Ministers and High Authorities of Science, Technology and Innovation from Latin America and the Caribbean visit the University of Illinois

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in News | No Comments

During the week of March 17–21, 2014, the University of Illinois, in collaboration with the Organization of American States (OAS), hosted the first iteration of the “Executive Immersion Program”. Over the course of three days, ministers and high-level government officials from the Ministries and Councils of Science and Technology of several Latin American and Caribbean countries visited the University of Illinois. Guided by the program’s principals and the University’s expert researchers, delegates were afforded a firsthand look at and experience with some of the most advanced technologies in the world. The program also served as a good opportunity for all involved to collectively reflect on how these tools could be used to spur development and to build new partnerships.

Executive-Immersion-1Participants included: The Honorable Jerome K. Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas; Mr. Santiago Núñez-Corrales, Director of Research and Technological Development at the Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications (MICITT) of Costa Rica; Dr. Felix Augusto Campos Martín Farías, Director of Information and Communication Technology of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology (MESCYT) of the Dominican Republic; Mr. Milton Abel Sandoval Guerra, Executive Director for Research and Development of the National Council for Science and Technology (CONCYT) of Guatemala; Ms. Misty Raquel Ramos Argüello, Director of Science and Education for the Nicaraguan Council of Science and Technology (CONICYT); Mrs. Claudia Guerrero, Director of International Technical Cooperation for the National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation of Panama (SENACYT) and Shaliza Mohammed,  Senior Specialist of Science and Technology  the Ministry of Science and Technology of Trinidad and Tobago.

“The purpose of the Executive Immersion Program is to build stronger relationships between the Organization of American States, the University of Illinois, and the Ministries and Councils of Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean” explained Dr. Scott Poole, Director of the Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (I-CHASS). “We want to make all parties aware of the different resources everyone has to offer, and in turn encourage long-lasting international collaboration for economic and social empowerment in the Americas.”

Dr. Poole also explained that Latin America and the Caribbean have some of the fastest growing economies in the world. Through the Office of International Studies and Programs, the University of Illinois can remain connected to the Southern hemisphere by building strong programs to support young Latin American researchers and continuing to collaborate with OAS. Dr. Poole also said that “the Executive Immersion Program definitely positions the University of Illinois as a leader in these sorts of international outreach efforts”.

Mr. Danny Powell, Executive Director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, also highlighted the importance of the program from a development standpoint: “In today’s world, the key issues we deal with are increasingly global in nature – climate change, environmental management, food security, economic development, public health, etc. Finding solutions to these problems requires that researchers, educators, and policy makers from across the world find better ways to collaborate. OAS-ARTCA realizes this, and has very effectively established the Executive Immersion Program to help move these discussions along, and find the types of partnerships that can work to find the solutions that are much needed.”

The delegates toured four of the main research institutes of the University of Illinois: the Prairie Research Institute, the Beckman Institute, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), and the Institute for Genomics Biology. Delegates also interacted with faculty from the College of Engineering and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Each institute and college offers extensive international outreach programs and participants were able to identify appropriate partners for projects that met the national priorities of their countries.

Executive-Immersion-2Participants visited Blue Waters, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world and the fastest supercomputer on a university campus. They met with researchers at the Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL), which creates high-resolution, data-driven scientific visualizations that can after be displayed in digital full-dome planetariums, IMAX theaters, and documentary television. Delegates also interacted with students of the SPIN Program (Student Pushing Innovation) to see how their research frames the world of tomorrow.

Mr. Cesar Parga, Chief of the Section of Competitiveness, Innovation and Technology of the Department of Economic and Social Development of the OAS underlined the effort and investment that both the University of Illinois and officials of countries attending the program made to make the exchange program possible. “The OAS supports initiatives that help countries engage in policy dialogue and share best practices in key areas of the economic and social development agenda, such as innovation. The Executive Immersion Program serves as a catalyst to facilitate further collaboration among OAS member States and with the University of Illinois, reaching other stakeholders in the region, to work on projects that can contribute to improving the quality of life of citizens of the Western Hemisphere. In that sense, the OAS is very proud to be part of this initiative.”

Claudia Guerrero, Director for International Affairs of the National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation of Panama, said she felt immediately impressed when she walked into NCSA and the Beckman Institute. She felt “a sincere willingness from the faculty members and the directors to collaborate with Panama”. She said that “making connections with people at the University of Illinois was especially helpful due to their greater experience with locating resources for projects, may they be financial, technological, expertise, or other.
Executive-Immersion-3Another participant, The Honorable Jerome K. Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, expressed his interest in pursuing collaborations with the College of Agriculture, among others. He said: “I am glad that I was able to come to the program in person instead of sending a representative. It is one thing to have someone come back and explain to you what they’ve experience, and another to come and see the facilities for yourself. I can say that from a policy-development stand point this experience has been very beneficial.”

At the end of their 3 day experience, participants received a certificate from the University of Illinois during a closing ceremony. Certificates were signed and handed by Dr. Bryan E. Endres, Interim Associate Provost for International Affairs of the University of Illinois. Participants appreciated this initiative and strongly encouraged the University to host a second iteration of the program in 2015.

The Executive Immersion Program was created in collaboration with the Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (I-CHASS) of the University of Illinois, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Illinois International Programs and Studies, the Organization of American States, and the Advanced Research and Technology Collaboratory for the Americas (OAS-ARTCA). I-CHASS extends special thanks to the OAS Office of Competitiveness, Innovation and Technology, whose long-term relationship with the University of Illinois made this Program possible.

I-CHASS Receives Grant to Build Fab Lab in Togiak, Alaska to Provide Educational and Economic Opportunities, and to Study Indigenous American Perspectives of Technology

Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 in News | No Comments

Alaskans explore temporary Fab LabI-CHASS members Dr. Alan Craig (I-CHASS Associate Director of for Human Computer Interaction) and Dr. Scott Poole (I-CHASS Director) in collaboration with the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Traditional Council of Togiak, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks-Bristol Bay Campus have been awarded a National Science Foundation grant of $299,963 for a project entitled, “Bridging the Divide: Exploring Native Approaches.” The grant begins with an award of $157,504 this year with the remainder of the grant distributed next year contingent upon the availability of funding to NSF from the federal government and progress on the project. This grant will be used to plan and develop a research project that studies the implementation of a fabrication laboratory (Fab Lab) containing cutting edge technology in a rural Alaska Native village off of the Bering Sea.

Researchers have pointed to gaps in the understandings of Native and Western perspectives of science, as well as differences in cultures of learning (Deyhle & Swisher, 1997). This research project therefore focuses on the intersection and interaction of Western and Indigenous American perspectives on the implementation of science and technology. The fact that little is known about Indigenous American perspectives of technology is a problem considering that 78.9% of bachelors degrees earned by American Indians and Alaska Natives 25 and older are in science and engineering, or science and engineering-related fields (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011).

To address these problems, the project will center on the implementation of a Fab Lab in Togiak, Alaska. A Fab Lab is an opportunity for community members to create personalized digital products using new technologies like 3D printers and laser engravers in order to gain educational and economic benefits (Gershenfeld, 2007, p. 13). This Fab Lab will also create an opportunity for researchers to better understand Alaska Native ways of knowing and perspectives on technology designed according to a Western logic. This research agenda also addresses the third digital divide, which is the cultural gap created when non-Western peoples are encouraged to adopt new technologies which embody only Western cultural orientation and values. This project will use a participatory design process that will enable the melding of Alaska Native and Western scientific perspectives by identifying stakeholders (see Freeman, 2010) in the community Fab Lab and exploring how they participate in the process.

