The Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) announced the awardees of its first round of Propelling Original Data Science (PODS) Grants.  15 interdisciplinary teams, chosen from 65 proposals, receive funding support for an array of exciting projects with data science as the common thread.  The projects range from detecting patterns of illicit wildlife trade networks, to reducing safety threats on social media, to understanding the energy sources in the Universe.  Researchers on these projects are from 9 schools and colleges across the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses. For this set of projects, MIDAS provides a total of $860K of funding, and cost sharing from U-M departments and faculty amounts to an additional $220K.

This round of funding strongly encourages pioneering work based on innovative concepts that promises high reward, major impact, promotion of public interest, and potential for major expansion; in other words,“disruptive” instead of incremental research.  The diverse range of research that MIDAS is able to fund demonstrates the widespread enthusiasm for incorporating data science into almost every research domain.  “We are funding not one, but two projects from the School for Environment and Sustainability. And for the first time we are funding researchers from Physics, Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and many other departments,”  says Dr. H. V. Jagadish, MIDAS Director, “This is exactly what MIDAS would like to accomplish, to catalyze the transformative use of Data Science in a wide range of disciplines to achieve lasting societal impact.”

Previous MIDAS grants have made it possible for the research teams to form many new collaborations, formulate groundbreaking ideas, and bring to U-M more than $60 million of external funding.  

The awarded PODS grants and the (co) Principal Investigators are:

  • CHANGES: Collections, Heterogeneous data, and Next Generation Ecological Studies, Karen Alofs (School for Environment and Sustainability), Andrea Thomer (School of Information), Hernan Lopez-Fernandez (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Museum of Zoology).
  • Probabilistic Methods to Infer Structure and Dynamics of Illicit Wildlife Trade Networks, Neil Carter (School for Environment and Sustainability), Abigail Jacobs (School of Information and Complex Systems, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts).
  • A Data-Driven Framework for Microstructure Optimization of Additively Manufactured Piezoelectric Composites, Lei Chen (Mechanical Engineering, U-M Dearborn), Zhen Hu (Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, U-M Dearborn).
  • Fusing Physics and Deep Learning for Solar Dynamics Forecasting, David Fouhey (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science), Ward Manchester (Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering).
  • Probabilistic Modeling of Missing Data to Improve Predictions Using Metabolomics Data, Christopher E. Gillies (Emergency Medicine), Kevin Ward (Emergency Medicine and Biomedical Engineering), Kathleen Stringer (Pharmacy), Xudong Fan (Biomedical Engineering).
  • Decoding the Environment of Most Energetic Sources in the Universe, Oleg Y. Gnedin (Astronomy), Xun Huan (Mechanical Engineering).
  • Data Science for Quantum Simulation, Emanuel Gull (Physics), Dominika Zgid (Chemistry and Physics)
  • Towards a Framework for the Characterization of Cellular & Spatial Relationships in Development and Disease, Sue Hammoud (Human Genetics, Urology),Arvind Rao (Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, Radiation Oncology, Biomedical Engineering).
  • Database Learning: A Query Engine That Becomes Smarter Over Time, Barzan Mozafari (Computer Science and Engineering), Reza Soroushmehr (Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics).
  • Optimal Design of Data Assimilation for the Prediction of Hydrological Extremes, Ashley Payne (Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering), Yulin Pan (Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering).
  • DevEEG: A Robust Repository for Developmental Electroencephalogram Data, Amy Pienta (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research), William Gehring (Psychology).
  • Achieving ML Robustness by Leveraging Physics-based Constraints, Atul Prakash (Computer Science and Engineering), Huei Peng (Mechanical Engineering).
  • Large Scale Interventions for Reducing Threats to Safety and Trustworthiness on Social Media, Sarita Schoenebeck (School of Information), Eric Gilbert (School of Information), Jenny Radesky (Pediatrics).
  • Regularized Regression and Poststratification: Blending Data Science and Survey Methodology to Increase the Reproducibility of Population Genetics Research, Yajuan Si (Institute for Social Research–Statistics), Colter Mitchell (Institute for Social Research–Sociology).
  • Incorporation of Multilevel Ontologies of Adverse Events and Vaccines for Vaccine Safety Surveillance, Lili Zhao (Biostatistics), Gary Freed (Pediatrics).