Faculty Grant Awards

Our faculty engage in groundbreaking projects that advance their field and improve lives. Below is a selected list of current grant-funded projects. Learn more about research, creative activities, and innovation at CDM.

a few people at a filming set infront of a green screen 

Virtual Production Stage

Brian Andrews

Grantor: DePaul University Academic Growth Initiative Fund

Virtual production is an emerging filmmaking method that uses computer software tools and large format LED screens to combine on-set performances and virtual computer graphics live in camera in real-time. Virtual production techniques are revolutionizing film production methods and are rapidly being adopted across the professional industry.

This project will build a Virtual Production Stage in conjunction with professional experts in DePaul Cinespace Studios. Courses in virtual production would produce film content on the prototype stage to test the limits of technology, explore academic and creative applications, promote DePaul’s film programs, and be marketed to attract outside investment. The long-term goal of this project is to build and implement a permanent full scale virtual production stage in a partnership with professional film production companies based on the experience and data collected by the Virtual Production Stage Prototype project.

 

Chicago Alliance for Equity in Computer Science (CAFÉCS)

Lucia Dettori

Grantor: National Science Foundation

The Chicago Alliance for Equity in Computer Science (CAFÉCS), is a researcher-practitioner partnership between DePaul, Chicago Public Schools, Loyola University, University of Illinois Chicago, and The Learning Partnership supporting the Computer Science for All Initiative (CS4All) at CPS. The goal of CS4All is to ensure that all CPS high school students take at least one relevant and compelling CS course and middle and elementary school children are exposed to computational thinking integrated in other disciplines.

The goal of CAFÉCS is to design, implement, and study support and accountability frameworks to reach district-wide deployment of the Exploring Computer Science (ECS) course in CPS high schools, which fulfills the recently instituted CS graduation requirement. The project focus on ensuring a fidelity of implementation and long-term sustainability that fully incorporates the ‘equity,’ ‘inquiry,’ and ‘CS concepts’ strands of ECS.

 

CHA + DePaul Youth Partnership

Michael Flores

Grantor: Chicago Housing Authority

Since 2016, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) has partnered with DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media to offer six-week intensives to youth in public housing participating in One Summer Chicago. Through intensives in documentary production, screenwriting, game and graphic design, and photography, high school students are trained by award-winning faculty in CDM’s School of Cinematic Arts and School of Design, mentored by graduate students, taken on a number of experiential field trips, and visited by industry guest speakers. At the core, the programs are designed to provide new economic pathways for minority youth and to provide them with the tools to share their voices with the world.

instructor and student buliding and coding robots 

RI: Small: Collaborative Research: A Modular Approach to Robot Systems Incorporating Compliant and Soft Elements

Isuru Godage

Grantor: National Science Foundation

Assistant Professor Isuru Godage is a recent recipient of a Faculty Early CAREER Development grant, NSF's most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Godage is working to develop the next generation of soft robot design that would transform the field of robotics.

The goal is to provide first responders with a secret weapon — dozens of transformable, soft robots that can be deployed in any opening found around the perimeter of a collapsed building. The robots, which could change into snake or legged robot forms, are capable of adapting to what's in front of them — whether that be a staircase, small sewer line openings or a pool of water. The result is a safe way to alert first responders to survivors the robots find along the way, thus providing a blueprint on where rescue efforts should begin.

The five-year research grant will support Godage as he looks to significantly advance the theory and practice of reconfigurable heterogeneous soft robots in the interconnected areas of design, fabrication, morphological optimization and intelligent control.

Tanu Malik posing infort of a Network  

Advanced Containers for Reproducibility in Computational and Data Science

Tanu Malik

Grantor: National Science Foundation

Reproducibility is the cornerstone of science. In order for scientists to make advancements, they must be able to validate and build on each other’s work. Now that so much science relies on computations and data, many researchers are struggling to share their computational artifacts in ways that are usable for others, says Assistant Professor Tanu Malik.

“We have results that are generated through computational artifacts but are being presented on PDF papers. As a researcher, there are no easy means for verifying the results being presented,” said Malik. “Emailing and sharing through websites are old methods. We need more efficient and usable methods to verify results from complex scientific experiments.”

Now, the National Science Foundation has awarded Malik a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant to support her work to lay the foundation for establishing reproducibility of real-world computational and data science. Malik’s project will also increase awareness of the need for computational reproducibility tools through a research and education plan involving scientists, students and instructors. The $498,889, five-year research grant is NSF’s most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty.

Read more about Dr. Malik’s grant in this press release.

Teacher infront of whiteboard  

Next Generation Networking Lab: NexGeN

Sharief Oteafy

Grantor: DePaul University Academic Growth Initiative Fund

As the Internet of Things (IoT) interweaves itself in our everyday lives, the potential for enhancing our collective experiences is ever-expanding; both in the physical and cyber space. At DePaul, we have the unique advantage of having an urban student body, and diverse faculty engagement, to establish a reputable lab for working on the IoT and tangent domains of user/device interactions.

This project will establish Next Generation Networking lab: DePaul’s NexGeN: the very first IoT lab at DePaul, targeting three distinct goals. First, establishing a hub for IoT-related research and collaboration within CDM and across faculties at DePaul. Second, setting up a space for high-school visits, including one-day “Tinker with IoT” workshops, planned at attracting talent to our diverse programs. Third, establishing an educational hub for faculty to engage with undergraduate and graduate students in IoT research, and join a lab that will build on our collective expertise in this area, along with our urban Chicagoland industrial ties.

