Scalable Research Challenge

The Scalable Research Challenge is a biennial call for projects that can benefit from “scaling up.”  This includes increasing the scale of objects, persons, or documents studied, or engagement with a new technology that could assist in new discoveries.  I-CHASS consults extensively with each applicant to determine what approaches might best fit the project, and what resources might be available to help. Winners of the challenge receive extensive support over the subsequent year.  Calls for applications are released in January.

Through the Scalable Research Challenge 2012 (SRC12), I-CHASS has connected researchers in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Science to high performance computing specialists within the University of Illinois communities at Chicago, Springfield and Urbana-Champaign so that new questions about research may emerge, and standing research projects may be amplified. Participants will collaborate with computing specialists at I-CHASS, NCSA and possibly other U of I faculty to further research topics using cutting-edge technology in areas such as imaging, visualization, text mining, data modeling, and analysis.

The winners for SRC 2012:

Therese Tierney, PhD DE:New Media, Assistant Professor, Design, School of Architecture, UIUC

Professor Tierney’s [i-metro], a locative information commons, project advances the position that information, as both a resource and an integral component of the public sphere, should be equally available to all. To address the inequality of information access, [i-metro], an interactive information portal to be situated within metro transit stations, provides free, comprehensive locative and other travel-related information in real time. [i-metro] will display information on a touchscreen–like a vastly oversized iPhone- providing access to maps, timetables, and ticket reservations—thus transforming the urban experience with layered opportunities and data most useful on the go. Transit riders will also participate by uploading their own content through messaging and geo-tagging. [i-metro]contributes to new forms of public engagement by creating socially rich nodes for public benefit by linking the functionality of the Web to the scale of the city in real time.

Michael Regenwetter, Professor, Department of Psychology, UIUC
Chris Zwilling, doctoral student, Department of Psychology, UIUC

Professor Regenwetter and Mr. Zwilling’s research aims to further our understanding of human decision-making processes. Their lab focuses on another important part of this larger picture: developing and testing models of human decision-making processes at a higher level of detail thanks to advanced methodologies. In particular, the approach allows looking at both the commonalities, as well as the differences between people in their underlying decision making processes. This proposal specifically, does not aim to solve the ubiquitous shortcomings of human decision-making in the world. Kahneman’s research revealed far-reaching insights into human-decision making, which then allowed others to apply his results to the real world. Their work on models of decision-making, especially if propelled forward by contemporary high-level computing resources, has the potential for many broad and tangible real-world applications, hence it can have a real impact on the human condition.

Harriett Green, English and Digital Humanities Librarian, Assistant Professor of Library Administration, UIUC

Professor Green’s work engages how researchers use libraries. The Maximum Exposure project will examine a library user’s decision points in the search process that provide data for incorporating into the search itself. With this data, hedonic regression and multi-armed bandit model as analytical methods to determine which items have high relevancy but low use by digital library users. The resulting items that fit these parameters will be exposed to the user in a separate “Understudied” list to accompany the main search results set. The relevancy of the Understudied items will be determined by the correlation of the metadata to subject headings and search key terms.

Ruby Mendenhall, Assistant Professor of African American Studies, Sociology, UIUC

Professor Mendenhall’s project focuses to address a critical barrier to decreasing depression among low-income Black single mothers who live in segregated, high-risk neighborhoods by investigating how ecological risk and protective factors moderate the effects of role strain and coping strategies on depression.

Mara R. Wade, Chair, Society for Emblem Studies, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, UIUC

The Emblematica Online project is digitizing two of the world’s largest and most important Renaissance emblem book collections, thereby establishing a digital subject library shared across two institutions, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Herzog August Bibliothek. The project aims to digitize, index and build a new portal providing integrated access to our digital emblem book collections and eventually those of other major emblem book collections worldwide. The project will serve as a prototype for similar digitized image-text related projects in the humanities.

Victor Masayesva, Owner/Director, IS Productions

Victor’s project is in the intersection of agricultural scientific approaches to corn and the sorts of corn farming he does as a Hopi person and that other Indigenous peoples in North and Meso America do. He has met with a lot of people on campus about various aspects of the project, including people at the Visualization Lab at Beckman, IGB faculty, and ACES faculty (Crop Sciences, Ag Econ). We are working toward an agreement on supporting one thread of the project through the R&D phase into preproduction and another thread that will probably be based here at Illinois that will hopefully involve video documentation of a test field in South Campus across a planting-harvest cycle next year. The project will create a documentary on the relationship of corn, its migration and the people that carried it from it’s equatorial roots, to the latest chapter in the story: the development of corn for mass agriculture here at UIUC.

Gabriel Solis, Associate Professor and Chair of Musicology Division, School of Music, UIUC

The project seeks to create a valuable program that would allow for a comparison of a large number of recordings in terms of a number of measurable sonic features, and that will create systematic, three- and four-dimensional visualizations of those sonic features for the process of interpretation of the results and representation of results in scholarship and teaching. One of the most compelling things about this project is that it would fulfill a long-standing desire in the community of musicians and music scholars for precisely such a tool.

Maria E. Cotera, Associate Professor of American Culture and Women’s Studies, Director, Latina/o Studies Program, University of Michigan
Linda Garcia Merchant, Independent Film Maker, Las Pilonas Productions

Chicana por Mi Raza is a digital humanities project that involves the collection, digitization, and display of archival materials and oral histories related to the development of Chicana Feminist thought and praxis over the long civil rights era. The project proposes both the collection of documents related to this history–photographs, posters, correspondence, written material (both published and unpublished), ephemera–and the development of a flexible user interface that can allow users, both professional and novice, to access these materials through interactive timeline and mapping utilities.

Richard Hindle, Assistant Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, UIUC

This project began through accidentally finding a ‘missed’ reference in the patent system. A patent was awarded without referencing an existing patent. The project is to develop visualization methods for patent relationships in multiple databases, and show relationships between innovations in locations and among technologies.