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Franklin College to enhance 2023 Presidential Seed Grants

Alan Flurry

The newest round of 10 Presidential Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program awards chosen from 70 proposals reflect a commitment of $1 million from UGA President Jere W. Morehead. In a follow-up to the success of UGA research teams to pursue work initiated through the seed grant program, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences announced additional support for the Presidential Seed Grant projects.

Franklin College Dean Anna Stenport announced the Franklin-led funded projects will receive an additional $7,500 and six additional highly ranked projects will receive $5,000 each to continue their work, thanks to philanthropic giving to the Dean’s Excellence Fund. “This supplemental funding highlights the College’s commitment to growing multidisciplinary teams and an ecosystem of collaboration,” said Marshall Shepherd, Franklin College associate dean for research, scholarship and partnership.

For the first time, this year’s program has two tracks: New Frontiers and Cluster Engagement.

Two Franklin-led projects in the Cluster Engagement track will receive the additional funding. Cluster Engagement Awarded teams have at least one cluster hire, including two that are led by AI/data sci cluster hires.

Youjin Kong, assistant professor in the department of philosophy, serves principal investigator for a project to design and develop ethics for the use and deployment of artificial intelligence. The project “Developing Applied Institutional Ethics for the Age of AI: Interdisciplinary Approaches,” includes team members L. Jason Anastasopoulos (School of Public and International Affairs); Jeremy Davis (Franklin College of Arts and Sciences: Department of Philosophy); Prasant Doshi (School of Computing); Matthew I. Hall (School of Law); Akshat Lakhiwal (Terry College of Business); Aaron Schecter (Terry College of Business); Ari Schlesinger(School of Computing); and Christian Turner (School of Law).

Roberto Perdisci, a professor in the School of Computing, is the principal investigator for a project addressing AI-generated deepfakes and possible socio-technical solutions. The term “deepfake” refers to realistic AI-generated images, videos, or audio that can be used to create fake but believable content and thus mislead humans. Perdisci is joined in the project, “Socio-Technical Solutions for Countering AI-Generated Deep Fakes,” by Jin Sun (School of Computing); Le Guan (School of Computing); Justin Conrad (School of Public and International Affairs); Sonja West and Thomas Kadri (School of Law); Bartosz Wojdynski (Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication); and Mark Lupo (Carl Vinson Institute of Government).

Marshall Shepherd, Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and Geography leads a New Frontiers project, incorporating researchers from atmospheric sciences, geography, planning, and engineering. The project, “Rubber-Modified Asphalt- A Potential Urban Heat Island Mitigation Strategy,” is a collaboration with industry partners to mitigate urban heat stress on both citizens and infrastructure. In addition to UGA researchers, the project will feature partnerships with The Ray, Pirelli Tires, and ESRI, a developer of geographic information software. Team members include Brian Bledsoe (Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems); Rosanna Rivero (College of Environment and Design); Andrew Grundstein and Sergio Bernardes (Franklin College, department of geography); Christina Fuller (College of Engineering).

The New Frontiers track is intended to support early-stage exploration of potentially transformative research that addresses grand challenges at the community, state, national, or global level.

Six additional Franklin-led projects will receive funding:

  • "A Geospatial Artificial Intelligence Framework for Accurately Measuring Population Changes of Economically Important Fishes," led by Adam Greer, assistant professor in the department of marine sciences
  • "NanoScintillate: Next-generation hybrid scintillator devices," led by Vladislav Klepov, assistant professor in the department of chemistry
  • "A Multimodal Foundation Model for various Geospatial, Environmental, and Agricultural tasks," led by Gengchen Mai, assistant professor in the department of geography
  • "Transformative Integration of Cryoelectron Microscopy," led by Tina Salguero, associate professor in the department chemistry
  • "Revealing the Hidden Potential in ‘Microbial Dark Matter’: An AI-Powered Open-set Method for Functional Inference," led by Jin Sun, assistant professor in the School of Computing
  • "Enhancing Stroke Treatment Efficiency: Synthesis, Navigation, and AI-Driven Optimization of Magnetic Super Particles for Thrombolysis," led by Yiping Zhao, Distinguished Research Professor in the department of physics & astronomy

"I congratulate these faculty members on their diligent work to assemble competitive project proposals that advance the college's research mission in new, innovative ways," Stenport said. "Collaborative inquiry across all of the disciplines in the Arts and Sciences is the future of new research breakthroughs and discoveries at UGA, and I am proud of the many dedicated donors to the Franklin College who help support our faculty and graduate students in advancing new knowledge that generate solutions."




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