The grant is effective immediately and the project will begin by planning the lab and connecting with the local community in Togiak. The participating organizations/groups are: (1) the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science, UIUC (I-CHASS); (2) University of Alaska Fairbanks-Bristol Bay Campus (BBC); (3) Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN); (4) Togiak partners (Traditional Council of Togiak, City of Togiak, Togiak Natives Limited, and Southwest Region School District); and (5) Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab. Dr. Alan Craig, Dr. Scott Poole, and Kate Cooper at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are coordinators on this project.

Question about this project can be sent to Dr. Alan Craig at



Deyhle, D., & Swisher, K. (1997). Research in American Indian and Alaska Native education: From assimilation to self-determination. Review of research in education, 22, 113-194.

Freeman, R. E. (2010). Strategic management: A stakeholder approach. Cambridge University Press.

Gershenfeld, N. (2008). Fab: the coming revolution on your desktop–from personal computers to personal fabrication. Basic Books.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2011). American Community Survey. Retrieved November 25, 2013 from

NCSA article about Large Scale Video Analysis Project

Posted by on Nov 26, 2013 in News | No Comments

Visual_LiteracyThe National Center for Supercomputing Applications recently published an article about I-CHASS’s Large Scale Video Analysis project.

The project, which explores the use of  real-time supercomputing use as a means to explore large collections of moving image data, is a collaboration between lead investigator Virginia Kuhn (University of Southern California), Alan Craig (I-CHASS), and Michael Simeone (Nexus Lab for Digital Humanities and Transdisciplinary Informatics, Arizona State University, formally of I-CHASS), as well as David Bock, Liana Diesendruck, and Luigi Marini of NCSA.

You can learn more about the project on the I-CHASS project page or at the NCSA article.

Augmented Reality Alma Mater

Posted by on Nov 12, 2013 in News | No Comments

When it was discovered that the famed Alma Mater statue would still be undergoing extensive repairs during the class of 2013’s graduation festivities, all facets of the University, including I-CHASS Associate Director for Human Computer Interaction Dr. Alan Craig, worked together to create an “augmented reality” version of the iconic statue for students to take a picture with.

Learn more about Augmented Reality and Dr. Craig’s work in our previous article, “Making Sense of Augmented Reality.


Mapping the Past to Predict the Future

Posted by on Oct 11, 2013 in News | No Comments
Mapping the Past to Predict the Future

Mapping the Past to Predict the Future

It is well know that maps have always been about much more than just geography. Maps also serve as a medium for political and social commentary, becoming a reflection of the mapmakers and map financier’s ideas of how the world is or, perhaps, should be.

Map with Europe in the center

Maps have often been used to make political and social commentary. By placing Europe near the center of the map, this mapmaker is attempting to convey Europe’s power.

Knowing this, historians understand that 19th century maps that placed the British Isles at the center of the world did so to emphasize the sea power of the British Empire. Likewise, early maps of the Christian world would orient viewers to a spiritual rather than geographic course by putting Jerusalem at the center of all things. It is not surprising, then, that when historians look at maps of the Great Lakes from the late seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries and find discrepancies between how the French and British drew the size and shape of the lakes, the cause of representational differences is assumed to be the political war over ownership of the lakes during that time period. Another common theory for “inaccurate” early maps is simply that our ancestors had more primitive tools of measurement. Lacking satellite and GPS, the changes in coastlines that early mapmakers recorded over time could easily be due to measurement error.

I-CHASS researchers Dr. Michael Simeone and Dr. Robert Markley at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign approached their analysis of the changing maps of the Great Lakes with the assumption that the cartographers of the 1600-1800s were making their maps in good faith, as accurately as possible. “We decided to take historical maps of the Great Lakes seriously to see if they could tell us something about the surface areas of the lakes,” Simeone said. One major barrier to comparing the maps scientifically was that the varying scales and sizes of maps made it difficult to calculate the surface areas of the lakes by hand. To overcome this problem, Simeone and Markley worked with University of Illinois graduate students Tenzing Shaw and Deepak Neralla to develop new image analysis software. The software works by first distinguishing between land and water on the map by segmenting out the shape of the water. Each map was drawn to a slightly different scale, and so the maps were standardized using spatial calibration, which converted pixel coordinates to geographic coordinates. Finally, the shapes of each lake were used to calculated surface area. In total, 40 historical maps (18 British and 22 French) of Lake Ontario were analyzed for their surface area.

A comparison of the surface area of Lake Ontario on historical maps to today’s satellite-confirmed figure of 7,540 square miles revealed some interesting results.

The process of determining the recorded surface area of maps in old maps.

The software developed by I-CHASS and ISDA researchers works by standardizing the scale of the different maps using spatial calibration, which converted pixel coordinates to geographic coordinates (Image 1), distinguishing between land and water on the map by segmenting out the shape of the lake (Image 2). Then, the outline of the lake (Image 3) was used to calculate the surface area of the lake (Image 4). Finally, the surface area determined by the historical map was compared to the satellite-confirmed surface of the lake (Image 5). (The map pictured is from the Map Division of the Library of Congress)

When comparing the maps drawn by the French and the British, both countries were about equally accurate or inaccurate, even though the French occupied the Great Lakes region from an earlier time. Map accuracy for lake areas increased slowly over time, and then dramatically around 1760, likely due to the invention of more reliable chronometers. The amount of error in each historical map was found by subtracting the modern confirmed surface area of each lake from the surface area found from each historical map. The image below shows a graph of the surface area of each historical map with British maps in Green and French maps in Purple. The larger the size the circular marker is for each map, the larger is the amount of error that the map contains. Almost identical surface areas and error between maps seems to indicate that some mapmakers simply copied maps that were already published. The surface area graph of Lake Huron stands out, however, because surface area and error are very inconsistent over time.

Graph visualizing the surface area of Lake Ontario as portrayed in historical maps

British maps are green, French are purple. Over years A.D., measured in sq. miles. Radius of balloons = .1*sqrt of absolute error (real size of lake is aprx 7k sq. miles)

Measurements of Lake Huron remained inaccurate for far longer than any of the other Great Lakes.

Maps of Lake Huron remained inaccurate and inconsistent for far longer than any of the other Great Lakes maps.  (The maps pictured here are from the Map Division of the Library of Congress)

It wouldn’t make sense for mapmakers to be continually improving in the map-making skills over time for all of the Great Lakes except for one, and so Simeone and Markley looked into the historical records of the Lake Huron area during the 1600-1800s and found that there were years of unusually cold weather. Ice charts from the time period show that some areas of lakes, especially the archipelago in Lake Huron, developed large amounts of ice cover that likely made it difficult for mapmakers to distinguish between ice and land. The lake likely appeared bigger or smaller depending on the amount of ice. Since it seems that maps were becoming more accurate over time, variations in surface area that are outside the normal realm of error are likely giving us information about the climate of the past.

