U-LINK Projects

U-LINK Social Equity Rapid Response Awardees

Antiracism and climate justice dialogues to build an interdisciplinary course and research inquiry

Antiracism and climate justice dialogues to build an interdisciplinary course and research inquiry

Summary: This team will organize series of presentations and conversations focused on antiracism and climate justice (the idea that adaptation to climate change must be done in fair and equitable ways, so that the consequences for residents of all backgrounds are transparent and responsible). The dialogues will provide a necessary forum and elevate the voices, experiences, and ideas of BIPOC leaders. They will also create groundwork for longer-term scholarly activities on campus, such as a team-taught interdisciplinary class, seminar series, and community of climate justice scholars and researchers engaged with societal partners. The design and implementation of the climate justice dialogues will be highly collaborative, building from the insights of faculty members, staff, and students. A leadership advisory team will inform each project stage, ensuring widespread participation on campus and among the Miami climate justice community. The team will build from existing relationships to invest in and partner with the Black community and social justice community groups in Miami.

Team: Katharine Mach, Marine Ecosystems & Society; Scotney Evans, Educational and Psychological Studies; Armen Henderson, Hospital Medicine; Abigail Fleming, School of Law

Building Native American and Global Indigenous Studies at the University of Miami

Building Native American and Global Indigenous Studies at the University of Miami

Summary: This interdisciplinary project aims to make the Indigenous past and present of South Florida, our hemisphere, and the world a more meaningful realm of scholarly inquiry and social engagement for the University of Miami community. Recognizing the need to support and amplify Native American and Indigenous voices across UM campuses, this plan will provide an immediate opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students, and the University community at large, to consider the complex histories, lived experiences, and perspectives of Native peoples in relation to multiple areas of knowledge and, more importantly, to their own lives. Among other activities, the team plans to provide course development funds to support new courses, sponsor community engagement events, and compile resources for a new Native American and Global Indigenous Studies (NAGIS) webpage, with the ultimate goal of submitting a complete proposal for the NAGIS Studies Program at UM.

Team: Tracy Devine Guzmán, Modern Languages & Literatures; Traci Ardren, Anthropology; Caleb Everett, Anthropology; Kate Ramsey, History; William Pestle, Anthropology; Kunal Parker, School of Law; Meryl Shriver-Rice, Abess Center for Ecosystem Science & Policy; Daniel Suman, Marine Ecosystems & Society; Shatha Baydoun, Richter Library; Viviana Diaz-Balsera, Modern Languages & Literatures; Jodi Sypher, Lowe Museum of Art

Community-based Budgeting as an Antidote to Police Violence

Community-based Budgeting as an Antidote to Police Violence

Summary: Various communities want to defund police departments and direct funds to other ways of organizing and caring for neighborhoods. But because community members have been excluded from the budget process in the past, most local persons do not know how to proceed. Therefore, their demands for defunding may be perceived as ill-conceived and, possibly, irrational. Without knowing how to organize their community, plan a budget, and engage local authorities, their call for change may go unheeded or be treated as simply utopian. This team will help communities learn how they can work with government officials to redesign a budget that matches the community’s priorities. Through this process, research shows that residents can gain confidence in local government and they may be empowered to continue supporting their community.

Team: John Murphy, Sociology; Scotney Evans, Educational and Psychological Studies; Miguel Minutti-Meza, Accounting; Francisco Delgado, Finance

COVID-19: Evaluating Fault Lines in the Health of Our Communities and Developing Community-Centered Solutions

COVID-19: Evaluating Fault Lines in the Health of Our Communities and Developing Community-Centered Solutions

Summary: Current health data for historically low-income, underserved communities in Miami reveals substantial inequities across a wide number of health indicators from infant mortality and cancer incidence to airborne diesel particulate matter. Through the School of Law’s Community Equity, Innovation, and Resource Lab, existing relationships with community organizations in west Coconut Grove reveal that public access to this data is challenging. Therefore, this project will collect new data about human and environmental health conditions in this community, as well as offer outreach and education about this information. The team will also investigate public and private health care service delivery and resource allocation practices and determine how these factors affect health outcomes for residents of the community. Then, team members will work closely with local stakeholders to assist their community in law and policy reform campaigns at local, state, and federal levels.

Team: Anthony Alfieri, School of Law; Shirin Shafazand, Medicine; Abraham Parrish, Richter Library; Alejandro Mantero, Clinical & Translational Science Institute; Timothy Loftus, School of Law

Early Childhood System Integration to Promote Community Resilience and Equity for Children of Color

Early Childhood System Integration to Promote Community Resilience and Equity for Children of Color

Summary: This team’s primary goals are to work within communities of color using a racial equity lens to (1) grow equitable relationships across systems for early childhood, (2) validate community knowledge of children, and (3) strengthen the capacity of local agencies to identify and access resources needed to support children. The team aims to incorporate indicators identified by communities as assets in County annual reports on the state of young children, as are published by The Children’s Trust. The team will accomplish this by working closely with community agencies to develop further an asset-based, resilience-focused tool that incorporates strength-based indicators. In addition to the team’s IDEAS Consortium partner leader steering committee, the team will employ an intentional process of community engagement with 3 community-based agencies with whom the team has worked closely, and who face historical and systemic racial and social inequities.

