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Academic Grants Round grantee announcement

Posted by Ecosystem Support Program Team on July 29, 2022

Academic Grants Round grantee announcement

We are thrilled to announce the 39 grantees selected for the recent Academic Grants Round. This grants round invited researchers, think-tanks, Ph.D. students, and all those interested in advancing knowledge around the Ethereum ecosystem to submit academic proposals.

Thank you to all those who submitted proposals, and congratulations to all the grantees. We are pleased with the number of quality applications that we received, which surpassed our initial expectations. Given the extraordinary potential of many project proposals, we have more than doubled the initial budget from $750,000 to $2 million.

The granted projects vary broadly in scope and geographic representation with research teams from Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Nepal, Pakistan, Romania, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom the United States and Vietnam.

We look forward to the results from the many academic projects supported in this round! If you missed this round and are researching something in this space, consider submitting a project inquiry to the Ecosystem Support Program.

More than $2 million has been allocated across 39 grants in 7 different categories:

Category# of projectsamount (USD)
Economics9$222,067.00
Consensus Layer9$483,477.81
P2P Networking5$386,592.00
Maximum Extractable Value5$351,659.00
Formal Verification4$283,165.51
Cryptography and zero knowledge proofs2$120,000.00
Other domains5$194,807.00

Economics

ProjectResearch TeamInstitutionDescription
Analysis of the Dynamic Interplay between Ethereum and Ethereum Rollups: Transaction Fees and Demand TrendsAysajan Eziz; Guneet Kaur NagpalIndependentTo research the dynamic interplay of transaction fees and demand trends between base layer and layer 2 rollups.
Equilibrium staking rewards: Implications for POS blockchain securityProf Talis Putnins; Tra Nguyen, Ph.D. candidate; Lecky Lao, Ph.D. candidateIndependentTo research and propose economic modeling of “opportunity costs of capital”, the dynamics of how capital flows between staking opportunities, and what that implies for the security of Ethereum (and other POS blockchains) as it transitions to POS and the optimal design of the staking incentive mechanisms.
Monetary Policy in the Age of CryptocurrenciesProf. Thai Nguyen; Prof. Tra Pham; Dr. Binh Nguyen Thanh; Dr. Linh Nguyen Thi My; Dr. Tuan Chu; Dr. Seng Kok; Dr. Phong NguyenRMIT VietnamTo shed light on the possible economic development of countries when cryptocurrencies are used as legal tender, particularly in light of the fact that the central banks would lose most of the monetary policy tools.
Time series analysis for transaction fee marketHuisu Jang YunYoung Lee, Ph.D; Seongwan Park, Ph.D; Seungju Lee Woojin Jeong; Advisor: Jaewook LeeSoongsil University and Seoul National UniversityTo perform a time series analysis of the Ethereum gas fee market after the introduction of EIP-1559.
The Influence of Transaction Costs on Economic Activity on the Ethereum NetworkDr. Lennart AnteBlockchain Research Lab gGmbHTo investigate the extent to which transaction costs interrelate with different economic activities on the Ethereum network.
The Market for Music Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs): Price, Volume, and RiskDanling Jiang, Ph.D.Keli Xiao, Ph.D. Lolita Nazarov, B.S Haixiang (Diego) Zhu, MSStony Brook FoundationTo understand the market for the music content non-fungible tokens (music NFTs) and the determinants of price, volume, and risk dynamics of such NFTs traded on OpenSea, powered by the Ethereum blockchain.
The Microeconomic Foundation of DAODavid Yang, Ph.DIndependentTo understand the economic conditions that justify the emergence of a DAO structure in governing community decisions.
Towards scalable incentive machines: attributing value to individual agents in multi-player gamesTal KachmanDonders Institute of Brain and CognitionTo bridge coalitional game theory with the approximation power of deep learning to construct payoff machines: large-scale estimators capable of measuring every agent's contribution to a multi-agent system according to different underlying principles.
Understanding Waiting Time in Transaction Fee MechanismsProf Luyao Zhang, Ph.D; Prof Fan Zhang, Ph.D.; Research Fellow: Tianyu WuIndependentTo systematically study and then develop a practical policy that can further reduce the users’ waiting time in Ethereum TFM.

