Research Projects

Interdisciplinary research,
education and capacity building

Digital Media Projects

Roots and Wings: Glocalized Networks and Mobile Media Entrepreneurship in Austin and Lisbon

2014 Call for R&D Projects at UT Austin

University of Texas at Austin:
Wenhong Chen, Sharon Strover, Joseph Straubhaar, Artur Matos Alves, Kye-Hyoung Lee (PhD student), Xiaoqian Li (PhD student), Hogeun Seo (MA student)

University of Porto:
José Azevedo, Nuno Moutinho, Raquel Meneses, Carlos Figueiredo (PhD student)

Atlântica University:
Artur Matos Alves

Games for Media and Information Literacy

Principal Investigators: Maria da Conceição Gonçalves Costa, Lusofona University and Kathleen Tyner, UT Austin

Relevance Mining and Detection System (REMINDS)

Principal Investigators: Álvaro Pedro de Barros Borges Reis Figueira, University of Porto and Matthew Lease, UT Austin

Expression and Recognition of Irony in Multicultural Social Media

Principal Investigators: Paula Cristina Quaresma da Fonseca Carvalho, INESC (Institute for Systems Engineering and Computers) and Byron C Wallace, UT Austin

Context extraction for the blind using computer vision

Principal Investigators: João Manuel Pereira Barroso, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro and Eli Mercer, UT Austin

REACTION - Retrieval, Extraction, and Aggregation Computing Technology for Integrating and Organizing News

Principal Investigators: Mário Silva, University of Lisbon, Luis Francisco-Revilla and Matt Lease, UT Austin

This project will take computational journalism to the next level by developing a set of new algorithms, tools and methodologies for media analytics. The project aims to help journalists and researchers make better sense of what is news and what is not among the massive amounts of data produced every day.

Project Breadcrumbs

Principal Investigators: Álvaro Figueira, University of Porto, Luis Francisco-Revilla, UT Austin

Project Breadcrumbs will capitalize on public participation in the global news cycle to enable journalists to harness reader participation. It will build bridges between online news and social media so journalists can understand the interests of their readers and the implicit relationships that readers perceive between different articles and events in order to identify valuable contributors and follow new leads for further writing.

INVITE: social Identity and partNership in VIrTual Environments

Principal Investigators: Rui Prada, Instituto Superior Técnico, Jorge Peña, UT Austin

INVITE will use "serious games" to understand how human partnerships are created, maintained and terminated in virtual environments.

LIFEisGAME: LearnIng of Facial Emotions usIng Serious GAMEs

Principal Investigators: Verónica Orvalho, University of Porto, J.K. Aggarwal and Yan Zhang, UT Austin

LIFEisGAME will embed real-time computer vision/graphics-based facial expression analysis/synthesis into a game in order to teach children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to recognize facial emotions.

Visit the LIFEisGAME site
Read about Dr. Orvalho's facial animation software, Fimmie

ImTV - On-Demand Immersive-TV for Communities of Media Producers and Consumers

Principal Investigators: João Magalhães, New University of Lisbon, Sharon Strover and Luis Francisco-Revilla, UT Austin

ImTV aims at offering consumers a personalized combination of mainstream TV content and online user-generated content based on algorithms that process content metadata, user and community feedback.


Principal Investigators: Manuel Damásio, University of Lusófona, Laura Stein and Michael Mackert, UT Austin

Inclusive services to promote health and wellness via digital interactive television will evaluate the potential of digital interactive television (iDTV) to promote health care and wellness services and information to Portuguese age 55 and older with low technology literacy.


Principal Investigator: Tomás Henriques, New University of Lisbon

The perception and cognition of space and its features by mapping visual information into sound and sound structures is an exploratory project. "This grant reflects the fact that digital media is multidisciplinary and to do meaningful work you need talent and insight from people across multiple areas," said Sharon Strover, director of CoLab's Digital Media program and professor of Radio-TV-Film at UT Austin. "We hope this project will create a foundation for developing and working with the future leadership in the area of digital media."

