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$100,000 Awarded to Seed Grant Competition Winners

December 23, 2013

Lee Tune 301-405-0235

The Future of Information Alliance has chosen six University of Maryland teams as award winners in the second annual FIA-Deutsch Foundation Seed Grant Competition.COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Future of Information Alliance has chosen six University of Maryland teams as award winners in the second annual FIA-Deutsch Foundation Seed Grant Competition. This program encourages interdisciplinary teams of students and their faculty mentors to engage in research providing innovative solutions for key information-related challenges.

These six teams include 26 students and eight faculty mentors from 10 UMD schools and colleges.  They will have the opportunity to consult with six of the FIA's Founding Partners during the course of their work: Sesame Workshop, the National Geographic Society, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Newseum.  The program is funded by a three-year grant from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.

Four of the teams have won up to $25,000 per team in stipends and expenses to carry out their projects, and their members have been designated FIA-Deutsch Student and Faculty Fellows. Two other teams have been designated as FIA-Deutsch Seed Grant Honorees. They will receive up to $3,000 per team for expenses. The teams will present their results on April 23, 2014.

"The FIA-Deutsch Seed Grant program, now in its second year, has been an innovative way of encouraging student-driven research and collaboration in an interdisciplinary way," said Patrick O'Shea, UMD's Vice President for Research. "Last year's teams successfully tackled such issues as creating a model for safe social networking among middle schoolers interested in National Parks and a model for introducing girls to the process of creating content for sites such as Wikipedia. These projects will continue to have real-world applications, and we anticipate big things from these winners."

These four teams of FIA-Deutsch Fellows include:

  • Text Message Innovation for Promoting Family Physical Activity among Parents and Their Preschoolers: This project will develop an interactive text message-based program to increase family physical activity and reduce risk of childhood obesity. The outcome will be a "library" of 50 prototype text messages designed for parents of preschool-aged children, a delivery algorithm for the messages, and a plan for assessing the effectiveness of the messages.
  • Locating People in the Past: Creating New Geographic and Historic Knowledge by Embedding the United States Census within Historic Maps: This project in the evolving field of historic Geographic Information Systems will combine 19th century maps of Talbot County, Maryland, with U.S. Census returns from the same period. Both the resulting database and the methods will be available on the web to improve public access to important resources for understanding history, including the history of slavery, and to enable other researchers around the country to undertake similar projects.
  • Re-imaging and Re-imagining Choreometrics: This team will reimagine the ways in which the 2,138 film clips of dances from around the world that comprise the Alan Lomax collection at the Library of Congress could be digitized, marked up, analyzed, cross-referenced, and made accessible to the public. They will develop a wiki site to provide information on the film clips, the Choreometrics project – which was intended as a way of understanding and describing dance across cultures – and the means by which scholars might access this rich collection.
  • Research Impact Quotient (Research IQ): Designing a Dashboard to Track How Grant Funding Translates into Knowledge: The project will develop a template for a tool to mine professional research outputs, traditional media content, and online content in order to measure the impacts of such work with clear, compelling, and comparable metrics. This will give research funders such as the National Geographic Society and other grant-making entities a way to gather, present, track, compare, and analyze the relative impact of funding on the research agenda and the public agenda.

The two teams of FIA-Deutsch Seed Grant Honorees are:

  • "Born on the Curb": An Application of Citizen History to Enhance Public Understanding of Entrepreneurial Finance: This project will build a web-based platform to support public participation in the documentation of historical events. The team will focus initially on capturing the history of the Curb Market, the predecessor to the American Stock Exchange and the leading "crowdfunding platform" of the early 20th century. The project will engage interested citizens to contribute to collaboratively-generated company histories guided by instructional videos and research templates.
  • Empower Ecuador – Assessing Water Needs for Social Justice:  This team will examine the intersection environmental and social issues surrounding a community situated in an Ecuadorian watershed, balancing the national need for generation of hydroelectric energy with citizens' rights for water to irrigate their crops. Geographic information systems, crop modeling techniques, and real-time weather stations will be used to help farmers better understand their irrigation needs and make their case for water rights.

The Future of Information Alliance is directed by Ira Chinoy, associate dean and associate professor at UMD's Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and Allison Druin, a professor at UMD's iSchool and the Chief Futurist in the office of the Vice President for Research.  The Alliance was founded in 2011 to serve as a catalyst for transdisciplinary dialogue, research and action on evolving issues related to the role of information in our lives

For additional information, visit http://www.fia.umd.edu/seedgrants/.


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