Abstracts of Past ERIT Awards
This program is funded by the Sheafor/Lindsay Innovation Fund
The CITI Innovation Grant call for proposals in the fall of 2004 yielded eleven proposals. Of those, six projects were funded under the program (start date: January 2005). The total for the six grants was about $125,000 for the first year, with an additional $50,000 for second-year support for two of the projects based on midterm progress reports. Here are short descriptions of the six winning proposals:
- Understanding the Open-Source Business Model: Application to Connexions
Connexions is a Web-based open-access repository of educational materials and open-source tools to create and navigate the materials. A crucial issue for the long-term success of Connexions is its ability to generate adequate revenue to fund operations and growth. The preparation of a business plan is a necessary step toward doing so, and to prepare a business plan, it is necessary to better understand the open-source business model. With CITI funding, Dholakia, Baraniuk and Henry will conduct extensive field research in 2005, including library searches, interviews and surveys. The trio will apply the insights gleaned from this research to making key decisions in the business planning for the Connexions Project to ensure its long-term viability and success.
- Paul Dholakia, Assistant Professor of Management
- Richard Baraniuk, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Geneva Henry, Executive Director of the Connexions Project and Rice’s Digital Library Initiative.
- Informed Networking for the Economic Security of our Nation
This research addresses the communication and financial network layers on which the banking industry relies and how those layers are tied to the greater security of the nation. Attacks orchestrated by adversarial organizations may have economic destabilization as a primary goal. Through informed network modeling, Ensor, Thompson, Riedi and Sickles will attempt to determine if a connection between the communication and financial networks used by major financial institutions would result in a stronger line of defense from such attacks.
- Katherine Ensor, Professor of Statistics and Department Chair
- James Thompson, the Noah Harding Professor of Statistics
- Rudolf Riedi, Assistant Professor of Statistics and of Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Robin Sickles, Pprofessor of Economics and of Statistics
- Nano Haptic Robotic System to Enable Nanomanipulation, Nanoassembly, and Nanofabrication
Fathi Ghorbel, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and of Bioengineering
Nanotechnology plays a key role in the advancement of medicine, biology, space explorations, and computer and information technology. Current research in robotics at Rice could enable new and innovative ways to change, interact with and control material at the nanoscale. Ghorbel, O’Malley and Barrera will work with Rice’s new Zyvex S100 Nanomanipulator System to develop new techniques for manipulating nanoscale objects. For example, the development of “force feedback” software and hardware could translate contact between nanoparticles and the manipulator’s tip — which measures just a few atoms across — into motion that a scientist could “feel” through joystick or robotic glove. This would allow scientists to both “feel” and see their samples — via an electron microscope — in real-time, while they move them about. Nanomanipulation with visual and haptic, or tactile, feedback will promote new science, new collaborations and new research across disciplines and with leading research groups outside Rice.
- Marcia O’Malley, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
- Rick Barrera, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Department Chair
- Teaching Ancient Rome: City and Empire
Maas and Quenemoen will create a multidisciplinary undergraduate course
on the development of the urban fabric of ancient Rome. Covering a
period of nearly a thousand years, the course will trace the city’s
development as it grew, flourished and then declined at the end of
antiquity. Students will learn how the development of the city
reflected the expansion and decline of Roman imperial power throughout
the Mediterranean world. Course materials will explore the art,
architecture and topography of the city of Rome and will examine
ancient texts and modern interpretations. Materials will be presented
in part in modules. The prototype module will focus on Roman triumphs,
the parades through the heart of the city that celebrated victorious
generals and their conquests.
- Michael Maas, Professor of History and Director of Rice’s Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations Program
Caroline Quenemoen, Assistant Professor of Art History
- Society and Technology: Multimedia Case Studies in Connexions
Gorry and Miller will create modules with multimedia cases concerning effects of information technology on society and develop them in Connexions’ Content Commons. The modules will engage both undergraduates and executive-management students with issues such as privacy, authority and intellectual property.
- Anthony Gorry, the Friedkin Professor of Management, Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning
- Leslie Miller, Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning
- Gaming@Rice Group Planning Grant
This planning grant will support faculty and staff from five departments and one center as they explore the viability and applicability of gaming to education and research at Rice. This funding will facilitate meetings, participation in conferences and exploration of the use of gaming to create an exciting new interdisciplinary course for undergraduates.
