Dr. Fumin Zhang, assistant electrical and computer engineering professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology Savannah campus, has been named a recipient of the 2010 Young Investigator Award given by The Office of Naval Research (ONR). ONR invests in academic scientists and engineers who show exceptional promise for creative study. Zhang was one of 17 selected nationwide from 211 proposal submissions. This highly competitive program provides a three-year research grant up to $510,000. The recipients were selected based on a comprehensive evaluation that includes the applicant's past performance, a creative research proposal and a long-term commitment from the recipient's university.

Zhang's research proposal, "Generic Environmental Models for Agile Marine Autonomy" identifies the capabilities of unmanned robots and mobile sensor networks to meet the challenge of monitoring large areas in the ocean and atmosphere with limited sensing resources and limited power. Zhang has developed motion planning algorithms and motion control laws for underwater robots to explore and sample ocean fields.

The proposed research may create new opportunities to advance both oceanography and robotics/control engineering research while providing a multi-disciplinary training program for graduate and undergraduate students. His current goal is to establish a lab and a research program for designing underwater robots and sensor networks at the Georgia Tech Savannah campus.

"Dr. Zhang is truly committed to advancing the science and engineering profession," said Georgia Tech Vice Provost and Director of Georgia Tech Savannah Dr. J. David Frost. "His research endeavors are pursuing creative approaches to developing scientific applications that can make a difference in society."

"I am honored to be recognized among other talented young investigators who received this prestigious award," states Zhang. "This award allows me to further my research and academic career in maritime robotics, ocean sensing and the science of autonomy. I look forward to pursuing influential intellectual contributions with my colleagues and students."

Zhang, who was also involved in post-doctoral studies at Princeton University, obtained his Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. His B.S. and M.S. degrees, both in electrical engineering, are from Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Young Investigator recipients must have obtained a doctorate or equivalent degrees within the past five years. Started in 1985, the program seeks to attract outstanding professors at higher education institutions to the Department of the Navy's research program, support their research and encourage their teaching and research careers.