Kinetic controller driven music systems

Principal Investigators: Carlos Guedes, University of Porto and Bruce Pennycook, University of Texas at Austin

This joint research project will develop new techniques and strategies for computer-assisted composition in the context of real-time user control with non-standard human interface devices for applications in electronic art and digital entertainment systems. The research team will design and implement real-time software, hardware and specialized human-interfaces that will provide tools and resources for music, dance, theatre, installation artists, interactive kiosks, computer games, internet/web information systems.

The outcome of the project will be the creation of a modular toolbox for real-time dynamic music generation that will allow for easy creation of software applications for the purposes described above. The toolbox will be highly flexible allowing its use both by trained musicians and the general public.

INESC-Porto, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, University of Texas at Austin, with industrial affiliates Casa da Música and YDreams as partners make up the consortium for this joint research project.

Digital Inclusion and participation

Principal Investigators: Cristina Ponte (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), Joseph Straubhaar (University of Texas at Austin), José Azevedo (Universidade do Porto)

In those societies with access to new media, concern continues to grow about the digital divide, between generations and between majority and minority social groups. In Portuguese society, this challenge presents some specific characteristics, marked by major cultural and educational differences and by the very different levels of digital literacy that distinguish the access and use of these media by adults and children. Children and youth younger than 18 year are ahead of adults in access and use, to the contrary of what happens in the majority of other European countries.

Portugal has passed from being a country of emigrants to becoming a country of immigrants, from its old colonies in Africa and Brazil in the last few decades, and more recently of immigrants from the countries of Eastern Europe. Access and use of the digital media also vary between children that have these media at home and in their room, and those who only get to use them at school and in public access where their use is limited and conditioned by circumstances.

This project thus intends to contribute to knowledge of the critical factors that facilitate or make more difficult the access and use of digital media by social groups that are considered socially disadvantaged. With this research it will be possible to bring together indicators that will contribute to helping digital content industries reach and include segments of the market that are not yet reached by their productions; that may help design public policies for digital inclusion that will be more effective and sustainable; that may strengthen local networks and agencies, including the production of contents by the groups that have been digitally excluded until now.

Advanced Computing Projects

MRI-Based Computational Modeling of Blood Flow and Nanomedicine Deposition in Patients with Peripheral Arterial Disease: Insights into Disease Management

2014 Call for R&D Projects at UT Austin

University of Texas at Austin:
Thomas J.R. Hughes, Shaolie S. Hossain

Instituto Superior Técnico (IST):
Adelia Sequeira

Algorithms for Macro-Molecular Pocket Detection

Principal Investigators: Joaquim Armando Pires Jorge, INESC (Institute for Systems Engineering and Computers) and Prof. Chandrajit Bajaj, UT Austin

Irregular applications for multicore processors

Principal Investigators: Prof. João Luís Sobral, Universidade do Minho, and Prof. Keshav Pingali, UT Austin 

Over the past thirty years, the parallel programming community has invented many tools and techniques for parallel programming of computational science applications like FFTs and finite-differences that are organized around defense matrices. However, new applications such as data-mining and social network analysis involve irregular computations that are performed on large, sparse graphs and trees. Little is known about how to write parallel programs for these kinds of irregular applications. The Portugal-UT Austin team is studying the use of optimistic parallel execution and program refinements to address this problem.  

Patient-specific cardiovascular modeling & analysis (Project SIMCARD) 

Principal Investigators: Prof. Adélia Sequeira, IST, and Prof. Tom Hughes, UT Austin.

Starting from high-resolution volumetric medical imaging, researchers are developing spatially realistic physiological models of the human heart and vasculature, with its pathologies and malformations. The long term goal is the development of a semi-automated software framework for accurate structure elucidation from imaging, geometric processing for high fidelity finite element models with quantified uncertainties, as well as the physics simulations of pulsatile blood flow through the heart and vasculature models. The Portugal-UT Austin team is developing and deploying state-of-the-art techniques for key geometric and biophysics modeling and analysis steps that are essential for the ultimate development of this computational framework.

