National Endowment for the Humanities recognizes ASU team for humanities research

The Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics team conducted interviews with TikTok creators for social media algorithm research

August 22, 2023

In the first-ever round of grants awarded for the National Endowment for the Humanities' Dangers and Opportunities of Technology program, a project team at the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics was recognized for its humanities research on social media algorithms.

The award is part of more than $41.3 million in grant awards the National Endowment for the Humanities has announced to support 280 humanities projects across the U.S. A screenshot of a zoom panel with four feminine-presenting Black individuals. Clockwise from top left: Amelia Som, Bobbi Miller, Dani Lalonders and Kenidra R. Woods during a Lincoln Center "Experiences on TikTok: Black Creators" panel that took in 2022. Download Full Image

The project directors — Sarah Florini, associate director; Liz Grumbach, manager of digital humanities and research; and Erica O’Neil, research program manager — are collaborating with the Online Content Creators’ Association to conduct interviews with creators on TikTok.

“It’s hard to overstate how impressive and important this collaborative work is for our ongoing research at Lincoln, and for scholarship on the ethics of technology more broadly,” said Gaymon Bennett, director of the Lincoln Center.

The team’s interest in TikTok originated in early 2020, when Florini and Grumbach became intrigued by how the TikTok algorithm seemed especially effective at sorting users into/out of solidarity networks. Building on this curiosity, Florini and Grumbach initiated a series of collaborations with the Online Content Creators’ Association over the past two years, including a series of panels hosted by the Lincoln Center last year that focused on the experiences of marginalized content creators.

“Content creators, especially those from historically underrepresented communities, deeply feel the impacts of algorithmic rules and norms from content curation and opaquely defined moderation, as we’ve seen from users like Ziggi Tyler,” Grumbach said. “Especially on TikTok, but also other social media platforms, it’s often the creators that reveal the inner workings of the algorithmic black box, and they do so through experiential knowledge.”

Their collaborators from the Online Content Creators’ Association, who have been a part of the project since 2021, are a creator-led advocacy group with the goal of improving labor conditions for online content creators, and represent more than 700 TikTok users. T.X. Watson, longtime collaborator on the project and a creator of educational content on TikTok, will join the team as the primary researcher from the association.

Florini, Grumbach and O’Neil aim to combine users’ experiences and folk theories about the platform’s algorithm with academic research and analysis.

“Many creators are actively engaged in ad hoc research to understand and make sense of algorithmic content curation and moderation," said Florini, who is also an associate professor of film and media studies in the Department of English. "We not only want to record what content creators know, but how they come to know it. What are their strategies for investigating the platforms they use?”

“This project is important because it takes community-based understandings of algorithms as a starting point for co-creating a shared vocabulary across university-community partnerships,” Grumbach said. “We hope that it will serve as a model for future ethical and care-based collaborations with social media creators and users.”

The award from NEH will propel their ongoing project into 2024, with work beginning in earnest in October 2023. The Lincoln Center is one of only two groups at ASU recognized in this round of NEH award announcements.

“We believe that collaborative research that includes people with a variety of expertise, both inside and outside academia, is the most powerful way to understand the social media platforms that are increasingly shaping our society," Florini said. "We are grateful to the NEH for recognizing the potential of this research and supporting our work.”

Karina Fitzgerald

Communications program coordinator , Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics


A garden of innovation: Mayo Clinic, ASU seed grant to fund medical discoveries

August 22, 2023

Endometriosis diagnostics. Tumor detection. Blood-based biomarkers. Bone repair. 

These are just a handful of the medical solutions Arizona State University researchers and Mayo Clinic doctors aim to explore through an innovative funding opportunity concentrated on collaboration between physicians and academics. A man and a woman work in a medical research lab Sixteen pilot studies will be explored through the Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University Alliance for Health Care Seed Grant Program — the largest amount since the program’s inception in 2016. Image courtesy Shutterstock Download Full Image

The Mayo Clinic and ASU Alliance for Health Care Seed Grant Program empowers investigators from both institutions to kickstart joint research projects and build a foundation to attract additional funding. The program also provides researchers with the unique advantage of finding solutions for complex biomedical problems that might not have been solved otherwise.

“When you try to take the most complex problem and solve it, at the same time you end up solving a lot of simpler problems more effectively,” says Neal Woodbury, chief science and technology officer at ASU Knowledge Enterprise.

