Karmakar Helps GSU Obtain NSF Grant


Recent Ph.D. graduate Saurav Karmakar has helped Georgia State University obtain a $175,000 National Science Foundation grant. Funding from the two-year grant will be used to develop methods and tools for discovering and visualizing the stories of hidden victims and unidentified perpetrators in collections of human rights violations reports and witness statements. The project will use a combination of natural language processing and qualitative language analysis to uncover stories that may exist only as fragments scattered across thousands or even millions of documents. In particular, the researchers will develop an automated reader that can reconstruct stories from fragments, along with an interface for navigating those stories.

The grant’s principal investigator is Ben Miller, an assistant professor in GSU’s Department of English. Dr. Karmakar contributed to the initial proposal that led to the grant and will be employed using funds from the grant. According to Dr. Miller, his work is “central to the success of the project.”

The grant was awarded through the Digging into Data Challenge (DID), an international competition designed to foster research collaboration across countries and to encourage the analysis of large data sets in the social sciences and humanities. The winners of the second round of DID were announced in January; of the 67 teams that competed, only 14 were chosen to receive funding. The money awarded to the winning teams is provided by eight international research funding organizations, representing Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Dr. Miller’s research team includes Dr. George Pullman, an associate professor of English at GSU and Director of the Center for Instructional Innovation, Dr. Karthikeyan Umapathy (University of North Florida), and Dr. Lu Xiao (University of Western Ontario). Dr. Xiao, who is the Canadian team lead, will be supported by a $60,700 DID grant from Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Sample documents to be searched will be supplied by the Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group, a part of the Benetech Human Rights Program.