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Prof. Griffeth Working on $10 Million National NSF Project

October 2, 2009

Nancy Griffeth
Professor Nancy Griffeth

Professor Nancy Griffeth (Mathematics and Computer Science) is part of a national team of mathematicians and computer scientists working on a new $10 million project that promises to advance science on many fronts, from developing new cancer treatments to designing safer aircraft.

Professor Griffeth is joining with colleagues from Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, New York University, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to develop revolutionary computational tools to help scientists and engineers. The five-year project was funded in August by the National Science Foundation and is expected to be far-reaching in its impact.

The researchers plan to combine "Model Checking" and "Abstract Interpretation," two independently developed techniques that have found errors in systems used to control satellites and railway systems and other computer circuitry and software. In related research, Professor Griffeth has studied how to test and manage computer networks. For the new project, she will examine how computers can learn to create models of a system from observations of its behavior. The computer-generated models can then be used to help scientists determine the properties of the system.

The project team believes that combining the techniques of Model Checking and Abstract Interpretation can provide insights into other complex systems, regardless of whether they are biological or electronic. The team's findings could benefit pancreatic-cancer modeling, atrial-fibrillation detection, distributed automotive control and aerospace control software, among other areas.

"Lehman College is proud to be a partner, through Professor Griffeth, in this important research, which can potentially open the door to major breakthroughs in medicine and industry," said Lehman President Ricardo R. Fernández. "We're also very pleased that she will be able to introduce our own students to this theoretical area."

As part of the grant, Professor Griffeth is organizing a yearly undergraduate workshop on modeling complex systems, open to all CUNY senior college undergraduates, which will be held at Lehman each January. Students in biology and chemistry, as well as math and computer science, will be encouraged to apply to the first workshop, which will discuss modeling biological systems.

A graduate of Harvard College, Professor Griffeth earned her master's in mathematics at Michigan State University and her doctorate in information science at the University of Chicago. In 1995, she was chosen as one of the Top 100 Women in Computing by McGraw-Hill's Women in Computing Newsletter. Before coming to Lehman in 2003, she worked in the Next Generation Networking Lab at Lucent Technologies.