Downie among eight faculty selected for NCSA Fellowships

Stephen Downie
J. Stephen Downie, Professor and Associate Dean for Research

J. Stephen Downie, professor and associate dean for research, has been named a National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) Faculty Fellowship awardee for the 2017-18 academic year. Faculty Fellows work with NCSA on specific projects aimed to help solve grand challenges facing all people, including deep learning, the internet of things, data analysis, volcano activity, and more.

Downie’s project is titled, “Modeling the Massive HathiTrust Corpus: Creating Concept-Based Representations of 15 Million Volumes.” Through this research, he hopes to make the HathiTrust collection—15 million books spanning multiple centuries—available for large-scale research use through optimized, concept-based representations.

“This research will help us think about 200 years of published work not just as words, but as mixtures of concepts,” said Downie. “It can help us understand relationships between books or track the emergence of cultural concepts. More broadly, you’ll be able to fingerprint new texts with our models—say, an opinion piece in the news—in a way that allows you to plug into a rich history of related writing.”

Downie is codirector of the HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC), which develops cutting-edge software tools and cyberinfrastructure for computational access of works in the HathiTrust Digital Library. HTRC is a partnership between Indiana University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the HathiTrust.

Faculty selected for the prestigious fellowships work closely with NCSA experts on projects that align with NCSA's six thematic research areas: Bioinformatics and Health Sciences, Computing and Data Sciences, Culture and Society, Earth and Environment, Materials and Manufacturing, and Physics and Astronomy.

Other faculty selected for the program and their projects include:

  • Anita Chan, Media and Cinema Studies, “Transdisciplinary Convergence in Situated Research Environments: Mapping NCSA across the University of Illinois Campus”
  • Patricia Gregg, Geology, “A Data Assimilation Framework for Forecasting Volcanic Unrest”
  • Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, Food Sciences and Human Nutrition, “Understanding Breast Cancer Disparities in African-American Women”
  • Ruby Mendenhall, Sociology and African American Studies, “Using Wearable Sensors and Affective Diaries to Document How Violence Affects Public Life and Public Health”
  • Andre Schleife, Materials Science and Engineering, “Computational Infrastructure for Collaborative Design of Semiconductor Nanocrystals”
  • Dallas Trinkle, Materials Science and Engineering, “Materials Modeling Optimization”
  • Zhizhen Zhao, Electrical and Computational Engineering, “Deep Learning to the Rescue: Enabling the Search and Characterization of New Classes of Gravitational Wave Sources with Novel Applications of Machine Learning”
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