Faculty Receive Grants to Collaborate With Portuguese Universities

AUSTIN, Texas -- University of Texas at Austin researchers together with collaborating Portuguese researchers have received six grants totaling about $1.5 million U.S. ($1.2 million Euros) from the Science and Technology Foundation of Portugal (FCT) to expand the presence of advanced digital media through educational and research exchange.

University of Texas at Austin researchers from the School of Information , the Cockrell School of Engineering and the College of Communication, will conduct the projects with principal investigators at Portuguese universities through the UT Austin | Portugal International Collaboratory for Emerging Technologies or CoLab.

"This grant reflects the fact that digital media is multidisciplinary and to do meaningful work you need talent and insight from people across multiple areas," said Sharon Strover, director of CoLab's Digital Media program and the Philip G. Warner Regents Professor in Communication. "We hope this project will create a foundation for developing and working with the future leadership in the area of digital media."

iSchool Assistant Professor Luis Francisco-Revilla is a Co-PI on three of these grants. In the first, with Dr. Strover and principal investigator Dr. Joao Miguel Costa Magalhaes of the New University of Lisbon, he will examine Portuguese video content consumption trends. The ImTV project (On-Demand Immersive-TV for Communities of Media Producers and Consumers) aims at offering consumers a personalized combination of mainstream TV content and online user-generated content based on algorithms that process content metadata, user and community feedback.

In addition, Professor Francisco-Revilla and Professor Matt Lease of the iSchool will lead two research collaborations. REACTION (Retrieval, Extraction and Aggregation Computing Technology for Integrating and Organizing News) will take computational journalism to the next level by developing a set of new algorithms, tools and methodologies for media analytics. This research project, in collaboration with Assistant Professor Matt Lease in the School of Information and principal investigator Mario Jorge Costa Gaspar Silva at the University of Lisbon, aims to help journalists and researchers make better sense of what is news and what is not among the massive amounts of data produced every day.

With Dr. Alvaro Pedro de Barros Borges Reis Figueira of the research institute INESC at the University of Porto, the third grant will fund Project Breadcrumbs, which aims to capitalize on public participation in the global news cycle to enable journalists to harness reader participation. This project will build bridges between online news and social media so journalists can understand the interests of their readers and the implicit relationships that readers perceive between different articles and events in order to identify valuable contributors and follow new leads for further writing.

iSchool Assistant Professor Yan Zhang is a Co-PI the project T-LIFE (Therapeutic Learning of Facial Emotions) with Professor J. K. Aggarwal from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the University of Texas at Austin and principal investigator Dr. Veronica Costa Orvalho of the Computer Science Department at the University of Porto. The T-LIFE project intends to design an interactive game employing real time facial synthesis and automatic expression analysis techniques to teach children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) to recognize emotions embedded in human facial expressions. This virtual reality approach will allow children to learn emotions in a fun way and enhance their ability to recognize and respond to non-verbal conversational cues that are central to effective human communication.

CoLab is a partnership between the FCT and The University of Texas at Austin in conjunction with several Portuguese universities. Started in 2006, one major goal of this five-year project is to expand the presence of advanced digital media through educational and research exchange. This takes place in three different program areas: digital media, advanced computing and mathematics, in addition to the IC2 Institute's University Technology Enterprise Network, which focuses on training Portuguese technology transfer offices at Portugal's leading research universities and research centers.

Posted: 07/26/2010

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