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Cybersecuring the Smart Grid

Researchers in Lehigh’s Integrated Networks for Electricity research cluster are part of a new center that aims to develop new technologies to protect the nation’s power grid from cyber attacks.

The center is made possible by a $12.2 million grant to Lehigh and other universities from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The award will be supplemented with $3.3 million in matching funds from the participating schools. The center is led by the University of Arkansas, and consists of experts in power systems engineering and in the computer science of cybersecurity from Arkansas, Lehigh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Florida International University. The Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. will serve as an industry partner.

Lehigh faculty members represent the largest number of investigators involved in the project, which brings $3.25 million in research funding to Lehigh over five years.

“Cybersecurity for energy systems is universally recognized to be one of the most important challenges of the future,” says Rick Blum, Robert W. Wieseman Research Professor of Electrical Engineering at Lehigh and principal investigator of the Lehigh team.

"Every encounter with the unanticipated, the unexpected, the poorly understood, is an opportunity. That’s where new knowledge comes from. Working with the community presents a special opportunity in that regard, specifically because people from other walks of life know things and see things that we don’t know and we don’t see."
Alan Snyder Vice President and Associate Provost for Research and Graduate Studies

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Email may be to blame for after-hours exhaustion

A new study co-authored by Liuba Belkin, associate professor of management at Lehigh, suggests that companies should refrain from sending emails to their employees after hours—for the sake of their employees’ health and productivity.

The study—also co-authored by William Becker of Virginia Tech and Samantha A. Conroy of Colorado State University—finds a link between organizational after-hours email expectations and emotional exhaustion, which hinders work-family balance. The results suggest that modern workplace technologies may be hurting the very employees that those technologies were designed to help.

Using data collected from 297 working adults, Belkin and her colleagues looked at the role of organizational expectation regarding “off” hour emailing and found it negatively impacts employee emotional states, leading to “burnout” and diminished work-family balance, which is essential for individual health and well-being. The study—described in an article titled Exhausted, but Unable to Disconnect: The Impact of Email-related Organizational Expectations on Work-family Balance—is the first to identify email-related expectations as a job stressor along with already established factors such as high workload, interpersonal conflicts, physical environment or time pressure.

Previous research has shown that in order to restore resources used during the day at work, employees must be able to detach both mentally and physically from work.

“Email is notoriously known to be the impediment of the recovery process. Its accessibility contributes to experience of work overload since it allows employees to engage in work as if they never left the workspace, and at the same time, inhibits their ability to psychologically detach from work-related issues via continuous connectivity,” write the authors.

Jenna Lay

Next Gen Ph.D.s

Jenna Lay, associate professor of English and director of graduate studies for the English department, is serving as project director for a $25,000 grant awarded to Lehigh by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The Next Generation Ph.D. planning grant is part of a new NEH program that aims to support “a transformation of how Ph.D. candidates in the humanities study for their degrees and are prepared for a broader range of careers at the conclusion of their often years-long, intensely academic graduate school experiences.”

The award requires Lehigh to provide matching funds to ensure institutional commitment and builds on the momentum of the $500,000 NEH challenge grant, which was awarded last year to Lehigh’s Africana Studies program. Work includes enhancing curriculum, increasing public humanities initiatives and strengthening community partnerships.

Research by the numbers

50%increase in new award dollars over the previous year.

152Undergraduate students employed in faculty research projects

432Active research awards

500+web researchers traveled to Bethlehem to attend the 14th International Semantic Web Conference, the premier global conference for semantic web researchers, which was organized by Lehigh Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Jeff Hefflin

11%Increase in proposals by faculty over the previous year

69Student projects that were supported by the Dale S. Strohl ’58 Awards for Research Excellence in the Humanities and Social Science (Spring 2015 to Spring 2016)