Read more about Project SIMCARD

INTELLIPave - An Evolutionary Intelligence Approach to Asphalt Pavement Modeling

Principal investigators: Prof. José Carlos Ferreira Maia Neves, U.Minho, and Prof. Jorge Prozzi, UT Austin

This project has as an objective to apply and to test in a full scale and real time conditions a new approach to model the asphalt pavement behavior based on soft computing tools being developed at the DI/UMinho. Data from sensors installed in a highway with information about vehicles, climate and structural answer for one full cycle of service life of the pavement will be used as a source database and will be provided by the Mn/Road Project. The data will optimized in order to generate a model in the form of a matrix of data with billions of records. The matrix will be used as source of experiences and “intelligence” to train a Neural Network (NN) set. Trained, the NN will be able to predict the service life time for asphalt pavement design and management. This research intends to create a new paradigm, allowing for the asphalt pavement modeling in a true scientific way, surpassing the well know problems of the most used methods today, which are empiric and empiric-mechanistic.

Modeling the sub-filter scalar dissipation near the Turbulent/Non Turbulent interface in jets: applications to combustion

Principal investigators: Prof. José Carlos Fernandes Pereira, IST, and Prof. Venkat Raman, UT Austin

Many industrial and transportation devices involve combustion in jet diffusion flames where the combustion reaction takes place at the edge of the jet which separates the fuel from the oxidizer. Improving the understanding and the accuracy of the simulations of turbulent reactive jets is therefore crucial to improve the fuel economy and to decrease the emissions in numerous combustion systems. The two regions (fuel/ oxidizer) are separated by a sharp interface where the "turbulent entrainment" takes place. It has been shown recently that the physical mechanisms occurring at this region are considerably different from previously thought. In particular recent works showed that the turbulent entrainment is mainly caused by small scale motions ("nibbling") and not by large-scale eddy motions ("engulfment"). Moreover, the classical turbulent variables displays sharp gradients and a very particular dynamics to this region. The goal of the present work is to (i) carry these new results into the analysis of the dynamics of a scalar field across the interface fuel/ oxidizer and, (ii) develop, assess and improve the modeling of the sub-filter scalar dissipation in this region with applications to large-eddy simulation (LES) of turbulent reacting jets.

Mathematics Projects

Phase Transitions and Free Boundary Problems

2014 Call for R&D Projects at UT Austin

University of Texas at Austin:
Luis Caffarelli (PI), Alessio Figalli, Alexis Vasseur, Clint Dawson, Francesco Maggi

Instituto Superior Técnico (IST):
Juha Videman, Margarida Baía, Farid Bozorgnia (postdoc), Léonard Monsaingeon (postdoc)

The University of Coimbra:
Dmitry Vorotnikov, José Miguel Urbano (co-PI), Anderson Maia (PhD student)

Applied mathematics: from dynamical systems to cryptography

Principal Investigator: Prof. Diogo Gomes, IST

Researchers from several disciplines are joining efforts in applied mathematics including dynamical systems, financial mathematics, game theory, optimal control, viscosity solutions, number theory, and cryptography. In dynamical systems the main focus research areas are Aubry-Mather theory, renormalization and attractors of semilinear parabolic equations. In financial mathematics focus is being placed on developing forward price models, interest rate models and stochastic volatility models, and first passage times in diffusion processes. Game theory oligopoly models are being considered to investigate the following issues: uncertainty, signaling, dynamic price discrimination (linear prices and non linear pricing), research and development programs, location decisions, advertising strategies and their effects, trade policy models and competitive strategies in spatial networks, as well as mean-field games and its applications. Optimal control theory and viscosity solutions of Hamilton-Jacobi equations are essential to understand important problems in dynamical systems (Aubry-Mather theory) and in mathematical finance. These directions are being pursued, as well as certain problems in multiple criteria decision-making. Finally, in the emerging applied area of cryptography, the group is examining post-quantum cryptography in order to propose cryptosystems based on rational points on curves over function fields and show that they are robust to quantum adversaries.

Aberrant Crypt Foci and Human Colorectal Polyps: mathematical modeling and endoscopic image processing

Principal Investigator: Isabel Maria Narra de Figueíredo, Univ. of Coimbra.

