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IDEaS Awards 2023 Seed Grants to Seven Interdisciplinary Research Teams

October 20, 2023

The Institute for Data Engineering and Science, in conjunction with several Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IRIs) at Georgia Tech, have awarded seven teams of researchers from across the Institute a total of $105,000 in seed funding geared to better position Georgia Tech to perform world-class interdisciplinary research in data science and artificial intelligence development and deployment. 

The goals of the funded proposals include identifying prominent emerging research directions on the topic of AI, shaping IDEaS future strategy in the initiative area, building an inclusive and active community of Georgia Tech researchers in the field that potentially include external collaborators, and identifying and preparing groundwork for competing in large-scale grant opportunities in AI and its use in other research fields.

Below are the 2023 recipients and the co-sponsoring IRIs:

Proposal Title: “AI for Recycling and Circular Economy
PI: Valerie Thomas, ISyE and PubPoly | Steven Balakirsky, GTRI
Award: $15k (co-sponsored by BBISS)

Overview: Most asset management and recycling use technology that has not changed for decades. The use of bar codes and RFID has provided some benefits, such as for retail returns management. Automated sorting of recyclables using magnets, eddy currents, and laser plastics identification has improved municipal recycling. Yet the overall field has been challenged by not-quite-easy-enough identification of products in use or at end of life. AI approaches, including computer vision, data fusion, and machine learning provide the additional capability to make asset management and product recycling easy enough to be nearly autonomous. Georgia Tech is well suited to lead in the development of this application. With its strength in machine learning, robotics, sustainable business, supply chains and logistics, and technology commercialization, Georgia Tech has the multi-disciplinary capability to make this concept a reality, in research and in commercial application.

Proposal Title: "AI for Chemical and Materials Discovery" + “AI in Microscopy Thrust”
PI: Victor Fung, CSE | Vida Jamali, ChBE| Pan Li, ECE | Amirali Aghazadeh Mohandesi, ECE
Award: $20k (co-sponsored by IMat)

Overview: The goal of this initiative is to bring together expertise in machine learning/AI, high-throughput computing, computational chemistry, and experimental materials synthesis and characterization to accelerate material discovery. Computational chemistry and materials simulations are critical for developing new materials and understanding their behavior and performance, as well as aiding in experimental synthesis and characterization. Machine learning and AI play a pivotal role in accelerating material discovery through data-driven surrogate models, as well as high-throughput and automated synthesis and characterization.

Proposal Title: " AI + Quantum Materials
PI: Zhigang JIang, Physics | Martin Mourigal, Physics
Award: $20k (Co-Sponsored by IMat)

Overview: Zhigang Jiang is currently leading an initiative within IMAT entitled “Quantum responses of topological and magnetic matter” to nurture multi-PI projects. By crosscutting the IMAT initiative with this IDEAS call, we propose to support and feature the applications of AI on predictive and inverse problems in quantum materials. Understanding the limit and capabilities of AI methodologies is a huge barrier of entry for Physics students, because researchers in that field already need heavy training in quantum mechanics, low-temperature physics and chemical synthesis. Our most pressing need is for our AI inclined quantum materials students to find a broader community to engage with and learn. This is the primary problem we aim to solve with this initiative.

PI: Jeffrey Skolnick, Bio Sci | Chao Zhang, CSE
Proposal Title: Harnessing Large Language Models for Targeted and Effective Small Molecule 4 Library Design in Challenging Disease Treatment

Award: $15k (co-sponsored by IBB)

Overview: Our objective is to use large language models (LLMs) in conjunction with AI algorithms to identify effective driver proteins, develop screening algorithms that target appropriate binding sites while avoiding deleterious ones, and consider bioavailability and drug resistance factors. LLMs can rapidly analyze vast amounts of information from literature and bioinformatics tools, generating hypotheses and suggesting molecular modifications. By bridging multiple disciplines such as biology, chemistry, and pharmacology, LLMs can provide valuable insights from diverse sources, assisting researchers in making informed decisions. Our aim is to establish a first-in-class, LLM driven research initiative at Georgia Tech that focuses on designing highly effective small molecule libraries to treat challenging diseases. This initiative will go beyond existing AI approaches to molecule generation, which often only consider simple properties like hydrogen bonding or rely on a limited set of proteins to train the LLM and therefore lack generalizability. As a result, this initiative is expected to consistently produce safe and effective disease-specific molecules.