Consensus Layer

ProjectResearch TeamInstitutionDescription
(Danksharding + PBS) Builder centralization: Is it really safe?Huisu Jang; YunYoung Lee, Ph.D candidate; Seongwan Park; Seungju Lee; Woojin Jeong; Advisor: Jaewook LeeStatistical Learning & Computational Finance Lab, Seoul National UniversityTo explore two potential risks of centralizing block production in PBS and propose proper modifications to the current PBS scheme to ensure safety against the suggested risks.
Amplification Messaging for Short-Term Slot Finality and Improved Reorg-ToleranceHammurabi Mendes, Ph.D.; Jonad Pulaj, Ph.D.Davidson CollegeTo formalize and evaluate relatively unobtrusive changes in GASPER for shorter-term finality and decreased likelihood of reorgs.
Analyzing and Securing Ethereum PoS in the Fully Asynchronous NetworkDr. Qiang Tang; Zhenliang Lu, Ph.D.; Dr. Yuan LuThe University of SydneyTo study the security of Ethereum PoS in the fully asynchronous network, in which there is no guaranteed delivery time, and to make design suggestions on how to make Ethereum PoS more secure in an asynchronous network.
Combining Accountability and Game Theory to Strengthen Blockchain SecurityProf. Vincent GramoliThe University of SydneyTo design novel algorithms that we will implement and evaluate in a large-scale distributed environment to demonstrate that blockchains can be made more secure with a practical combination of accountability and game theory.
Disentangling Transaction Privacy and Consensus in EthereumProf. Kartik Nayak; Prof. Fan ZhangDuke UniversityTo study the dilemma between desirable properties such as (pre and failed trade) transaction privacy and the properties of the underlying consensus mechanism provided by Ethereum.
Improving Ethereum Communication Efficiency through Accountability and Flexible QuorumsProf. Kartik NayakDuke UniversityTo analyze 2 possible avenues to still obtain the same desirable security guarantees while improving efficiency. Firstly, using smaller quorums with accountability to obtain a more communication efficient protocol; and secondly using flexible quorums to obtain stronger security guarantees (of up to ⅔ fraction rational corrupt validators).
PoS Ethereum Agent-Based ModelProf. Claudio J. Tessone; Nicolò Vallarano, Ph.D.University of ZurichTo provide an abstract Agent Based Model to simulate Ethereum Proof-Of-Stake consensus.
REVOKE: Consensus-layer mitigations for validator ransomware attacksDr. Dan O'Keeffe; Dr. Darren Hurley-Smith; Alpesh Bhudia, Ph.D. candidateRoyal Holloway University of LondonTo explore consensus protocol adaptations to mitigate the risks of ransomware attacks on Ethereum 2.0 validators. It will aim to design a new revocation mechanism that will allow validators to improve their operational security by quickly changing their signing key without having to withdraw their stake.
Staking Mechanism Design: Ethereum 2.0 for GoodProf. Luyao Zhang, Ph.D.; Dr. Yulin Liu; Research Fellows: Xinyu Tian; Tianyu Xin; Zesen ZhuangSciEcon CICTo investigate the impact of the Ethereum 2.0 upgrades, mainly including its policy upgrade and the switch from proof of work to proof of stake, on its overall security, degree of decentralization, and scalability.

P2P Networking

ProjectResearch TeamInstitutionDescription
Coded Transaction Broadcasting for High-throughput BlockchainsProf. Mohammad Alizadeh; Lei Yang, Ph.D. studentMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)To design and build a new scheme for broadcasting new pending transactions in a blockchain network, with the goal to reduce the bandwidth usage and the latency to propagate transactions.
DoS-secure transaction propagation on Ethereum: Exploit generation and attack detectionProf. Yuzhe Tang; Kai Li, Ph.D. student; Jiaqi Chen, Ph.D. student; Yibo Wang, Ph.D. student; Jack Willis; Nicholas P. Sweet; Mingyan ZhangSyracuse UniversityTo research and build an automated exploit generator to systematically evaluate the security/insecurity of current and future Ethereum clients under the low-cost DoS attacks as well as build DoS-secure mempool and transaction propagation protocols. Particularly, we will present a two-buffer mempool mechanism to support different transaction admission priorities.
Eclipse and DoS-Resilient Overlays for High-Performance Block DisseminationProf. Spyros Voulgaris; Evangelos Kolyvas, Ph.D.; Alexandros Antonov, Ph.D.Athens University of Economics and BusinessTo design, implement, and evaluate a fully decentralized, self-organizing, self-healing, resource conservative, and dependable dissemination mechanism that delivers messages faster than is currently planned to be employed, while guaranteeing high reliability even in the case of failures or high node churn; and to shield our proposed protocol from Eclipse and DoS attacks, such that it becomes too hard for an attacker to obstruct message dissemination.
Privacy-enhanced and efficient P2P routing algorithms for the Ethereum networkIstván András Seres, Ph.D. student; Domokos Kelen, Ph.D. student; Ferenc Béres, Ph.D. student; András A. Benczúr, Ph.DIndependentTo design, implement and evaluate a privacy-enhanced routing algorithm for the Ethereum network that provably outperforms state-of-the-art proposals.
Tikuna: an Ethereum blockchain network security monitoring systemDr. Andres Gomez Ramirez, Ph.D.; Loui Al Sardy, Ph.D. candidateSistemas Edenia InternacionalTo build a proof-of-concept P2P network security monitoring system for the Ethereum blockchain for early detection of relevant incidents.