Team: Rebecca Shearer, Psychology; Imelda Moise, Geography; Robin Bachin, History; Ruby Natale, Pediatrics; Christine Delgado, Psychology; Jeff Brosco, Pediatrics

Joint Academic Nurtureship for Underrepresented Students (JANUS): A Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Initiative

Joint Academic Nurtureship for Underrepresented Students (JANUS): A Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Initiative

Summary: Just 11 percent of college students in the United States are Black, and only 3.9 percent of these students hold bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Just 1 percent of those STEM degrees go to Black women. With those figures as a backdrop, this team—whose work will also be funded by the University’s Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center—aims to create a STEM mentorship and research internship program for Black University of Miami undergraduates, as well as local public high school students. As part of this program, team leaders will offer stipends to students that would offset the loss of part-time jobs, as well as remote delivery to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions. Faculty members who agree to participate will be exposed to educational modules that explore the history of anti-Black racism in the United States, and the effort will partner with existing University mentoring programs, including the School of Education and Human Development’s Inspire U Academy, which pairs University Hammond Scholars with students from historically Black high schools in Miami, and the First Star University of Miami Academy, a college preparatory program for youth impacted by the child welfare system.

Team: Ashutosh Agarwal, Biomedical Engineering; Andrew Dykstra, Biomedical Engineering; Lunthita Duthely, Obstetrics and Gynecology; Wendy Cavendish, Teaching and Learning; Lucina Uddin, Psychology; Sylvia Daunert, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Katie Gant, Miami Project to Cure Paralysis

Racism in America: Conversations Beyond Black and White

Racism in America: Conversations Beyond Black and White

Summary: Racism is multi-dimensional. Among the many societal fissures laid bare in the summer of 2020, the differences in understanding structural racism among first generation immigrant parents and their American children is understudied. The primary focus of this project is to initiate, document and study inter-generational dialogues about anti-Black racism within various immigrant communities in South Florida. These dialogues will be led by youth in these communities and explore anti-Black racism and pathways to its dismantling. This project proposes to explore these differences in Latin American, Caribbean, Asian, and African immigrants over a period of 2 years through specific youth centered engagement, research, and public articulation (through media production). Outcomes of this project will include a documentary film, podcast, and other scholarly and creative works such as essays, poetry, and short films on the dialogues.

Team: Sanjeev Chatterjee, Cinema and Interactive Media; Imelda Moise, Geography; John Beier, Public Health Sciences; Jaswinder Bolina, English; Sumita Chatterjee, Gender and Sexuality Studies; José Szapocznik, Public Health Sciences

Facial Profiling: Defendant Physical Characteristics, Machine Learning Analytics, and Criminal Justice Disparities in Miami-Dade County

Facial Profiling: Defendant Physical Characteristics, Machine Learning Analytics, and Criminal Justice Disparities in Miami-Dade County

Summary: This project seeks to document the extent to which colorism shapes criminal justice outcomes and facial recognition technologies by analyzing the mugshots of 200,000 arrestees linked to court records in Miami-Dade County. In working with the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office, if the team finds that skin color discrimination in Miami courts exists, it could constitute a credible enough showing of discrimination to spur litigation. Also, since the Miami-Dade County Public Defender is committed to evidence-based methods for reducing disparities in the county’s criminal justice system, the team’s results could spur equal protection litigation surrounding colorism in courts or the use of facial recognition technology. In addition, the team hopes to encourage local police to adopt evidence-based guidelines for the use of facial recognition technology.

Team: Nicholas Petersen, Sociology; Tamara Lave, School of Law; Ubbo Visser, Computer Science

Anti-Bias Training Across the Data-Life Cycle: Project Data Inclusion

Anti-Bias Training Across the Data-Life Cycle: Project Data Inclusion

Summary: Despite a growing awareness of the lack of representation for women and communities of color in large-scale data sets, no standard educational approach to address discriminatory bias exists across data science fields. This team aims to design and offer community-based, anti-bias training in order to raise awareness of these inequities. In addition, they will address implicit and explicit racial and intersectional bias during data collection by first focusing on public health information. This team hopes that its work will address the lack of inclusion and equity in the data life cycle, and through anti-bias training interventions, it will target students and professionals across disciplines. Ultimately, these students can become ambassadors to educate and engage in anti-bias efforts in their future professional contexts.

Team: Jennifer Kahn, Teaching and Learning; Soyeon Ahn, Education and Psychological Studies, Debbiesiu Lee, Education and Psychological Studies, Ching-Hua Chuan, Cinema and Interactive Media; Patricia Jones, Medicine

Phase I 2020

From Individual to Collective Wellbeing: Smart Technology Ecosystem for Personalized Mood Modulation

From Individual to Collective Wellbeing: Smart Technology Ecosystem for Personalized Mood Modulation

Comprising a computer scientist, a musicologist, a research methodologist, a health communication strategist, and a music librarian, this team aims to develop a “smart technology ecosystem” that, taking on the role of a personal DJ, will select and play music to modulate the user’s moods. Citing research that shows music can reduce anxiety and stress, induce sleep, and soothe depressive disorders, the team plans to develop a smart device app that processes the user’s electroencephalogram (EEG) signals and plays professionally composed music and sounds to adjust the mood reflected by their brain activity. “This project capitalizes on the power of emerging technologies to enhance individual and collective wellbeing,” the team wrote in its proposal. “We truly believe that our work will greatly improve the overall wellbeing of individuals currently coping with tumultuous environments and turbulent societies, and in turn will create more connected and healthy communities.”

