Researchers awarded NSF grant to develop open knowledge network for public policy
Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019
MANHATTAN — Two professors from Kansas State University were recently awarded a $1 million National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator Grant to create an open knowledge network with researchers from five other universities that stitches together data from states on public policy and economic, social and environmental outcomes.
Nathaniel Birkhead, associate professor of political science, and Audrey Joslin, assistant professor of geography and geospatial sciences, both in the College of Arts and Sciences, will collaborate with researchers at Rochester University, University of Notre Dame, University of Virginia, University of North Carolina, Charlotte and North Carolina A&T State University. They will create a data hub so that policies from different states and areas will be conveniently accessible in one cohesive location. The network will include analytic tools to explore and visualize the data.
The researchers involved have varied academic backgrounds, including sociology, data ethics and computer science.
"We're not in the same department, but we all have different needs that this network would be useful in helping to solve, so this interdisciplinary approach makes sense," Joslin said.
The open knowledge network will also reduce the labor needed to look at special data since all information will be linked together.
"I'm excited to discover new ways that we can answer old questions," Birkhead said.
NSF Convergence Accelerator grants support team-based, multidisciplinary efforts that address challenges of national importance and show potential for deliverables soon.
Birkhead said that while the NSF typically gives researchers years to complete a project, this project is different in how quickly it is moving. The K-State team has already partnered with the Open States Project, Society for Public Health Educators and assorted municipal governments, as well as other nonprofit organizations and community partners.