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 projects amount (USD)
Economics 9 $ 222,067.00
Consensus Layer 9 $ 483,477.81
P2P Networking 5 $ 386,592.00
Maximum Extractable Value 5 $ 351,659.00
Formal Verification 4 $ 283,165.51
Cryptography and zero knowledge proofs 2 $ 120,000.00
Other domains 5 $ 194,807.00

Economics

Project Research Team Institution Description
Analysis of the Dynamic Interplay between Ethereum and Ethereum Rollups: Transaction Fees and Demand Trends Aysajan Eziz; Guneet Kaur Nagpal Independent To research the dynamic interplay of transaction fees and demand trends between base layer and layer 2 rollups.
Equilibrium staking rewards: Implications for POS blockchain security Prof Talis Putnins; Tra Nguyen, Ph.D. candidate; Lecky Lao, Ph.D. candidate Independent To 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 Cryptocurrencies Prof. Thai Nguyen; Prof. Tra Pham; Dr. Binh Nguyen Thanh; Dr. Linh Nguyen Thi My; Dr. Tuan Chu; Dr. Seng Kok; Dr. Phong Nguyen RMIT Vietnam To 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 market Huisu Jang YunYoung Lee, Ph.D; Seongwan Park, Ph.D; Seungju Lee Woojin Jeong; Advisor: Jaewook Lee Soongsil University and Seoul National University To 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 Network Dr. Lennart Ante Blockchain Research Lab gGmbH To 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 Risk Danling Jiang, Ph.D.Keli Xiao, Ph.D. Lolita Nazarov, B.S Haixiang (Diego) Zhu, MS Stony Brook Foundation To 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 DAO David Yang, Ph.D Independent To 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 games Tal Kachman Donders Institute of Brain and Cognition To 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 Mechanisms Prof Luyao Zhang, Ph.D; Prof Fan Zhang, Ph.D. SciEcon CIC To systematically study and then develop a practical policy that can further reduce the users’ waiting time in Ethereum TFM.

Consensus Layer

Project Research Team Institution Description
(Danksharding + PBS) Builder centralization: Is it really safe? Huisu Jang; YunYoung Lee, Ph.D candidate; Seongwan Park; Seungju Lee; Woojin Jeong; Advisor: Jaewook Lee Statistical Learning & Computational Finance Lab, Seoul National University To 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-Tolerance Hammurabi Mendes, Ph.D.; Jonad Pulaj, Ph.D. Davidson College To 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 Network Dr. Qiang Tang; Zhenliang Lu, Ph.D.; Dr. Yuan Lu The University of Sydney To 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 Security Prof. Vincent Gramoli The University of Sydney To 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 Ethereum Prof. Kartik Nayak; Prof. Fan Zhang Duke University To 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 Quorums Prof. Kartik Nayak Duke University To 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 Model Prof. Claudio J. Tessone; Nicolò Vallarano, Ph.D. University of Zurich To provide an abstract Agent Based Model to simulate Ethereum Proof-Of-Stake consensus.
REVOKE: Consensus-layer mitigations for validator ransomware attacks Dr. Dan O’Keeffe; Dr. Darren Hurley-Smith; Alpesh Bhudia, Ph.D. candidate Royal Holloway University of London To 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 Good Dr. Luyao Zhang; Dr. Yulin Liu; Research Fellows: Xinyu Tian; Tianyu Xin; Zesen Zhuang SciEcon CIC To 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

Project Research Team Institution Description
Coded Transaction Broadcasting for High-throughput Blockchains Prof. Mohammad Alizadeh; Lei Yang, Ph.D. student Massachusetts 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 detection Prof. Yuzhe Tang; Kai Li, Ph.D. student; Jiaqi Chen, Ph.D. student; Yibo Wang, Ph.D. student; Jack Willis; Nicholas P. Sweet; Mingyan Zhang Syracuse University To 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 Dissemination Prof. Spyros Voulgaris; Evangelos Kolyvas, Ph.D.; Alexandros Antonov, Ph.D. Athens University of Economics and Business To 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 network István András Seres, Ph.D. student; Domokos Kelen, Ph.D. student; Ferenc Béres, Ph.D. student; András A. Benczúr, Ph.D Independent To 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 system Dr. Andres Gomez Ramirez, Ph.D.; Loui Al Sardy, Ph.D. candidate Sistemas Edenia Internacional To build a proof-of-concept P2P network security monitoring system for the Ethereum blockchain for early detection of relevant incidents.
Project Research Team Institution Description
Battle of the Bots: Miner Extractable Value and Efficient Settlement Prof. Alfred Lehar; Prof. Christine Parlou University of Calgary To 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 data Prof. Fan Zhang; Prof. Kartik Nayak Yale University To empirically study critical aspects of the Ethereum blockchain such as the fee markets and ordering fairness, by using mempool data.
M2EV: Multi-block MEV games Bruno Mazorra, Ph.D. student; Prof. Vanesa Daza Pompeu Fabra University To 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 Mechanisms Prof. Agostino Capponi Columbia University To 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 Auctions Dr Peyman Khezr; Dr Vijay Mohan Royal 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

Project Research Team Institution Description
Bounded Model Checking for Verifying and Testing Ethereum Consensus Specifications Dr. Youcheng Sun; Dr. Lucas C. Cordeiro University of Manchester To verify and test Ethereum consensus specifications, i.e., the Python reference implementation, by applying Bounded Model Checking (BMC).
Formally verified Ethereum 2.0 Beacon Chain Hamra Afzaal; Muhammad Umar Janjua; Muhammad Imran Information Technology University of the Punjab To 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-Martin University Complutense of Madrid To 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 Certificates Prof. Grigore Rosu; Xiaohong Chenm, Ph.D. student University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign To study trustworthy formal verification for smart contracts via machine-checkable proof certificates.

Cryptography and zero knowledge proofs

Project Research Team Institution Description
Efficient Private Information Retrieval for Ethereum Light Clients Prof. Xun Yi; Prof. Son Hoang Dau; Nhat Quang Cao, Ph.D. student; Prof. Chen Feng Independent To 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 Service Prof. Abhishek Jain Johns Hopkins University To design secure protocols that can be executed by a group of servers to jointly compute ZK-SNARG proofs.

Other domains

Project Research Team Institution Description
Cross chain authenticated queries Dr. Damiano Di Francesco Maesa University of Pisa & University of Cambridge To 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 Architecture Gopal Ojha Independent To research and develop for optimization of Ethereum network by increasing transaction throughput in the EVM.
Governance Based On Preferences, Incentives, and Information Prof. Bo Waggoner University of Colorado, Boulder To 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 Authority Eric Alston; Prof. Bo Waggoner University of Colorado, Boulder To 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 Contract Prof. Yang Xiang; Dr. Ziyuan Wang; Dr. Lin Yang; Dr. Sheng Wen; Dr. Donghai Liu Swinburne University of Technology To 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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