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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Northeastern University
  • Michael B Silevitch
  • (617) 373-5110
  • David A Castanon
Award Date:08/24/2000
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 33,138,510
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 36,543,881
  • FY 2007=$4,474,038
  • FY 2002=$3,697,700
  • FY 2000=$2,591,751
  • FY 2009=$1,873,006
  • FY 2005=$4,148,100
  • FY 2010=$449,799
  • FY 2008=$2,919,312
  • FY 2001=$3,250,000
  • FY 2004=$4,598,300
  • FY 2006=$4,298,175
  • FY 2003=$4,243,700
Start Date:09/01/2000
End Date:01/31/2013
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:An Engineering Research Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems - CenSSIS
Federal Award ID Number:9986821
DUNS ID:001423631
Parent DUNS ID:001423631
Program:ERC-Eng Research Centers
Program Officer:
  • Deborah Jackson
  • (703) 292-7499

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:07

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Northeastern University
Cong. District:07

Abstract at Time of Award

The Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems seeks to revolutionize our ability to detect and image objects or conditions that are underground, underwater, or embedded in the human body. Northeastern University has formed a partnership between with Boston University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez and four affiliated hospitals and research institutions (Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute). The center will focus on difficult and intractable problems in sensing and imaging involving detecting and locating and identifying objects that are obscured beneath covering media. Mapping plumes underground, detecting a tumor under the skin, and identifying developmental defects in the interior of an embryo all share the problem of distinguishing the effect of a dispersive, diffusive, and absorptive medium from the desired details of the sursurface structure and functionality. The problem is similar whether the wave problem is electromagnetic or acoustic, whether the medium is soil or tissue, or whether the target is a land mine or a tumor. To address these research barriers the center will focus its interdisciplinary research thrusts on Subsurface Sensing and Modeling, Physics-based Signal Processing and Image Understanding, and Data and Image Information management. Systems testbeds will be used to enable a wide range of next-generation sensing and imaging systems. The Center will create a new team-based learning environment for students, with research internship experiences in industry. The ERC will develop new discovery-based, educational laboratories for each campus involved, putting modern imaging technology in the hands of undergraduates early in their education to solve real, open-ended problems. The ERC will develop undergraduate educational modules in sensing and imaging systems and interdisciplinary, team-taught graduate courses and seminars derived from the ERC's research. Middle and high school students will be impacted by the ERC through design competitions in sensing and imaging systems and summer pre-engineering programs. The goals of the industrial partnership program are to gain industrial insight into the research challenges, to speed technology transfer to industry, and to help the center graduate engineers and scientists who are familiar with technology and industrial practice, better prepare to be successful in industry and academe. This award provides $2.6 million for the first year of NSF support to the ERC through a five-year cooperative agreement, which is renewable in year three and in year six.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Goodman, JA; Kaeli, D; Schaa, D "Accelerating an Imaging Spectroscopy Algorithm for Submerged Marine Environments Using Graphics Processing Units" IEEE JOURNAL OF SELECTED TOPICS IN APPLIED EARTH OBSERVATIONS AND REMOTE SENSING, v.4, 2011, p.669. doi:10.1109/JSTARS.2011.210826  View record at Web of Science

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

The Gordon-CenSSIS mission is to revolutionize the existing technology
for detecting and imaging biomedical and environmental-civil objects or
conditions that are underground, underwater, or embedded in the human body.
Multi-disciplinary resources to accomplish this mission are drawn from a team
of four core academic partners:  (Northeastern University – lead, Boston
University, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) and five strategic affiliates (Massachusetts General Hospital, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution). A key element of the Gordon-CenSSIS mission is to immerse students in efforts to solve important real-world problems such as non-invasive breast cancer detection or underground pollution assessment.

“Diverse Problems – Similar Solutions” The Gordon-CenSSIS
strategic plan aims to develop a unifying framework that encompasses a broad range of sensing and imaging applications. The ERC’s technical merit stems from three fundamental research thrusts: R1: Subsurface Sensing and Modeling, R2: Physics-Based Signal Processing and Image Understanding, and R3: Data and Image Information Management. These thrusts incorporate the essential elements of a generic sensing and imaging “end-to-end” system. A unifying approach requires the seamless integration of the multi-disciplinary thrusts.

Four core testbeds are used to validate research results by
generating data on well-characterized “ground-truth” targets and backgrounds. Testbeds have been established for medical ultrasonic imaging (MedBED), underground cross-well radar imaging (SoilBED), and an instrumented field site to image shallow and deep coral reefs (SeaBED). Moreover, external funding was obtained from the Keck Foundation for instrumentation of a 3D fusion microscopy biological testbed (BioBED). This has been used for studies of cell evolution and structure.

The engineered system, I-PLUS (Integrated Process for Looking under Surfaces), is a key long-range product. Development of this system has enabled rapid prototyping of advanced subsurface instruments.

Broader impact of the ERC is achieved through application of these new
instruments to important real-world problem areas. These areas include breast tumor detection, image-guided radiotherapy, assessment of embryo viability, monitoring of coral reef health, and underground pollution detection. Efforts have also been launched in new problem domains such as homeland security.

Corporate and government partners have included a mix of large and
small companies and US government agencies: Analogic, NeuroLogica, Raytheon, Siemens Corporate Research, Textron Systems, and the US Air Force. 

The Center’s education program includes the development of undergraduate “High Tech Tools and Toys” laboratories and Subsurface Sensing and Imaging technical elective courses at each university.
Distance-education graduate courses are weaving the Gordon-CenSSIS institutions into a “distributed university.” Outreach programs include women’s and minority colleges and K-12 teachers and students. This provides an ERC broader impact byenhancing the pipeline for and diversity of students entering graduate and undergraduate programs.

Last Modified: 05/01/2013
Modified by: Michael B Silevitch

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