences to these crafts. Through generous grants from CHA and Springboard to Success, these six-week intensive programs are held over the summer. In all programs, faculty and student mentors from CDM’s School of Cinematic Arts and School of Design teach participants basic theory as well as the aesthetic, writing, and technical skills required to successfully produce a creative work. The works include documentary films, computer games and media projects, and screenplays. These programs demonstrate how documentary filmmaking, game design, and screenwriting can serve as entry points to community discussions on how to advocate for positive social change in Chicago.

Read more about the documentary program in Variety.

instructor and student buliding and coding robots 

RI: Small: Collaborative Research: A Modular Approach to Robot Systems Incorporating Compliant and Soft Elements

Isuru Godage

Grantor: National Science Foundation

Dr. Godage is researching the development of next generation stiffness controllable modular soft robots that can be reconfigured in various morphologies for achieving manipulation and locomotion. Soft robots today have limited practical use due to lack of stiffness modulation to successfully negotiate environmental tasks. Dr. Godage and collaborators from Vanderbilt University and Clemson University are investigating how the range of soft robot stiffness modulation can be improved beyond the current capabilities through a combination of stiff and soft materials and smart arrangement thereof within robot structures. A core modeling framework will be developed, utilizing the results of extensive empirical and numerical studies using accurate kinematic and dynamic models, to compute the structural composition of soft modules to deliver a defined range of stiffness to effectively meet the demands of manipulation locomotion.

Tanu Malik posing infort of a Network  

Advanced Containers for Reproducibility in Computational and Data Science

Tanu Malik

Grantor: National Science Foundation

Reproducibility is the cornerstone of science. In order for scientists to make advancements, they must be able to validate and build on each other’s work. Now that so much science relies on computations and data, many researchers are struggling to share their computational artifacts in ways that are usable for others, says Assistant Professor Tanu Malik.

“We have results that are generated through computational artifacts but are being presented on PDF papers. As a researcher, there are no easy means for verifying the results being presented,” said Malik. “Emailing and sharing through websites are old methods. We need more efficient and usable methods to verify results from complex scientific experiments.”

Now, the National Science Foundation has awarded Malik a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant to support her work to lay the foundation for establishing reproducibility of real-world computational and data science. Malik’s project will also increase awareness of the need for computational reproducibility tools through a research and education plan involving scientists, students and instructors. The $498,889, five-year research grant is NSF’s most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty.

Read more about Dr. Malik’s grant in this press release.

Teacher infront of whiteboard  

Next Generation Networking Lab: NexGeN

Sharief Oteafy

Grantor: DePaul University Academic Growth Initiative Fund

As the Internet of Things (IoT) interweaves itself in our everyday lives, the potential for enhancing our collective experiences is ever-expanding; both in the physical and cyber space. At DePaul, we have the unique advantage of having an urban student body, and diverse faculty engagement, to establish a reputable lab for working on the IoT and tangent domains of user/device interactions.

This project will establish Next Generation Networking lab: DePaul’s NexGeN: the very first IoT lab at DePaul, targeting three distinct goals. First, establishing a hub for IoT-related research and collaboration within CDM and across faculties at DePaul. Second, setting up a space for high-school visits, including one-day “Tinker with IoT” workshops, planned at attracting talent to our diverse programs. Third, establishing an educational hub for faculty to engage with undergraduate and graduate students in IoT research, and join a lab that will build on our collective expertise in this area, along with our urban Chicagoland industrial ties.


Developing a Model for High Production Value Online Programs

Raffaella Settimi-Woods / Theresa Steinbach / GianMario Besana

Grantor: DePaul University Academic Growth Initiative Fund

According to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Education, the number of college students who have taken one or more online courses in the past few years is growing at a fast pace. Not surprisingly, data also show that an increasing number of students are choosing to complete their undergraduate or graduate degrees online.

The Academic Growth and Innovation grant was awarded 1) to support the development of an online MS in Data Science (OL-MSDS) degree with high production value based on the existing graduate degree, and 2) to build a general model to effectively create and support high production value online programs at DePaul University. In addition to the new online courses using higher quality online course production systems, the project also includes the development of a dedicated infrastructure for tutoring, program advising and career counseling for online students and the design of a marketing strategy to recruit online students for online degrees.

Filipo with students  

High School Outreach Program Using Cybersecurity Competitions

Filipo Sharevski / Jean-Philippe Labruyere

Grantor: DePaul University Academic Growth Initiative Fund

This funding supports the design of an outreach program for high school students in Chicago focused on learning cybersecurity through hands-on cybersecurity competitions. The program will be hosted at the College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) and realized using the CyberOperations RangE (CORE) competition platform. CDM is a Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in education - a designation by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - offering bachelor and master’s degrees in cybersecurity and network engineering and security. In 2017, the NSA awarded Sharevski and Labruyere a grant to design and develop the CORE platform to support experiential learning of cybersecurity skills including proactive defense, operations and cyberforensics through student competitions.

Learning cybersecurity through competitions is the most popular approach among students. This outreach program will use cybersecurity competitions hosted on the CORE platform to attract high school talent into cybersecurity programs at CDM. The PIs propose this outreach program to help local high school students acquire cybersecurity skills through competitions (bridging the lack of cybersecurity in high school computer classes) and stimulating their interest in pursuing a cybersecurity degree at DePaul as a guarantee for getting a high-demand job (a $70,000 median salary career and 94% chances of finding a job right after graduation with a cybersecurity degree from CDM). This can ensure annual growth in net tuition revenue and help meet future demand for highly skilled cybersecurity workers.

group pic outside of DePaul CDM entrance 

REU Site: MedIX: Medical Informatics Experiences in Undergraduate Research

Daniela Stan Raicu / Jacob Furst

Grantor: National Science Foundation

The Medical Informatics (MedIX) program’s main objectives are to encourage talented undergraduates to pursue graduate education and to expose students to interdisciplinary research, especially at the border of information technology and medicine.

All of the projects on which students will work are inspired by state-of-the-art research questions in imaging informatics. Students will work as part of faculty-undergraduate teams on new problems ranging from traditional image processing (e.g. liver segmentation and computer-aided diagnosis, breast density assessment for cancer detection) to structured reporting and natural language processing of radiology reports, to workflow and process re-engineering to the application of data mining and ontology-based means for image annotation and markup (e.g. lung nodule detection and interpretation). Ultimately, each project has the long-term potential to increase the quality of healthcare available to people everywhere.

Faculty mentors will conduct tutorials on imaging informatics, conduct biweekly meetings of students and mentors, and create an environment that will expose students to all phases of research and graduate school. Students will participate in defining the direction of their research, give presentations to the group as well as other audiences, write up and publish research results in the format of a conference or journal article, and participate in relevant conferences.

The MedIX REU site will be hosted by two interdisciplinary laboratories: the Medical Informatics Laboratory at DePaul University and the Imaging Research Institute at the University of Chicago; the research environment will offer the students the opportunity to interact with computer scientists, medical physicists, and medical doctors.

a few students using a program 

DePaul Game Studio

Allen Turner / Will Meyers

Grantor: DePaul University Academic Growth Initiative Fund

This funding supports the creation of a new DePaul Game Studio, an interdisciplinary lab that brings together game artists, designers, engineers, sound designers, and producers to work together in an ongoing large studio experience. Yearly public builds and content packs will be released for public consumption and as a resource for future classes. This will be an actual game studio, producing and publishing work that will be shipped to more publicly visible platforms, like Steam, Xbox, PS4, and Switch.