A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Innovative START project wins UMD-TEC seed funding

START Researcher Barnett Koven and Ramon Brena, from the Intelligent Systems Research Group, have received research funding from the University of Maryland (UMD) and Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico (TEC). Their project, titled “Social Media Influencers: Re-domaining Fashion Industry Forecasting to Anticipate Online Extremist Radicalization,” will explore the process of predicting fashion trends and how those processes can be used to predict terrorism trends.

“Through a novel approach of adapting highly developed trend forecasting models utilized in the fashion and lifestyle industry, this project will begin to fill this knowledge gap and thereby enable effective interventions against extremist exploitation of the internet,” Koven said.

Five seed grants were awarded by UMD and TEC to support international research collaborations involving faculty from both institutions. The projects they funded are meant to represent the diverse set of research opportunities being pursued at both of these universities.

The UMD-TEC seed grant program is in its second year and is designed to help researchers collaborate and identify complementary research paths. Thirteen proposals were submitted, each with two principal investigators, one of whom is an employee at either of the universities. TEC and UMD combined to contribute $200,000 to the five groups selected, $40,000 for each project, to be used over the course of a year’s worth of research.

Other projects selected range from bioanalysis to nanophotonics, the study of light and its interaction with matter. One funded collaboration between researchers at UMD and TEC will explore a sustainable farming practice in which water from fish tanks will be recycled for farm use. Another will assess the risks of antimicrobial resistance on produce in the U.S. and Mexico.

The funding for this cross-institutional collaborative product was provided by the Division of Research. The grant recipients were selected by a committee of reviewers from both institutions.