Team Members: Ching-Hua Chuan, Cinema and Interactive Media; Soyoon Kim, Communication Studies, Juan Chattah, Music Theory and Composition; Soyeon Ahn, Educational and Psychological Studies; Jennifer Britton, Psychology; and Amy M. Strickland, Music Library.

Augmented Reality for Applied Behavior Analysis—Evaluations, Creations, and Applications

Augmented Reality for Applied Behavior Analysis—Evaluations, Creations, and Applications

This team is exploring how augmented and mixed reality could transform interventions for people on the autism spectrum who have difficulty learning everyday life, safety, or employment skills, like washing their hands, crossing the street, or sorting merchandise. Members hypothesize that by using virtual or augmented reality to simulate the real world people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder have to navigate, therapists could resolve the shortcomings of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which uses scientific principles to decrease problem behaviors that interfere with learning and social functioning. But ABA interventions are not only costly and labor intensive, they impart skills in highly controlled environments, which don’t equate with mastering skills in the real world. Team members believe that virtual and augmented systems could resolve that problem by, for example, placing trainees on simulated streets that are true to life in every way but the danger. “Virtual and augmented systems are capable of creating realistic approximations of real-world conditions that would allow ABA intervention to conduct training on important skills in ways that…have never been possible before,’’ the team wrote in its proposal. Which “makes this a very new, unexplored domain of research that has the potential to help solve a large societal problem and change the lives of individuals with autism around the world.”

Team Members: Mohamad Hammam Alsafrjalani, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Mohamad Abdel-Mottaleb, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Kim Grinfeder, Cinema and Interactive Media; Anibal Gutierrez, Psychology; Yanerys Leon, Psychology; and Vanessa Rodriguez, Learning and Research Services.

Characterization and Prevention of Hazardous Occupational Noise and its Negative Health Consequences

Characterization and Prevention of Hazardous Occupational Noise and its Negative Health Consequences

This team ultimately hopes to prevent what members describe as the “under-diagnosed, under-monitored, under-reported condition” of noise-induced ear damage that, despite being “completely preventable and avoidable” affects hundreds of millions of people around the world. Hearing loss is no longer a condition related to aging or genetics, but thanks to ever-increasing exposures to occupational and recreational noise, is the third most prevalent chronic health condition after arthritis and heart disease. Members plan to collaborate with Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Firefighter Cancer Initiative, the Parkland-Coral Springs Fire Department, and the Miami VA Healthcare System’s audiology program to characterize the risk factors of hearing loss for people in high-risk occupations, like firefighters and the military, and to identify content for preventative and therapeutic programs. As the team noted, existing noise prevention programs are inadequately enforced or poorly adhered to and usually address only high-level noise, even though “a critical mass of evidence points to the long-term damage’’ that repetitive low- and moderate-level noise exposure causes to the inner ear.

Team Members: Hillary Snapp, Otolaryngology; Natasha Schaefer Solle, Medicine; Suhrud Rajguru, Biomedical Engineering and Otolaryngology; Barbara Millet, Cinema and Interactive Media; Uzma Khan, Marketing; and Zsuzsanna Nemeth, Learning, Research, and Clinical Information Services at Calder Library.

Developing Integrated Solutions for Sustainably Feeding the World, Improving Coastal Water Quality, and Building Resiliency in Coastal Communities

Developing Integrated Solutions for Sustainably Feeding the World, Improving Coastal Water Quality, and Building Resiliency in Coastal Communities

This team aims to address the myriad challenges that the growing aquaculture industry faces as it strives to fill the demand for seafood at a time when overfishing, climate change, and environmental degradation threaten the world’s marine resources. The team notes, “Nearly half of the world’s human population relies on the oceans for their primary source of food, yet experts agree that wild food production capacity of the oceans has plateaued and will likely decline in coming decades.” By identifying, developing, and testing integrated farming systems and species for aquaculture development along the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean coastlines, the team hopes to begin tackling the regulatory, biological, economic, political, engineering, and health challenges that may stand in the way. For example, they note that different locales will have different engineering requirements to withstand the elements and remain affordable and efficient. “Through innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and stakeholder engagement, the results of this project will have far-reaching impacts not only in the University of Miami’s region of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, but also throughout Latin America and in tropical coastal communities around the world,” the team wrote.

Team Members: John Stieglitz, Marine Ecosystems and Society; Daniel Benetti, Marine Ecosystems and Society; Daniel O. Suman, Marine Ecosystems and Society; Brian K. Haus, Ocean Sciences; Michael Touchton, Political Science; Daniel E. Rothen, Division of Veterinary Resources; and Angela C. Clark, Rosenstiel School Library.

On the Move: Climate Migration and Retreat in South Florida, the Caribbean, and Beyond

On the Move: Climate Migration and Retreat in South Florida, the Caribbean, and Beyond

Consisting of a climate scientist, artist, economist and law librarian, this team plans to inform and facilitate the discussions that will lay the groundwork for the pragmatic policies needed to support the migration and retreat of communities in South Florida, the Caribbean, and beyond that are affected by rising seas. Members plan to combine their respective expertise in managed retreat, community engagement through participatory art, economic investment and trade analyses, and policy and legislation to ensure that future policies equitably manage the exposure of people and assets in a changing climate. “Exposure to climate risks—that is, people and assets in harm’s way—is a major problem that will increase in severity over the years and decades to come,” the team’s proposal said. “Under scenarios of continued high emissions of greenhouse gases, 4-13 million people in the United States will face risk of permanent inundation due to sea level rise by 2100, with potential for displacement of 72–187 million people globally over this time frame.”

