Research funded through multidisciplinary initiative

Professors Soha Hassoun and Sameer Sonkusale are on a cross-institutional team investigating computation in microbial bioelectronic systems.
Soha Hassoun and Sameer Sonkusale

As part of its Multidisciplinary Research Initiative (MURI) awards for 2022, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded $195 million to 28 research teamsĀ pursuing research in multiple scientific disciplines across 63 academic institutions in the U.S. Aiming to tackle the complexities of modern science and engineering challenges, this initiative has supported teams whose members have diverse sets of expertise since 1985. Ideas can be cross-fertilized and teams can accelerate research progress to enable more breakthroughs and hasten the transition of basic research findings to practical applications, says Dr. Bindu Nair, the Director of the Basic Research Office at the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

From the approximately 340 proposals received by the Office of Naval Research, 28 final awards, covering 26 topic areas of strategic importance, were selected by a panel of experts. One of these proposals was submitted as a collaboration between Rice University, Tufts University, and Virginia Tech University on the topic of Electrobiology: Electronic Control of Biological Communication.

Professor Soha Hassoun of the Tufts Department of Computer Science and Professor Sameer Sonkusale of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering are part of this cross-institutional team, which seeks to develop faster, more efficient, and hybrid computation in microbial bioelectronic systems. Over the next five years, subject to satisfactory research progress, this team will develop cutting edge methods in the field of electrobiology. Hassoun's group will apply its expertise in machine learning, while Sonkusale's will focus on microsystems integration. Read more about the award.

Alongside Hassoun's and Sonkusale's team, another team with Tufts connections was also awarded MURI funding. A collaboration between MIT, Tufts University, Boston College, and Columbia University will seek to research gut-neuronal signaling through polymeric mucin via chemical probes and imaging, trying to understand mucin-mimetic interventions to modulate the gut-brain axis.