Hacks/Hackers, Partners Awarded Funding to Participate in the 2021 National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator

July 12, 2023

Sept. 22, 2021 — Hacks/Hackers, the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, and partner organizations have been invited to join the 2021 cohort of Track F (Trust & Authenticity in Communications Systems) of the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator. Participation in the program includes a $749,000 award from the Convergence Accelerator that the team will use to develop practical interventions that help individuals and community moderators analyze information quality, including misinformation, to build trust and address vaccine hesitancy.

“The project will develop an expert-informed software tool called ARTT (“Analysis and Response for Trust Tool”), and will be designed to have immediate impact on community exchanges regarding vaccine safety,” said Principal Investigator Connie Moon Sehat.

“While many aspects of these resources and tools will be relevant no matter the topic, we will focus on the topic of vaccine hesitancy to ensure our effort’s applicability,” said Co-Principal Investigator Amy X. Zhang.

Connie Moon Sehat, Hacks/Hackers Researcher at Large, is the principal investigator (PI) for the ARTT project. Co-principal investigators are Amy X. Zhang, Assistant Professor at University of Washington (UW)’s Allen School, and Franziska Roesner, Associate Professor, Allen School. Kate Starbird, Associate Professor in the UW Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) and Director of the UW Center for an Informed Public, and Jevin West, Associate Professor at the UW Information School, serve as senior personnel on the project.

“This is a fundamentally multidisciplinary effort, bringing together research fields such as computer science, social science, media literacy, conflict resolution, and psychology in addition to practitioners from communities focusing on health-related communications in journalism, vaccine safety, and Wikipedia,” said Sehat.

Hacks/Hackers is ARTT’s lead organization. Partner and collaborating organizations include the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, Wikimedia DC, MuckRock Foundation, Social Science Research Council (SSRC), and CUNY Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. Vaccine Safety Net (VSN) of the World Health Organization contributes as an advisor. The Carter Center (TCC) provides additional guidance and support.

“The motivation for this project was to give people more tools for informed determinations about issues that affect their lives, such as vaccines,” said PI Sehat.

“As a team, we all started out wanting to treat our family, friends, and fellow citizens with respect when passing on information about vaccines and vaccinations by providing them with the resources to make their own decisions,” said co-PI Zhang. “That is how we came up with the idea of the ARTT software tool.”

Launched in 2019, the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator builds upon research and discovery to accelerate use-inspired convergence research into practical application. The program funds a cohort of teams to work interactively toward solving grand societal challenges that impact thousands of people positively.

“The Convergence Accelerator is a relatively new NSF program, but our unique program model is focused on delivering tangible solutions that have a positive nation-wide societal impact,” said Douglas Maughan, Office Head of the NSF Convergence Accelerator program. “While the 2021 cohort is focusing on two different research topics—ocean innovation and ecosystem challenges and misinformation, disinformation, trust and authenticity in communication systems—both convergent research tracks require acceleration of ideas into solutions and at a rapid pace. During phase one, a nine-month planning effort, selected teams are to participate in the program’s innovation curriculum designed to strengthen each team’s convergence approach and to further develop the solution concept toward phase two.”

Media contact:

Connie Moon Sehat, Principal Investigator, ARTT

Contact: artt@hackshackers.com