This climate information is very useful because no climate models exist before 1856, when the British Meteorological Society began collecting temperature records from around the world. Scientist can currently only learn about historical weather patterns by looking at information such as the size of growth rings on trees and the composition of ice taken from Antarctica and Greenland. These records used for these indirect measurements of temperature are called “proxy data.” The preliminary results of Simeone and Markley’s study shows that ice accumulation around lakes are another type of proxy data that indicates changes in climate over time. It is essential to find climate information before 1856 because with this information we can expand the climate timeline and gain a more accurate picture of global warming. The biggest critique of climate models is the length of the timeline, but this research project gives hope that by studying changes in lakes and other features on maps, a deeper understanding of both past and future climate changes is possible. This information would make our predictive capabilities regarding climate change much stronger, and will better inform us as a society about the impacts of human beings on the world.

This research is in the early stages of analysis and the next stage is to analyze more maps of the Great Lakes and maps of other lakes and coastlines around the world. The algorithm that is used to calculate surface area is also being revised to better handle complicated coastlines and maps with little contrast between water and land. To learn more about this project, contact Dr. Michael Simeone at .

What are the Computational Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences?

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in News | No Comments

The Computational Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS) is an emerging area of research that refers to the investigation of humanities, arts, and social science research questions through advanced computing technologies. A social scientist who analyses a large dataset of census information using a supercomputer is engaging in CHASS, as is a historian who investigates historical texts using visual analytic software. The use of computational methods is more than a bridging of disciplines – it is an increasingly necessary methodological approach for researchers who wish to investigate the numerous human activities that result in digital information.

CHASS is at the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities, arts, and social sciences in that it leads to new and innovative ways of doing research, transforming learning experiences, and connecting through engaged scholarship. An important distinction to make is that CHASS isn’t only humanities, arts, and social science scholars using technology. Computational methods also enable scholars to ask entirely new research questions and study their data in new ways, thereby moving beyond the limitations of traditional research methods in order to meet the grand challenges of our time. Additionally, engaging in CHASS creates opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration that can result in discoveries in the humanities, arts, and social sciences as well as to the development of new computational products and applications. The following example illustrates how a humanities scholar and a computer scientist could collaborate on a mutually beneficial CHASS research project.

A potential path for a CHASS collaborative project 

There are several paths that scholars can take to engage in CHASS, and the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (I-CHASS) works to guide researchers who want to explore computational methods. I-CHASS in an integrative research center at the University of Illinois that stands at the intersection of the digital humanities (computing in the humanities) and computational social science (computing in the social sciences). I-CHASS attempts to develop new frontiers in these areas by engaging with “big data,” computational methods of inquiry, data driven discovery, and new models for social science and humanistic inquiry. I-CHASS also works to bring technology and the traditional sensibilities of the humanities and the social sciences together in ways that advance both.

A common path by which a researcher begins to work with I-CHASS is by approaching I-CHASS after hearing about a new technology like augmented reality. A social scientist might believe that augmented reality could be useful to her research, but not know how to get started. I-CHASS sets up a meeting between the social scientist and an expert in the technology. The expert could train the social scientist in how to use an existing augmented reality app or, as described earlier, their research interests might overlap and lead to a collaborative research project. I-CHASS might also direct the social scientist to the institute’s upcoming workshop about augmented reality that would provide enough training for the social scientist to pursue augmented reality on her own. Or, the social scientist might be most interested in meeting other scholars around the world to engage in a larger conversation about augmented reality and similar research questions. I-CHASS has an international network of contacts and frequently promotes engaged scholarship that is both educational and a means of bringing people together to get projects started.

The Four CHASS Paths: Proving Resources, Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, Education and Training Opportunities, Encouraging Engaged Scolarship

The way that people live their lives, do their work, and connect with friends is changing rapidly as technology advances, and research methods need to incorporate the digital artifacts of life in order to avoid representing only part of what it is to be human. Additionally, computational methods offer new ways of answering research questions that examine larger amounts and new types of data. Large-scale data is already being collected and analyzed by businesses and governments, and a great need exists for scholars who can become literate in computational data analysis tools in order for there to be commentary on what personal data collection may mean for society.

I-CHASS’ goal is to help researchers obtain the resources, training, contacts, and engaged scholarship that they need to enter into the arena of computational analysis. I-CHASS projects have already made significant and visible social impacts around the world. Researchers from any background who are interested in learning how CHASS could apply to their work are invited to contact I-CHASS through our contact page.

To see examples of computational humanities, arts, and social sciences projects done through I-CHASS, see our Projects page.

Making Sense of Augmented Reality

Posted by on Aug 14, 2013 in News | One Comment
An example of an augmented Reality Project

Augmented reality flowers bloom on paper.

The next innovation to change how we find and interact with information is not a new type of phone or software—it’s augmented reality. Augmented reality (AR) is an expressive medium that layers a virtual world over the real world, and it has the potential to change how we learn and do business. University of Illinois researcher and I-CHASS Associate Director of Human-Computer Interaction Dr. Alan Craig has been developing augmented reality applications since the mid-1990s. His new book, Understanding Augmented Reality: Concepts and Applications, came out this summer. Ask him for a demonstration and he will pull out an iPad and a few pieces of paper, and make roaring dinosaurs and delicate flowers come to life on the table in front of you. Dr. Craig works with education and business partners to advance the technology that supports augmented reality as well as to develop new applications of AR that so far have benefited groups as various as Native American school children in Alaska, medical students, and media consumers.

According to Dr. Craig, it is important to distinguish between augmented reality and virtual reality. Movies like Hackers and Tron have shown us vivid images of becoming fully immersed in an expansive virtual world. Augmented reality, by contrast, is deeply embedded in the real world. Virtual information like 3D images or movies is overlaid with what you see before you in real time through the lens of a camera on a portable device. For example, Dr. Craig worked with Access Magazine to create a special augmented reality issue. One need only download a free app called daqri, open the app, and hold a smart phone or tablet over the pages of the magazine. On some pages pictures suddenly come to life as movies. Elsewhere in the magazine 3D images appear and can be rotated or interacted with by “touching” the 3D image where it appears in the air.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality.

Virtual World

Video games.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality.

Although AR developers find this medium to hold endless possibilities, according to Dr. Craig, most people still view augmented reality as a technological novelty. Augmented reality faces the same “chicken and egg” problem that was faced by the internet—there is little reason for widespread adoption of AR until there is plenty of useful content for users, and there is little incentive for businesses or developers to create content until they have a user base that is willing to adopt the medium. The enormous practical potential of AR becomes quickly apparent, however, once one actually sees the medium at work. Dr. Craig gives demonstrations that include a three-dimensional image of a human body lying on a table. The user can toggle different layers on the image to see the bones, muscles, and circulatory system.

An example of an augmented Reality Project

With augmented reality, a full anatomy lesson is at your fingertips

A student studying anatomy no longer has to look at two-dimensional drawings in a book or wait to look at plastic models in class. He or she can start an app and look through the device’s screen at a life-size model lying on his or her table at home. It will not be long before specially designed glasses or contacts can take the place of screens so that people can use with AR ubiquitously as they interact with their everyday world. Once content availability and viewing method problems are solved, another challenge Dr. Craig says is sure to follow is that of developing content channels in order to see only the AR content that you want to. Imagine driving down the street wearing AR glasses and virtual creatures fly through the air while advertisements and movies flash across every building. Just as we are able to choose one TV or radio channel at a time, we need to be able to select our AR content or our lives would become virtually overwhelming. Channels of AR content will also make it possible for AR at one location to target more than one audience at a time. Dr. Craig suggests that museums could use AR to enhance a display with a movie or 3D image, having different content for children, adults, and even researchers.