This project focuses on the mathematical modeling and endoscopic imaging processing of aberrant polyps and aberrant crypt foci (ACF, which statistically precede polyp formation). Multiscale methods are used in a modeling process which involves partial differential equations and level set methods, to simulate the dynamics and shape of ACF and polyps populations. The project’s aim in image processing is to develop computerized and fast algorithms to identify and assess ACF and polyps patterns, captured in vivo by endoscopy in order to facilitate and speed up screening methods towards CRC prevention.

Nonlinear partial differential equations

Principal Investigator: José Miguel Urbano, Univ. of Coimbra.

Nonlinear partial differential equations (PDEs) are central in modern applied mathematics, both in view of the significance of the concrete problems they model and the novel techniques that their analysis generates. This project explores some of the new applications of these equations in biomathematics, against eight tasks:

  • Regularity for singular/degenerate PDEs
  • Numerical ocean and climate modeling
  • Nonlinear elliptic systems
  • Kinetic equations and BGK-type models
  • Problems driven by subelliptic operators
  • Drift-diffusion equations
  • Free boundary problems
  • PDEs involving variable exponents.

Advancement in understanding of these equations can be related to many applications such as the motion of multiphase fluids in porous media, the melting of crushed ice (and phase transitions in general), the behavior of composite materials, the pricing of assets in financial markets, or the quantum drift diffusion in semiconductors.

Reaction-diffusion in porous media

Principal Investigator: José Ferreira, Univ. of Coimbra.

In recent decades, diffusion in porous media has attracted researchers from several disciplines, such as geosciences, environmental sciences, mechanics, biology, chemistry, petroleum engineering, biomedical engineering, physics and mathematics. Diffusion in porous media has applications to problems such as groundwater contamination, diffusion in polymers, and flow in oil reservoirs. The fundamental equation governing diffusion in porous media is the equation of mass conservation, which is of parabolic type. It is established assuming that the dispersive mass flux is given by Fick´s law where the dispersion tensor is assumed to be independent of the concentration and its gradient. It is well-known that this equation gives rise to an infinite speed of propagation. Smallscale and large-scale heterogeneities in porous matrix and/or fluid properties are the main sources of deviations of the so-called Fickian dispersion behavior. In order to overcome this deviation, a certain memory effect should be included in the flux modeling. The aim of this project is to introduce memory effects in the models for fluid flows in porous media characterized by small-scale and large-scale heterogeneities in several contexts. 

Emerging Technologies Projects

Development of Scaffolds for Regenerative Medicine by Molecular Imprinting

2014 Call for R&D Projects at UT Austin

University of Texas at Austin:
Nicholas A. Peppas (PI), Amey Puranik (postdoc), Heidi Culver (graduate student), John Clegg (graduate student)

University of Minho:
Rui Reis, Manuela Gomes

University of Porto:
Pedro Granja

Additive Manufacturing of Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia (YSZ) for Dental Applications

2014 Call for R&D Projects at UT Austin

University of Texas at Austin:
Carolyn Conner Seepersad (PI), David Bourell

University of Aveiro:
Paula Vilarinho

Multidisciplinary Strategy to Develop Novel Multicomponent Nanoscale Systems for Immune Modulation

Principal Investigators: Helena Isabel Fialho Florindo Roque Ferreira, University of Lisbon and Nicholas A. Peppas, UT Austin

Recognize: Intelligent Scaffolds by Molecular Recognition for Advanced Applications in Regenerative Medicine

Principal Investigators: Rui Luís Gonçalves dos Reis, University of Minho and Nicholas A. Peppas, UT Austin

Graphene-based semiconductor photocatalysis for a safe and sustainable water supply: an advanced technology for emerging pollutants removal

Principal Investigators: Ana Cristina Moreira Freire, University of Porto and Brian Korgel, UT Austin

Exploring stresses to develop functional nanoceramics by in-situ TEM sintering

Principal Investigators: Ana Maria Oliveira Rocha Senos, University of Aveiro and Paulo Ferreira and Desiderio Kovar, UT Austin

Engineering Patient-specific bioprinted constructs for treatment of degenerated Intervertebral Disc

Principal Investigators: Joana Catarina da Silva Correia, University of Minho and Carolyn C. Seepersad, UT Austin