Center for Socially Responsible AI awards seed funding to six projects

January 11, 2023

By Jordan Ford

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Penn State News. Christine J. Kirchhoff, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and of law, policy, and engineering (LPE), was featured. Kirchhoff is also the associate director of LPE.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Center for Socially Responsible Artificial Intelligence recently announced the results of its third seed funding competition. The center awarded $145,000 to advance six interdisciplinary research projects that feature researchers from eight colleges and institutes. 

Each proposal was evaluated for its connection to the center’s mission, intellectual merit and potential for securing external funding. Funding will support the formation of interdisciplinary research teams and early-stage projects that demonstrate strong potential to obtain external funding. Projects are expected to start this spring and last for up to two years. 

“This year’s funded projects include compelling ideas about using AI for social good, such as promoting the social welfare of vulnerable populations, as well as high-risk projects about the responsible and secure use and deployment of AI,” said S. Shyam Sundar, CSRAI director and James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. “We are grateful for the engaging submissions we received and are excited because each of these projects shows promise for transformational impact.” 

Christine J. Kirchhoff, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and of law, policy, and engineering (LPE), as well as the associate director of LPE, and Shomir Wilson, assistant professor of information science and technology, were awarded a grant for their project, “Understanding the Prevalence of Drinking Water Service Disruption through Large-Scale Analysis of News Articles and Social Media.” 

The full list of funded projects can be found here.

The Center for Socially Responsible Artificial Intelligence, which launched in 2020, promotes high-impact, transformative AI research and development, while encouraging the consideration of social and ethical implications in all such efforts. It supports a broad range of activities from foundational research to the application of AI to all areas of human endeavor. More information can be found on the CSRAI website


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