Seed Grant Award Winners Announced

In April 2020, a call for proposals for the UMaine AI Initiative seed grant funding program was released in an effort to help UMaine faculty increase their competitiveness for extramural funding support to advance UMaine’s AI R&D agenda. A total of 16 applications were received by the June 1 application deadline and the quality of the proposals from the interdisciplinary teams assembled was outstanding.

A review committee assembled by the OVPRDGS reviewed, scored, and discussed the applicant pool at length over the past several weeks and recently submitted their funding recommendations to VP Varahramyan for consideration. Based on those recommendations and an assessment of available resources dedicated to this strategic initiative, the following four projects will receive seed grant funding and will commence their one year projects on August 1, 2020.

Improved Adversarial Attack Detection Toward Robustness of Deep Neural Networks.
PI: Salimeh Yasaei Sekeh (School of Information and Computer Science (SCIS)). Co-PIs: Ali Abedi (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering); Richard Corey (VEMI Lab); Nicholas Giudice (VEMI Lab); Collaborator: Theodore Nowak (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Advancing Legal-Technological Approaches for Protecting Privacy Rights and Civil Liberties in the Age of Big Data.
PI: Harlan Onsrud (SCIS). Co-PIs: Chaofan Chen (SCIS); Sepideh Ghanavati (SCIS); Manuel Woersdoerfer (SCIS/Maine Business School/Department of Philosophy). Collaborators: Peter Guffen (UMaine Law School/Pierce Atwood LLP) and James Campbell (Maine Freedom of Information Coalition and UMaine adjunct graduate faculty)

Interpretation of Light-Material Interactions with Machine Learning for the Detection of Shared Surface Contamination.
PI: Caitlin Howell (Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering). Co-PIs: Salimeh Yasaei Sekeh (SCIS); Sheila Edalatpour (Department of Mechanical Engineering); Richard Corey (VEMI Lab)

Context-Dependent Deep Learning for Seabird Recognition in Drone Survey Imagery.
PI: Roy Turner (SCIS). Co-PIs: Cynthia Loftin (U.S. Geological Survey, Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit/UMaine Department of Wildlife Ecology); Salimeh Yasaei Sekeh (SCIS).

Read the entire announcement here for more details.

Plans are also in place for each of these teams to provide an update on their progress to the university community as part of the UMaine AI initiative’s webinar series.

Contact: Jason Charland,