Archive for the ‘research horizons’ category


CADENS Seeking Data and Visualizations

November 25th, 2015

CADENSDoes your research generate, analyze, and/or visualize data using advanced digital resources?

CADENS is looking for scientific data to visualize or existing data visualizations to weave into larger documentary narratives in a series of fulldome digital films and TV programs aimed at broad public audiences. Visualizations of your work could reach millions of people, amplifying its greater societal impacts!

The deadline to submit your application for the next documentary production is November 30, 2015. It’s easy—just answer a few questions on the web form found here

The process for selecting scientific data and visualizations to be included in CADENS projects is unlike typical proposal review procedures. This selection process involves visualization experts, a science advisory committee, and other stakeholders in an ongoing process to consider a variety of science stories.

CADENS (The Centrality of Advanced Digitally ENabled Science) is a National Science Foundation-supported project to increase digital literacy and inform the general public about computational and data-enabled discovery. It is led by Donna Cox, director of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, which has created data-driven visualizations seen by millions of people in productions for planetariums, museums, and science television programs. Other project collaborators are Thomas Lucas, producer/director of more than 30 major science documentary films, and the Blue Waters and Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) projects.

Answers to frequently asked questions and other information can be found here. Or you can contact

Highlights from the GCTC Kick-Off Event

November 24th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.36.53 PMThe following blog post is from Sokwoo Rhee, the Associate Director of Cyber-Physical Systems Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He is leading the Global City Teams Challenge that had its kick-off event in early November


NIST and US Ignite are pleased to report that the Global City Teams Challenge Kick-off on November 12 and 13th was a great success. Thank you to all who joined us in person, via webcast and at satellite Kick-off events in Chicago, Raleigh, and Toronto.

Plenary programs included 27 speakers representing government agencies, non-profits and private sector. If you missed any of these presentations, you can catch-up here. Copies of the slides that the plenary speakers used in their presentations can be found here.

Of course, the Kick-off event also included unique opportunities for networking and GCTC team-formation. Thirteen teams presented during the report-out session on Friday, November 13. The slides for each of the project team report-outs can be found here. Additionally, pages for each of these projects have been uploaded to the GCTC website and are available for your review.

Please Join Us!

Now that the new round of GCTC is officially underway, we hope you will consider joining us as a participant. For anyone interested in joining the GCTC, there are three potential next steps:

  • Contact the team leader for one or more of the proposed GCTC Action Clusters. Many of the action cluster pages on the GCTC website include contact information you can use to connect with any of the proposed Action Clusters. If you would like to connect with a team where no team lead information is available, please contact
  • Submit a GCTC project proposal. To do so, please complete this project worksheet and send it to and
  • Join the newly formed GCTC group on LinkedIn. We hope our new LinkedIn group page will facilitate helpful networking and team-building. Join the GCTC LinkedIn Group to share your areas of interest/expertise and connect with LinkedIn group members to develop project ideas.

For GCTC team leaders, Bill Maguire and I intend to start reaching out to each of you to discuss your projects and identify how NIST and US Ignite might help support your Action Cluster. Please contact us at and, if you would like to schedule a call to discuss your project.

Two Notable Announcements at the Kick-Off:

GCTC Partners IBM and Intel announced the availability of resources for GCTC teams. Intel is making available Intel® IoT Developer Kits (“Dev Kits”) to qualified teams participating in the GCTC. To apply, submit an application before December 18, 2015. IBM is making available to GCTC Participants an extended free trial of the Bluemix cloud platform. Sign up information can be found here.

NIST announced that the First International Workshop on Science of Smart City Operations and Platforms Engineering with Global City Teams Challenge (SCOPE w/GCTC) will take place on April 11, 2016 in Vienna, Austria. This conference is an opportunity for the GCTC teams and smart city stakeholders to present and publish their technical accomplishments. To learn more or submit a paper, please visit

Best Regards,

Sokwoo Rhee
Associate Director of Cyber-Physical Systems Program
National Institute of Standards and Technology

New NIH Prize Competition to Advance Open Science

November 10th, 2015

Open Science Prize LogoThe National Institutes of Health (NIH) has partnered with London-based Wellcome Trust and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to launch a global science competition for new products to advance “open science,” a movement to make scientific research data broadly accessible to the public.

