WNCG Alumnus Receives 2019 ONR Young Investigator Award

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Prof. Zak Kassas was among the recipients of the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Young Investigator Awards for 2019.

The Young Investigator Program identifies early tenure-track academic scientists and engineers “who show exceptional promise for doing creative research.” Those considered must have received their doctorate or equivalent degree on or after January 1, 2012. Of over 260 applicants to the highly competitive program, only 25 researchers were selected.

The $750,000 award will fund Kassas’ research over a three-year period for his project titled, “I Hear, Therefore I Know Where I Am: Exploiting Signals of Opportunity for Robust and Accurate Navigation in GPS-Denied Environments.” The work is aiming for a modernized position, navigation, and timing (PNT) system architecture that addresses the limitations of the current GPS-based PNT paradigm.

Kassas received his M.S.E. and Ph.D. degrees from Texas Engineering in 2010 and 2014, respectively. A graduate research assistant as well as a member of WNCG, he was advised during his Ph.D. by Prof. Todd Humphreys.

Since graduating, Kassas has held faculty positions at the University of California, Riverside (2014-2018) and the University of California, Irvine (2018-present). His work has attracted recognition in the fields of cyber-physical systems (CPS) and autonomous navigation—a few of his recent honors include: a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2018) for his research on Situational Awareness Strategies for Autonomous Systems in Dynamic Uncertain Environments; the Institute of Navigation (ION) 2018 Samuel Burka Award for "LTE Receiver Design and Multipath Analysis for Navigation in Urban Environments" (with his Ph.D. student Kimia Shamaei); and the IEEE Walter Fried Award for Best Paper for "Precise UAV Navigation with Cellular Carrier Phase Measurements" (with his Ph.D. student Joe Khalife).

Currently, Kassas directs the Autonomous Systems Perception, Intelligence, and Navigation (ASPIN) Laboratory at the University of California, Irvine. He is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and Electrical Engineering & Computer Science.