Team Members: Katharine Mach, Marine Ecosystems and Society; Xavier Cortada, Art and Art History; Ian Wright, Economics; and Nicholas Mignanelli, School of Law Library.


Phase II 2019

Countering online networked extremist conspiracy theories

Countering online networked extremist conspiracy theories

Due to a lack of gatekeeping, misinformation can spread unimpeded on social media. The team’s Phase II team’s overarching goals are (1) to design a Unified Network COgnitive Virtual Ethnography Rhetorical (UNCOVER) Model that quantitatively captures the causal processes and propagation work will focus on the forms of misinformation that cause the most harm: extremist conspiracy theories (ECTs). ECTs have motivated not just incorrect beliefs, but also polarization, prejudice, criminal behavior, and political violence. An online ECT about white genocide, for example, recently motivated social media users to murder fifty people at two New Zealand mosques, eleven people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, and one mother in a California synagogue. Despite the ubiquity and consequences of online ECTs, scholars do not yet understand the links between ECT content, readers' cognitive and psychological processes, and network amplification. Moreover, scholars do not know how to design countermeasures to combat the spread of beliefs in ECTs. The dynamics of how ECT beliefs spread in online social networks; and (2) to develop effective countermeasures to curb the spread of ECTs and mitigate their harmful effects. The team will take a broad approach that links ECT content, cognitive and psychological processes, and social networks in a unique model that allows for the design of effective countermeasures for stymieing ECTs. To that end, the team will adopt a multidisciplinary approach blending text and visual rhetorical analysis, computational and cognitive linguistics, social and behavioral science, network science, and signal and information processing.

Team Members: Manohar Murthi, Electrical & Computer Engineering; Kamal Premaratne, Electrical & Computer Engineering; Michelle Seelig, Cinema and Interactive Media; John Funchion, English; Caleb Everett, Anthropology; Stefan Wuchty, Computer Science; Casey Klofstad, Political Science; Joseph Uscinski, Political Science; Lisa Baker, Richter Library

Hyperlocalism: Transforming the paradigm for climate adaptation

Hyperlocalism: Transforming the paradigm for climate adaptation

Throughout Phase I, the HyLo team identified climate adaptation initiatives locally and across the US and engaged advocacy groups working to inform and empower individuals in climate change awareness. The team explored the gaps between current policy and neighborhood interests and assessed the potential impact of granular scale—hyperlocal—data, and correspondingly scaled and designed community engagement to bridge this gap. The team focused on analyzing Miami’s geologic, built, and social environment’s risks and assets to be able to discern the potential for Hyperlocalism to move climate adaptation discourse toward a people-first perspective, and tested a method to invert dominant processes of top-down communication to bring community voices to the forefront. Building on this initial work, the team will advance their Integrated Climate Risk Assessment (ICRA) protocol through a process of analysis, engagement and evaluation with their community partners, the CLEO Institute and Catalyst Miami, Miami-Dade County and City of Miami Resilience Officers and teams, and The Nature Conservancy in Florida Cities Manager to develop an innovative and replicable model for community member and policy-maker communication. Expected results include new co-produced knowledge to inform climate adaptation strategies; increased coordination across key stakeholders in climate adaptation, and more effective individual, neighborhood and community climate adaptation decision-making. The team believes that the Hyperlocalism methods and ICRA protocol can enable communities to develop a broader array of physical, social, and economic adaptation measures, and that this process itself can serve to strengthen existing culture and communities.

Team Members: Amy Clement, Atmospheric Science; Tyler Harrison, Communication Studies; Joanna Lombard, School of Architecture; Sam Purkis, Marine Geosciences; Gina Maranto, English; Angela Clark, Libraries

Next generation of coastal structures: Feasibility, quantification, and optimization

Next generation of coastal structures: Feasibility, quantification, and optimization

Coastal structures such as bridges, breakwaters, seawalls, and causeways will be critical in mitigating the effect of climate change. A systemic and comprehensive approach to coastal structure design should capture both the overall community-specific dynamics, as well as functional criteria of cost, ecology, and livability. During Phase I, an integrated research team was formed to address the multi-dimensional functionality of human-altered shorelines. Models of next generation coastal structures were visualized, and 3D-printed, based on site visits, stakeholder discussions, and preliminary research on housing prices and on biophilic concrete. During Phase II, the team will adapt model designs from Phase I to the particulars of carefully chosen test sites, and perform several site-specific measurements to develop prototypes that improve upon currently used designs. Design and material modifications will be carried out in response to the measurement outputs, which will then be used to optimize these structures. The ultimate deliverable from this project will be the development of multi-functional, optimized, next generation coastal structures with demonstrated performance significantly better than existing coastal structures. The team will then work closely with city officials to ensure that these designs can be field deployed in the near future.

