Fourth Round Awarded Proposals

Posted On December 19, 2013
Categories Proposals
Continuing increases in computer processing speed, advances in data storage devices, and the development of new communication technologies have led to dramatic reductions in the cost to acquire, share and process information. As a result, the world has the ability and desire to collect digitized data at rates where we now double the amount of stored information created since the dawn of human history every few hours.

Sometimes referred to as the “Big Data Revolution,” the term itself is a misnomer since it defies quantification. Societies now realize Big Data transcends our current ability to both envision and define the destination of the journey that we have collectively undertaken in the area of capturing, and learning from, the proliferation of digital information. The resulting pace of innovation impacting a variety of settings is highly rapid because the underlying technologies that enable the analysis of Big Data are idea based - mostly software and algorithms.  The code has no storage costs and it takes no time to replicate once created.  Since code is also modular, it can be combined and recombined in any number of ways to create new applications and strategies. And, once created, the resulting applications can be delivered and implemented globally via the Internet almost instantaneously.

According to the Director of the National Science Foundation, Dr. Subra Suresh, "Data are motivating a profound transformation in the culture and conduct of scientific research in every field of science and engineering.” He further suggests “American scientists must rise to the challenges and seize the opportunities afforded by this new, data-driven revolution.”

As will be demonstrated in this proposal, the Georgia State University community already has some significant pockets of resources that are relevant for research and educational initiatives around Big Data and Analytics.  In particular, we have high visibility faculty members and research centers working on applications of Big Data; we have access to and relationships with commercial and governmental organizations in the Atlanta area, some of whom are driving the Big Data Revolution and others who are seeking guidance and direction; we have degree programs where faculty have already or are currently moving to incorporate enhanced analytical components into curricula; and the Robinson College is preparing a major new MS in Analytics (MSA) program that will propose in spring 2013.  Similarly a new MS degree in preparation in the Andrew Young School will have a concentration on big data and policy evaluation.

But to have a major impact that will bring national and international distinction to Robinson specifically, and Georgia State University more generally, we require a core leadership team that can pull our disparate resources together to create a whole that will be greater than the sum of the individual efforts. More specifically, the major assets that we have to leverage today are primarily focused on applications of the Big Data Revolution working in relative isolation from one another in specific functional areas. What we lack to achieve national and international distinction are faculty scholars who are focused on the fundamental scholarly work of data analytic methodologies and who can bring an international reputation for scholarship in the application of those methodologies, while also accelerating the creation of curricular innovations across the campus.

This 2ci proposal seeks to fill that leadership void.  In particular, we propose attracting a team of scholars that will develop and lead a campus wide initiative charged to accelerate our understanding of what is possible by taking advantage of the dramatic reduction in the cost of acquiring and analyzing Big Data for the commercial, non-profit, and governmental sectors of our economy. The specific steps that will accomplish the goal are as follows:

  1. Attract a senior researcher with an international reputation and demonstrated capability to develop and deploy new methodologies into applications spanning multiple disciplines and/or sectors of the economy.
  2. This senior scholar will work with existing faculty resources across multiple departments in Robinson and across multiple colleges at GSU to develop a proposal to cluster hire three additional faculty members that will complete the multi-college leadership team.

The newly acquired faculty members will form the focal point for a coordinated research effort and to elevate the distinction and reputation of numerous academic degree programs.

Contact: Richard D. Phillips, Associate Dean for Academic Initiatives and Innovation, Robinson College of Business, and C. V. Starr Professor of Risk Management and Insurance