From the NIH news release:

The volume of digital information generated by biomedical research often called “big data” is growing at a rapidly increasing pace. Researchers’ ability to derive knowledge from data is hindered by their ability to find, access and use it. The goal of the Open Science Prize is to support the development and prototyping of services, tools and platforms to overcome these hurdles to ensure data can be used to advance discovery and spur innovation.

Up to six teams of technology experts and researchers stand to win $80,000 each to develop their ideas into a prototype or to advance an existing early stage prototype. The prototype judged to have the greatest potential to further open science will receive $230,000.

The first phase of the competition is accepting applications through Feb. 29, 2016. Six teams will be selected based on the advice of a panel of experts to receive the prize money to advance their ideas to prototypes, and will be required to submit their prototypes by Dec. 1, 2016. The overall winner is expected to be selected on Feb. 28, 2017.

Please see the Open Science Prize website for more information.


NIH Frontiers in Science Webinar- Got Data? Building a Sustainable Ecosystem for Data Driven Research

November 4th, 2015

Francine BurmanThe Office of the Associate Director for Data Science (ADDS) at the National Institute of Health (NIH) invites you to attend Got Data? Building a Sustainable Ecosystem for Data Driven Research as part of its Frontiers in Science webinar series.

The Frontiers in Science series brings ideas at the forefront of data science to the NIH and biomedical science communities. Lectures, webinars, and workshops in this series are intended to inspire biomedical data science innovation and exploration.

TITLE:  Got Data? Building a Sustainable Ecosystem for Data Driven Research

DATE: Thursday, November 5, 2015, 4 – 5PM

LOCATION: NIH Main Campus, Building 35A Room 620/630. The event will be broadcasted live here.

SPEAKER:  Dr. Francine Berman is the Edward P. Hamilton Distinguished Professor in Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Innovation in a digital world presupposes that the data will be there when you need it, but will it? Without sufficient data infrastructure and attention to the stewardship and preservation of digital data, data may become inaccessible or lost. This is particularly problematic for data generated by sponsored research projects where the focus is on innovation rather than infrastructure, and support for stewardship and preservation may be short-term. In this presentation, Dr. Fran Berman discusses sustainability, infrastructure, and data, and explores the opportunities and challenges of creating a viable ecosystem for the data on which current and future research and innovation increasingly depend.

For information, please visit the NIH Frontiers in Data Science Website

NIH “Frontiers in Science” Webinar- Data-level Metrics

October 27th, 2015

Martin FennerThe Office of the Associate Director for Data Science (ADDS) at the National Institute of Health (NIH) has launched a new “Frontiers in Science” webinar series

This series brings ideas at the forefront of data science to the NIH and biomedical science communities. Lectures, webinars, and workshops in this series are intended to inspire biomedical data science innovation and exploration. Many of these events are co-sponsored by individual NIH Institutes and Centers in order to highlight areas of data science that are of relevance or interest to particular biomedical domains.

The next speaker is Dr. Martin Fenner from DataCite, who will speak on Data-level Metrics on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 from 11:00 AM- 12:00 PM EST.

Martin Fenner has been the DataCite Technical Director since August 2015. From 2012 to 2015 he was technical lead for the PLOS Article-Level Metrics project. Martin has a medical degree from the Free University of Berlin and is a Board-certified medical oncologist.


The DataONE repository network, California Digital Library and Public Library of Science (PLOS) from October 2014 October 2015 work on a NSF-funded project to explore metrics –  including citations, downloads and social media –  for about 150,000 datasets. This presentation will summarize the major hurdles to make this work, the most important findings, and some ideas to go forward, including implementation as a production service.

This webinar is co-sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as part of the CBIIT Speaker Series.

The talk will be webcast using this link, the password is $Peakerseries15. The dial-in for the audio only is 1-855-244-8681. The event number is 733 789 875.

See the NIH Frontiers in Data Science website for the list of upcoming speakers. 