Team Members: Esber Andiroglu, Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering; David Kelly, Economics; Joel Lamere, Architecture; Billie Lynn, Sculpture; Renato Molina, Marine Ecosystems and Society; James Sobczak, STEM librarian for Learning and Research Services Kathleen Sullivan Sealey, Biology; and Prannoy Suraneni, Civil Architectural and Environmental Engineering


Phase I 2019

Facial Profiling: Defendant Physical Characteristics, Machine Learning Analytics, and Criminal Justice Disparities in Miami-Dade County

Facial Profiling: Defendant Physical Characteristics, Machine Learning Analytics, and Criminal Justice Disparities in Miami-Dade County

Race-based disparities in criminal justice outcomes are a pervasive problem in the United States. Despite increased societal concern about racial and ethnic disparities, there is a disturbing lack of research on the topic. Combining Computer Science with Sociology and Law, the U-LINK ‘Race and Facial Profiling’ team will determine how defendant physical characteristics and facial recognition software influence criminal justice outcomes. Using an unprecedented data set combining mugshot photos and court records in Miami-Dade County, team members will work together to develop a machine learning model to test whether arrestees’ physical features lead to disparate punishment outcomes for racial/ethnic minorities. This work will also shed light on how facial recognition software “sees” race/ethnicity, of critical importance as more and more police agencies use this software. Ultimately the team hopes to substantively advance racial and ethnic justice; “If we can show that racial disparities exist in a sample of our size,” the team writes in their proposal, “…[it] might bring to light improper race-based decision-making, which could then be challenged in the courts.”

Team Members: Nicholas Petersen, Sociology; Ubbo Visser, Computer Science; Marisa Omori, Sociology; Tamara Lave, Law; Cameron Riopelle, data services librarian

Personalized Treatment After Brain Injury: Combining Biological and Cognitive Factors with Machine Learning Approaches

Personalized Treatment After Brain Injury: Combining Biological and Cognitive Factors with Machine Learning Approaches

Each year, 1.5 million new traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases are documented in the United States – six times as many as breast cancer, spinal cord injury, HIV infection, and multiple sclerosis combined. Despite the devastating impacts of TBI on the millions affected, surprisingly few effective treatment strategies exist. One explanation for the lack of viable treatment options is that brain injuries are the result of a multitude of causes, and vary widely in severity, so that the patient population is extremely heterogeneous. This heterogeneity, the U-LINK ‘Brain Injury’ team writes, causes “treatments that are successful in one case [to] fail in many others.” For this proposal, experts from Neurological Surgery, Computer Science, Psychology, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation are joining forces to develop personalized treatments using ground-breaking machine learning technology. “We believe [an individualized approach] is now possible due to recent breakthroughs in machine learning, particularly in an area known as deep learning,” the team explained. The team ultimately hopes to use these state-of-the-art techniques to discover individualized treatments for the varied symptoms and challenges faced by victims of this “silent epidemic”.

Team Members: Helen Bramlett, Neurological Surgery; W. Dalton Dietrich, Neurological Surgery; Odelia Schwartz, Computer Science; Dilip Sarkar, Computer Science; Lucina Uddin, Psychology; Lauren Shapiro, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Zsuzsa Nemeth, reference librarian and research liaison

Hyper-localism: Transforming the Paradigm for Climate Adaptation

Hyper-localism: Transforming the Paradigm for Climate Adaptation

For coastal communities facing unlivable conditions as soon as 2100, finding strategies for adapting to climate change is imperative. U-LINK’s ‘Climate Adaptation’ team aims to change the conversation surrounding resilience and climate change by focusing on climate adaptation strategies at a hyper-local scale, putting the needs of individuals in the community first. On the importance of addressing climate change at a hyper-local scale the team writes, “We view this fundamentally human-based approach as critical to helping individuals and communities across the globe face the challenges of climate change.” The team, with faculty from Architecture, Communication Studies, English, Marine Geosciences, and Atmospheric Sciences will build on existing local knowledge and networks of organizations to help communities adapt to climate change. Ultimately, the team will focus not only on discovering actionable strategies for affected communities, but also on laying a foundation for much-needed interdisciplinary collaboration in climate action.   

Team Members: Joanna Lombard, Architecture; Tyler Harrison, Communication; Gina Maranto, English; Sam Purkis, Marine Geosciences; Amy Clement, Atmospheric Sciences; Angela Clark-Hughes, head of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science Library

Leveraging Untapped Opportunities in Place and Time: A Community-Based Child Well-Being Collaborative

Leveraging Untapped Opportunities in Place and Time: A Community-Based Child Well-Being Collaborative

Gross inequities in access to health care, education, and green communities for young children lead to “opportunity gaps”, which, when unresolved, plague children through adulthood. Without access to quality data identifying the gaps where interventions are needed, children are left to suffer in substandard conditions. “There is a critical need for educators, health care providers and other stakeholders to work together for equitable access to early resources for all children,” the U-LINK ‘Child Well-Being’ team writes in their proposal. However, the team also notes that providing equitable access is “not easy” and requires “breaking down service system and disciplinary silos.” Composed of members from Psychology, Public Health Sciences, History, Pediatrics, Computational Science, and Geography and Regional Studies, this interdisciplinary team will collaborate to to collect the data so desperately needed to coordinate access to the services designed to eliminate childhood inequity.

