2021 CITRIS Seed Awards support research at Baskin School of Engineering

Katia Obraczka
Katia Obraczka, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering
Sri Kurniawan
Sri Kurniawan, Professor and Chair of Computational Media

Two UC Santa Cruz engineers are among the recipients of the 2021 CITRIS Seed Awards from the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute (CITRIS).

Out of 47 proposals for innovative, early-stage projects that emphasize collaboration across two or more institutions, 13 UC teams were selected to each receive a one-time award of up to $60,000 for interdisciplinary work. These projects are designed to show results within a year, but many promise far-reaching influence on the future of their fields.

“We are proud to support these innovative multidisciplinary proposals that demonstrate not only the bold ideas of UC faculty members but the power of forging partnerships across campuses to advance technology solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our day,” said CITRIS Director Costas Spanos.

The selected proposals address grand challenges, including digital health innovation and wildfire mitigation. Just as their proposals tackle critical problems in innovative ways, the teams feature faculty members from diverse fields.

Since 2008, the CITRIS Seed Funding program has supported more than 235 projects and over 425 researchers, resulting in extramural funding up to four times the initial investment within three years of completion. CITRIS Seed Awards facilitate the scientific groundwork, data collection, and prototyping necessary to pursue larger research or commercialization awards that address major unsolved challenges.

The following 2021 awards involve faculty in the Baskin School of Engineering:

Persistent, autonomous, patient-centered monitoring and its application to pressure injury prevention

Principal Investigators: Katia Obraczka (Lead PI, UC Santa Cruz), Sarina Fazio (UC Davis Health), Holly Kirkland-Kyhn (UC Davis Health)

Low-mobility individuals are disproportionately affected by pressure ulcers and injuries, wounds that develop in localized areas of tissue and can take years to heal. This open-source project based on the Internet of Things (IoT) will integrate vital sign sensors and surfaces such as mattresses or wheelchairs into a patient monitoring framework. The resulting system is designed to operate autonomously and continuously, with real-time data collection, storage, and analysis. Given the system’s ability to detect conditions early, its immediate visual feedback, and its integration of different sensors based on a patient’s individual health conditions, this project has the potential to significantly improve telehealth treatment, patient well-being, and health care costs.

Virtual evacuation decision-making under fire threat for personal property and transportation decisions

Principal Investigators: Spencer Castro (Lead PI, UC Merced), Sri Kurniawan (UC Santa Cruz)

Given the devastating breadth of wildfires across 12 states in 2020, and the increasing prevalence of fires in locations with historically lower danger, more people are being exposed to fires at the wildland-urban interface. Many people in these locations are unaware of the dangers of wildfires and unprepared to evacuate their homes. This project plans to develop a platform for public fire training through immersive virtual environments for greater accessibility and evacuation decision-making under time pressure. The platform will help determine which sensory metrics best predict performance for these types of decisions and accurately represent real-time cognition. This technology will help civilians evacuate their homes more efficiently and, ultimately, help save lives.