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Keck Futures Initiative Awards More Than $1 Million for 12 Research Projects
Projects Selected Range From Developing a 'Virtual Physician App' to Uncovering the DNA of Social Knowledge

The National Academies Keck Futures Initiative announced today the recipients of its latest round of grants.  Each grant was awarded to support 12 interdisciplinary research projects related to the informed brain in a digital world, which was the subject of the 10th annual Futures conference held last November.
"We received far more high-quality proposals than funds available," said Michael S. Gazzaniga, director, The Sage Center for the Study of the Mind, University of California, Santa Barbara.  "We scored the grants based on their interdisciplinarity, relevance to the informed brain in a digital world, riskiness/boldness, and the importance and potential impact if the grant is funded.  We believe that the group of collaborations selected will result in the most 'generative' findings."
These competitive seed grants aim to fill a critical gap in funding for research on new ideas.  Major federal funding programs do not typically provide support in areas that are considered risky or unusual.  The Futures grants allow researchers to start recruiting students and postdoctoral fellows, purchasing equipment, and acquiring preliminary data -- all of which can position the researchers to compete for larger awards from other public and private sources.
Listed in alphabetical order -- principal investigators (PI) first, then co-PIs -- the award recipients and their grant research topicsare:
GIORGIO ASCOLI, George Mason University
MARYANN MARTONE, University of California, San Diego
RUCHI PAREKH and DIEK WHEELER,George Mason University
LAURA SYMONDS, Michigan State University
Crowdsourcing Extraction of Knowledge From Data: Pilot Designs in Neuroscience -- $100,000
The ongoing/forthcoming deluge of digital scientific data poses the "interpretation challenge"of digesting raw data into information accessible to people and machines alike. These researchers envision leveraging the parallel opportunity to involve the entire human population in pro-active sense-making with learning environments directly based on empirical data as opposed to textbooks.
JOHN-PAUL CLARKE, Georgia Institute of Technology
PATRICK WHEATLE, Northeast Regional Health Authority (Jamaica)
The Virtual Physician: An Application for Hand-Held Electronic Devices That Enables Time and Resource Optimal Diagnosis -- $100,000
These researchers aim to develop an application for optimally sequencing questions to patients and subsequent diagnostic tests, thereby minimizing the time and the resources that are required to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Their hope is that this will improve treatment in developing countries where there are limited diagnostic resources.
ADAM GAZZALEY,University of California, San Francisco
JOSE CARMENA, University of California, Berkeley
JYOTI MISHRA, University of California, San Francisco
Closing the Loop Between the Brain and the Digital World -- $100,000
This project integrates recent advances in brain-computer interfaces (BCI) with neural findings from human's multitasking in a digital environment to develop a novel BCI.  It explores how healthy and impaired humans can more effectively interact with the digital world using real-time neural signals to guide BCI control of interactive software.
DAVID HACHEN,University of Notre Dame
JEFFREY LIEW, Texas A&M University
OMAR LIZARDO and AARON STRIEGEL, University of Notre Dame
Using Smart Devices to Capture the Emotionality of Offline Communication -- $100,000
The increasing prevalence of online interactions may be inhibiting the development of strong, reciprocal, and emotionally significant offline social ties.  These researchers will develop an innovative system using smart devices that detects speech traits indicative of various emotional states and provides data on offline emotionality needed to understand changing social networks.
KENNETH LANGA, University of Michigan
NICOLE ELLISON, University of Michigan
Expanding the Research Infrastructure to Study the Use and Outcomes of the Internet and Social Media in Middle-age and Older Adults -- $75,000
This project will build on initial collaborations formed at the "Informed Brain" Keck Futures Conference to define and expand opportunities for future research on how middle-age and older adults are using the Internet and social media, as well as the positive and negative health outcomes of that use.
KALEV LEETARU, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
ANTHONY OLCOTT, Artemus Associates
Your Brain on Dashboards: Data & Decisions -- $50,000
The growth of "big data" has encouraged a companion growth in "dashboarding," or presentations of data in ways that state conditions but imply actions. This project will lay the groundwork for ways to test whether dashboarding actually helps the decision-making process, especially in complex domains like government, security, and intelligence.
TODD MCCALLUM,Case Western Reserve University
JEAN COPPOLA, Pace University
LEV GONICK and MARVIN SCHWARTZ, Case Western Reserve University
GEORGE KIKANO, University Hospitals
Developing a Digital Assistant for the Third Age to Help Older Adults Age Healthfully -- $75,000
The project seeks to merge digital communication, behavioral health, social networking, and health monitoring technologies to create a prototype for a Digital Assistant for the Third Age to assist older adults in healthy aging and disease management.
ODED NOV,New York University - Polytechnic Institute
OFER ARAZY, Alberta University
NARAYAN MANDAYAM, Rutgers University
From Informed Human Brains to Society-Scale Silicon Brains: Uncovering the DNA of Social Knowledge -- $50,000
This project will focus on the transformation from informed human brains to society-scale informed silicon-based "brains." Inspired by efforts such as the Human Genome Project, these researchers seek to explore the basic patterns, or building blocks, of the process through which humans co-create silicon "brains" -- large and accessible repositories of knowledge.
SHRIRAM RAMANATHAN, Harvard University
A.R.C.H.I.E: Adaptive, Reconfigurable Cognition Through Hybrid Inorganic Electronics -- $100,000
These researchers aim to investigate decision making and cognition through proof-of-concept electronic circuits fabricated with correlated electron materials that display phase transitions. Vanadium dioxide undergoes metal-insulator transition at room temperature upon application of a voltage pulse. This sharp change in conductance may be exploited to fabricate neural circuits to study cognition.
DAVID STRAYER, University of Utah
ADAM GAZZALEY,University of California, San Francisco
ARTHUR KRAMER, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Nature and Cognitive Restoration: How Does the Brain Behave in a Non-digital World? -- $50,000
This project is designed to develop a better understanding of the biological bases underlying cognitive restoration associated with immersion in natural settings by 1) supporting a workshop to explore new methods for measuring the influence of nature on neurocognitive systems and 2) supporting data collection testing these new methods.
JUN WANG, Syracuse University
FELICE FRANKEL, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Drawing-Based Social Learning for Massive Open Online Course Students -- $100,000
Recent studies in multitasking suggest that heavy media multitaskers lack attention focus and in-depth learning. Growing evidence shows that drawing to learn can engage students in deep learning. These researchers aim to develop and test a social learning tool for MOOC students to create and share online drawings of scientific concepts.
DEBRA WEINER,Boston Children's Hospital/Harvard Medical School
KALEV LEETARU, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
WEI LU, University of Michigan
Lifelong Learning Locker, Life-Sciences Linker: Adaptive Learning, Content Management, Framework for Lifelong Learning and to Promote Innovation and Research Collaboration -- $100,000
Lifelong Learning Locker, Life-Sciences Linker will be an Internet-assisted, adaptive-information management, learning, and networking system for use throughout life. Human and algorithmically driven user profiles and adaptive interfaces will enable user-specific personalized content acquisition, organization, and sharing to optimize learning, maintain competency, and facilitate interdisciplinary research. 
A summary of the conference, "The Informed Brain in a Digital World," will be available online in early June at http://www.keckfutures.org