2018 Interdisciplinary Seed Grants

Seed Grants are normally in the range of $1,500- $3,000 and are awarded to innovative interdisciplinary projects involving the study of science in society that require modest amounts of seed money to initiate collaborative research and programming. Proposals are welcomed especially from undergraduate and graduate students. Projects might include small research projects, support for a reading group, inviting a speaker, or a contribution to mounting a conference. Collaborative projects that involve participants from different disciplines (including professors and students of any rank and from any school at Columbia and Barnard) are encouraged.

The following recipients were awarded funding for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Also see: 2017 Seed Grants2016 Seed Grants, 2015 Seed Grants

TITLE: Making Art in an Age of Algorithms: Critical Readings Across the Disciplines
RECIPIENTS: Eamonn Bell (Doctoral Student, Department of Music, Columbia University)
Katy Gero (Doctoral Student, Department of Computer Science, Columbia University)
DESCRIPTION: — By gathering advanced undergraduate and graduate students at Columbia University in a reading group, this project will help increase critical algorithmic literacy.

— Together, the group will explore how AI – and the algorithms it makes use of – affects and interacts with other disciplines. There is a skills gap in both the computer scientists developing algorithms and those in the arts utilizing them.

— The reading group’s activities will culminate with a public symposium at Columbia University in December 2018.

TITLE: Knowing Through Animals, One-Day Workshop in NYC with the Max Planck Institute for History of Science
RECIPIENTS: Alma Igra (Doctoral Student, Department of History, Columbia University)
DESCRIPTION: — This workshop will bring together graduate students from Columbia University and neighboring institutions with senior staff from the Max Planck Institute for History of Science in Berlin.

— Participants will discuss animals’ material and bodily presence, contributing to the ways we understand knowledge production, materiality, and the environment.

— The workshop will close with collaborative writing sessions.

TITLE: Advancing Methods and Communication Skills for Broader Scientific Impact
RECIPIENTS: Sarika Khanwilkar (Doctoral Student, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, Columbia University)
Pooja Choksi (Doctoral Student, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, Columbia University)
DESCRIPTION: — This event series will host panel discussions, workshops, and presentations to engage graduate students across disciplines.

— Themes will include: science communication in academic and public contexts; storytelling with scientific tools; bridging the gap between research and practice; and best field practices.

TITLE: Ecosalon!: Graduate Student Transdisciplinary Salon, Year 2
RECIPIENTS: Ben Mylius (Doctoral Student, Department of Political Science, Columbia University)
DESCRIPTION: — The recipient of a 2017-2018 Seed Grant, the Ecosalon will deepen and extend its community in the 2018-2019 year.

— Interdisciplinary collaboration around ecological issues is vital, but this partnership can be complicated as thinkers working on ecological questions often use the same concepts and language in vastly different ways.

— By gathering students from across the university to “learn each other’s languages,” the salon provides a safe and friendly venue to ask creative and unexpected questions across the disciplinary divide.

TITLE: Pregnancy Surveillance in an Era of Mass Incarceration
RECIPIENTS: Joan Robinson (Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the Faculty of Law, Columbia University)
DESCRIPTION: — This interdisciplinary study will help document the use of pregnancy testing technology as a surveillance tool or a condition of sentencing in the American criminal justice system.

— Though linking sociology with science and technology studies, this research can contribute to the larger conversation regarding criminal justice reform.

TITLE: Sex, Gender, and Autism Spectrum Disorder
RECIPIENTS: Natasha Yamane (Masters Student, Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University)
Sylvie Goldman (Assistant Professor of Neuropsychology, Department of Neurology, Columbia University Medical Center)
Rebecca Jordan-Young (Associate Professor, Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Barnard College, Columbia University)
DESCRIPTION: — Through readings, outside speakers, and research proposals, this group will highlight the importance of integrating biological and societal factors during the studying and teaching of autism spectrum disorders.

— Currently, more males have been diagnosed, mostly due to testing limitations and gender biases.

— Bringing together scholars and students, the Columbia community can explore further research pathways to help fully understand the role of sex and gender in autism spectrum diagnosis and intervention.

TITLE: ‘Plants and Society’: An Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Reading Group 
RECIPIENTS: Sarah Ying Bai (Undergraduate Student (2018), Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University)
James Gong (Undergraduate Student, Department of Astronomy, Columbia University)
Coleman Sherry (Undergraduate Student, Department of History, Columbia University)
DESCRIPTION: — With a focus on its undergraduate members, this reading group will focus on plants and their role in current and historical societal concerns.

— While the weekly meeting will discuss student-selected texts, there will be additional speaker sessions and field trips to add further context and learning opportunities.

— This interdisciplinary exchange will help further students understand the role of science in societies past and present.

@ 2018 The Center of Science and Society at Columbia University
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