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Modeling, simulation and analytics focus of 2017 multidisciplinary research initiative

September 18, 2017   /   by Michele McDonald

Building on their strengths in computer modeling, simulation and analytics, 10 new multidisciplinary faculty-student teams won seed grant funding this week to expand the knowledge frontier in areas as diverse as better understanding how viruses replicate to improving the health monitoring of offshore oil rigs.

Initiated by Provost S. David Wu, George Mason University’s multidisciplinary research initiative is in its third year. This is the first year that the deans from George Mason’s colleges and schools have joined with the provost to collaboratively fund the projects identified for award, with the provost providing $160,000 and the deans collectively providing $228,000 in funding.  

“The funding provided by the deans and the provost is a reflection of the shared commitment of our academic leaders to promote multidisciplinary research,” said Deb Crawford, Mason’s vice president for research.

This year Mason’s research development team changed the way researchers found compatriots. In the spring Mason researchers from different academic units gathered at idea-testing sessions to share and discuss how state-of-the-art modeling, simulation and analytics methods and tools could be used to solve real-world problems.

After developing project concepts, the 19 teams that formed had 20 minutes to present their projects and field questions posed by a review panel of external experts. Aurali Dade, associate vice president for Research Development, Integrity and Assurance (RDIA), and Rebekah Hersch, RDIA associate director, led the review process.

The teams were ranked on overall quality of the project, promise of the proposing team, potential for external funding, and the clarity and feasibility of proposed project goals and outcomes. Ten projects were selected for seed funding.

“Mason researchers continue to bring their energy and creativity to solve complex problems with cutting-edge techniques,” Dade said. “Working across disciplines can be challenging but enables a broader view and novel approaches. We’re very excited about where these seed grants will lead both in terms of new teams and new solutions.”

The winning projects are:

  • “An Integrative Multidisciplinary Approach to Unravel and Target Virus Replication” by Estela Blaisten-Barojas, Kylene Kehn-Hall, Amarda Shehu
  • “GEST DC Study: Gestational Exposure to Traffic Pollution in the DC Metro Area” by Jenna Krall, Yi-Ching Lee, Vivian Motti, Anna Pollack
  • “Understanding the Physics of Elastically Induced Turbulence in Micro-Fluidic Systems” by Nitin Agrawal, Estela Blaisten-Barojas, Robert Handler
  • “DIVES: Discovering Indicators for Interactions in Finance and Government Sectors” by Amy Best, Julia Ellegood Pfaff, Dieter Pfoser, Matthias Renz, Nektaria Tryfona, Janine R. Wedel
  • “Cancer Health Disparities: Modeling Social, Hospital and Policy Factors Associated with Colorectal Cancer Survival” by Cara Frankenfeld, Timothy Leslie, Nirup Menon, Y. Tony Yang
  • “Interpretable Temporal Mining for Contrastive Driving Behaviors” by Yi-Ching Lee, Jessica Lin, Liang Zhao
  • “Modeling Prospects of Malaria Elimination in Haiti” by Maria Emelianenko, Jenna Krall, Julia Painter, Padmanabhan Seshaiyer, Michael von Fricken
  • “The Creation and Organization of Firms: Theory and Evidence from Bitcoin Mining Pools” by Foteini Baldimtsi, Lin William Cong, Zhiguo He, Jiasun Li
  • “Health Monitoring of Offshore Field Infrastructure” by David Lattanzi, Elham Sahraei, Damoon Soudbakhsh, Feitian Zhang
  • “Experimental and Mathematical Discovery for HIV” by Daniel M. Anderson, Catherine E. Demarino, Maria Emelianenko, Fatah Kashanchi, Daniel O. Pinto, Michelle L. Pleet, Blake Reichmuth