UMSI faculty win MCubed grants

Five School of Information faculty members on three teams were among the 50 fortunate teams selected to receive $60,000 research funding grants in the university’s first-ever MCubed lottery.

To qualify for the lottery, three researchers from at least two different disciplines needed to generate an idea and agree to “cube” together. Winning UMSI-sponsored projects are

Julia Adler-Milstein, assistant professor, for her project “Adoption and Use of Information Technology to Improve Hospital Performance.” Her colleagues on this project are Christy Harris Lemak and Shoou-Yih Daniel Lee, associate professors in the School of Public Health. This project will examine the most efficient way for medical care facilities to transition from paper health records to electronic health records (EHR) and explore whether EHR adoption leads to reduced costs and improved quality of care.

Christian Sandvig, associate professor, UMSI and Communication Studies, for his project “New Directions in the Study of Infrastructure,” with colleagues from the School of Information, Professor Paul Edwards and Associate Professor Carl Lagoze.  They will look at the radical transformation taking place in computing, making infrastructure “smarter” and better able to process, index, sense, and even self-reconfigure information.

Finn Brunton, assistant professor, with humanities colleagues Tung-Hui-Hu, assistant professor of English (project lead) and John Cheney-Lippold, assistant professor of American culture, for their project “Digital Environments Cluster Publishing Series.”  They will create a micropress for publishing timely and innovative scholarly work on digital media that would not normally fit into the academic publishing system, such as an essay too long for a journal article, but too short to be a book.

MCubed is the university’s new program designed to empower interdisciplinary teams of U-M faculty to pursue innovative research. Each winning team will receive $60,000 with which to hire a student or postdoctoral researcher to jump-start their projects. They will also showcase the results of their groundbreaking research at a high-profile, campus-wide symposia.

MCubed officials announced the winners in real time on Twitter and the MCubed website the morning of November 28. From the 127 teams competing, 50 were selected semi-randomly. While the MCubed selection committee saw that each school, college and unit received at least one grant, they used a random method to choose among projects when schools, colleges or units submitted multiple ideas.

A first-of-a-kind program, MCubed is part of the U-M's Third Century Initiative, a five-year $50 million plan to develop innovative, multidisciplinary teaching and scholarship. The MCubed venture expects to launch 250 projects over the next two years.