Computational Biology and Applied Bioinformatics (CoBaAB) Laboratory

Thiru Ramaraj

Grantor: DePaul University Academic Growth Initiative Fund

Next generation DNA sequencing technologies have reduced the cost and increased the throughput of sequence data. Gone are the days when sequencing was possible only in large genome sequence facilities. It is now accessible, not only to almost all biology labs, but to the public as well. With this accessibility of technologies and availability of genomics data, Computational Biology/Bioinformatics has become an integral and indispensable part of life sciences over the past decade but still very challenging in terms of integrating bioinformatics teaching and research at the undergraduate and graduate level at any higher educational institution.

As part of this project, a Computational Biology and Applied Bioinformatics (CoBaAB) Laboratory will be established. Its mission will be trifold:

1. Collaboration: Institute a collaboration with faculties from relevant departments, centers, and labs at DePaul University.
2. Teaching/Outreach: Establish collaborations with Community Colleges and High School students and setup summer programs where students can visit DePaul University to participate in this program. Also, faculty will organize trips to schools to conduct seminars and bioinformatics summer camps.
3. Research: Serve as a nucleus for fostering bioinformatics research collaboration between faculties at CDM, other units at DePaul University, and other academic, research institutions and companies in and around Chicagoland.

 

Developing a Model for High Production Value Online Programs

Raffaella Settimi-Woods / Theresa Steinbach / GianMario Besana

Grantor: DePaul University Academic Growth Initiative Fund

According to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Education, the number of college students who have taken one or more online courses in the past few years is growing at a fast pace. Not surprisingly, data also show that an increasing number of students are choosing to complete their undergraduate or graduate degrees online.

The Academic Growth and Innovation grant was awarded 1) to support the development of an online MS in Data Science (OL-MSDS) degree with high production value based on the existing graduate degree, and 2) to build a general model to effectively create and support high production value online programs at DePaul University. In addition to the new online courses using higher quality online course production systems, the project also includes the development of a dedicated infrastructure for tutoring, program advising and career counseling for online students and the design of a marketing strategy to recruit online students for online degrees.

Filipo talking to an audience  

National Cybersecurity Teaching Academy

Filipo Sharevski

Grantor: National Security Agency

Assistant Professor Filipo Sharevski’s grant from the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity, housed within the National Security Agency, will bring cybersecurity courses into high school classrooms. Sharevski led the creation of the National Cybersecurity Teaching Academy, a collaboration among 10 institutions throughout the U.S. As the first certification program of its kind for high school teachers, the inaugural program will prepare 90 high school teachers to teach an advanced cybersecurity course. His goal is to support teachers, and in turn to open up future career paths for high school students. “One of the biggest factors in student success is the teacher,” Sharevski says. “Our approach will confer cybersecurity expertise and credibility to teachers, students and schools.”

group pic outside of DePaul CDM entrance 

REU Site: MedIX: Medical Informatics Experiences in Undergraduate Research

Daniela Stan Raicu / Jacob Furst

Grantor: National Science Foundation

The Medical Informatics (MedIX) program’s main objectives are to encourage talented undergraduates to pursue graduate education and to expose students to interdisciplinary research, especially at the border of information technology and medicine.

All of the projects on which students will work are inspired by state-of-the-art research questions in imaging informatics. Students will work as part of faculty-undergraduate teams on new problems ranging from traditional image processing (e.g. liver segmentation and computer-aided diagnosis, breast density assessment for cancer detection) to structured reporting and natural language processing of radiology reports, to workflow and process re-engineering to the application of data mining and ontology-based means for image annotation and markup (e.g. lung nodule detection and interpretation). Ultimately, each project has the long-term potential to increase the quality of healthcare available to people everywhere.

Faculty mentors will conduct tutorials on imaging informatics, conduct biweekly meetings of students and mentors, and create an environment that will expose students to all phases of research and graduate school. Students will participate in defining the direction of their research, give presentations to the group as well as other audiences, write up and publish research results in the format of a conference or journal article, and participate in relevant conferences.

The MedIX REU site will be hosted by two interdisciplinary laboratories: the Medical Informatics Laboratory at DePaul University and the Imaging Research Institute at the University of Chicago; the research environment will offer the students the opportunity to interact with computer scientists, medical physicists, and medical doctors.

a few students using a program 

DePaul Game Studio

Allen Turner / Will Meyers

Grantor: DePaul University Academic Growth Initiative Fund

This funding supports the creation of a new DePaul Game Studio, an interdisciplinary lab that brings together game artists, designers, engineers, sound designers, and producers to work together in an ongoing large studio experience. Yearly public builds and content packs will be released for public consumption and as a resource for future classes. This will be an actual game studio, producing and publishing work that will be shipped to more publicly visible platforms, like Steam, Xbox, PS4, and Switch.

 glove with circuits and lit up l e d lights 

PUSH Studio

LeAnne Wagner

Grantor: DePaul Academic Growth Initiative Fund

As emerging technologies present exciting new opportunities to solve problems and shape our future, the need for human centered design approaches, which value ethics, equity, and human needs, is critically important. This grant will launch Push Studio, an interdisciplinary design studio that will involve DePaul University students and faculty partnering with industry professionals (clients) to apply human-centered design methods to emerging technology challenges. The studio will provide professional human-centered design services in a traditional client-fee model. This project will establish DePaul as an innovative leader in design and emerging technology, while providing unique learning and career development opportunities for students.