Dr. Craig gave some practical and yet philosophical advice for designers of AR. His recommendations are grounded in the idea that AR is truly an expressive medium, like film or radio, which means that creating AR applications is a narrative and artistic process before it is a technological one. Dr. Craig recommends that AR creators “think about what it is they really want to do, regardless of what the technology can do, and then see what has to be done to advance the available technology to accomplish their goals.” This approach not only frees AR creators to pursue the most meaningful content, it also pushes forward the technology that supports the medium. For example, photographers in the 1800s improved the pinhole camera not simply to innovate technology, but rather because they had a vision in their minds of what they wished photographs could become. Secondly, Dr. Craig says that AR developers must understand the medium in order to make something compelling. Part of understanding the medium is knowing that designers, programmers, and artists need to work together to create AR applications that are useful, functional, and aesthetically beautiful to interact with. “It’s the content that’s appealing,” Dr. Craig reminds us. Currently, augmented reality exists primarily in the workrooms of developers like Alan Craig, but not for long. Soon we will be able to step outside to see virtual art galleries on our lunch breaks, or simply look at a nearby restaurant to pull up pictures of the food inside and read reviews. Instead of thumbing through a repair manual you could download an AR repair app that generates floating arrows that point at the next screw you need to loosen to get at a broken part. Dr. Craig believes that widespread use of augmented reality is not far away. “This is clearly the beginning of augmented reality and it seems like it’s about to break free. It feels like right before the web broke free…where it became pervasive and very useful.” Researchers interested in learning how to use AR in their work can set up a meeting with Alan Craig or another I-CHASS member by sending an email to Michael Simeone, the Associate Director for Research at I-CHASS connects researchers in the humanities, arts, and social sciences to technology specialists, computer applications, and special training. If you are interested in becoming a user or developer of augmented reality, we recommend you read Dr. Craig’s new book. Additional links to AR resources are below:


I-CHASS Conducts Radical Innovation in Education Summit in Washington, D.C.

Posted by on Jun 19, 2013 in News | No Comments

Members of I-CHASS recently attended the Radical Innovation in Education Summit held at the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. June 13-15. Co-Organized by I-CHASS, The Organization of American States, and Sharon Tettegah, Associate Professor, Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the forum focused on current and future innovations in pedagogy and educational institutions. Speakers discussed the need to make learning more relevant, accessible and interactive, and how educators might meet these needs. The Summit was made up of 35 educators from the US, Belgium, Trinidad, Costa Rica, Guatemala, the UK and Mexico. I-CHASS members in attendance included Executive Director Dr. Kevin Franklin, Associate Director Michael Simeone, Senior Associate Dr. Alan Craig, and OAS-ARTCA Project coordinator Aryanne Besner Quintal. Jorge Duran, senior specialist of the office of the Department of Science Technology and Innovation helped in coordination with the event. The meetings were held with the cooperation of The Organization of American States (OAS) and The Advanced Research and Technology Collaboratory for the Americas (OAS-ARTCA).

For more information on the summit, visit or

Alan Craig of I-CHASS Teams to Create Augmented Alma Mater

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in News | No Comments

Alan Craig, Associate Director of Human-Computer Interaction at I-CHASS, worked with a number of scientists and engineers at the University of Illinois to deliver an augmented reality version of the Alma Mater statue, which is currently undergoing restoration away from its home north of the main quad of the Urbana-Champaign campus.  Bringing the statue to life for graduation weekend, this project demonstrates a number of principles and capabilities Craig has explored in his research on augmented and virtual reality technologies.

For more information, see

I-CHASS and OAS/ARTCA Release PASI Program Description

Posted by on Mar 4, 2013 in News | No Comments

I-CHASS is pleased to announce the following program description for its upcoming session in computation-based discovery, a summer program supported by the National Science Foundation’s Pan-American Advanced Studies Institutes (PASI) program:

The objective of this PASI is to introduce young researchers to Methods in Computation-Based Discovery (CBD). In quest of solutions to major problems (e.g., biodiversity, modeling of natural systems, water ecology, and so on), researchers across the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities and arts are generating massive and/or highly complex data sets that extend well-beyond humans’ capacities to perceive or analyze without sophisticated technological augmentation. CBD allows researchers to gather, transform and analyze data from a range of sources, including, for example, sensors, video archives, telescopes, and supercomputers. Researchers today need both access to advanced computational resources and sophisticated skills in data acquisition, management, transformation, visualization, analytics, and preservation. For example, sophisticated visualization tools and techniques enhance human understanding of extreme, complex and/or abstract data sets, making it easier to see patterns and relationships and to form or test hypotheses.

The Institute will be offered over a ten-day period at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, East of Guatemala City, from July 15 through July 26, 2013 through a joint effort of five umbrella organizations: (1) the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE); (2) the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), including the Blue Waters Petascale Supercomputer project, the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (I-CHASS), and the Advanced Visualization Lab (AVL); (3) the Advanced Research and Technology Collaboratory for the Americas (ARTCA); (4) the Latin American Cooperation of Advanced Networks (RedCLARA); and (5) the Organization of American States (OAS). These organizations believe collaboration to be essential to build strong international partnerships that will be fostered by course presenters and participants. OAS, ARTCA, NCSA and XSEDE have already made a commitment to establish a strong Latin America-US partnership with RedCLARA. This summer course is among the key elements in building a partnership that reflects growing interest in international, collaborative research between Latin American and US research teams, as well as among high performance computing centers.

The Institute will focus on CBD technical and analytical methods and help about 40 researchersapply these to their own research. Our key goals are to (1) expand participants’ knowledge of high performance computing (HPC) and specialized tools and techniques that support CBD involving massive or complex data sets; (2) provide hands-on experience in exploring large and complex data sets using easily accessible desktop open source tools; (3) bring researchers from underrepresented populations into the CBD field; and (4) foster new collegial friendships that stimulate both national and international co-operative partnerships among the presenters and attendees.

2013 CBD Institute Design

The Methods in Computational Discovery Institute will include a number of features to support both learning and building new partnerships.

  1. Foundations in Data Science will be a daily lecture series presenting the necessary mathematical concepts needed to understand computational tools and methods. Daily homework assignments and practice sessions will offer self-assessment opportunities to ensure mastery of the concepts.
  2. Lectures and hands-on exploration of sample data sets will introduce specific tools and techniques of data acquisition and management, transformation and visualization, as well as analytics, scale and preservation. Morning lectures by research scientists on applications of CBD will broaden participant understanding of how CBD can be implemented and what outcomes to expect.
  3. Afternoon or evening hands-on sessions will provide opportunities for participants to explore computational discovery tools and techniques using provided sample data sets and open source tools. Presenters will provide specific hands-on experiences in practical techniques and offer performance tips and tools that can broadly benefit diverse research interests of attendees.
  4. Roundtable discussions over lunch will allow participants to share ideas, specific research concerns, and network.
  5. The schedule will be structured with ample breaks for mentoring and/or social activities to enhance relationships and seed long-term partnerships. Some hands-on sessions will be in the evening, some in the afternoon, in order to allow time for participants to take a break from rigorous thinking and learning activity and enjoy the culture of Guatemala.
  6. All presenters will be expected to participate in the full ten-day Institute to mentor participating graduate students, postdocs and junior faculty.
  7. Course organizers and/or presenters will provide learning objectives for each session and will use evaluations to assess impacts.
  8. Extra-curricular outings will be organized and scheduled to allow people to enjoy the area as a group and to help foster community building.