Team Members: Rebecca Shearer, Psychology; Scott Brown, Public Health Sciences; Robin Bachin, History; Jeff Brosco, Pediatrics; Chris Mader, Computational Science; Christine Delgado, Psychology; Imelda Moise, Geography and Regional Studies; Kathryn McCollister, associate professor, in the Department of Public Health Sciences; Vera Spika, learning and research services librarian

Inclusion Matters in the Data Revolution

Inclusion Matters in the Data Revolution

Data literacy and access to data are invaluable for all in today’s society. However, startling gaps in access and educational opportunities persist for members of minority populations, leading to serious societal consequences. For example, the U-LINK ‘Inclusion Matters’ team writes, “[working with data] is not free of subjective judgments that are influenced by the data professional’s background, including race, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, language, gender, and disability status.” Because data professionals are disproportionately white males and those with privilege, privilege is often embedded in the data itself. Indeed, according to the team, “inequitable distribution of power in each phase of the data lifecycle has serious social, cultural, economic, and structural consequences.” With researchers from the Center for Computational Science, Biology, Teaching and Learning, Law, and Educational and Psychological Studies, this team will tackle the inequities in data access and use by determining the effects of social equality and diversity on (a) data production and collection, (b) data manipulation, and (c) analysis and data usage in decision-making.

Team Members: Athina Hadjixenofontos, Center for Computational Science; Jennifer Kahn, Teaching and Learning; Zanita Fenton, Law; Soyeon Ahn, Educational and Psychological Studies; Debbiesiu Lee, Educational and Psychology Studies; Lauren Fralinger, learning and research services librarian

Next Generation of Coastal Structures: Incorporating Ecology, Engineering, Economics, and Aesthetic for a Changing Ocean

Next Generation of Coastal Structures: Incorporating Ecology, Engineering, Economics, and Aesthetic for a Changing Ocean

Coastal structures such as bridges, breakwaters, seawalls, and causeways will be critical in mitigating the effects of climate change. Little consideration, however, has been given to how these structures affect the coastal ecosystems, and how their aesthetic value might affect the community around them (e.g., decreasing property value). Combining the disciplines of Biology, Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, Sculpture, Architecture, Economics, and Marine Ecosystems and Society, the U-LINK ‘Next Gen Coastal Structures’ team aims to innovate the next generation of coastal design, which will be sustainable, multi-functional and provide aesthetic value in the context of regional cultural significance. The team notes that results from the project “can have lasting impacts in terms of future coastal development” and will “contribute to this process by establishing concepts and guidelines that result in effective coastal protection while…accounting for important dynamics of the highly complex coastal environment.”

Team Members: Prannoy Suraneni, Civil Architectural and Environmental Engineering; Esber Andiroglu, Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering; Kathleen Sealey, Biology; Billie Lynn, Sculpture; Joel Lamere, Architecture; David Kelly, Economics; Renato Molina, Marine Ecosystems and Society; James Sobczak, STEM librarian for Learning and Research Services

Phase I Renewal 2019

Extremist Content and Conspiracy Theories in Online Social Networks – Understanding and Disrupting the Causal Processes Linking Content to Violence

Extremist Content and Conspiracy Theories in Online Social Networks – Understanding and Disrupting the Causal Processes Linking Content to Violence

Previously known as the SCORE team, the U-LINK ‘Extremism’ team will build on their previous Phase I work by working towards understanding how extremist groups attract and motivate members via social media. Noting that “social media has allowed extremist groups to bypass traditional gatekeepers and share their messages directly with potentially billions of people”, the team will adopt a transdisciplinary approach to understanding and counteracting the causal mechanisms linking extremist content to violence. To do this, scholars from English, Political Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Communication, Political Science, Computer Science, and Anthropology will come together to conduct innovative analyses to better understand the process leading to the incitement of violence via social media, and to develop strategies for countering the harmful effects of extremist ideas on democratic norms.

Team Members: John Funchion, English; Casey Klofstad, Political Science; Manohar Murthi, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Kamal Premaratne, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Michelle Seelig, Communication; Joseph Uscinski, Political Science; Stefan Wuchty, Computer Science; Caleb Everett, Anthropology; Lisa Baker, Head, Richter Learning & Research Services


Phase II 2018

Aerosolization of algal toxins and pathogens in South Florida and their human health effects

For this project, team members from the Miller School of Medicine, the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and the College of Engineering will use South Florida as a test case to investigate the risks posed to people who inhale toxic aerosols from breaking waves on the beach. They spent this past summer investigating the production of particles released into the air by harmful algal blooms (HAB) of cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, and elevated bacteria levels in South Florida’s coastlines and waterways. 

toxic algae bloomTo date, almost all research on HABs and pathogens, which are a worldwide problem often triggered by agriculture fertilizer and sewage washing into waterways, has focused on human contact with them while swimming or consuming seafood. UM’s experts hope to fill the gap in knowledge about the ability of toxins produced by blue-green algae and marine pathogens to become airborne, inhalable particles. 

“This research is especially timely as several impacts of climate change, including increased nutrient run-off, sea-level rise, and increased risk due to storm surge, are all predicted to increase both marine pathogens and harmful algal blooms in South Florida,” the team led by Cassandra Gaston, assistant professor of atmospheric sciences at the Rosenstiel School, wrote in their application.

In this phase of their research, the team, which added new collaborators to its initial group, will conduct field studies to test HAB exposure levels in different communities and controlled experiments on the sea-to-air transfer of marine toxins and pathogens, and their toxic effects in a Drosophila animal model, in the Rosenstiel School’s SUrge-STructure-Atmosphere INteraction, or SUSTAIN, facility, which can simulate winds and waves.

