South Region Spokes Awards

Three research teams in the Southern U.S. have been awarded funding for projects designed to use data science and data analytics to address challenges related to healthcare, environmental sustainability, and updating and improving power grids. The funding will be awarded through the “Big Data Spokes” program of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Big Data Regional Innovation Hub initiative.

The awards are part of $11 million awarded by the NSF this year and includes 10 Big Data Spokes in four regions. The spoke awards will initiate research in specific areas identified, supported, and organized by the Big Data Hubs in the South, Northeast, Midwest, and West. The spokes reflect the unique priorities and capabilities of the four U.S. geographic regions.

Using Big Data for Environmental Sustainability:
Big Data + AI Technology = Accessible, Usable, Useful Knowledge

Principal Investigator: Ashok K. Goel, professor of computer science and cognitive science, Georgia Institute of Technology
Co PI: Jennifer Hammock, Smithsonian Institute, in partnership with IBM Watson
Amount: $1 million over three years

As the effects of environmental degradation and climate change grow, the need for research and education in biological diversity, ecological modeling and environmental sustainability becomes critical. This project brings together scientists from a dozen institutions in academia, government, and industry to translate big data into meaningful knowledge that supports research and education in environmental sustainability. The project will focus on the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), the world’s largest database of biological species, and other biodiversity data sources. Its goals are to make this data more accessible and usable by integrating artificial intelligence tools, modeling, and simulation.
Smart Grids Big Data

Principal Investigator: Mladen Kezunovic, Eugene E. Webb Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Texas A & M University
Co-PIs: Santiago C. Grijalva, Georgia Institute of Technology; Zoran Obradovic, Temple University
Amount: $1 million over three years

The introduction of new technologies for monitoring electrical power grids has led to an abundance of data that can be used to improve power generation and transmission and to enhance customer service. However, this data is still vastly underutilized. This project aims to increase our understanding of the merged data collected from physical systems in order to better understand how energy flows through grids, how to prevent emergencies such as blackouts and brownouts, and how to improve asset management and increase energy efficiency.

Large Scale Medical Informatics for Patient Care Coordination and Engagement

Principal Investigator: Gari Clifford, interim chair, biomedical informatics, Emory University
Co-PIs: Christopher Rozell, Georgia Tech; Herman Taylor, Morehouse School of Medicine; Indranil Bardhan, University of Texas at Dallas; Donald Adjeroh, West Virginia University; Ahmed Abbasi, University of Virginia; Nitin Agarwal, University of Arkansas
Amount: $1 million over three years

This project brings together six universities to design and construct a patient-focused and personalized health system that addresses the fractured nature of healthcare information and the lack of engagement of individuals in their own healthcare. By taking advantage of the enormous amount of information generated by real-time, mobile and wearable devices and the availability of rich social media data on patient behavior, the team will create a comprehensive picture of patient health and a tool to help manage patients’ engagement with their healthcare providers. As its first pilot, the researchers will focus on African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.