Research Focus Areas

To further support collaboration building, we will primarily focus on recruiting participants with interests in data challenges and problems identified by RedCLARA and OAS as high priority areas of focus, such as tracking biodiversity; predictive modeling of natural systems (e.g., hurricanes, water ecology); biotechnology to promote health; knowledge mapping (image and text-based) and natural and social systems simulations. Selecting participants around these research areas will help to provide points of convergence among participants and facilitate stronger mentoring relationships. Participants will be pre-clustered during the application process into teams and in the hands-on sessions team members will work together to explore sample data sets. Thus, recruiting participants with interests in areas such as health, modeling/predicting natural disasters, astronomy, biotechnology, and/or biodiversity are a priority. A hands-on team approach will also help to foster interdisciplinary and international partnerships. The institute will help expand and diversify the pool of researchers equipped to engage in computation-based discovery.

Preparation by Attendees for the Summer Course 

In advance of the Summer Institute, project organizers and presenters will recommend on-line tutorials and reference materials to help participants prepare. Applicants will be advised of recommended foundational knowledge, such as basic mathematics, basic knowledge of advanced computing capabilities and basic knowledge of computing for modeling, simulation, or visualization.

Proposed Syllabus

The syllabus is designed to provide a broad introduction to the capacities, skills, and methods needed in computation-based discovery through both lectures and hands-on/lab activities. Opportunities for round table discussions will be a feature of the daily lunches. Lectures/tutorials will feature 2-3 days on each of the following topics:

  1. Data acquisition and management (including a ‘math foundations for data science’ course every morning)
  2. Data transformation and visualization
  3. Data analytics, scale and préservation

Keynote speakers:

  1. Santiago Nuñez-Corrales, Director of Digital Technology at the Ministry of Science and Technology, Costa Rica
  2. Dr. Rosa María Amaya, former National Secretary of Science and Technology,Guatemala

Lectures / lecturers:

The following reflects lecturer commitments to participate in the Institute as well as topics to be presented. We have asked presenters that in the event that they need to withdraw from participating that the withdrawing presenter help to identify an appropriate replacement.

Materials prepared for the Institute will be made publicly available to benefit both those who attend and those who are unable to attend the Summer Institute.

Cinda Heeren, PhD.

Foundations of data science:

We intend to draw from the following topics, and we will cover as many as possible within the time allocated for instruction.

  1. Probability review
  2. Conditional probability and Bayes theorem
  3. Maximum likelihood and Bayes’ estimation
  4. Markov processes
  5. Entropy, mutual information, and KL divergence
  6. Hidden Markov models
  7. Linear algebra review
  8. Principle component analysis
  9. Min-hashing
  10. Expectation maximization (k-Means)

Donna Cox, PhD.

Transforming numerical data into digital representations for visual insight and analysis:

Lecture will discuss advanced visualization techniques for geoscience and astrophysics simulations and digital methods to convert complex, multi-dimensional 3D datasets into meaningful visual representations that help researchers locate significant areas of interest and communicate research findings.

Creating Movies from Dynamic Computational Data:

Lecture will discuss computational scientific data as snapshots of the evolving underlying physics in natural phenomenon. Time-evolving movies enable researchers to better understand complex dynamics in geoscience and astrophysical simulations. Applied research techniques used to create visual sequences of scientific simulations, including interactive viewport manipulation; digital rendering, recording and playback of scientific data; and stereo approaches to movie creation.

Jose Castro, PhD.

Application of supervised learning algorithms for Non-supervised clustering of complex patterns.

Clustering of patterns is a current field of interest in many areas as diverse as computational biology and Social Sciences. The most common clustering algorithm is the K-means clustering, which is fast and efficient, but linear, so it’s performance is usually poor when clustering of complex patterns is required. This lecture/workshop will dwell on how complex supervised learning algorithms can be applied for non-supervised clustering tasks, this methodology permits unleashing the power of complex supervised algorithms on a new area of applications, improving the quality of current clustering results.

Scott Poole, PhD.

Data-Driven-Discovery and Theory-Driven Discovery in the Social Sciences:

This workshop will deal with how data-intensive scientific methods can be employed in the social sciences. The vast majority of quantitative social scientific inquiry has traditionally been designed around theories that specify hypotheses to be tested on data, rather than induced ground-up from data. Traditionally, ground-up inquiry has been qualitative in nature. New HPC technologies and the availability of huge databases such as those from online games, the census, and video observations make quantitative data-driven inquiry feasible and essential as a tool for social science. This workshop will address the following topics: How theory-driven and data-driven social science operate; the relationship between theory-driven and data-driven social science; a conceptual scheme for linking data-driven and theory-driven inquiry; a model of the process of inquiry; exemplary projects; issues and challenges in data-driven inquiry in the social sciences; the future.


Vetle Torvik, PhD.

Data Mining Applications in Large-scale Bibliographic Databases:

Lecture will use example large-scale freely accessible bibliographic databases to demonstrate a range of opportunities for multidimensional data mining with a particular focus on (1) global patterns of scientific activity and (2) computer-assisted generation and assessment of novel scientific hypotheses.

Richard Marciano, PhD.

Creating, Managing, and Visualizing Very Large Record Collections:

The topic builds on the “Cyberinfrastructure for Billions of Electronic Records (CI-BER)” project, joint agency (National Science Foundation and National Archives and Records Administration) sponsored testbed notable for its application of a multi-agency sponsored cyber infrastructure and the National Archives’ diverse 100+ million file collection of digital records and information now active at the Renaissance Computing Institute. This testbed can be used to evaluate technologies and approaches to support sustainable access to ultra-large data collections. It is built on top of the open-source iRODS middleware used in a number of national cyberinfrastructure scientific data collaborations. See

Dan Roth, PhD.

Using machine learning methods for data analytics on natural language text:

Lecture will discuss the foundations of machine learning; how to build and use basic classifiers, and how to put together multiple classifiers to address more involved problems. The focus will be on dealing with natural language text.

Alan Craig, PhD.

Novel Methods of Display and Interaction With Complex Data:

This lecture and demonstration will address the continuum between physical and digital representation of phenomena. As computational scientists, many of the phenomena we study are represented in the digital world. However, as human beings, we (and the phenomena we study) exist in the physical world. This session will demonstrate techniques that can be used to interact with digital data that is situated in the physical world in ways that step beyond the keyboard and the display screen. By physically engaging with data we can gain new insight, and share that insight with others in novel and compelling ways.

This course explores the continuum between physical and digital, how the physical can become digital and vice versa, and the interesting things that happen at the border between the physical and digital realm.

Mauricio Carrillo-Tripp, PhD.

