Good Systems Grand Challenge Initiative Funds Seven iSchool Professors, Four Projects

Sandlin, Anu  |  Jul 29, 2019

News Image: 
Pennybacker Bridge
Image Caption: 
Pennybacker Bridge
The Good Systems Grand Challenge Initiative
Bridging Barriers
AI challenges
Texas iSchool

Seven University of TexasSchool of Information faculty members were recently notified that they would receive approximately $100,000 in funding from Good Systems through The Good Systems Grand Challenge Initiative to support the first year of new projects. 

Assistant Professor Amelia Acker, Assistant Professor Jakki Bailey, Associate Professor Kenneth Fleischmann, Assistant Professor Danna Gurari, Associate Professor Jacek Gwizdka, Associate Professor Matthew Lease, and Professor Bo Xie are among the Texas iSchool faculty involved in projects to be funded by Good Systems.

The Good Systems Grand Challenge Initiative funds research projects that align artificial intelligence (AI) technologies with the needs and values of society. Good Systems funding is meant to inspire interdisciplinary research collaborations that define, evaluate, and measure good systems, and seed efforts for securing external funding.  

The projects that will receive Good Systems funding for one year include interdisciplinary collaboration from scholars in the School of Information and other campus units. In addition, they address a major challenge or concern(s) with the use of AI technologies, propose plans involving mixed methodologies to tackle these problems, and promise a more inclusive world with more responsible AI.

For instance, “Design of Fair AI Systems via Human-Centric Detection and Mitigation of Biases” with project team members Amelia Acker (iSchool), Joydeep Ghosh (ECE), and Matthew Lease (iSchool), proposes to alleviate the problem of data bias by engaging a diverse, human-centered approach to identify and assess bias and fairness.

Another project, “Designing Human-AI Partnerships for Information Search and Evaluation” with project team members Jacek Gwizdka (iSchool), Matthew Lease (iSchool), and Talia Stroud (Communication Studies), aims to design socially-responsible human-AI partnerships to curb the digital spread of misinformation. 

Our faculty members are changing the ways we will interact with AI, and are leading the way to change the future by engaging with the challenges of today.

Privacy Preferences and Values for Computer Vision Applications” with team members Danna Gurari (iSchool), Bo Xie (iSchool and Nursing), and Kenneth Fleishmann (iSchool), addresses the conflict between convenience and privacy inherent to computer vision with the goal of developing computer vision technologies that support diverse users, especially those who are traditionally technologically underserved.   

And “Defining, Evaluating, and Building Good Systems for All Children” with team members Jakki Bailey (iSchool), Craig Watkins (RTF), and Kenneth Fleischmann (iSchool), aims to evaluate AI systems and identity factors related to diversity, ethics, and child development for creating age-appropriate AI technologies for children in early to late adolescence (10 - 14 years of age).

All four project teams demonstrated one or more of the three focus areas: how to define good systems, how to evaluate good systems, and how to build good systems, and they each met the evaluation criteria of feasibility, significance, interdisciplinarity, and use of seed funding.

The Texas iSchool is heavily involved in the Good Systems Grand Challenge. In addition to being recipients of Year 1 internal funding, Kenneth Fleischmann and Matthew Lease currently serve on the Bridging Barriers Organizing Committee team, while Amelia Acker and Yan Zhang are members of the Bridging Barriers Activity Leaders team.

Dean Meyer commented on the iSchool professors’ involvement in the Good Systems Grand Challenge. “Our faculty members here at the iSchool are showing their leadership, passion, and determination to solve the AI challenges facing all of us in the modern world,” he said. “They are changing the ways we will interact with AI, and are leading the way to change the future by engaging with the challenges of today.”

In the words of President Fenves, “the toughest questions facing humanity and the world cross the boundaries of existing knowledge, and we must take an interdisciplinary approach to address them. Breakthroughs happen when we break down silos of knowledge. And we are doing that now.”


Tony Grubesic Named Texas iSchool’s New Associate Dean for Research

Sandlin, Anu  |  Jul 27, 2019

News Image: 
Tony Grubesic
Image Caption: 
Dr. Tony Grubesic
Texas iSchool
Tony Grubesic
Associate Dean for Research

The University of Texas School of Information is delighted to announce that Dr. Tony Grubesic will join the faculty as Professor and Associate Dean for Research beginning August 12, 2019.

Grubesic will be the Texas iSchool’s first Associate Dean for Research – a new senior leadership position created by Dean Eric T. Meyer.

"Tony is an extraordinary scholar and researcher with a proven track record in attracting research funding and using it to make significant contributions to knowledge and policy; I am looking forward to having him on my leadership team," said Dean Meyer announcing Grubesic’s appointment.

Grubesic is currently Director of the Center for Spatial Reasoning & Policy Analytics at Arizona State University. He is also Professor of Policy Analytics in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions, Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Professor and Fellow in the School of Public Affairs, and Professor in the School of Geographical Science and Urban Planning at Arizona State University. 

His topical research and teaching interests include geographic information science, social informatics, spatial analytics, regional development, and public policy evaluation. As a geographic information scientist, Grubesic’s broader research interests includetechnology, policy and society; urban and environmental planning; public health; transport systems and policy; human environmental interaction; remote sensing, data quality; and error and uncertainty.

It’s not every day that an FAA certified commercial drone pilot becomes an iSchool’s Associate Dean.