In addition to Gaston, the co-principal investigators (PIs) on the project are: the Miller School’s Alberto Caban-Martinez, assistant professor, David Lee, professor, both in public health sciences, and Grace Zhai, associate professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology; and the Rosenstiel School’s Larry Brand, professor of marine biology and ecology, Kimberly Popendorf, assistant professor of ocean sciences, and Brain Haus, professor of ocean sciences; and Helena Solo-Gabriele, professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering; and James Klaus, associate professor of marine geosciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. Angela Clark, Head of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science Library

HURAKAN: Improving Hurricane Risk Communication for Vulnerable Populations

The National Hurricane Center’s cone of uncertainty, pictured here before Hurricane Michael slammed the Panhandle, are among the forecast products this team plans to improve. Members of this team plan to develop new forecast products to communicate the risks and potential threats of approaching tropical storms and hurricanes, especially to underserved populations who, because of limited resources for adequate preparation and recovery, often bear a disproportionate burden of these natural disasters.

HURAKAN: Improving Hurricane Risk Communication for Vulnerable PopulationsDuring the first phase of their project, researchers on team HURAKAN, named for the Mayan and Taino god for hurricanes, studied relevant literature and held focus-group sessions on the National Hurricane Center’s most-viewed and requested forecast products—particularly the cone of uncertainty. Reflecting the uncertainty in the probable track of the center of a tropical cyclone, the cone, researchers noted, “is easily misinterpreted and provides limited information about multiple hazards.”

“Some of the confusion is due to the probabilistic concepts presented in the forecast, the vast amount of information to process, and specific graphic elements that violate design guidelines,” the team led by Barbara Millet, research assistant professor in the School of Communication, wrote about the cone. “Participants were specifically interested in receiving clear information that would help them make informed decisions about what to do and when.”

To that end, the team plans to collaborate with the hurricane center on designing new forecast products that communicate “the minimal critical pieces of information to the maximum number of people from diverse backgrounds.” They also plan to develop a “best practices” guide that will be applicable to a range of natural and technological hazards.

In addition to Millet, other team PIs include: Alberto Cairo, associate professor in the School of Communication, Kenny Broad, professor at the Rosenstiel School and director of the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy; Scotney Evans, associate professor in the School of Education and Human Development; and Sharanya Majumdar, professor and associatedean of graduate studies at the Rosenstiel School.

Identifying, prioritizing, and validating green infrastructure approaches to enhance coastal resilience – Implementation of a data-driven test case in Miami Beach

For this project, UM experts who are exploring ways to restore living shorelines to protect coastal communities from waves and storm surge, plan to design and test the feasibility of installing a hybrid “green/grey” defense system—one that employs both natural and cement-based elements—off the coast of Miami Beach.

Identifying, prioritizing, and validating green infrastructure approaches to enhance coastal resilience – Implementation of a data-driven test case in Miami Beach They will begin by identifying the risks on the most vulnerable shoreline sections of the City of Miami Beach—which already has spent millions raising streets and installing water pumps—and developing and testing the suitability of hybrid grey/green infrastructure options, particularly artificial reefs. Like the team studying toxic aerosols, this team is also using the Rosenstiel School’s SUSTAIN facility to conduct experiments.

Often made from sunken ships or cement modules, artificial reefs usually are deployed in deep water to create fish habitats and diving activities. But based on their collaborations with The Nature Conservancy and resilience experts from the City of Miami Beach, the team is considering artificial reef options that, using both natural corals and cement elements, could enhance both marine life and protect the coast. They’re also planning an outreach strategy to enhance participation in the project by stakeholders, politicians, and the public.

In their proposal, team members led by coordinating PI Diego Lirman, associate professor of marine biology and ecology at the Rosenstiel School, acknowledge that actually deploying an artificial reef off the coast of Miami Beach will be beyond their means, programmatically and financially. But the goal of the team is to “get to the point where we can use our general knowledge, partnerships, and products to pursue such additional funding from local and federal sources”—which, along with building cohesive interdisciplinary teams, is the goal of U-LINK funding.

Other team PIs include Andrew Baker, associate professor of marine biology and ecology, Brian Haus, professor of ocean sciences, and David Letson, professor of marine ecosystems and society, all at the Rosenstiel School; Landolf Rhode-Barbarigos, assistant professor of civil, architectural, and environmental engineering at the College of Engineering; Sonia Chao, research associate professor at the School of Architecture; and Jyotika Ramaprasad, professor in the School of Communication. Jane V. Carrick, research associate in the Lirman Benthic Ecology Laboratory at the Rosenstiel School, is the project staff member.


Phase I 2018

HURAKAN: Improving Hurricane Risk Communication for Vulnerable Populations

Hurricane Irma ConeNamed for the Mayan and Taino god for whom the word hurricane is derived, this proposal draws from a number of fields—including meteorology, environmental anthropology, decision science, and community engagement—to address a critical gap in visual hurricane forecast products: making them easily understood by the public, particularly in underserved communities.

“The goal isn’t to change how forecasts themselves are made, but how these forecasts, which are based on complex analyses and models, can be effectively conveyed to the general public so citizens can make the right decisions in terms of protecting their lives and property,” said team member Alberto Cairo, assistant professor in the School of Communication, who noted the familiar but often confounding cone of uncertainty will be among the many elements of the team’s exploration.

“We believe that the public often misunderstands the visuals used to present this kind of information to them, so we hope this project will provide some advice on how to improve them,” he said.

Other team members include: Kenny Broad, professor at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and director of the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy; Barbara Millet, research assistant professor in the School of Communication; Scotney Evans, associate professor in the School of Education and Human Development; and Sharanya Majumdar, professor and associate dean of graduate studies at the Rosenstiel School. Zsuzsa Nemeth, Reference Librarian and Research Liaison


Systems Approach to Controlling the Online Rise of Extremism (SCORE)

ISIS OnlineCombining the know-how of nine faculty members from eight disciplines, this proposal advances the new methodology that three team members previously published in the journal Science to understand the online ecology of extremism and hate speech through a combination of big data and complex network systems science.