Novel methods for molecular structural data visualization and analysis:

Lecture will discuss new computational strategies to transform, manage and analyze multi-dimensional structural information of biomolecules, taking advantage of non-conventional open-source application programing interfaces to display information in data bases. Focus will be given to pattern discovery in protein-protein interactions based on spatial and evolutionary criteria.

Luis A. Núñez, PhD.

Data Exploration Through Federated Repositories:

This workshop will present a panorama of cooperation in Latin America and how Virtual Research Communities are playing an emerging role in the Region.  The workshop will explore CLARA’s advanced network application and infrastructure projects for implementation and management of federated repositories. The workshop will include components of the use and promotion of Open Access philosophy, conducting training and needs assessment, and data intensive program design to support learning outcomes, method, type and extent of content development.

Jaime E. Forero-Romero, PhD.

Using large databases to understand the structure of the Universe:

In this session the basic physics behind the current paradigm of galaxy evolution and cosmology will be described along with the most robust computational techniques used in numerical cosmology. This will serve as an introduction to showcase one of the largest public databases ( giving access to simulated data describing numerical universes.

This course will present specific examples of how cutting-edge research problems in astrophysics can be tackled by mining available simulations.

Alvaro de la Ossa, PhD.

Using Multi-agent Systems to analyze and discover hidden patterns in physical and social processes:

The foundations of multi-agent systems will be described along with the main design issues, and several scientific-oriented examples will be provided of modeling continuous and discrete processes using computational agents. A special emphasis will be given to the agent’s model contents considerations, and the representation languages appropriate for developing efficient inference mechanisms. Examples will be provided from the computational sciences, in particular Physics, Chemistry and Biology, but also some other in the Social Sciences.

Each participant will be assigned a mentor from among the presenters and support staff. Mentors will spend time with their mentees to advise and offer advice for conducting their research, help them connect with others in their field, and suggest strategies for pursuing their professional careers. Additionally, there will be graduate research assistants available to work one-on-one with the attendees during hands-on labs.

The following is a basic template of how the days will be structured:


Late morning


Afternoon &/or Eve (alternating)

Foundations of data acquisition & management (every day)

Topical lectures

Roundtable discussions

Tutorials and Hands-on labs: (graduate assistants will help facilitate)

Lecturers and Organizers Biographies

Dr. Marshall Scott Poole is Director of the Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Professor in the Department of Communication, and Senior Research Scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Current research foci include team behavior in massive multiplayer online games, utilization and implementation of communication and information technologies, study of the use of information technology in emergency response, and integrating theories of small groups and social networks in the explanation of large, dynamically changing groups and intergroup network. Scott is the author of over 150 articles, book chapters, and proceedings publications and has co-authored or edited eleven books. He has led several projects applying computational methods to social scientific questions. The Virtual Worlds Exploratory Project (VWE) is a multi-university collaboration investigating behavior in massive multiplayer online games through analysis of large-scale databases capturing anonymized data on hundreds of thousands of players from several games. It investigates questions related to behavior in the games (e.g., How do players help and mentor each other? How do networks evolve in online game communities?) and tests hypotheses relevant to the “real world” using game data (e.g., What factors lead to high performing teams?).  The GroupScope Project is developing computational techniques for the analysis of large corpuses of observational data (video, audio, computer records, sensors) for large groups such as emergency response organizations and children on playgrounds. He has also worked on theorizing how data driven discovery from large scale databases relates to traditional social scientific theory-driven research.

Dr. Donna Cox is the Director of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL) at NCSA, Director of the Illinois Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media Institute (eDream), and Professor in the School of Art and Design, University of Illinois. She is a recognized pioneer in scientific visualization and the interdisciplinary collaborative method called ‘Renaissance Teams.’ Cox’s novel visualization schemas and advanced virtual tools have provided a long-term resource for the HPC community since the establishment of NCSA.

Dr. Kevin Franklin is a Senior Research Scientist at NCSA, Executive Director of I-CHASS, a principal co-founder of the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) and founder of the HASSgrid, a distributed Cyberinfrastructure supporting humanities, arts and social science data preservation and archives. He leads a number of international research activities including the Advanced Research and Technology Collaboratory for the Americas (ARTCA), which he co-founded in 2007. Dr. Franklin is a member of the Organization of American States (OAS) working groups on Innovation, Technology Development and Human Resources and Training.

Dr. Dan Roth is is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a University of Illinois Scholar. He is the director of the DHS funded Center for Multimodal Information Access & Synthesis (MIAS) and also holds faculty positions in the Statistics and Linguistics Departments and the graduate School of Library and Information Science. Roth is a Fellow of the ACM and of AAAI, in recognition of his contributions to the foundations of machine learning and inference and for developing learning centered solutions for natural language processing problems.

Dr. Alan B. Craig is the Senior Associate Director for Human-Computer Interaction at the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (I-CHASS) and a Research Scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). He is also the Humanities, Arts, and Social Science Specialist for the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE). His work centers on the continuum between the physical and the digital.  He has done extensive work in virtual reality, augmented reality, and personal fabrication, as well as educational applications of data mining, visualization, and collaborative systems. He has authored three books and holds three patents.

Dr. Cinda Heeren is a lecturer in Computer Science,University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; since 2008 she has been the lead instructor for the Data Sciences Summer Institute, teaching a course she designed entitled “Foundations of Data Sciences.”

Dr. Jose Castro has worked on the development of the Costa Rican interuniversity cluster and grid initiative. He has been director of the computer engineering school and the computing research center of the Costa Rican Institute of Technology. He is currently a researcher at the Computing Research Center of the Costa Rican Institute of Technology and is currently developing a Volcano Ash simulation for hazard assessment of the Irazú Volcano in Costa Rica. His interests are cluster computing, numerical simulation, and pattern recognition in large databases.

Dr. Vetle Torvik is Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he teaches courses and conducts research on text/data mining, informetrics, information processing, literature-based discovery, and bioinformatics.

Dr. Richard Marciano is Professor in the School of Information and Library Science at UNC, Chapel Hill; Director of the Sustainable Archives and Leveraging Technologies (SALT) lab. He leads projects on development of preservation environments for projects funded by NARA, NHPRC, IMLS, NSF, DHS, and the Research Triangle Park (RTF) Foundation; he is PI for the NHPRC-funded Distributed Custodial Archival Preservation Environments (DCAPE) initiative, and the NARA/NSF CI-BER project (CyberInfrastructure for Billions of Electronic Records).

Dr. Mauricio Carrillo-Tripp is an Associate Professor at the National Genomics for Biodiversity Laboratory from Cinvestav, México, where he leads the Computational Biophysics and Bioinformatics Lab. He is a member of the National Science Network of the Mexican Science Council since 2008. His research has focused on the molecular function of biological systems employing theoretical and numerical methods and by developing novel numerical analysis and visualization tools.

Dr. Luis A. Núñez is a full professor in the School of Physics at Universidad Industrial de Santander, Colombia.  He concurrently holds the position of Manager of Academic Relations for the Cooperación Latinoamericana de Redes Académicas, RedCLARA.  Previous to these posts, he worked for 30 years at the Universidad de Los Andes in Mérida, Venezuela. His research areas of interest are Astrophysics and Information Technologies. He has also been involved in significant IT projects in Venezuela as well as throughout the Latin American Region.