Maximum Extractable Value

ProjectResearch TeamInstitutionDescription
Battle of the Bots: Miner Extractable Value and Efficient SettlementProf. Alfred Lehar; Prof. Christine ParlouUniversity of CalgaryTo examine how MEV and private transactions change blockchain economics, and impact socially desirable arbitrage such as loan liquidations and the alignment of DEX prices.
Catching the ephemeral: Understanding blockchains through mempool dataProf. Fan Zhang; Prof. Kartik NayakYale UniversityTo empirically study critical aspects of the Ethereum blockchain such as the fee markets and ordering fairness, by using mempool data.
M2EV: Multi-block MEV gamesBruno Mazorra, Ph.D. student; Prof. Vanesa DazaPompeu Fabra UniversityTo formalize the Reorg MEV game through a game theoretical perspective and understand the negative externalities induced by rational validators.
Mechanism Design and Empirical Analysis of MEV Prevention MechanismsProf. Agostino CapponiColumbia UniversityTo study the design of Maximum Extractable Value (MEV) prevention mechanisms, such as relay and sequencing service, develop an econometric analysis of MEV prevention mechanisms, and quantify their impact on gas fees and value of ecosystem participants.
Optimal Design of Miner Extractable Value AuctionsDr Peyman Khezr; Dr Vijay MohanRoyal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University)To investigate the optimal design of auctions that, first, allocate the block space to potential transactions, and second, provide an efficient transaction ordering in a Miner Extractable Value Auction (MEVA).

Formal Verification

ProjectResearch TeamInstitutionDescription
Bounded Model Checking for Verifying and Testing Ethereum Consensus SpecificationsDr. Youcheng Sun; Dr. Lucas C. CordeiroUniversity of ManchesterTo verify and test Ethereum consensus specifications, i.e., the Python reference implementation, by applying Bounded Model Checking (BMC).
Formally verified Ethereum 2.0 Beacon ChainHamra Afzaal; Muhammad Umar Janjua; Muhammad ImranInformation Technology University of the PunjabTo find and correct bugs in the Beacon Chain using model checking technique.
FORVES (FORmally VErified block optimizationS)Prof. Elvira Albert; Prof. Samir Genaim; Prof. Enrique Martin-MartinUniversity Complutense of MadridTo develop a fully automated and formally verified tool, in Coq, that is able to verify the semantic equivalence of two loop-free fragments of EVM code.
Trustworthy Formal Verification for Ethereum Smart Contracts via Machine-Checkable Proof CertificatesProf. Grigore Rosu; Xiaohong Chenm, Ph.D. studentUniversity of Illinois Urbana-ChampaignTo study trustworthy formal verification for smart contracts via machine-checkable proof certificates.

Cryptography and zero knowledge proofs

ProjectResearch TeamInstitutionDescription
Efficient Private Information Retrieval for Ethereum Light ClientsProf. Xun Yi; Prof. Son Hoang Dau; Nhat Quang Cao, Ph.D. student; Prof. Chen FengIndependentTo develop cryptographic solutions that allow Ethereum light clients to perform data acquisition in a way that is not only efficient but also private.
ZK-SNARKs as a ServiceProf. Abhishek JainJohns Hopkins UniversityTo design secure protocols that can be executed by a group of servers to jointly compute ZK-SNARG proofs.

Other domains

ProjectResearch TeamInstitutionDescription
Cross chain authenticated queriesDr. Damiano Di Francesco MaesaUniversity of Pisa & University of CambridgeTo study how it is possible to adopt, and adapt, authenticated query protocols for blockchains to allow for cross chain communication between different Ethereum side chains (and the main net).
Feasibility Study of Pipelining in Ethereum Virtual Machine ArchitectureGopal OjhaIndependentTo research and develop for optimization of Ethereum network by increasing transaction throughput in the EVM.
Governance Based On Preferences, Incentives, and InformationProf. Bo WaggonerUniversity of Colorado, BoulderTo investigate governance methods of making collective decisions as a group.
Rollups as Subsidiary Political Units – A Diversity of Layer 2 Networks Subject to Layer 1’s Constitutional AuthorityEric Alston; Prof. Bo WaggonerUniversity of Colorado, BoulderTo research the ways in which networks subsidiary to a given primary blockchain network share features with subsidiary political units in national constitutional orders.
S-CCSC: Security of Cross-chain Smart ContractProf. Yang Xiang; Dr. Ziyuan Wang; Dr. Lin Yang; Dr. Sheng Wen; Dr. Donghai LiuSwinburne University of TechnologyTo safeguard cross-chain smart contracts by investigating existing or potential security risks and corresponding solutions of cross-chain smart contracts.

We're excited to follow these research teams and see the broad impact they have in expanding academic knowledge throughout the Ethereum ecosystem!

The diversity and quality of this round of grants reflects the interest of Academia in catalyzing our shared knowledge in helping solve major problems and advancing the Ethereum ecosystem.

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