Announcing Spring 2021 Pitt Cyber Accelerator Grant Recipients

Pitt Cyber is pleased to announce its awardees for the Spring 2021 Pitt Cyber Accelerator Grants Program (PCAG). PCAG provides support for projects that aim to establish or reinforce Pitt and Pitt Cyber as places of distinction and excellence in cyber studies and practice. 

The grants provide initial funding for novel and innovative multidisciplinary efforts that advance Pitt Cyber’s mission:  to bring the breadth of one of the world’s leading public research universities to bear on the critical questions of networks, data, and algorithms, with a focus on the ever-changing gaps among law, policy, and technology. 

Influencing Detection through Multimodal Discourse and Vividness Analysis 

To pilot the methods and ideas for extracting or completing agendas, detecting concerns and emotions, and modeling different types of vividness. 

  • Adriana Kovashka, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, School of Computing and Information 
  • Diane Litman, Professor, Computer Science, School of Computing and Information 
  • Rebecca Hwa, Professor, Computer Science, School of Computing and Information 
  • Malihe Alikhani, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, School of Computing and Information  
  • Yu-Ru Lin, Associate Professor, Informatics and Networked Systems, School of Computing and Information 
  • Tessa Provins, Assistant Professor, Political Science, Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences 
  • Jeffrey Cohn, Professor, Psychology, Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences 

The Pittsburgh Data Jam: Increasing Data Science Education in High Schools

To test the effectiveness of a high school data science curriculum.  

  • Judy Cameron, Professor, Psychiatry, School of Medicine 
  • Bryan Nelson, Assistant Instructor, Statistics, Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences 
  • Thomas Akiva, Associate Professor, Human Health & Development, School of Education  

Framework for Qualitative Research into Social Media and Misinformation:  A Relational/Ecosystemic Approach 

To develop protocols for conducting qualitative research into the dynamics of disinformation in social media spaces, ensuring that research is transparent, ethical, and documented in ways that are consistent with data privacy as well as academic disciplinary standards. 

  • Lara Putnam, UCIS Research Professor of History, Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences 
  • Rosta Farzan, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, School of Computing and Information 
  • Mehr Latif, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Sociology, Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences 

Modeling the Effect of Disinformation on COVID-19 Vaccination Discourse in Online Social Networks

To investigate and model how disinformation propagates through online social networks and how it affects discourse and beliefs related to COVID-19 vaccination topics. 

  • Malihe Alikhani, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, School of Computing and Information 
  • Dmitriy Babichenko, Clinical Associate Professor, Informatics and Networked Systems, School of Computing and Information 
  • Kar-Hai Chu, Associate Professor, Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Graduate School of Public Health 
  • Michael Colaresi, William S. Dietrich II Professor, Political Science, Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences; Pitt Cyber Research and Academic Director; Affiliate Scholar, Intelligent Systems Program 
  • Jason Colditz, Research Project Manager, PhD candidate and instructor, Institute for Clinical Research Education, School of Medicine 
  • Beth Hoffman, graduate student researcher, Institute for Clinical Research Education, School of Medicine 
  • Patrick Healy, PhD candidate, School of Computing and Information 
  • Jaime Sidani, Assistant Professor, General Internal Medicine, School of Medicine 





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