Two Faculty Awarded $1.2 Million DARPA Grant

Jorg Peters, a professor in the University of Florida Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE), and Meera Sitharam, an associate professor in CISE, received a $1.2 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to revolutionize geometric design with material micro- and nano-structure.

Peters is interested in representing, analyzing and computing with geometry. He has developed new tools for free-form modeling and design in spline, Bezier, subdivision and implicit representations. He is heading the Toolkit for Illustrations of Procedures in Surgery (TIPS) project to enable surgeon-educators to author VR-based simulations with force feedback.

Peters served in the armed forces from 1980-82 and earned his Ph.D. in 1990 in computer science from the University of Wisconsin. In 1991 and 1992, he held positions at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before moving to the computer science department at Purdue University. In 1994, Peters received a National Young Investigator Award. He was tenured at Purdue University in 1997 and moved to the University of Florida in 1998 where he became full professor. In 2014, Peters received the John Gregory Award, the highest award in the area of Geometric Design.

Peters serves as editor-in-chief of the journal Graphic Models (GMOD) and as associate editor for the journals Computer Aided Geometric Design (CAGD), Applied Numerical Mathematics (APNUM), Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) ToG, Computers & Mathematics with Applications (CAMWA), and Computer-Aided Design (CAD), as well as on program committees. He chaired the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) interest group on geometric design and was repeatedly elected to chair the Engineering Faculty Council at UF.

Sitharam’s research tries to understand the world – from abstract structures and machines to concrete biological viruses – through a geometric and algorithmic complexity perspective. Her toolbox of choice is geometrically constrained configurations, and she has developed several suites of open-source mathematical software.

She is on the editorial board of the Computer Aided Design journal, served on the program committee of the Automated Deduction in Geometry conference for many years, and has received funding as an organizer for several meetings at the American Institute for Mathematics and Banff International Research Station.

She received her undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in India and her doctorate in computer science from University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1991, following which she received an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Discrete Mathematics at the University of Bonn. She was a tenured assistant professor in the Mathematics and Computer Science department at Kent State University until 1998. She was a visiting professor at Purdue University in 1997 and moved to UF in 1998, where she has been a tenured associate professor since 2002.

In her capacity as vice-president and state senator for the United Faculty of Florida, she is an advocate for public higher education and faculty. She is active in college and university shared governance, and has been elected to the faculty senate, the college faculty council and the budget council twice, and she was instrumental in developing a financial transparency portal for faculty at UF.

She is engaged in campus life as a faculty advisor of three student organizations. She serves on the board of the India Cultural & Education Center in Gainesville, and as the chair of the internal audit committee for Asha for Education, a U.S. nonprofit, she works closely with NGO partners addressing educational access issues in India at the grassroots level.