Public Interest Technology University Network Grant Program Info Session

The Public Interest Technology University Network’s annual Network Challenge funding program is open for submissions. The Network Challenge seeks to encourage new ideas, foster collaborations, and incentivize resource- and information-sharing among network members. The broad goal is to fund projects that help train a new generation of graduates who have both technological literacy and a rigorous foundation to navigate the societal, ethical, legal, policy, and equity implications of technology by offering a systematic way of studying technology as a tool for
addressing social problems in the world.

One year project funding is available in three tranches: up to $45,000, up to $90,000 and up to $180,000.  Applications are open to all PIs on UCSC Campus. An initial campus limited submission process will select up to three projects that will be submitted to the network committee. For more information, join us for a Zoom Info Session, Tuesday, May 12th from 3:00 – 4:00 PM. Please RSVP at:

Applications can be submitted at:

Contact Michael Matkin, Assistant Director of CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, UC Santa Cruz with any questions:

Students – Respond to COVID-19 in a Virtual Hackathon!


From data tracking and modeling to resource matching apps, public interest technologists have a unique opportunity to help our communities respond to the current crisis. The Resiliency Challenge is a 9-week virtual hackathon, with 3-week sprints, aimed at helping colleges and communities cope with the Covid-19 crisis.

If you are a student and want to join a hackathon team, you can learn more and sign up here:

If you have experienced or witnessed a problem in your community that you think could be solved through technology, consider submitting a challenge project for students to work on as part of the hackathon. You can submit projects here: You can see a list of initial projects here (more are being submitted every day).

If you are staff or faculty and want to get involved as a mentor for a challenge or a judge, you can sign up at the link above as well:

CITRIS/CPSRC Seminar: Andra Keay


Speaker Name: Andra Keay

Speaker Title: Managing Director

Speaker Organization: Silicon Valley Robotics

Start Time: Thursday, Jan. 9th, 2020 – 1:30pm

End Time: Thursday, Jan. 9th, 2020 – 3:00pm

Location: E2-599


This seminar is a review of the latest investments into the robotics industry, and how difficulties in the categorization of the robotics industry in the U.S. and overseas hinders awareness of emerging robotics technologies. In 2014, the robotics industry hit two tipping points. One was a huge increase in funding going into new areas of emerging robotics industries, and the other has been the move away from traditional market analytics based on sales figures to predict future growth, towards the much more complex analysis of disruption, market cycles, and effectively trying to read the entrails of the investment industry.


Andra Keay is the Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, the non-profit industry group supporting innovation and commercialization of robotics technologies. Andra is also founder of the Robot Launch Global Startup Competition, Robot Garden Maker Space, and Women in Robotics. She is a mentor, investor and advisor to startups, accelerators and think tanks, with a strong interest in commercializing socially positive robotics and AI. She joined CITRIS People and Robots Research Group as a Visiting Scholar.

UCSC Tech for Social Good Application Deadline Extended to Friday, November 8th

The new CITRIS Tech for Social Good Program at UC Santa Cruz is extending the application deadline for the Tech Development track to Friday, November 8, 2019.  Complications with the recent power outages affected some student teams, so the original deadline of November 1 has been pushed out to ensure that all groups are able to complete their applications.

Through the Tech for Social Good Program, student groups apply to receive up to $5000 in funding for Information Technology projects that seek to provide a solution to a societal challenge and up to $1000 for events with the same focus.

Three More Tech For Social Good Student Info Sessions

Due to demand we have added three more Tech for Social Good Program student info and matchmaking sessions at the following campus locations and dates:

  • Wed, Oct 16, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, Rachel Carson College, Red Room
  • Thurs, Oct 17, 1:00 – 2:00 pm, Arts Department, Seminar Room D101
  • Fri, Oct 18, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, Social Sciences 2, Room 47

Come out to learn more about the program and application process. If you have an idea and need team mates, come prepared to give a short pitch of your idea and the skills you’re looking for in partners. If you have skills but no idea yet, show up to hear the pitches and find a team you’re interested in joining.

The CITRIS Tech for Social Good Program provides competitive funding support to undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students, groups, teams or organizations developing hardware, software, events or programs that explore solutions to society’s pressing challenges. Receive up to $5000 for your team’s project idea and up to $1000 for an event or programming you’d like to run. Learn more here.

UC Santa Cruz Campus Seed Funding Award Recipients Announced

CITRIS and the Banatao Institute at UC Santa Cruz is pleased to announce the award recipients of their inaugural Campus Seed Funding Program. The new program encourages multi-disciplinary teams from across campus to collaborate on projects that address social challenges through the use of technology and can lead to larger research programs and extramural grant proposals. Thirteen teams representing all five campus divisions and sixteen different departments submitted proposals.

