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Computer Science & Engineering

Department of

Faculty & Staff


Data Science, Astronomy, Cryptography

Chair, Computer Science & Engineering

Robert A. Downing

Prof. Downing has 40 years of industry research experience from 3COM and IBM and as a former adjunct professor. The Downing research group applies the tools of data mining and data science to astronomy and cryptography. Through applied computer science and data science, the group hopes to move towards deciphering the Voynich manuscript and also detecting near-earth objects using signal-to-noise detection mining of NASA datasets. He is also the director for the Astrophysics Research Institute at ASDRP.


Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Computer-Human Interaction

Phil Mui

Dr. Mui received his B.Sc., M. Eng, and PhD from the Massachusetts Institue of Technology (MIT) and an M.Phil from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, and is currently the senior vice president of technology at SalesForce. The Mui group uses applied computer science to study social interactions among human beings. Dr. Mui is interested in the evolution of cooperation and in gendered biases that developers have in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Software Engineering, Machine Learning

Sam Fendell

Sam is a UC Berkeley graduate with several years experience as a software engineer at Google and Amazon. His group is interested in using machine learning to classify and analyze real-world problems - specifically, the utilization of machine learning to perform sentiment analysis on large datasets from social media platforms towards understanding how society responds to global events such as climate change and, more recently, COVID-19.


Electrical Engineering, Computer Science

Larry McMahan

Dr. McMahan received his M.S. and Ph.D. from Rice University. His research group utilizes computer science modeling to understand phenomena at the quantum level and is interested in quantum computing applied to small molecule and single-atom perturbations, materials science and engineering, and chaos theory as it relates to chromodynamics and photophysical phenomena. Dr. McMahan oversees our quantum computing emulator.

Quantum Mechanics, Applied Physics

Calvin Leung

Calvin is pursuing a PhD in physics at MIT studying the phenomena of fast radio bursts: brief, intense flashes of radio-frequency light originating from outside the Milky Way. His past research interests have included quantum communication and searching for dark matter using atomic clocks. In addition, he was a vibration engineer working on the Falcon 9 at SpaceX. Students interested in joining his group should reach out to him.

Materials Science, Metallurgical Engineering

Mahesh Agrawal

The Agrawal group's research straddles chemistry and materials science; the focus of their work centers around green polymers, metallurgical engineering, artificial photosynthesis, solar energy, and green chemical engineering towards addressing the world's need for renewable and clean energy. 


Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Computer Science

Nicholas Papano

The Papano research group at ASDRP is interested in applying the tools of 3D printing and computer science towards applications in physics, engineering, and mechanical design. The group has been previously involved in aerodynamics research, using 3D printing to optimize turbine design - this summer he will be involved in capturing gigajansky radiobursts using a trans-national Raspberry Pi cluster.

Computer Science

Meenal Pant

Meenal received her M.S. in Computer Engineering from Reading University and is currently a software engineer at Google. The Pant group (operating with PyKids) utilizes Python coding in various applications related to applied and integrated systems. The Pant group is also interested in using Python as a tool to mine data sets and to elucidate and deconvolute patterns in complex data sets.

Physical Chemistry, Materials Science

Nilai Patel

Nilai Patel is an experienced materials engineer with a background in electrochemistry and physical chemistry. Nilai Patel's research group is interested in the development of modern materials with unique physical and electrochemical properties for applications in nanotechnology and engineering. The Patel group is also involved with the Astrophysics research institute at ASDRP, where they work on photovoltaic materials for space craft energy sequestering.

Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction

Dennis Liu

The Liu research group at ASDRP is interested in applying the tools of computer science and cognitive science to better understand human-computer interactions. Further, the Liu group is interested in engineering solutions to user interface design, informed by both engineering and psychology.

Data Science 

Suresh Subramaniam

Suresh is a seasoned executive and data scientist with experience in managing large operations and applying data science to solve business problems. His group works on data science and its various applications to society, policy, and organizations. 

Computer Science & Software Engineering

Keshav Rao

Keshav Rao is a graduate of UC Berkeley in Computer Science and co-founder of several startups in the Bay Area including Goodpoint, Inc. where he is focusing on applying computer science and software engineering to a variety of real-world applications, including modern healthcare systems.

Facilities & Instrumentation

Princeton Applied Research Scanning Potentiostat

Our Princeton Applied Research scanning potentiostat is utilized for electrochemical measurements and for monitoring of redox-active materials. 

3D Printers

ASDRP operates four 3D printers for model production and for engineering and fabrication of turbines, components for hardware, and much more. Students learn how to operate the 3D printers and use cad software in the 3D printing course.

