K-State computer science faculty secure more than $1 million in subawards for AI-based data research
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023
MANHATTAN — Two Kansas State University computer science faculty members, along with collaborators from across the university, have secured more than $1 million in funding for artificial intelligence research related to data integration and efficient data reuse in agricultural and environmental health applications.
Pascal Hitzler, Lloyd T. Smith Creativity in Engineering Chair and professor of computer science, and Hande McGinty, assistant professor of computer science, have secured a pair of subawards on National Science Foundation grant-funded projects as part of the organization's work to create the Prototype Open Knowledge Network, or the Proto-OKN program.
An open knowledge network is a publicly accessible, interconnected set of data repositories and associated knowledge graphs that will enable data-driven, artificial intelligence-based solutions for a broad set of societal and economic challenges.
Hitzler and McGinty's research is founded in innovations related to knowledge graphs and ontologies, which constitute the state of the art in data management in major information technology companies.
"Today's most important questions regarding agriculture and the environment can only be addressed by integrating massive amounts of data from very different data sources," Hitzler said. "Knowledge graphs are the most recent technology coming out of artificial intelligence that deal efficiently with this data problem. These awards will help us investigate ways to further improve these methods."
The first project, "Safe Agricultural Products and Water Graph," received $1.5 million from the National Science Foundation and focuses on environmental concerns related to toxic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS or "forever chemicals." The project is led by the University of Maine and includes Ganga Hettiarachchi, professor of agronomy at K-State, as a collaborator.
The second project, "An Education Gateway for the Proto-OKN," was awarded $1.5 million to provide educational materials and tools for people or organizations interested in engaging with the Proto-OKN program. This project will be led by Cogan Shimizu, a Kansas State University graduate who is now a faculty member at Wright State University.
These two subawards will bring a combined $1,030,200 in research funding to K-State during the next three years.
Hitzler is also co-leading the recently awarded K-State GRIP project, "Towards a Global Food Systems Data Hub: Seeding the Center for Sustainable Wheat Production." The project team includes faculty from three K-State colleges and six departments.
The foundations of these new lines of research are based on the outcomes from Hitzler's previous NSF award, "KnowWhereGraph: Enriching and Linking Cross-Domain Knowledge Graphs using Spatially-Explicit AI Technologies." This project was led by the University of California, Santa Barbara, and brought $1 million directly to K-State over the past few years.