The funded projects include PIs from four campus divisions and eight different departments. The funded projects for the 2019 program are:

  • Title: Sustainability Analytics Model of Biorefineries for Algae (SAMBA): A Sensor-Based Approach for Visualization and Decision-Making
    • PIs: Anne Kapuscinski, Social Sciences – Environmental Studies; Yihsu Chen, Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering; and Elliot Campbell, Social Sciences – Environmental Studies.
    • Abstract: Rapid adoption of low-carbon technologies is a grand challenge for sustainable infrastructure. The scale of this challenge requires a portfolio of solutions. In the portfolio of sustainable infrastructures, one rapidly emerging technology is algae biorefineries. Algae biorefineries harvest solar energy to grow microalgae and convert their biomass into pharmaceuticals, jet fuels, and aquaculture feeds, and provide ecosystem services including carbon sequestration. Of critical importance, algae biorefineries can operate without fresh water or arable land. Algae biorefineries potentially can contribute to deep carbon reductions. But, their sustainable infrastructure role is uncertain due to energy-intensive inputs that can lead to diverse sustainability outcomes. To address this critical knowledge gap, we propose to develop a smart decision-making tool based on carbon, energy, and water analytics called the Sustainability Analytics Model of Biorefineries for Algae (SAMBA). SAMBA will assimilate biorefinery sensor-based data through open-source software, with output visualizations tailored to a diverse range of processes, demonstrated through our industry partnership with Cellana, LLC. Such decision-making tools have been developed for other sectors, but research data have yet to be leveraged for decision support in algae biorefineries. Recent advances in fundamental understanding of algae product life-cycles, including contributions from our three laboratories, make now an optimal time for SAMBA. This project will allow us to: develop proof-of-concept results and catalyze our interdisciplinary team of faculty from diverse career stages; enhance results from our complementary proposal to NOAA, recently recommended for funding; and leverage project results to pursue four major funding opportunities, including NSF’s Food-Energy-Water program.
  • Title: Submersible, data-driven lab-on-a-chip for real-time monitoring of water quality
    • PIs: Shiva Abbaszadeha, BSOE – ECE: and Jin Zhang, PBSci – Chemistry & Biochemistry
    • Abstract: Critical systems, such as those used in aircrafts, are continuously monitored by a variety of sensors with feedback mechanisms to ensure proper function and safety. Such a capability does not currently exist for water-based systems, and water-related disease and contamination are increasingly reported every year. This project seeks to open new avenues of research in chemistry and life sciences by combining artificial intelligence and advanced sensor technology. We will combine nanotechnology, plasma-enhanced surface modification, and suppression technique with low-noise, low-power, and high-speed circuits and computation capabilities to develop a platform for real-time monitoring of the water quality.
  • Title: Uses and Abuses of Data and Learning Analytics for Higher Education
    • PIs: Abel Rodriguez, BSOE – Statistics; Jody Greene, Humanities – Literature; Rebecca London, Social Sciences – Sociology
    • Abstract: Through a year-long Fellows program and a conference, we will explore issues related to the increasing use of data and predictive analytics in higher education in general, and UC/UCSC instructional settings in particular. To that end, we aim at increasing awareness about and generating solutions for the ethical and practical implications associated with the use of big data, artificial intelligence, and learning analytics in instructional settings. With whom should data representing student or instructor outcomes be shared? How should it be represented so as to be maximally useful? What do institutions involved in student success efforts do with such data once they have it? To what extent do individual instructors need to be versed in and capable of translating such data into instructional choices (the “what now”)? Whose responsibility is it to train faculty and staff to effectively and ethically use such data? Do predictive analytics in instructional settings really improve student outcomes and close equity gaps? What will the consequences be for faculty at research universities of expecting a much more granular, targeted relationship to ensuring the learning of individual students than faculty have been held to in the past? Should faculty be expected to become experts in using data to promote student learning, and might these new expectations deter first-rate researchers from choosing an academic career? Over the course of the year, we will host the Fellows program and conference as well as to conduct a companion research project focused on understanding the role of data and learning analytics from the faculty and staff perspectives. We will generate a white paper on best practices for the use of such data in instructional settings, two case studies for wider dissemination, and a research-based article while deepening and broadening the conversation around ethics and data analytics across the UC and beyond. This work will serve as the basis for a future grant application, likely to a solicitation associated with the “Future of Work” Big Idea at the National Science Foundation.
  • Title: Diversion and Recovery of PLA Plastic from the UC Santa Cruz Waste Stream
    • PIs: Scott Oliver, PBSci – Chemistry & Biochemistry; Narges Norouzi, BSOE – Computer Science and Engineering; and Tamara Ball, Social Sciences – Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators
    • Abstract: This project seeks to divert polylactic acid (PLA) plastic from recycling and waste streams at UC Santa Cruz. PLA is now a common food and drink container but is not recyclable and in fact becomes a contaminant when mixed with other thermoplastics. Our multidisciplinary research team will use a combination of chemistry, materials science, computer science and social science to address this growing, expensive problem. The project will support four complementary areas of work: supply chain analysis and information management, chemistry and materials science, waste diversion, and material recovery. The end goal is to keep a greater percentage of PLA material on campus and avoid the economic and ecological costs of shipping to our local landfill (or worse, overseas). A mobile app supporting point-source waste audits will be developed to document pre- and post-intervention conditions of UC Santa Cruz waste management. Data collected through the mobile app will be crucial to determine the economy of scale and volume of material needed to sustain this alternative supply chain. The team will develop techniques to de-polymerize or prepare for extrusion to filament feedstock, which will be tested on a dedicated 3D printer provided by the Sustainability-Lab. Market analysis will determine the economy of scale required to produce and sell filament below market price to users across the UC system, while providing a future revenue stream for the project. Reclaiming and dispersing low-cost PLA feedstocks can support innovation while avoiding contamination and achieving waste diversion goals across UC campuses.