Dr. Jaime E. Forero-Romero is assistant professor in the Physics Department of the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota (Colombia). His researches use massive computational techniques to study galaxy formation and understand the evolution of the Universe. His research and teaching philosophy places a strong emphasis on reproducibility, open science practices and free access to research tools and products:

 Dr. Alvaro de la Ossa is Executive Director of the Costa Rican NREN and chair of the National Collaboratory for Advanced Computing (CNCA), part of CeNAT (National Center for Advanced Technology Studies), an interuniversity program to Foster government+academy+industry collaborations. He is also Associate Professor in Computer Science and Cognitive Science at the University of Costa Rica (UCR), and chair of Red CONARE (for the National Rectors’ Council), within the EU-funded ALICE2 EU-Latin America cooperation program, which is focused on the Goals of the Millenium, EU’s FP7 priorities, and OAS’s priorities, to develop Advanced research and education networks gobally (advanced internet) and regionally (Red CLARA).

Dr. Michael Simeone is the Associate Director for Research and Interdisciplinary Studies at the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (I-CHASS) housed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.  He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Advanced Research and Technology Collaboratory for the Americas (ARTCA). His past research includes cultural studies of science and technology as well as the use of computer vision in the digital humanities. His current work explores the intersection of humanities research procedures with high-performance computing.  He received his PhD in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Mr. Jorge Duran is Chief of the Office of Science, Technology and Innovation of the Organization of American States, where he previously served as Senior Advisor in Technology for Development and as Senior Manager for Municipal Development and Capacity Building. Over his career at the OAS, he has been responsible for projects such as telecenters for development; micro businesses promotion through ICTs; teacher training via satellite; rural schools-based telecenters; municipal development in e-government; scientific journalism and university curricular improvement. For over 20 years, Mr. Duran worked with the governments and private sector of the Americas in the design and implementation of technology driven development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, establishing many successful alliances. Previously, Mr. Duran was Director of Regional Cooperation and then Vice-President of International Affairs at the Latin American Institute of Educational Communication (ILCE) in Mexico City. Other positions include Advisor in Science and Technology Policy for the Presidency of Mexico and Special Assistant to the Mexican Ambassador at the U.N. Mr. Duran has also been an Associate Professor at the Tecnológico of Monterrey and the Universidad Iberoamericana where he designed and taught classes on Latin America’s Political Economy and History.

 Ms. Aryanne Quintal is the Project Coordinator of the Advanced Research and Technology Collaboratory for the Americas (ARTCA) with headquarters at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington D.C. Piror to being a Project Coordinator, Ms. Quintal worked as a Consultant at the OAS in the Department of Human Development, Education and Culture, with a fellowship from the Ministry of International Relations of Quebec, Canada. She previously served as a Public Relations Officer at the Embassy of Canada in Montevideo, Uruguay. She also worked for many years as a freelance journalist in Montreal, Canada. Her fields of interest include ICTs implementation and social and economic changes in developing countries; citizenship education through the Internet; and media interactions with public opinion and governance in Latin American countries.


The Universidad del Valle de Guatemala will be the site for the July 2013 Institute. All Institutions involved in the PASI will jointly create and administer a website that will include reading material, biographical information about each participant, including descriptions of their research, which will facilitate opportunities for attendees and presenters to share information, expand their network of colleagues, and initiate new collaborations. Institute organizers will take advantage of social networking tools to further build community among attendees and presenters before, during, and after the ten-day session. We expect participants and support staff to continue to use these after the formal Institute concludes and to continue to share information and new opportunities of general interest to the group. Travel, housing, and meals for all US and Latin American participants and presenters will be covered.

Selection Criteria and Application Process

Participants interested in applying must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be a citizen of one of the 34 OAS Member States.
  2. Be affiliated to a University, Research Center, International Organization or Governmental Agency promoting research.
  3. Be currently conducting a research dealing with large scale data sets.

Priority will be given to young researchers, graduate students, postdocs and junior faculty from under-represented groups. To apply, candidates are asked to send the following materials

  1. An abstract of the applicant’s research, including the type(s) of data he/she works with and a short description of the challenges being encountered around data acquisition or management; data transformation or visualization; and/or data analytics and scale.
  2. A short description of the applicant’s experience with computation-based discovery and a demonstrated basic understanding of computational science.
  3. A short description of why the applicant wants to participate in the Institute, what he/she expects to learn, how he/she plans to apply CBD methods.
  4. A letter of support from a faculty member or research advisor.
  5. Information that identifies the applicant’s gender, ethnicity, and/or disability status, which will be used to achieve the diversity goal of the Institute.

Each application will be reviewed by at least three people from the participating Institutions.

Selected candidates will be contacted at least 12 weeks prior to the Institute, to allow attendees time to secure the least expensive flights.

Our goal is to create a diverse Institute that includes a broad cross-section of disciplines, a broad cross-section of institutions across the US and Latin America and is diverse in gender, ethnicity, race or disability. Individuals will be selected based on the following criteria:

  1. Evaluation of how the applicant is expected to benefit from learning about CBD, based on their research abstract.
  2. A compelling statement of the applicant’s reasons for attending the Institute.
  3. Faculty recommendation.

The deadline to apply to the PASI is April 10, 2013.


About OAS-ARTCA: The Advanced Research and Technology Collaboratory for the Americas was co-founded in 2008 by I-CHASS, the Costa Rica Center for High Technology (CeNAT), and the Costa Rica – United States of America Foundation for Cooperation (CRUSA); it charts new ground in interdisciplinary, inter-institutional and international research and education, to address pressing problems that arise in the natural sciences, health, technology, and the human sciences. Through the creation of both learning environments and spaces for digital discovery, OAS-ARTCA presents groundbreaking computational approaches, resources, tools and educational programming to showcase the future of collaborative research in service of society across the Americas.

About OAS: ARTCA’s headquarters, the Organization of American States (OAS), is the world’s oldest regional organization, dating back to the 1889-1890 First International Conference of American States, held in Washington, D.C. The OAS was established in order to achieve among its member states—as stipulated in Article 1 of the Charter—“an order of peace and justice, to promote their solidarity, to strengthen their collaboration, and to defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their independence.” Today, the OAS brings together all 35 independent states of the Americas and constitutes the main political, juridical, and social governmental forum in the Western Hemisphere. In addition, it has granted permanent observer status to 67 states, as well as the European Union (EU).

About RedCLARA: ARTCA and OAS’s strategic partner is the Cooperación Latino Americana de Redes Avanzadas /Latin American Cooperation of Advanced Networks (RedCLARA), which is a non-profit International Law Organization that gained legal status on December 23, 2004 when it was legislated as such by Uruguay. RedCLARA’s vision is to serve as a Latin American collaboration system by fostering telecommunications advanced networks for research, innovation and education and developing. It operates the only Latin American advanced Internet network, which was established in 2004 to support regional interconnection and links to GÉANT2 (the pan European advanced network) via the ALICE Project (which, until March 2008 was co-funded by the European Commission through its @LIS Programme). Fifteen Latin American countries currently constitute the membership of RedCLARA, all of which are represented in its Assembly.

