Week Ending Aug 4, 2017

NSF Research Traineeship program makes 17 new awards
National Science Foundation – July 25, 2017
A National Science Foundation (NSF) program recently awarded 17 projects a total of $51 million to develop and implement bold, new, potentially transformative models for graduate education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.  The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program awarded projects in high-priority, interdisciplinary research areas, including six projects in NSF’s Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS) research initiative and three in its Understanding the Brain (UtB) effort.  “Integration of research and education through interdisciplinary training will prepare a workforce that undertakes scientific challenges in innovative ways,” said Dean Evasius, director of the NSF Division of Graduate Education. “The NSF Research Traineeship awards will ensure that today’s graduate students are prepared to pursue cutting-edge research and solve the complex problems of tomorrow.” Examples of specific areas of research include coastal resilience; urban environmental challenges; data-intensive approaches to solve complex problems (e.g. food security, epidemics); food-energy-water issues in coastal, indigenous, urban or agricultural settings; and brain function.

Colorizing images with deep neural networks
EurekaAlert – July 25, 2017
For decades, image colorization has enjoyed an enduring interest from the public. Though not without its share of detractors, there is something powerful about this simple act of adding color to black and white imagery, whether it be a way of bridging memories between the generations, or expressing artistic creativity. However, the process of manually adding color can be very time consuming and require expertise, with typical professional processes taking hours or days per image to perfect. A team of researchers has proposed a new technique to leverage deep networks and AI, which allows novices, even those with limited artistic ability, to quickly produce reasonable results.  The research, entitled “Real-Time User Guided Colorization with Learned Deep Priors,” is authored by a team at UC Berkeley led by Alexei A. Efros, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. They will present their work at SIGGRAPH 2017, which spotlights the most innovative in computer graphics research and interactive techniques worldwide. The annual conference will be held in Los Angeles, 30 July to 3 August.

University establishes Environmental Resilience Institute
The Cavalier Daily – July 24, 2017
The University recently announced the creation of the new Environmental Resilience Institute, an interdisciplinary institute intended to study environmental changes. “Understanding the environment, how much change is natural and how much is caused by human activity, the ways a changing global climate affects societies, and what actions we can take to create a more desirable future is a complex challenge requiring the actively collaborating investigative minds of researchers and practitioners in many disciplines – the environmental sciences, economics, public policy, engineering, architecture, international law, behavior, the humanities, education, and others,” a press release from the University read. The institute will draw faculty from all 11 schools at the University, along with six new cluster hires in environmental sciences, economics and politics, engineering and architecture. The collaboration of the varied disciplines is intended the provide the institute a broad perspective with which to approach environmental problems. One of the newly hired professors is Scott Doney, a leading expert in climate science and the Kington Professor in Environmental Change.

Baylor social innovation labs take aim at complex problems
Waco Tribune-Herald – July 23, 2017
Areas of higher education institutions are often characterized by departmental “silos” — where professors and staffers teach students and conduct research in the context of their own expertise. Operating outside of these silos, a diverse group of Baylor University faculty and staff are devising plans to untangle some of the world’s most complex problems. A provost’s office initiative called the Baylor Social Innovation Collaborative aims to examine “wicked” problems caused by a multitude of roots leading to unsolvable issues, such as health care crises in India, hunger on college campuses and child migration across Central America.  “They’re intimidating to work on,” said Andy Hogue, a Baylor senior lecturer and director of the Philanthropy and Public Service Program. “In the context of a university, there are problems that don’t belong to any one field or any one discipline. . . . If you try a single-method approach, you might actually make it worse because of the complex nature of it. You push the problem in a different direction.”  Sometimes, accurately defining these problems is a challenge in itself, he said.

Former CDC Editor Finds The Artistic Side Of Science
WABE 90.1 – July 21, 2017
What can the field of medicine learn from art? Polyxeni Potter knows. For over 20 years Potter served as managing editor of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s medical journal “Emerging Infectious Diseases,” which stood out from other journals for publishing — not graphic illustrations of disease on the cover, but classic works of art, from 17th century Dutch masters to Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Frida Kahlo and many more. In 2013, Oxford University Press published “Art in Science: Selections from Emerging Infectious Diseases,” featuring a number of the covers and essays from Potter’s time at the journal. Potter explains that this interdisciplinary approach can aid in our understanding of both art and science. “The divisions that we have now between science and art did not always exist,” she says. “In the early days of human knowledge, people learned everything. Aristotle wrote treatises on poetry but also on physics, biology, he categorized the animals and he studied drama. Shortly after Aristotle, we started to divide up different disciplines. And sometimes the people in the one culture don’t talk at all with the people in the other culture. And that’s a real shame because the two cultures inform each other and they give answers to each other.”