Great Innovative Idea- Acquiring Object Experiences at Scale

October 7th, 2015

Stefanie Tellex

The following Great Innovative Idea is from John Oberlin, Maria Meier, Tim Kraska, and Stefanie Tellex in the Computer Science Department at Brown University.

Their Acquiring Object Experiences at Scale was one of the winners at the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) sponsored Blue Sky Ideas Track Competition at the AAAI-RSS Special Workshop on the 50th Anniversary of Shakey: The Role of AI to Harmonize Robots and Humans in Rome, Italy. It was a half day workshop on July 16th during the Robotics Science and Systems (RSS) 2015 Conference.

The Innovative Idea

Baxter is a two armed manipulator robot which which is gaining popularity in the research and industrial communities. At the moment, there are around 300 Baxters being used for research around the world. In our paper we proposed a wide scale deployment of our recent software Ein, which runs on Baxter, to build and share a database which describes how to recognize, localize, and manipulate every day objects. If all 300 research Baxters ran Ein continuously for 15 days, we could scan one million objects. Robot time is valuable. We would not ask the research community to sacrifice their daylight hours on our project, so we designed Ein to run autonomously. Running Ein, Baxter can scan a series of objects without human interaction, so we envision that a participating lab could leave a pile of objects on a table next to their Baxter when they leave the lab for the night, returning the next morning to find the objects scanned and put away. With this level of automation, the human burden is transferred from operating the robot to finding the objects, a substantially less tedious task. The Million Object Challenge is our effort to collaborate with the broader Baxter community in order to scan and manipulate on million objects.


Big data has a potential impact on every research community. Robots have been manipulating objects for a long time, but until recently this has involved a lot of manual input from a human operator. Ein enables Baxter to collect images and 3D data about an object so that it can tell it apart from other objects, determine its pose, and attempt to grasp it. Beyond this, Ein uses feedback from interacting with the object to adapt to difficult situations. Even if an object has surface properties which make it difficult to image, or physical properties which make initial grasp attempts unsuccessful, Baxter can practice localizing and manipulating the object over a period of time and remember the approaches which were successful. This autonomous behavior allows the collection of data on a whole new scale, opening up new possibilities for robotic research. Successful methods in machine learning (such as SVMs, CRFs, and CNNs) are powerful but require massive amounts of data. Applying these methods to their full capability is next to impossible when data is collected arduously by humans. By collecting data on a large scale, we can begin to tackle category level inference in object detection, pose estimation, and grasp proposal in ways that have never been done before.

Other Research

Stefanie heads the Humans to Robots Laboratory in the Computer Science department at Brown. The Million Object Challenge constitute only one of three main efforts being undertaken there. The second effort is the Multimodal Social Feedback project, which was spearheaded by Miles Eldon (now graduated) and is being actively developed by Emily Wu, both advanced undergraduates at the time of their work. The Social Feedback Project seeks to coordinate human and robot activities by allowing both parties to communicate with each other through speech and gesture. This allows a human to connect with Baxter using the same multimodal channels that they would use to communicate with a fellow human. Social feedback allows the robot to communicate with humans, and the results of that communication are fed to Ein, where it is used to specify interactions with objects. Every object scanned for the Million Object Challenge is another object which can be included in human to robot communications.

The third effort is called Burlapcraft, and is carried by undergraduate researcher Krishna Aluru and postdoctoral researcher James MacGlashan. Krishna created a mod for the popular and versatile game Minecraft which allows the application of James’ reinforcement learning and planning toolkit BURLAP within Minecraft dungeons. Burlapcraft has direct experimental applications within Minecraft, but also enables the collection of data which can be applied to other domains.

Researcher’s Background

Stefanie and John have both been fascinated with the idea of intelligent machines for their entire lives. Whereas Stefanie has sought to build a machine capable of holding a decent conversation, John has focused on the more primitive skills of sight and movement. These complementary priorities come together in their multimodal research, treating the robot as an entire entity.

Stefanie has a strong background in Computer Science and Engineering from MIT, where she has earned multiple degrees including her doctorate. Now she is an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department at Brown, where she continues her award winning work. John has studied Mathematics and Computer Science at FSU, UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, and Brown, where he is working on his doctorate.


Stefanie’s Website-

To view more Great Innovative Ideas, please click here.