Class of 2023 PI Millionaires

This year’s PI millionaires join their UofM colleagues in achieving this prestigious designation. More details can be found in the Research Celebration program.

John Sabatini, Distinguished Research Professor, Department of PsychologyJohn Sabatini, Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Psychology

Dr. Sabatini is a distinguished research professor in the Institute for Intelligent Systems (IIS) and the Department of Psychology at the University of Memphis. His research foci include reading literacy development, disabilities, assessment, cognitive psychology, and educational technology, with a primary focus on adults and adolescents. He has been the principal investigator (PI) of a large Institute of Educational Sciences (IES) funded grant to develop pre-K -12 comprehension assessments as part of the Reading for Understanding (RfU) initiative and is PI on a recently completed IES measurement grant to adapt those assessments for use in adult learner programs. He has been PI of a multi-agency grant studying the relative effectiveness of reading programs for adults, co-PI of IES grants to develop web-based that tools to automate exercises and build language activities from texts for English language learners and one to study computer-based, collaborative critical discussions to improve adolescents writing skills.  He advises and provides technical consulting for national and international surveys including PIAAC, NAAL, PIRLS, PISA, and NAEP.

Sabatini currently serves as the PI for an IES “Developing a Technology-based, Reading Comprehension Instruction System for Adult Literacy Students.” With co-PIs Drs. Graesser & Hu (University of Memphis/IIS), Dr. Greenberg (Georgia State U.), and Dr. O’Reilly (Educational Testing Service), the aim of the project is to enhance and evaluate use of AutoTutor technology for adult reading comprehension (ARC). AutoTutor-ARC incorporates conversational agents that guide adult learners through comprehension strategy lessons. The system includes practice questions and embedded tests to monitor and adapt to student learning. The research team is also developing tutorial lessons for adult students to encourage digital literacy skills and a toolkit dashboard for literacy providers and their students.

In the recently completed IES “Developing and validating web-administered, reading for understanding assessments for adult education”, Dr. Sabatini and team developed a suite of digital assessments for adults who are seeking educational support to enhance their reading comprehension skills. The research and development will build on two prior k-12 IES grants, the Struggling Readers (R305G04065), and the Reading for Understanding assessment grant (R305F100005), to adapt the innovative assessments for use with adult learner populations. The assessment techniques developed in this project are also being incorporated into the AutoTutor-ARC system.

Kan Yang, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer ScienceKan Yang, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science

Dr. Yang currently serves as a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Memphis. His pioneering research focuses on reinforcing security, privacy, trustworthiness, and sustainability within cyberspace. His research interests include a) Ensuring data security and privacy, b) Synergizing cybersecurity with artificial intelligence, and c) Exploring the potentials of blockchain technology and its diverse applications. He has published more than 70 research papers in top-tier journals and prestigious conferences, including IEEE TIFS, TDSC, IoTJ, TII, TITS, TSC, ComMag, INFOCOM, ICDCS and ACSAC. He is also the inventor of a US patent. According to Google Scholar, his research works have been cited over 7,900 times (h-index: 38, i10-index: 51). He was honored with the 2021 IEEE Internet of Things Journal Best Paper Award Runner-up. In 2022, Dr. Yang was distinguished as one of the World’s Top 2% Scientists in the Networking and Telecommunication domain, as per the 2022 Stanford University Database. In addition, he is committed to fostering the development of cybersecurity workforce capable of making significant contributions to academia, government, and industry. He is the founder and director of the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program at the University of Memphis under the support of a 3.8M NSF grant as a leading PI.

PI: Kan Yang

  • Co-PIs: Myounggyu Won, Amy Cook and Dipankar Dasgupta
  • CyberCorps Scholarship for Service: Developing the Cybersecurity Workforce in West Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas,
  • NSF DGE 2146427, $3,806,815, 2/1/2022 - 1/31/2027.

PI: Kan Yang

  • Co-PI: Xiaofei Zhang
  • Designing Machine Learning-based Solutions for APT Detection,
  • FedEx Corporate Services Inc.,
  • $397,084, 8/1/2022 - 7/31/2025.