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Immediate Release

DOD Announces 2024 Vannevar Bush Fellows to Pursue Breakthrough Research

The Department of Defense today announced the selection of 11 university scientists and engineers to fill the 2024 class of the Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship (VBFF), the DoD's flagship single-investigator award for basic research.

The department will support the 2024 class with up to $33 million to explore the frontiers of knowledge and advance transformative, fundamental research at their respective universities.

Named for Dr. Vannevar Bush, who played a monumental role in shaping the defense research enterprise as the director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development after World War II, the VBFF nurtures high-risk and innovative ideas that push scientists toward breakthrough discoveries.

"The Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship is more than a prestigious program. It's a beacon for tenured faculty embarking on groundbreaking ‘blue sky' research," said Dr. Bindu Nair, director of the Basic Research Office in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. "Through this fellowship, DoD empowers some of the nation's most talented researchers to pursue ambitious ideas that defy conventional boundaries. The outcomes of VBFF-funded research have transformed entire disciplines, birthed novel fields, and challenged established theories and perspectives."

The 2024 awardees will join an elite group of approximately 50 fellows conducting basic research for the DoD. Their research spans a wide range of disciplines, including materials science, cognitive neuroscience, quantum information sciences, and applied mathematics. Beyond their individual research endeavors, fellows leverage the unique opportunity to collaborate directly with DoD laboratories, fostering a valuable exchange of knowledge and expertise.

"By contributing their insights to DoD leadership and engaging with the broader national security community, they enrich collective understanding and help the United States leap ahead in global technology competition," said Nair.

The Basic Research Office sponsors the VBFF while the Office of Naval Research manages the grants. For the fiscal year 2024 competition, the department received 170 white papers, from which panels of experts invited 27 proposals, for a final recommendation of 11 fellows. Each fellow will receive up to $3 million over a five-year fellowship term to pursue cutting-edge fundamental research projects.

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The 2024 Class of Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellows:

Name   Institution Research Topic
Houman Owhadi California Institute of Technology Computational Hypergraph Discovery, a Framework for Connecting the Dots
Domitilla Del Vecchio Massachusetts Institute of Technology Analog Epigenetic Cell Memory: Biology and Engineering
James Speck University of California, Santa Barbara Beyond the Band Minima: High Energy Electron Dispersion, Physics, and Technology
Mehrdad Jazayeri Massachusetts Institute of Technology An Embodied Neuroscience for Cognition and Emotion
Andrew Cleland University of Chicago Building a Phonon-Based Quantum Computer
Emilia Morosan Rice University Correlated Topological Materials in a "New Light"
Joseph Heremans Ohio State University Polarization Caloritronics
Xiaodong Xu University of Washington Realizing Non-Abelian Anyons
Themistoklis Sapsis Massachusetts Institute of Technology Generative Active Modeling Along Unstable Dynamics for Capturing Unprecedented Extreme Events
Oleg Gang Columbia University Evolving Materials
Cristopher Niell University of Oregon Neural Circuits and Computations in the Octopus Visual System