Congratulations to Denis Gracanin, Nathan Lau, Tom Martin and Shaddi Hasan on receiving New Destination Area 2.0 grants
February 13, 2023
Four transdisciplinary Virginia Tech teams attempting to solve some of the world’s stickiest and most urgent challenges are getting a boost this spring from Destination Area 2.0 grants.
In December, the VT Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost awarded Destination Area 2.0 grants to collaborative projects that have the potential to heighten the university’s impact around invasive species mitigation, human-systems integration in health care, public interest technology, and pandemic prediction and prevention.
CHCI members are involved in two of the four funded projects. We highlight their projects and roles here.
Human Systems Integration in Health Care
Principal investigator: Sarah Parker, associate professor and chair of health systems and implementation science, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM).
Team members: Leslie LaConte, VTCSOM; Tom Martin, Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Aki Ishida, School of Architecture; Denis Gracanin, Department of Computer Science; Quinton Nottingham, Department of Business Information Technology; and Nathan Lau, Kwok-Leung Tsui and Taylan Topcu, Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.
Technology infuses every aspect of modern-day health care, but not always effectively. Troublesome electronic charts exacerbate provider burnout. The design of telemonitoring and telehealth software isn’t optimized for the medical providers who use it. With the Human Systems Integration in Health Care project, Parker and her team aim to integrate technology into health care settings in ways that improve both patient care and provider well-being. “It's a different way of thinking about what health research means,” she said.
Researchers who have joined the project from engineering, business, architecture, and computer science have been thrilled by the immense possibilities for rapid improvements. “We’re grateful for the chance to bring all of these people together and crystallize this idea, because it's new and there's a huge opportunity for Virginia Tech to become the destination for this type of research,” said LaConte, assistant dean of research with VTCSOM.
Public Interest Technology Initiative
Principal investigator: Shalini Misra, associate professor, Department of Urban Affairs and Planning
Team members: Elinor Benami, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics; Fernanda Rosa, Department of Science, Technology, and Society; Benjamin Katz, Department of Human Development and Family Science; Navid Ghaffarzadegan, Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering; Patrick Roberts, School of Public and International Affairs; Shaddi Hasan, Department of Computer Science; and Sylvester Johnson, associate vice provost for public interest technology.
While the jury is still out on whether technology’s benefits outweigh its harms, the Public Interest Technology Initiative aims to tip the scales in favor of the public good by putting “justice, equity, accountability, and transparency in the forefront,” said Misra. With a Destination Area 2.0 grant, Virginia Tech researchers will create a global research, education, and outreach program that collaborates with stakeholders to design, deploy, and govern technologies that address societal problems and advance equity. The first project will be a partnership with the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency to develop technologies that add cultural and racial nuance to how managers address crises. “We want to close the responsibility gaps between machine decisions and human decisions,” said Misra.