First two IDEA grants awarded

Research proposals to study cross-cultural collaboration in design teams and to develop mobile technology for prevention and management of chronic disease have received Rice’s first two InterDisciplinary Excellence Awards (IDEA). The IDEA Fund, announced earlier this year on the Creative Ventures website launched by Provost Marie Lynn Miranda, supports development of new research or academic partnerships that extend across two or more schools to engage faculty in new and creative scholarship.

The first round of IDEA grants was offered in the spring, and another round will be offered in the fall; Rice has committed nearly a half-million dollars to developing new interdisciplinary research teams.

image of puzzle pieces labeled culture, language, priorities, values, beliefs jointed togetherA team headed by Eduardo Salas was awarded nearly $71,400 to study the knowledge, skills and abilities needed for team members to work interdependently in culturally diverse teams so that effective training can be designed. The goal is to facilitate interdisciplinary research collaboration across departments, such as psychology and engineering, by improving training and education for future engineering classes and generalizing their findings to cross-cultural training programs in organizational settings.

Salas, the Allyn R. and Gladys M. Cline Chair of Psychology and professor of psychology, is collaborating on this project with Margaret Beier, associate professor psychology; Ann Saterback, professor in the practice of bioengineering education; and Matthew Wettergreen, lecturer in the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen.

Image of hand holding a cellphone with a heart rate diplayed and the other hand wearing a watch with a heart monitor displayedA team headed by Ashok Veeraraghavan was awarded $75,000 to use Rice’s interdisciplinary expertise in health, mobile technology, sensors, communication platforms, computer science, engineering, data science and behavioral science to develop innovative tools and solutions to collect, integrate, manage, visualize, analyze and interpret data generated by mobile and wearable sensors. The goal is to reduce chronic disease morbidity and mortality by using these new tools to measure risk factors in context and real time, create computational models of risk and devise real-time adaptive interventions.

Veeraraghavan, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and computer science, is collaborating with Ashutosh Sabharwal, professor of electrical and computer engineering; David Wetter, the Elma W. Schneider Chair in Psychology and professor and department chair of psychology; and Cho Lam, senior faculty fellow of psychology.

“We’re excited about these inaugural winners of grants from the IDEA Fund and look forward to seeing the outcomes of their research,” said Vice Provost for Research Yousif Shamoo. “This is just a first step to a larger engagement across campus in interdisciplinary research. The Creative Ventures Funds will be making awards twice a year, so I encourage all faculty to consider their potential for collaborative research projects and submit a proposal when the program gets underway again this fall.”

Enhancing Rice’s research competitiveness is one of the strategic initiatives for the university’s second century. To view the funding opportunities for research, visit

About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.