PI: Yiyi He, School of City & Regional Plan | Jun Rentschler, World Bank
Proposal Title: “AI for Climate Resilient Energy Systems”
Award: $15k (co-sponsored by SEI)

Overview: We are committed to building a team of interdisciplinary & transdisciplinary researchers and practitioners with a shared goal: developing a new framework which model future climatic variations and the interconnected and interdependent energy infrastructure network as complex systems. To achieve this, we will harness the power of cutting-edge climate model outputs, sourced from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP), and integrate approaches from Machine Learning and Deep Learning models. This strategic amalgamation of data and techniques will enable us to gain profound insights into the intricate web of future climate-change-induced extreme weather conditions and their immediate and long-term ramifications on energy infrastructure networks. The seed grant from IDEaS stands as the crucial catalyst for kick-starting this ambitious endeavor. It will empower us to form a collaborative and inclusive community of GT researchers hailing from various domains, including City and Regional Planning, Earth and Atmospheric Science, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering etc. By drawing upon the wealth of expertise and perspectives from these diverse fields, we aim to foster an environment where innovative ideas and solutions can flourish. In addition to our internal team, we also have plans to collaborate with external partners, including the World Bank, the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, and the Berkeley AI Research Initiative, who share our vision of addressing the complex challenges at the intersection of climate and energy infrastructure.

PI: Jian Luo, Civil & Environmental Eng | Yi Deng, EAS
Proposal Title: “Physics-informed Deep Learning for Real-time Forecasting of Urban Flooding”

Award: $15k (co-sponsored by BBISS)

Overview: Our research team envisions a significant trend in the exploration of AI applications for urban flooding hazard forecasting. Georgia Tech possesses a wealth of interdisciplinary expertise, positioning us to make a pioneering contribution to this burgeoning field. We aim to harness the combined strengths of Georgia Tech's experts in civil and environmental engineering, atmospheric and climate science, and data science to chart new territory in this emerging trend. Furthermore, we envision the potential extension of our research efforts towards the development of a real-time hazard forecasting application. This application would incorporate adaptation and mitigation strategies in collaboration with local government agencies, emergency management departments, and researchers in computer engineering and social science studies. Such a holistic approach would address the multifaceted challenges posed by urban flooding. To the best of our knowledge, Georgia Tech currently lacks a dedicated team focused on the fusion of AI and climate/flood research, making this initiative even more pioneering and impactful.

Proposal Title: “Data-Driven Platform for Transforming Subjective Assessment into Objective Processes for Artistic Human Performance and Wellness
PI: Milka Trajkova, Research Scientist/School of Literature, Media, Communication | Brian Magerko, School of Literature, Media, Communication
Award: $15k (co-sponsored by IPaT)

Overview: Artistic human movement at large, stands at the precipice of a data-driven renaissance. By leveraging novel tools, we can usher in a transparent, data-driven, and accessible training environment. The potential ramifications extend beyond dance. As sports analytics have reshaped our understanding of athletic prowess, a similar approach to dance could redefine our comprehension of human movement, with implications spanning healthcare, construction, rehabilitation, and active aging. Georgia Tech, with its prowess in AI, HCI, and biomechanics is primed to lead this exploration. To actualize this vision, we propose the following research questions with ballet as a prime example of one of the most complex types of artistic movements: 1) What kinds of data - real-time kinematic, kinetic, biomechanical, etc. captured through accessible off-the-shelf technologies, are essential for effective AI assessment in ballet education for young adults?; 2) How can we design and develop an end-to-end ML architecture that assesses artistic and technical performance?; 3) What feedback elements (combination of timing, communication mode, feedback nature, polarity, visualization) are most effective for AI- based dance assessment?; and 4) How does AI-assisted feedback enhance physical wellness, artistic performance, and the learning process in young athletes compared to traditional methods?


Christa M. Ernst

  • Grant RFP Image IDEaS FY24.jpg
    Grant RFP Image IDEaS FY24.jpg
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