Carnegie Mellon University
May 09, 2023

Dietrich Seed Grants Tackle Language, Coups and Bias

Grants fund cross-disciplinary research to address real-world problems

By Stacy Kish

The Dietrich College Seed Grant program has announced the spring funding cycle for 2023. Three cross-disciplinary projects have received support.

“I’m very excited about these projects,” said Richard Scheines, Bess Family Dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “Dietrich’s Seed Grant program aims to catalyze new and ambitious interdisciplinary research collaborations, especially projects that cross departments and colleges. Music, coups d’etats, and brain scans to predict biased decision making — I look forward to seeing what comes of all three!”

Connecting CMU’s Music of Language with Its Language of Music

Seth Wiener, associate professor in the Department of Modern Languages, and Jocelyn Dueck, assistant professor in the School of Music, will examine the connection between musical voice training and structured language learning. Results from this preliminary study could benefit speech pathologists and specialists working with a clinical population of speakers with communication disorders. This project received $15,000 from the seed fund and an additional $5,000 from the College of Fine Arts.

ColpusCast: A New Near-Real Time Forecast Model of Coups D’etat

Aaditya Ramdas, assistant professor in the Department of Statistics & Data Science, and John Chin, assistant teaching professor in the Institute for Politics and Strategy, have created the ColpusCast, a new near-real time forecast model of illegal seizures of power. The project aims to combine the strengths of prior efforts, developing the latest machine learning techniques to generate open-source and explainable coup risk estimates. The project received $25,000. 

Using fMRI-measured Attitudes and Actions to Predict Biased Decisions Among Black and White Americans

Kevin Jarbo, assistant professor in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences, and Roberto Vargas, a post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Psychology, will explore how biases in attitudes and beliefs affect behavioral decisions that go on to perpetuate these biases. This project will lay the foundation for a larger study that will explore the mission of social equity and intergroup attitudes. The research team received $5,000 from the seed fund and an additional $20,250 from the BRIDGE Center.

“These projects illustrate the power of creative collaboration,” said Alessandro Rinaldo, Dietrich College’s associate dean for research and professor in the Department of Statistics & Data Science. “We look forward to funding many more cutting-edge projects in the future.”

The Seed Grant program supports inter-departmental and collaborative research across the college with funding for up to $25,000 from the Bess Family Chair held by the dean.