Taylor Geospatial Institute Awards $1.7 Million in Seed Grants to Advance Collaborative Research

Photo collage of 2023 TGI Fellows.
by Maggie Rotermund

ST. LOUIS – The Taylor Geospatial Institute today awards its first $1.7 million in Geospatial Institute Seed Grant Program to stimulate Collaborative Research (GISCoR) grants to research faculty across its partner institutions. These seed grants are designed to encourage collaborative research and provide researchers with resources to advance geospatial science through innovative research projects.

Each proposal brings together researchers from multiple institutions across the consortium.

The TGI consortium includes Saint Louis University, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Harris-Stowe State University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Missouri University of Science & Technology, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Washington University in St. Louis. Collectively, these institutions encompass more than 5,000 faculty and 100,000 students.

TGI’s mission is to advance geospatial science through multi-institutional, interdisciplinary collaborations to create innovative, real-world solutions to societal grand challenges. It supports a collaborative research and training environment.

TGI builds on St. Louis’ significant geospatial assets and is funded by a legacy investment by Andrew C. Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings, Inc. and Founding Chair of Greater St. Louis, Inc. with supporting investments from each of the eight member institutions.

Beyond creating new connections to strengthen the consortium, the exploratory research projects are expected to lead to multi-institutional research grants from external funding agencies.

The seed grants awarded by the Institute will support research projects that use geospatial science and tools to address real-world problems in areas such as digital agriculture, digital twins, climate change, public health and developing artificial intelligence tools. These projects span the Institute’s research focus areas of core geospatial science, food systems, geospatial health and national security.

“We are excited to support the innovative research projects of our partners and foster collaborations among researchers across different institutions,” said Vasit Sagan, Ph.D., Taylor Geospatial Institute acting director. “These seed grants will provide the necessary resources to jump-start promising projects that use geospatial technology to address critical societal challenges.”

The GISCoR grants support two types of research projects – four $200,000 development grants designed to create large-scale multi-disciplinary research teams and smaller exploratory grants designed to investigate innovative ideas.

The development research projects and principal investigators are as follows:

    • Integrating downscaled climate models with in-situ measurements to investigate fine-scale urban environmental heterogeneity. Kim Medley, Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis.
    • Geospatial epidemiology and ecology of tick-borne diseases. Ram Raghavan, Ph.D., University of Missouri Columbia.
    • WhereRisk: A Multimodal Platform for Early Sensing of Infectious Diseases. Enbal Shacham, Ph.D., Saint Louis University.
    • Developing a SMART Geospatial Tool for Extracting Building Information at a Community Level to Enable Digital-Twins for Disaster Resilience. Guirong ‘Grace’ Yan, Ph.D., Missouri University of Science & Technology.

The exploratory research projects and principal investigators include:

    • Triple Exclusion: Geospatial Analysis on Food, Healthcare, and Banking Deserts and Their Impacts on Health. Jin Huang, Ph.D., professor of social work at Saint Louis University.
    • Forest Park Living Lab Geospace: Partnering with TGI to explore biodiversity and human dimensions of Forest Park. Stephen Blake, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology at Saint Louis University.
    • Artificial intelligence & machine learning-driven framework for meteorological data mining & synthesis for Health Systems. Shoaib Usman, Ph.D., Missouri University of Science and Technology.
    • Resolving permafrost, vegetation, and wildfire interactions through geospatial space-time analysis. Roger Michaelides, Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis.
    • Assessing geographical distribution of early childhood special education services for children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental delays. Mark Palmer, Ph.D., University of Missouri Columbia.
    • Untangling the role of vegetative structural complexity in community assembly of vibrationally signaling insects. Kasey Fowler-Finn, Ph.D., associate professor of biology at Saint Louis University.
    • A novel high-performance geospatial framework for near-real time crop phenological characterization. Chunyuan Diao, Ph.D., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
    • Waste Not, Want not. A “Smart Garden” approach to Water Conservation using Remote Sensing and Geospatial Technologies for Urban Agriculture. Rekha Meyer, Ph.D., Harris-Stowe State University.
    • Remapping the Founding: The Realities of National Security and The Opportunities for New Spatial Technologies. Peter Kastor, Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis.
    • Rethinking Multimodal Localization Systems at Scale in Challenging Scenarios. Flavio Esposito, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science at Saint Louis University.
    • Food acculturation and diabetes-associated risks among immigrants: linking the macro- and micro-level data. Hisako Matsuo, Ph.D., professor of sociology at Saint Louis University.
    • A Geospatio-Temporal Analysis of Socio-Economic Segregation and Crime (GeoTem). J.S. Onésimo Sandoval, Ph.D., professor of sociology at Saint Louis University.
    • Mapping Urban Recyclable Waste via a Scalable, Low-Cost, High-Fidelity Sensor Array and Dynamic Recycling Resource Allocation. Orhun Aydin, Ph.D., assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Saint Louis University.

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