When awarding grants, the program considers projects that encompass the following factors: transforming the health care workforce, optimizing health and the human body, and establishing connected health care delivery and biomedical innovation. Among these key elements, the project should demonstrate meaningful collaboration between investigators at ASU and Mayo Clinic.

“We want this to be, more than anything, a catalyst — a spark that continues to foster our collaborative efforts,” says Rafael Fonseca, chief innovation officer at Mayo Clinic. 

The 2023 seed grant projects and its lead investigators are:

Automating data extraction from electronic health records and reasoning to assist treatment decision-making for prostate cancer

Chitta Baral, professor, ASU School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence
Dr. Irbaz Bin Riaz, oncologist, Mayo Clinic

Machine Learning Design to Predict and Manage Postprandial Hyperglycemia in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes

Hassan Ghasemzadeh, associate professor, ASU College of Health Solutions
Dr. Bithika Thompson, endocrinologist, Mayo Clinic

Characterizing health care provider and patient experiences with implementing genomic medicine in a federally qualified health center

Rachel Gur-Arie, assistant professor, ASU Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation
Richard Sharp, biomedical ethics, Mayo Clinic

The use of itaconate as an immunometabolite for improved bone repair 

Julianne Holloway, assistant professor, ASU School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy; associate faculty, Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics
Jennifer Westendorf, orthopedic surgery consultant, Mayo Clinic

A Holistic Approach for Improved Diagnosis and Management of BRCA Mutations in Breast Cancer Using Advanced -omics and Imaging Technologies

Ashif Iquebal, assistant professor, ASU School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence
Dr. Bhavika Patel, breast imaging radiologist, Mayo Clinic

Evolutionary Therapy to Enhance Management of Gastrointestinal Malignancies

Carlo Maley, professor, ASU School of Life Sciences; associate professor, Biodesign Center for Biocomputing, Security and Society
Dr. Ryan Carr, oncologist, Mayo Clinic

Extracorporeal Robotic Tissue Retraction with Endoscopic Resection of Complex Gastrointestinal Neoplasms

Hamidreza Marvi, associate professor, ASU School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy
Dr. Terry Jue, gastroenterologist, Mayo Clinic

A Biomimetic and Organotypic Model of Brain Tumor-CAR-T Cell Interactions

Mehdi Nikkhah, associate professor, ASU School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering; assistant professor, Biodesign Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics
Gloria Kim, immunologist, Mayo Clinic

Quantitative Gait Analysis as a novel diagnostic tool and clinical biomarker for Atypical Parkinsonian Syndromes

Daniel Peterson, associate professor, ASU College of Health Solutions
Dr. Shyamal Mehta, neurologist, Mayo Clinic

Detection and quantification of key biomarkers in CAR T-cell therapy with Quantum-NanoElectroPore (Q-NEP)

Quan Qing, associate professor, ASU Department of Physics; faculty member, Biodesign Center for Bioelectronics and Biosensors
Dr. Januario Castro, oncologist, Mayo Clinic

Conductivity Tensor Imaging to characterize the neuronal mechanisms of brain invasion in High-Grade Glioma (HGG)

Rosalind Sadleir, associate professor, ASU School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering
Dr. Leland Hu, neuroradiologist, Mayo Clinic

3D Printing-enabled Regenerative Medicine for Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) Treatment

Xiangfan Chen, assistant professor, ASU School of Manufacturing Systems and Networks
Jessica Lancaster, immunology consultant, Mayo Clinic

Engineering targeted strategies to diagnose and treat endometriosis

Jessica Weaver, assistant professor, ASU School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering
Dr. Megan N. Wasson, gynecologic surgeon, Mayo Clinic

Investigation of mechanisms of muscle atrophy and weakness post-ACL injury and reconstruction

Jeanne Wilson-Rawls, associate professor, ASU School of Life Sciences
Dr. Kostas Econompoulos, orthopedic surgeon, Mayo Clinic

Cardiac Amyloidosis, The Crucial Need for Blood-based Biomarkers for Early Disease Detection

Craig Woods, director of research projects, Infectious Disease, Institute for Future Health
Dr. Julie Rosenthal, cardiologist, Mayo Clinic

Adaptive Self-Supervised Contrastive Learning for Tumor Detection and Treatment Evaluation

Yingzhen Yang, assistant professor, ASU School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence
Dr. Alvin C. Silva, radiologist, Mayo Clinic

Written by Sophia Balasubramanian