College of IST announces six seed grant recipients

The Westgate Building has been home to the College of Information Sciences and Technology since 2003. Credit: Penn State / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) recently announced six projects that will receive funding from the college’s seed grant program.

The program provides preliminary funding for IST researchers and collaborators to initiate new projects. The college solicited research proposals during the 2020-21 academic year, and a faculty committee reviewed and provided recommendations to Andrew Sears, dean of the College of IST, for final selection.

“While these projects represent just a small fraction of the college’s research activity, they showcase the breadth of global issues that our faculty explore across a wide array of domains,” said Sears. “We are continually impressed with the variety of topics that capture the attention of faculty and the interdisciplinary collaborations these projects inspire. We are pleased to support these early-stage efforts with the initial necessary funding that will advance critical work.”

The six projects selected for funding are:

  • “Complex Problem Solving: Toward a New Theoretical Foundation for Visual Analytics Research,” by Xiaolong Zhang, associate professor of IST. The project aims to seek a new theoretical framework based on Complex Problem Solving (CPS), and will gather and analyze data on visual analytic behaviors and system design requirements and identify core CPS-related activities in visual analytics appropriate to these activities.
  •  “Increasing Adolescent Vaccination Rates via AI-Powered Clinician-Patient Communication,” by Dongwon Lee, professor of IST; and Aiping Xiong, assistant professor of IST; along with collaborators Young Anna Argyris, assistant professor at Michigan State University; and MSU Health Care. The researchers propose to develop and evaluate an AI-powered clinical information system leveraging anonymized patient data from MSU Health Care, cognitive/perceptual theories and decision-making theories to generate personalized prompts and scripts that clinicians can use to more effectively communicate with patients regarding their vaccine decision-making process.
  • “Learning and Programming Challenges of Rust: An Interdisciplinary Investigation,” by Linhai Song, assistant professor of IST; and Aiping Xiong, assistant professor of IST. The project will focus on identifying the difficulties imposed by safety rules of Rust, a new programming language designed to build safe and efficient systems software.
  • “Robust and Fair Matching Markets: From Rideshare to Kidney Exchange,” by Hadi Hosseini, assistant professor of IST. The project aims to develop a theoretically-grounded approach for robust and fair matching and allocation decisions through the integration of artificial intelligence, economics and computation. 
  • “Summarization and Lexical Simplification of Radiology Reports for Effective Interpretation by Patients,” by Prasenjit Mitra, professor of IST, along with collaborators Dr. Sunil Jeph and Dr. Benjamin Shin, both assistant professors of radiology at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The project aims to develop a natural language processing-based system to summarize and simplify radiology reports, which are often filled with complex medical terminology, so patients can better understand them. Additionally, the researchers plan to create an algorithm that summarizes all pertinent findings from radiology reports.
  • “Understanding the Soundness of Control-flow Integrity,” by Hong Hu, assistant professor of IST; and Dinghao Wu, professor of IST. The researchers plan to conduct a systemic evaluation of recently proposed advanced control-flow integrity solutions, which aim to block predominant control-flow related attacks in modern large computer systems.

More information about research led by the College of IST, including research areas, centers and labs, and current projects, can be found at

Last Updated September 27, 2021