Two Multidisciplinary Initiatives Led by CS Faculty to Contend for Millions in Grand Challenges Grants

New UMD program to support campuswide efforts to tackle societal problems.
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University leaders today unveiled nine proposals for Institutional Grants selected to move forward in the Grand Challenges Grants program, which will provide up to $30 million in institutional investments to fund initiatives and projects designed to accelerate solutions to society’s largest and most complex problems.

In response to the call for proposals for Grand Challenges Institutional Grants, 24 letters of intent (LOIs) were submitted, involving 210 faculty and well over 100 staff from all 12 colleges and schools and several campus divisions. The proposed projects address critical issues such as climate change, literacy, democracy, sustainable environments, pandemic preparedness, and many others. 

Upon completion of the review process, nine proposals for Institutional Grants were selected to move forward to the next phase, including these two led by computer science faculty:

  • Center of Excellence in Microbiome Sciences - Principal Investigator: Mihai Pop (Computer Science); Co-PI: Stephanie Yarwood
  • Human-Centered AI Institute - Principal Investigator: Hal Daumé III (Computer Science); Co-Principal Investigators: Jordan Boyd-Graber, Huaishu Peng, Marine Carpuat (Computer Science); Joel Chan, Hernisa Kacorri, Susannah Paletz, Katie Shilton, Eric Hoover, Jing Liu, Debra Shapiro

Each LOI was reviewed and evaluated based on the proposed initiatives' targeted grand challenge, potential for societal impact, scalability, measurability, and interdisciplinary collaboration with key partners and stakeholders. 

The next step in the application process requires all nine teams to participate in a Grand Challenges Accelerator workshop to further refine their ideas. Teams will then develop a presentation for university leadership later this fall. Funding will be awarded in January 2023 to selected proposals, which could each receive up to $3 million in total support over the next three years.
One major commitment in the University of Maryland Strategic Plan, Fearlessly Forward: In Pursuit of Excellence and Impact for the Public Good is to take on humanity's grand challenges. These important initiatives demonstrate our capabilities to take on the greatest challenges of our time and move our state, nation, and world Fearlessly Forward.

The Department welcomes comments, suggestions and corrections.  Send email to editor [-at-] cs [dot] umd [dot] edu.