Zhe He leads winning team in FSU’s Collaborative Collision competition

July 18, 2022

A project by Faculty Affiliates of the Institute for Successful Longevity and other researchers using artificial intelligence to aid older adults with Alzheimer’s disease earned the top prize at a Florida State University competition designed to develop interdisciplinary research teams tackling complex issues.

The project, which unites faculty and staff members from the College of Communication and Information, College of Business, College of Fine Arts, College of Medicine and FSU Facilities, will receive $50,000 in internal funding from the FSU Office of Research. The team is developing a project called DeepCare, which uses AI to improve social connectedness and emotional wellbeing among individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death for adults in the United States.

“Traditional approaches to tackling this problem are usually static, without too much customization for a particular population or toward a particular person,” said ISL Faculty Affiliate Zhe He, associate professor in the School of Information and the team’s principal investigator. “We think artificial intelligence is going to be a great tool to help us customize our interventions based on personal preferences and characteristics. We can also tailor our treatments based on the behavior of individuals over time.”

In addition to He, the DeepCare research team includes ISL Faculty Affiliates Jonathan Adams of the College of Communication and Information and Patricia Born of the College of Business. Other members are Heidi Kinsell of the College of Medicine, Keith Roberson of the College and Marcela Castaño of FSU Facilities.

The team was one of five that competed in Collaborative Collision: Community+, an initiative that united researchers from around the FSU campus and local organizations to explore projects focused on community. The teams pitched their research to a panel of faculty and staff to receive up to $50,000 to support their work.

“The research supported by this program is fascinating because of its interdisciplinary nature,” said Interim Vice President for Research Mark Riley. “Society has problems that can’t be solved by a single academic discipline. That’s where a university such as Florida State can make a major contribution, because of our ability to bring together researchers from a variety of fields to look for solutions to these complex problems.”

The community theme was a natural fit for an initiative focused on interdisciplinary questions. Many FSU faculty are engaged in participatory research programs, in which members of the local community are part of the research process and are empowered to solve problems on their own. Others study communities in all sorts of forms — those made up of people, animals, businesses and other entities that make up complex interdependent systems.

“Whether we’re talking about community development, community performance, community engagement, community health, community resilience — these are all community plus something else, and without that something else, you don’t quite get the full picture,” said Mike Mitchell, assistant director for research strategy and impact in the Office of Research Development. “So Collaborative Collision: Community+ welcomed anyone and everyone whose research, scholarship or creative pursuits involved community, however they chose to define it.”