Geosciences (lead), Sociology, English, History, the Institute of Public Health, and the Honors College propose a high-impact 2CI cluster hire around the multi-disciplinary theme of “Integrating Geographic Information Science, Geovisualization and Community Engagement in the Study of Hazards in Urban Environments.”  This hire perfectly matches multiple funding calls that integrate social and scientific research using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and geovisualization along with community engagement to examine urban environments.  Geovisualization presents scientific knowledge through the manipulation, interaction and visualization of multiple geospatial datasets in real time through the connection of interactive maps, databases, and multimedia.  The cluster hire builds upon successfully funded interdisciplinary collaborations across the proposing departments, including 1) the Community-Soil-Air-Water Research Initiative funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site Grant and a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Environmental Health Core grant; 2) the ATLMaps collaboration focused on spatial narratives and GIS in urban environments funded by GSU’s Cities Initiative; 3) two grants from the Kobe Center to develop an Urban Health Index for evaluating small area health disparities; and 4) multiple NSF- and NIH-funded housing studies focused on crime, social networks, and neighborhood change.  This hire will elevate the international prominence of the combined departments and colleges through a research agenda focused on the theory and application of geovisualization to everyday hazards (i.e. flooding, air and water pollution, soil contamination) in urban environments.  The cluster will have two unique and strategic goals. First, we will address the social and environmental disparities of hazards, especially important as impacts of many hazards are felt disproportionately across urban environments.  Second, we will embrace strong community engagement as the team works with citizen scientists (urban residents and community organizations) to understand the uneven historical, social, environmental, and financial factors/impacts of hazards across urban environments.

Contact: Timothy Hawthorne, Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences

Several disease-related areas have been identified as unique strengths at GSU in the recent Life Sciences Review, including microbial pathology and infection, inflammation and immune response, metabolic syndromes, neural disorders, and obesity. We have significant strength in studying disease, from molecular level target design to cellular level biology, to tissue and system level immune response at GSU.  However, while mathematical and computational modeling has been increasingly recognized as an integral and important part of biological studies by both researchers and funding agencies such as NIH and NSF, its presence in the big picture at GSU is limited.  This lack is preventing our research from reaching a higher level.  A senior leader hire in this direction is judicious, timely, and promises sustained growth.

The departments of Mathematics and Statistics (Lead), Center for Inflammation, Immunity and Infection (CIII), Chemistry, Biology, and Computer Sciences, join force in and fully support this 2CI proposal. This interdisciplinary new leader will amplify current GSU strengths, and build a synergistic core of collaboration for high impactful and significant research on disease modeling. This senior leader will complement our current research strength, expand existing research expertise, and elevate GSU to another level of research reputation in quantitative life sciences.

Contact: Yi Jiang, Associate Professor, Mathematics and Statistics

 Appropriate inflammatory/immune response plays a critical role in host defense against bacteria, virus and other harmful stimuli. However dysregulated response not only fails to provide protection, but also leads to disease condition. Indeed, overactive inflammation is a hallmark of many inflammatory diseases, including infectious diseases, cancer, chronic obstructive diseases, otitis media, inflammatory bowel diseases, obesity and autism. Over the past decades, significant progresses have been made in understanding the basic mechanisms underlying how inflammatory response is initiated and regulated at the molecular, cellular, organ and whole-organism levels. One such example is the 2011 Noble prize-winning discovery of host defense receptors involved in regulating immunity and inflammation. More than ever, there is currently an urgent need for translating advances in basic immunology from the laboratory into new clinical therapies for inflammatory diseases. To meet this significant challenge, Translational Immunology (TI) has thus emerged recently as an increasingly important interdisciplinary area of research of both national and international significance. To significantly and rapidly escalate Georgia State University (GSU) as a recognized leader in this area, we propose this plan to hire a high-impact cluster leader in Translational Immunology. This proposal’s key strength is that it builds upon GSU’s existing strength areas, inflammation, immunity and infections, fits well within the University’s and the Georgia Research Alliance’s strategic priorities as well as within federal funding priorities such as NIH. Dr. Jian-Dong Li, GRA Eminent Scholar in Inflammation and Immunity, and the Director of University Center for Inflammation, Immunity and Infection (C3I), will serve as the point-of-contact of the proposal. The proposal has the full support from C3I (Lead Unit), Department of Computer Science, Department of Chemistry, Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Department of Biology with the participation of a total of 21 faculty members including 4 GRA Eminent Scholars and 3 Regents’ Professors.

Contact: Jian-Dong Li, GRA Eminent Scholar, Professor of Biology, University Center for Inflammation, Immunity & Infection