SCORE broadens and generalizes that earlier pilot study led by Physics Professor Neil Johnson by going beyond the numbers and focusing on online narratives and content. By targeting the wide range of extremist hate groups and hate-speech forums across U.S. social media outlets, investigators hope to determine how extremism develops online across platforms, target groups, and languages, and to suggest technological, social, and legal avenues to control and curb its impact.

“By embedding this know-how built on solid science as opposed to guesswork, SCORE will ultimately be in a position to develop effective automated software bots that circulate in the online space to do the policing,” the team wrote in its proposal.

In addition to Johnson, team members include Elvira Maria Restrepo, assistant professor of geography, Stefan Wuchty, associate professor of computer science; Michael McCullough, professor of psychology, and John Funchion, associate professor of English, all in the College of Arts and Sciences; Mary Anne Franks, professor in the School of Law; Michelle Seelig, associate professor in the School of Communication; and Manohar Murthi, associate professor, and Kamal Premaratne, professor, both in electrical engineering and computer engineering in the College of Engineering. Lisa Baker, Head of the Richter Learning & Research Services


Advancing Interdisciplinary Research on the Microbiome to Optimize Health

MicrobiomeThis proposal aims to build a translational research platform to better understand the role that abnormalities in the microbiome—the large, diverse populations of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that occupy almost every surface of the human body—play in the development and progression of chronic diseases, beginning with HIV/AIDS.

Team members hope that by pinpointing the underlying mechanisms that dysregulate the microbiome—leading to what’s known as dysbiosis—in substance abusers with HIV/AIDS, they will discover a common biological pathway that increases the risk for chronic diseases, and the potential for developing behavioral and biomedical interventions to halt their development, or progression.

“The efforts of our team to begin to address this interdisciplinary area of scientific inquiry in substance users are a crucial first step to build a vibrant portfolio of research targeting dysbiosis to optimize health outcomes,” said team member Adam Carrico, associate professor of public health sciences at the Miller School of Medicine.

Other team members include: Miller School faculty Sabita Roy, professor of surgery; Maria Alcaide, associate professor of medicine; Hansel Tookes, assistant professor of medicine; Savita Pahwa, professor of microbiology and immunology, of pediatrics, and of medicine; and Xi (Steven) Chen, associate professor of public health sciences; as well as Michael Antoni, professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Vera Spika, Learning and Research Services Librarian


Engineering Coastal Resilience Through Reef Restoration: Reduction of Wave Energy by Reef Structures and Impacts on Storm Surge and Infrastructure

Reef RestoratioFor this proposal, UM experts who were working independently on different aspects of coastal resiliency are joining forces to explore ways to restore green infrastructure—mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs—to protect coastal communities from ocean waves, increased flooding, storm surge, and sea-level rise, all exacerbated by climate change.

By combining their expertise, team members plan to develop better strategies for restoring green infrastructure through numerical and physical modeling, field validation studies, and wind-wave experiments in the Rosenstiel School’s SUSTAIN—SUrge STructure Atmosphere INteraction—laboratory, the 38,000-gallon tank that can simulate hurricane-force winds, sea spray, and storm surge.

As team member Diego Lirman, associate professor of marine biology and ecology, noted, “Miami-Dade County is spending millions of dollars to mitigate impacts of waves, storm surge, and flooding by deploying pumps, raising streets, and building sea walls. But green infrastructure provided by coastal ecosystems like healthy coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrasses can mitigate the impacts of climatic hazards in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.”

Other team members include: Andrew Baker, associate professor of marine biology and ecology, and Brian Haus, professor of ocean sciences, both at the Rosenstiel School; and Landolf Rhode-Barbarigos, assistant professor of civil, architectural, and environmental engineering at the College of Engineering. Angela Clark-Hughes, Head of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science Library


Integrating Oceans and Human Health Sciences

Red TideThis proposal brings together biomedical researchers, ocean scientists, and engineers to explore the positive effects the ocean has on mental and physical health, as well as the risks posed by environmental and climatic changes to such “blue” environments.

Team members initially plan to focus on novel areas of research in the growing field of oceans and human health sciences particularly relevant to Florida—the risks posed to people who inhale toxic aerosol particles released into the air by harmful algal blooms often triggered by fertilizer washing into coastal waters.

“Most research has focused on human exposure to algal toxins in the water or seafood. With the exception of brevotoxin (produced by the Florida red tide), little is known about the health effects of breathing aerosols with other algal toxins in them,” team members noted. “Our findings will be used to encourage engagement with natural blue environments while also helping to devise strategies to lower risks.”

The team includes: Alberto J. Caban Martinez, assistant professor, David Lee, professor, and Kristopher Arheart, associate professor, all in public health sciences at the Miller School; Sharon Smith, professor emeritus, Larry Brand, professor of marine biology and ecology, Cassandra Gaston, assistant professor of atmospheric sciences, Brian Haus, professor of ocean sciences, and Kimberly Popendorf, assistant professor of ocean sciences, , all at the Rosenstiel School; Helena Solo-Gabriele, professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering; and James Klaus, associate professor of marine geosciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. Angela Clark-Hughes, Head of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science Library