Quantum Computing Simulator Environment

Our server cluster operates a quantum computing emulator which allows research students and research groups to launch jobs that require QC applications.

Raspberry Pi systems

ASDRP has several raspberry pi miniature computers used in research students' projects.

High-Throughput Computing Server & Cluster

ASDRP operates four industry-grade Dell PowerEdge serves equipped with Xeon 48-core processors, over 64 GB RAM, and remote access to meet the needs of our computational students.

Laser Cutter

Our industrial-grade laser cutter is used for research students who construct and engineer components or models. It uses a high-power laser to cut wood, plastic, and other materials. 


There is no bigger stage than the Universe. It is, at once & the same time, our origin, our sustainer & (for some lucky few) our professions. It surrounds us but is, like our oceans, both easy to percieve & deucedly difficult to study. Up until now, astronomy &  astrophysics were expensive pursuits that were also subject to chaotic weather conditions, unless you went into Space, which is a whole other level of expense. Well this Summer we here @ ASDRP look to deliver rigorous experiences (& perhaps experiments) using the exact same data as the Big Players (think NASA & the ESA): we'll continue exploring the public data for potentially habitable Exoplanets; or search for Pulsars & Fast Radio Bursts [FRBs] using instumentation we build ourselves, while learning the natures of these strange beasts; or perhaps we'll build our own Laser Interferometer Gravity Observatory [LIGO] while learning about that portion of the electromagnetic spectrum [EM] we call 'light;' or maybe we'll come up with something absolutely new. The summer of 2020 in ASDRP promises to be an exciting time for Astronomy & Astrophysics. Come join us!


Current Research Areas

Listening for gigaJansky Fast Radio Burst Objects

Searching for giga-Jansky fast radio bursts from the Milky Way with a global array of low-cost radio receivers. “We propose searching for Galactic FRBs using a global array of low-cost radio receivers. One possibility is the ~ 1 GHz communication channel in cellular phones, through a Citizens-Science downloadable application. Participating phones would continuously listen for and record candidate FRBs and would periodically up-load information to a central data-processing website which will identify the signature of a real, globe-encompassing, FRB from an astronomical distance.”

Computational Exploration of New Atomic Clocks

The precision of modern atomic clocks has formed the foundation of cutting-edge technologies in the 21st century. Atomic clocks have enabled centimeter-precision GPS, redefined the kilogram, and can pave the way forward for precision scientific measurements such as the world’s first direct imaging of supermassive black holes. We will develop and mature a Python interface for GRASP 2018, a popular FORTRAN code that calculates energy levels and oscillator strengths for atomic systems to characterize the properties of promising future clock systems.

Mining for "Goldilocks Zone" Exoplanets

Are there other planets out there in the universe that possess the physical conditions necessary to support life? Here, we pursue securing a publicly-available dataset describing current exoplanet discoveries, and employ data mining & machine learning to extract potential life-bearing candidates. This would involve examining the external data for objects lying within the “Goldilocks” zone - that region that represents orbital parameters in which liquid water would obtain.

Engineering novel photovoltaic spacecraft conductive polymers

Harvesting solar energy from the sun is important in powering spacecraft, telescopes, and other extraterrestrial vehicles. Additional challenges include the need for stability and durability to thermal and radiative stress. This work incorporates an overlap of physical chemistry, materials engineering, polymer design, and production of novel photovoltaic materials for potential application in spacecraft engineering. In particular, we are interested in the nanoscale engineering of graphene-based polymer networks as the basis for spacecraft energy needs.

Identification of Near-Earth Objects (NEO) 

We are involved in high-throughput data analysis for identification of near-earth objects (NEO's), which are extraterrestrial entities such as comets and asteroids that fly through Earth's neighborhood. Here, we employ data mining & machine learning to extract potential life-threatening candidates. This can be done by examining time-series image(s) of a region for changes in pixel value(s).

Host Galaxies of Fast Radio Bursts (FRB)

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are bright, millisecond-duration radio transients of unknown origin originating from cosmologically-distant galaxies. They are extreme astrophysical phenomena: a single FRB can emit ∼ 10^39 W of power in under a millisecond, and generates electromagnetic fields strong enough to rip apart the vacuum of spacetime into electron-positron pairs. Since they are transient phenomena, it is extremely difficult to pinpoint the host galaxies for these events to understand more about what produces FRBs. However, a handful of events have been localized to host galaxies. We wish to understand the sizes, masses, and gas content of these host galaxies.

Robert Downing

 Nilai Patel 

 Calvin Leung 

Larry McMahan

Nicholas Papano