Funding Leads to Possibilities
Researcher Earns Early Career Grant – the Privilege to Dream, and Dream Big
By Jenifer Rankin
When Feng-Hao Liu, Ph.D., came to FAU in 2015, his department chair, Nurgun Erdol, Ph.D., instilled in him the importance of research funding. “As long as you have funding,” she told Liu, “you can do whatever you imagine.”
Liu took it beyond that – he said he understands that getting funding is not just the number in the account, but more importantly is an endorsement of research strength from the leading experts in the field.
Liu, an assistant professor in the department of computer and electrical engineering and computer science in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, studies cryptography and theory of computation, which focuses on the creation of efficient codes to prevent hacking.
Before arriving at FAU, Liu completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Maryland, where he was involved with “pure research,” which is perfecting the fundamental concepts in his field, and was not focused on finding funding.
But, that changed for Liu when he joined FAU as a researcher who needed to build a research team and claim his niche in the field. And now, Liu has accomplished a critical step towards that goal. Liu was recently awarded the National Science Foundation’s coveted early career award for his proposed novel methodology and research, which will potentially impact the future of post-quantum cryptography, ultimately ensuring future security of computers.
“Whenever we work on a project, we want to make sure that we have done everything to make it as perfect as possible, so no easy improvements can be made by us or anyone in the world,” Liu said. “Only in this way can we truly push forward the frontiers of human knowledge.”
This grant provides much needed funding used to study and experiment transformative ideas that are highly risky, but highly rewarding, Liu said. Liu also plans to use the funding to help his post-doctoral researchers and graduate students achieve the next steps of their career goals, such as hosting webinars to help students get recognized.
“We are helping each other. We are in the same boat. Eventually the students will become the masters who drive their own boat,” Liu said. “That is how we pass knowledge and and hopefully inspire future researchers.”