Emory + Georgia Tech AI.Humanity Grants Boost Research to Improve Society and the Quality of Human Life

Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology announced the first recipients of $100,000 seed funding through their collaborative AI.Humanity Seed Grant program.

The AI.Humanity Seed Grant program is an extension of the existing partnership between the two universities forged by Emory’s Constructive collisionsprogramming at the beginning of this year. Grant recipients will use the funding to stimulate new research collaborations and expand existing partnerships to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to improve society and the quality of human life. Projects may incorporate research including, but not limited to, aspects of ethical and social considerations, social justice, health disparities, or biases in AI data.

The winning proposals were selected from a pool of more than a dozen entries from both universities. The recipients of the AI.Humanity Seed Grants are:

Marcela Benítez (Emory University, Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology) and Jacob Abernethy (Georgia Tech, School of Computer Science) for their proposal entitled “AI Forest: Cognition in the Wild”.

Marcela Benitez (left) and Jacob Abernethy

In the proposed study, Benítez and Abernethy plan to develop and implement “smart” test stations for the long-term cognitive assessment and monitoring of wild capuchin monkeys in the Taboga Forest Reserve in Costa Rica. These test stations will rely on AI and deep machine learning to recognize and track wild monkeys in real time, enabling targeted behavioral assessment and cognitive testing.

The stations will also provide a new method for long-term monitoring of the cognitive abilities of wild animals. In doing so, the team will achieve an unprecedented level of control in a wild environment, providing opportunities for multiple studies linking cognitive performance to natural behaviors and ultimately general fitness.

Lance Waller (Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health, Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics) and John Taylor (Georgia Tech, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) for their proposal entitled “Applying Machine Learning Techniques to Improve Epidemiological Models Accounting for Urban Infrastructure Networks, Human Behavioral Change, and Policy Interventions”. Their project will examine new infectious diseases, which can be dangerous and require a rapid public health response, but can be difficult to model, especially in the early stages of a possible major outbreak.

Lance Waller (left) and John Taylor

Features of urban infrastructure networks (eg, transportation networks), which add density and alter the order and structure of contact networks, often accelerate local disease transmission in the event of widespread infectious disease.

The team proposes to extend epidemiological models to incorporate the complex role of local differences in contact networks and the dynamic nature of human-human and human-infrastructure interaction networks in shaping disease transmission, change human behavior and policy interventions in metropolitan areas.

The goal of the project is to provide more accurate results than homogeneous mixture models and remain computationally feasible to guide rapid policy decisions.

Marcos Schechter (Emory University, School of Medicine, Department of Medicine) and Rosa Arriaga (Georgia Tech, School of Interactive Computing) for their proposal entitled “Diabetic Ulcer Computational Sensing System (DUCSS)”.

Marcos Schechter (left) and Rosa Arriaga

Schechter and Arriaga will co-lead a team of collaborative co-researchers as they explore computational approaches to detect changes in diabetic foot ulcers through models that analyze and interpret heterogeneous data and provide AI-driven interfaces that connect patients and clinicians.

The team’s proposed human-centered computational detection system will fill the current gaps and address the clinical challenge of automating wound screening and monitoring by characterizing ulcer severity and wound progression. and predicting wound healing and recurrence. Additionally, the team will focus on underserved and minority communities to promote technologies to reduce disparities.

This pilot proposal will enroll people from underserved communities at Grady Memorial Hospital, a public hospital where more than 250 people are hospitalized with diabetic foot ulcers each year.

Emory’s Senior Vice President for Research, Deborah Bruner, shares her sentiments on pursuing collaborations.

“These teams are coming together to revolutionize AI and promote equity and improved overall quality of human life,” says Bruner. “This is an exciting time for the research departments at Emory and Georgia Tech. Congratulations to each of the winning teams.”

Learn more about Emory’s AI.Humanity Initiative.

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