For more information on the program, visit:

For more information on future editions of the program please contact us at

The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute drive interdisciplinary innovation for social good with faculty researchers and students from four University of California campuses – Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz – along with public and private partners. Find out more at and

Tech for Social Good – Student Info and Matchmaking Session

Start Time: Tuesday, October 1, 2019 – 4:00pm
End Time: Tuesday, October 1, 2019 – 6:00pm
Location: Engineering 2, Room 180
Organizer:  CITRIS and the Banatao Institute / Institute for Social Transformation

We are excited to announce the launch of the new Tech for Social Good program at UC Santa Cruz, cosponsored by the Institute for Social Transformation. The program will provide competitive funding for student research projects and events, encouraging students across all campus divisions to participate and form cross-disciplinary teams.

The Tech for Social Good program supports student-led learning and technology development for healthy, sustainable, connected, and equitable livelihoods in the United States and abroad. Join us for an information and matchmaking session for students on Tuesday, October 1, from 4 to 6 p.m. in Engineering 2, Room 180.

The program is open to teams of graduate and undergraduate students and has two competitive tracks, one to support technology development and another to support student-led events on campus. Through the technology track, students can apply for funding of $500 to $5,000 for tech-focused projects that promote social good by supporting healthy, sustainable, prosperous, and equitable livelihoods in the United States and abroad.

The events track will provide between $200 and $1,000 for individual students, student organizations, or student groups at UC Santa Cruz to develop events or programming that improve and support technological innovations that support healthy, sustainable, and connected communities.

Thursday, June 6th – Humanity’s Last Stand: The Challenge of Artificial Intelligence

An Evening With Nicanor Perlas, Right Livelihood Award Laureate

Thursday, June 6th, 2019, 7:00 PM
UC Santa Cruz, Kresge College Seminar Room

Lecture with Nicanor Perlas, followed by panel discussion with Anthony Aguirre, Associate Professor of Physics; Lise Getoor, Professor of Computer Science; and, Sikina Jinnah, Associate Professor of Politics. This event is free and open to the public.


Click here for details and to RSVP. Nicanor Perlas is also teaching the Right Livelihood Summer Institute on July 8-12, 2019. Click here for details.

CITRIS Seed Funding Information Session – Jan. 9th – 12:30 PM – E2-180

CITRIS and the Banatao Institute has $600,000 available through its 2019 Core Seed Funding Program for research that aims to create information technology solutions for society’s most pressing challenges. Individual grants range from $40,000-$60,000 and are open to researchers at all CITRIS campuses: UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Davis Health and UC Merced. Projects must include at least 2 PIs from different CITRIS campuses.

Join us on Wednesday January 9th at 12:30 pm in Baskin Engineering, building E2, room 180 (the Simularium) to learn more about the program and have all your questions answered.

RSVP if you can attend in person, would like to attend via teleconference (a link will be sent to you via email) or simply would like further information. The RSVP form is here.

For questions, contact Michael Matkin, Assistant Director, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, UC Santa Cruz – mmatkin (at) ucsc (dot) edu.