2021 Class of Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship

Arlington, VA – On May 5th, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced the selection of eight distinguished faculty scientists and engineers for the 2021 Class of Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellows (VBFF). The highly competitive fellowship is the DoD’s flagship single investigator award for basic research. VBFF is sponsored by the Basic Research Office, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, with grants managed by the Office of Naval Research.

The 2021 class joins a cadre of 57 current fellows, who conduct basic research in areas of importance to the DoD, ranging from materials science and cognitive neuroscience to quantum information sciences and applied mathematics. In addition to their research projects, fellows can also engage directly with the DoD enterprise to collaborate with DoD laboratories and to share insights with DoD leadership and the broader national security community.

“The Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship is a prestigious program for tenured faculty and supports bold and ambitious ‘blue sky’ research,” said Dr. Bindu Nair, Director of the Basic Research Office. “Since its inception, VBFF-funded research has led to extraordinary outcomes such as revolutionizing entire disciplines, creating entirely new fields, or disrupting accepted theories and perspectives.”

The Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship is named in honor of Dr. Vannevar Bush, the Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development after World War II. In line with Dr. Bush’s vision, the Fellowship aims to advance transformative, university-based fundamental research. For the FY21 competition, over 300 white papers were received, from which panels of experts recommended the final eight fellows. Each fellow will receive up to $3 million over the five-year fellowship term to pursue cutting-edge fundamental research projects.

More information about the Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship is available on the Basic Research Office website.


The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering is responsible for research, development, and prototyping activities across DoD and fosters technological dominance across the DoD enterprise to ensure the advantage of the American Warfighter. Learn more at www.cto.mil/ or follow us on Twitter: @DoDCTO.

2021 Vannevar Bush Faculty fellows

NameInstitutionResearch topic
Dimitrios GiannakisCourant Institute, New York University Quantum Theory for Spectral Analysis, Prediction, and Control of Classical System
Jennifer LewisHarvardProgrammable Assembly of Functional Human Tissues
Rein UlijnCUNYSystems-Based Design of Biomolecular Modalities and Materials
Jonathan CohenPrincetonToward a Brain-Inspired Model of the Flexibility and Autonomy of Human Behavior
Alexander (Alex) BalandinUniversity of California- RiversideOne-Dimensional Quantum Materials
Kavita RamananBrown UniversityHigh-dimensional Stochastic Dynamics on Diverse Network Topologies
Michael JordanUniversity of California-BerkeleyOn Intelligence and Networks: Conjoined Research in Machine Learning, Microeconomics, and Dynamical Systems
Marco PanesiUIUCPhysics-Aware Reduced-Order Modeling for Non-equilibrium Plasma Flows: Implications in the Field of Hypersonic Aerothermodynamics

USD(R&E)