About NCSA: Three teams within NCSA are contributing collaborators: The Blue Waters Petascale Supercomputer project, I-CHASS and AVL. The Blue Waters petascale computer is capable of sustained performance of one petaflop, on a range of real-world science and engineering applications. It is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. The Blue Waters project also includes a far-reaching educational and workforce development program focused on K-12 through postgraduate education and geographical areas and communities that have been historically underrepresented in supercomputing. The Blue Waters team is helping researchers around the country to prepare their codes to run on Blue Waters, as well as other petascale computing systems. These multi-year collaborations include help with porting and re-engineering existing applications. In some cases, the teams will build entirely new applications based on new programming models. Petascale computing resource allocations from the National Science Foundation allow research teams to work closely with the Blue Waters project team in preparing their codes.

About I-CHASS: charts new ground in high performance computing and the humanities, arts, and social sciences, by creating both learning environments and spaces for digital discovery. It presents path-breaking research, computational resources, collaborative tools, and educational programming to showcase the future of the humanities, arts, and social sciences. With an emphasis on identifying, creating, and adapting computational tools that accelerates research and education, I-CHASS engages visionary scholars from across the globe to demonstrate approaches that interface next-generation interdisciplinary research with high-performance computing and provides these researchers with world-class computational resources, both human and technical, to enhance their knowledge discovery and exploration.

About UVG: The Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (University of the Valley of Guatemala) is a private, not-for-profit, secular university located in Guatemala City, Guatemala. It was founded in 1966 by a private foundation, which had previously overseen the American School of Guatemala. Its distinctive curriculum combines the broad, liberal arts approach of U.S. Colleges with specialized training in the applied sciences. For almost 40 years, UVG has led the way in designing courses and conducting researches tthat provide the knowledge and skills necessary for Guatemala’s economic and social growth. In fact, UVG was the first private university to give a strong emphasis to the field of science and technology and to provide technical background in the country. In July 2013, UVG will be the host of the Pan-American Advanced Studies Institute (PASI) on Methods in Computation-Based Discovery.

About AVL: develops applied research visualization methods and tools for analysis and rendering of large-scale scientific data, and works directly with NSF peer-reviewed PRAC recipients on the Blue Waters grant. AVL develops visualization cyberinfrastructure to support the special requirements of scientists using NCSA’s high-performance computing (HPC) systems. The Advanced Visualization Lab is a leader in collaborating with scientists’ to create 3D high-fidelity, high-resolution, data-driven scientific visualizations for public outreach to millions of viewers. The team specializes in visualization challenges of extremely large, complex data. Their advanced scientific visualizations provide an important contemporary tool for discovery, enabling scientists to gain insight and understanding of phenomena through large, complex computer models and simulations. Their custom 3D visualization techniques–including multi-scalar perspectives, isosurface reconstruction, and flow and direct volume rendering–have helped scientists find new knowledge in their data. AVL has developed a special expertise in applied visualization research methods, especially within the domains of astrophysics and earth sciences. The team develops original software and augments off-the-shelf and open-source software for three-dimensional spatial and temporally evolving data-driven applications and movies. AVL’s visualization expertise supports interactive exploration of time-evolving computational models and remote collaboration within these 3D visualizations.

About XSEDE: The Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment is the most advanced, powerful, and robust collection of integrated advanced digital resources and services in the world. It is a single virtual system that scientists can use to interactively share computing resources, data, and expertise. More than 10,000 scientists used the TeraGrid to complete thousands of research projects, at no cost to the scientists. Scientists and engineers around the world use these resources and services — things like supercomputers, collections of data, and new tools — to make our lives healthier, safer, and better. XSEDE and the experts who lead the program will make these resources easier to use and help more people use them. XSEDE lowers technological barriers to access and use of computing resources. Using XSEDE, researchers can establish private, secure environments that have all the resources, services, and collaboration support they need to be productive. The XSEDE partnership is led by the University of Illinois’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).

I-CHASS and OAS/ARTCA Announce Details for Summer Institute in Data Science

Posted by on Jan 7, 2013 in News | No Comments

Organized in partnership with the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Advanced Research and Technology Collaboratory for the Americas (ARTCA), the NSF-funded Pan-American Advanced Studies Institute (PASI) will take place at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, East of Guatemala City from July 15 through July 26, 2013 to offer training on Methods of Computation-Based Discovery (CBD) to about 40 participants from all over the Americas. The PASI will target young researchers, graduate students, post docs and junior faculty whose research will benefit from CBD, or in other words, research involving large and or highly complex data sets generated to study large scale problems.

Over a ten-day period, participants will gain foundational knowledge and skills in data science as prominent researchers will share methods and techniques for CBD and participants explore sample data sets during hands-on laboratory sessions.

Overall, the PASI is expected to help foster new collaborations and cross-disciplinary research networks for teams to work on problems and research challenges of shared concern. United States and Latin American researchers will be expected to work together, adding a cultural dimension to thinking about research with complex data using CDB methods.

The deadline to apply for the PASI is April 10, 2013.

For more information on the PASI, including the application process, please click here.

I-CHASS Awarded 248,551 NSF Grant to Study Virtual Research Environments

Posted by on Aug 30, 2012 in News | No Comments

I-CHASS announced today that project VOSS: Research on the Process of Virtual Research Environment was awarded $248,551 by the National Science Foundation. In recent years, there has been a wave of development of advanced cyberinfrastructure to support distributed collaborative science.  A key type of cyberinfrastructure, virtual research environments (VREs), have been hailed as having the potential to enhance the quality of science, to speed up the conduct of scientific research, and to foster global scientific communities around key research areas.  One gap in current knowledge of VREs is lack of systematic studies of the process by which VREs develop through intentional design and through unplanned events and contingencies.  A VRE is the product of multiple decisions related to the way in which science will be conducted, technological design and implementation, and who will be involved in the design and governance of the VRE, among other things.  These decisions are negotiated among a diverse and changing set of stakeholders over an extended period of time and the process of development is far from the rational design ideal.

VOSS will advance and refine a theoretical framework for understanding the processes by which VREs are developed over time and how these processes contribute to their effectiveness or lack thereof said Professor Marshall Scott Poole, Director of I-CHASS and project Co-Principal Investigator.  The framework proposes that VREs are constructed through interactions among five critical activity tracks, specifically: (a) technological design and implementation, (b) scientific work, (c) the community of VRE users, developers, funders and other stakeholders, (d) managerial and organizational system, and (e) critical events.  Activities in each of the tracks proceed according to different developmental processes and at different paces and the interrelationships among them account for the developmental trajectory of the VRE.  Effectiveness will be assessed in terms of productivity, collaboration, community development, and successful implementation and use of VRE features and is expected to vary over time.  Moreover ongoing assessments of effectiveness by key stakeholders play a role in the development of the VRE itself.

Professor Iftekhar Ahmed project Principal Investigator said “VOSS will utilize the process research approach to study the evolution of six VREs.  It will conduct in depth longitudinal analyses of the sequences of events involved in the development of VREs along the five tracks and trace inter-track influences.  It will assess the fit of various developmental models to the sequences to determine which generative mechanisms account for the development of the VREs and the coevolution of the tracks.  Finally, it will relate various features of the developmental process to effectiveness of VREs on several dimensions”. Professor Ahmed, now in the Communication Department at the University of North Texas, was a post-doctoral researcher at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois when the proposal was developed.