His work utilizes a range of methodological approaches including geographic information systems, location modeling, remote sensing, spatial statistics, mathematical optimization, network analysis and machine learning.  

Grubesic has taught a range of courses from introductory, intermediate, and advanced GIScience and spatial analytical methods, to spatial statistics, pattern detection, and multiple courses on technology policy. 

He is currently Editor-in-Chief of Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, and Telematics and Informatics, and author of over 160 research publications. His latest book, UAVs and Urban Spatial Analysis - An Introduction will be published by Springer in early 2020. 

His most recent work focuses on community vulnerability, environmental risk, and regional infrastructure systems. Grubesic is currently leading a team of six interdisciplinary researchers from three different universities – including UT Austin – on a project that received a multi-million dollar grant from the Department of Defense to improve national security by tracking the movement of pollen.

"It is an honor to be selected as the first Associate Dean for Research at the University of Texas iSchool,” said Grubesic. “I look forward to helping the iSchool become the most engaged and collaborative unit on the UT campus, and together with the senior leadership and our amazing students, faculty, and staff, I am committed to diversifying and expanding the iSchool’s research portfolio." 

“It’s not every day that an FAA certified commercial drone pilot becomes an iSchool’s Associate Dean,” said Dean Meyer. “I think I speak for everyone when I say that we look forward to working with Tony to enhance the impacts of research at the School of Information and UT Austin.”

Grubesic obtained a B.A. in Political Science from Willamette University, a B.S. in Geography from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, a M.A. in Geography and Planning from the University of Akron, and a Ph.D. in Geographic Information Science from Ohio State University. To learn more about his teaching, research, and service, visit his webpage.

Texas iSchool Welcomes New Bill & Lewis Suit Professor of Information Technology

Sandlin, Anu  |  Jul 27, 2019

News Image: 
Dr. Ying Ding
Texas iSchool
Ying Ding
Bill & Lewis Suit Professor of Information Technology
health informatics

The School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin is pleased to announce that Dr. Ying Ding will be joining the iSchool faculty this fall as the Bill & Lewis Suit Professor of Information Technology.

Currently a Professor of Informatics and Information Science at Indiana University in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, Ding also serves as Director of Graduate Studies for the Data Science Program at IU.

In addition to being Professor of Informatics and core faculty of Cognitive Science, Ding is also Director of the Web Science Lab, faculty member of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research, and faculty member of the Chemical Informatics Center. Previously, she worked as a senior researcher at the University of Innsbruck, Austria and as a researcher at the Free University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Her research interests include data science for applications, data-driven science of science, bibliometrics, semantic web, data-driven knowledge discovery, AI powered drug discovery, and knowledge graph and mining. Her research areas encompass complex systems, artificial intelligence, biomedical and health data science, data analytics for graphs, and database and information systems.

She has taught courses in Semantic Web (e.g., Data Semantics), Database (e.g., SQL and NoSQL, Database Design), Data Science Onramp Courses (e.g., mini-online courses about data science skills), Introduction to Doctoral Research in Information Science, Evaluation of Information System, Information Analytics, and Metadata & Semantics.

Ding has been involved in various NIH, NSF, and European Union-funded Semantic Web projects, and has published 190+ papers in journals, conferences, and workshops. She is co-editor of the book series called, Semantic Web Synthesis published by Morgan & Claypool, and co-author of the book, "Intelligent Information Integration in B2B Electronic Commerce,” published by Kluwer Academic Publishers.

My goal is to create an innovative research agenda for AI in medicine and healthcare by building bridges to connect talents from schools on campus.

In addition, Ding is co-author of two book chapters in "Spinning the Semantic Web," published by MIT Press, and the book, "Towards the Semantic Web: Ontology-driven Knowledge Management," published by Wiley. She is an editorial board member of four ISI-indexed top journals in Information Science and Semantic Web.

“Professor Ding has assembled a world-leading academic record in her career, and will be an excellent addition to the iSchool,” noted Dean Eric T. Meyer. “We look forward to her taking a leading role in our growing research and teaching in the area of health informatics and bringing in new collaborations and sources of funding.”

Dr. Ding will also have a courtesy appointment with the Department of Population Health at Dell Medical School.

As Bill & Lewis Suit Professor of Information Technology, Ding plans to build one of the best AI in medicine and healthcare programs by inviting top players to invited talk series, engaging iSchool students and faculty with local industry experts in healthcare-related projects, and organizing summer camps by connecting best mentors and talents to solve urgent local health issues. 

“My goal is to create an innovative research agenda for AI in medicine and healthcare by building bridges to connect talents from schools on campus, such as Texas iSchool, Dell Medical School, Department of Computer Science, College of Pharmacy, Department of Statistics and Data Science, the local industry, and startups” said Ding. 

“I look forward to joining the iSchool at UT Austin and working with colleagues to extend the current curriculum by adding applied data science courses based on my experience as the Director of Graduate Studies of Data Science Program, and previously the Associate Director for Data Science Online Program at Indiana University,” said Ding. “It will be an exciting journey and I am ready for it.” 

Ding has served as Changjiang Guest Professor at the School of Information Management, Wuhan University, China; Elsevier Guest Professor at Tongji University, Shanghai; and Senior Researcher, Fudan University, Shanghai.

Ding received her Ph.D. from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore in 2001. She is co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) of Data2Discovery and volunteer co-organizer at Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs Festival. To learn more about Dr. Ying Ding, visit her website.


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