New GAANN Funding Will Allow UConn Engineering to Hire Up To 30 Additional Top-Quality Ph.D. Students

Arash Zaghi, one of the faculty members awarded a GAANN grant, works with two of his Ph.D. students, one of whom is currently being supported by a GAANN grant. (Christopher Larosa/UConn Photo)


By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering

Following a nationally-competitive application process, the University of Connecticut School of Engineering successfully secured four multi-year Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) awards from the U.S. Department of Education, each for approximately $1 million. The number of awards given to the School represent around 5.5 percent of the total given across the country in 2018.

Over the next three years, the awards will provide prestigious fellowship opportunities to around 30 top-quality Ph.D. students in disciplines ranging from cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, big data, and biopolymer to resiliency and robustness of infrastructures, creating crucial knowledge generation and workforce development to the state and the country.

The purposes of the GAANN program are to strengthen graduate research, training, and scholarship, as well as expand access to graduate study. Domestic students with demonstrated financial need and outstanding academic credentials are provided funding to pursue a Ph.D., according to the GAANN website. In addition to this year’s four awards, the School of Engineering has received 13 other GAANN awards since 2009.

According to UConn Engineering Dean Kazem Kazerounian, these prestigious awards will allow the School to attract top-quality graduate students who will work in cutting-edge research with the School’s most talented faculty members:

“High quality graduate students are crucial for our research efforts, helping us to advance some of the world’s toughest engineering challenges,” Kazerounian said. “With these new GAANN awards, we will have the opportunity to bring in extremely talented students in areas of high need, help push new discovery, and in-turn fuel economic progress in our state and beyond.”

Faculty receiving the awards, top row (from left to right): Dr. John Chandy, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Dr. Tim Vadas, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Dr. Arash Zaghi, Civil and Environmental Engineering. Faculty receiving the awards, bottom row (from left to right): Dr. Kelly Burke, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Dr. Sanguthevar Rajasekaran, Computer Science and Engineering.


The five faculty members, from four different departments, who will lead each GAANN are: Dr. Kelly Burke, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Dr. John Chandy, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Dr. Arash Zaghi and Dr. Tim Vadas of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Dr. Sanguthevar Rajasekaran, Computer Science and Engineering. In addition to working within their respective departments, all of these grants will involve faculty crossing disciplines, which will expose graduate students to a unique multi-disciplinary research environment.

For more information on GAANN at the School of Engineering, please visit:

Categories: Headline, UConn Engineering News October 2018