- Joe Warren, Professor of Computer Science
- Devika Subramanian, Professor of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering;
- Richard Stoll, Professor of Political Science
- David Lane, Associate Professor of Psychology and Statistics
- James Thompson, Noah Harding Professor of Statistics
- Patricia Seed, Professor of History
- Sarah Thal, Assistant Professor of History
- Tony Elam, Associate Dean of Engineering
- Leslie Miller, Senior Rresearch Scholar at the Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning
The CITI Innovation Grant call for proposals in the fall of 2002 yielded eight proposals. Of those, five projects were funded under the program (start date: January 2003) for a total of $108,000. A short summary of projects currently being supported follows:
- Sound Reasoning: How To Listen To and Understand Music
- Anthony Brandt, Associate Professor Shepard School of Music
- Richard Baraniuk, Professor Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Geneva Henry, Executive Director CNX and DL
- Project abstract: The applicants propose to develop an on-line, interactive introductory course about music, titled “Sound Reasoning.” This will be a pioneering effort to create an introductory text about music that integrates text and sound. In addition, the course features an innovative approach, in which musical principles are described and illustrated by examples from many different eras and styles. The course will be integrated into Connexions, an experimental web-based curriculum. In addition, the course is a potential resource for music presenters internationally, as a way of educating listeners beyond the concert hall. The grant will be used to develop the content of the course, as well as to develop an elegant, user-friendly and cross-platform program to display and perform musical examples.
- Near East Explorations: Integrating a Digital Archive of Unique Travel Narratives into Teaching and Research
The objectives of the archive's creation are to enrich the Rice community in four ways. The first is to provide rare resources to faculty members engaged in university teaching and research. The archive holds scholarly promise for such disparate areas of specialization as English literature, Women's Studies, and Classical, Near Eastern and Medieval archaeology, religion, and history. European women travelers created both vivid works of literature and were pioneers in the field of archaeology. They and others like them preserve a record of material culture that has largely vanished. Anthropologists will find the material, particularly that related to Bedouin culture, to be useful primary source data. Accounts of contemporary spiritual practice contained in the archive offer a resource for religious studies scholars exploring Islam, Judaism, and eastern Christianity. Historians engaged in the study of European society and colonialism will find rich material on European attitudes and interaction with the native population of the early modern Middle East.
- Michael Decker, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for the Study of Cultures
- Werner Kelber, Professor Religious Studies
- Lisa Spiro, Director, Electronic Resources Center
- Geneva Henry, Executive Director CNX and DL
- Lisa Sweeney, GIS/Data Center
- Project abstract: This initiative seeks to create a digital archive from printed texts of travelers' accounts to the Near East in the 18th-early 20th century, and to integrate that archive into teaching and research at Rice. Twenty-five individual texts, along with detailed images and maps, will comprise the initial body of archive material, offering a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary interaction among students and faculty across the Humanities.
Secondly, the archive is intended to be a unique teaching tool. Texts and accompanying maps/illustrations will be catalogued and cross-referenced, enabling instructors and students to tailor access to the specific objectives of their individual courses. In conducting class related projects and research, students will sharpen their focus to their own peculiar interest areas within the archive.
Thirdly, student and faculty contributions to the archive in the form of commentary, criticism, and the expansion of the archives' holdings aim to benefit students through familiarizing them with the nature of digital archiving/publication, confrontation and treatment of primary source material, and critical scholarly method. To enable commentary and collaboration, "Near East Explorations" may employ the architecture and software provided by the Connexions Project. In addition, the project will provide essential training in creating and employing digital resources to Rice graduate and undergraduate students. Working under the supervision of the Center for the Study of Cultures and the Electronic Resources Center, student research assistants will digitize the texts, photographs, drawings, and maps, mark-up the texts in XML, assist in designing the user interface, research and author contextual materials, and make the collections available online.
The fourth and final objective of the archive's creation is to raise Rice University's academic profile both locally and globally. Through the archive's unique offerings and the sharing of information, it is hoped that students and scholars throughout academia will be encouraged to establish dialogue and forge new links with those at Rice who use and maintain the archive.
