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SUNY Poly professor receives nearly $200K in funding for research

By Traci DeLore (


Sivapalan Gajan (Photo credit: SUNY Polytechnic Institute)

MARCY, N.Y. — Sivapalan Gajan, SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) associate professor of civil engineering, has received $198,000 in funding from an engineering research-initiation award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The money will go to research on reducing losses from earthquakes. The research combines physics with data science, leveraging computational modeling, simulations, and machine-learning capabilities to develop a greater predictive framework to enable engineers to design more effective rocking systems for foundations to improve the resilience of bridges during earthquakes to reduce human and economic losses.

“I am thrilled to receive this grant from the NSF as we seek a data-driven approach to enhance the structural integrity of buildings by knowing the ways in which rocking foundations can be optimized to minimize damage during an earthquake or other disaster,” Gajan said in a release. “The project will use existing experimental data from around the world to develop new algorithms by combining mechanics with data science. This will provide a fertile educational platform for SUNY Poly students to gain hands-on experience finding solutions to the structural questions we are exploring, which can lead to less damage, less loss of life, and lower costs to rebuild.”

SUNY Poly civil engineering and mechanical engineering undergraduate students will be able to work on this project at the school’s Marcy campus. The students will participate on the numerical-modeling aspects of the effort, as well as on the development of machine learning models for the performance of soil-foundation-structure systems.

The novel, hybrid-predictive framework will have the potential to continuously learn, adapt, and improve in the future as additional data is collected and integrated to provide feedback over time, the university contends.

SUNY Polytechnic Institute offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in an array of technology fields at its Utica–area campus and in nanoscience, nanoengineering, and nanobioscience at its Albany campus.