- High-level Optimization of S-PLUS Language Programs
- Ken Kennedy, University Professor
- Bradley Broom, Research Scientist, CS
- Rob Fowler, Research Scientist, CS
- John Mellor-Crummey, Senior Faculty Fellow, CS
- Project abstract: We propose a pilot project to develop an active collaboration between our group and members of the Department of Biostatistics at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The collaboration will explore methods for applying very aggressive compiler optimizations to biostatistical programs written in the S programming language. For biostatisitical researchers in the M. D. Cancer Center, S is the language of choice for developing new statistical applications since it is a high-level domain-specific language that facilitates the direct expression of statistical concepts. However, for many of their applications the performance of interpreted S applications is much too low. Their predicament is shared by a large number of application scientists, who prefer to use such languages. We have demonstrated that substantial speedups can be obtained by translating S code to equivalent C code and applying standard optimizing transformations.
The challenge is to build effective optimizing compilers, not just for S but also for its use in specific application domains and for other similar languages. We believe that a framework known as Telescoping Languages will allow such compilers to be generated from a simple translator that generates programs consisting mostly of calls to library procedures that would have been called from the interpreter, followed by an aggressive, library-aware optimizer that can optimize those library calls as if they were language primitives. Our plan is to build a prototype S compiler than can recognize and generate optimized code for selected common S programming idioms, and to collect and publish performance results from code generated by the compiler. The objective of this project is to collect credible results in support of our approach. A proposal for a more ambitious project would build upon these results
- Ethics and Politics in Information Technology
- Christopher Kelty, Assistant Professor, Anthropology
- Hannah Landecker, Assistant Professor, Anthropology
- Sherrilyn Roush, Assistant Professor, Philosophy
- Project abstract: This project is centered on the idea that innovation in science and technology demands answering methodological innovation in the social sciences and humanities. If new sciences and technologies such as information technology, nanotechnology and biotechnology are transforming society and thereby becoming much more visible and contested, then there is no reason to suppose that anthropological and philosophical knowledge may simply be “applied” to these new forms of science and society without some change and adaptation on their part. We begin with the assumption that ethics and politics of science are not abstract principles that occur somewhere outside of the scientific setting, but instead occur in the everyday working lives of scientists and engineers, and need to be investigated empirically – particularly when these problems may be as new and emerging as the scientific work itself.
- Project of opportunity: Support bringing a Senior Research Programmer/Analyst to Rice in support of the Rice Terascale Cluster
- Project abstract: To help faculty and researchers support porting, tuning and optimization of code to be run on the Rice Terascale Cluster. This is a “consulting” resource that Rice has not provided in the past and that we learned would be vitally important in succeeding with a major shared computing effort for research. With the support of the S&E deans’ offices, HiPerSoft, IT, and the provost, we will be able to hire someone that can support the research computing enterprise in new ways.
- Rice Scientific Visualization Environment
Scientific visualization refers to advanced techniques to display and manipulate large amounts of data in both 2D and 3D with representations of data in higher dimensions as well. The goal is for this facility to enhance the current Symonds lab and to be integrated into the overall design of Duncan Hall and Symonds Lab in order to create a world-class interpretation environment. This facility would house hardware and a variety of software applications and will be more efficient than multiple smaller facilities operated by individual research groups. The guiding principles of the Rice Shared Equipment Authority (SEA) would apply to this facility with respect to the activities of management, policy, and fundraising. Funds from this grant would be used for the first phase of this project: A feasibility and comparative study, a project plan, prototype equipment, and initial seed funds to apply for matching university funds and additional grants. An evaluation would be conducted of similar existing facilities at other educational and research institutions. An oversight committee would be formed to review and approve a plan. The plan would include specifications on appropriate hardware, software, and infrastructure.
- Bruce Nichol, Manager S&E IT team
- Joe Warren, Professor, Computer Science
- Davis Scott, Professor, Statistics
- Lydia Kavraki, Associate Professor, Computer Science
- Project abstract: We propose to seed a new initiative that will create a location to support high quality visualization of scientific applications. This facility would complement the broad base of scientific computing enabled by the Rice Terascale Cluster (RTC) and other campus resources. There are 3 objectives for this facility:
1. Provide a state of the art facility to display and interpret resultsof research experiments
2. Provide an environment useful for the teaching of advanced
graphics and modeling techniques to both undergraduate and graduate
3. Provide a state-of-the-art facility to demonstrate research
results to a wide range of small groups such as collaborators, granting
authorities, research teams, potential donors, and candidate students