Project Awards Summary, 2014-15

Business, Economics, Law, and Policy

Hospital Study in Karnataka

This study involved a survey of hospitals in Karnataka to understand their participation in the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY - or in English, the National Health Insurance Scheme). RSBY resembles Medicaid in the US in that it provides free health insurance targeted at the very poor and is part of a larger global trend towards public provision of health insurance. Hospital decisions are important along two dimensions: the decision to join the network (empanelment) and the decision to actively enrol RSBY patients and file claims with the insurance companies (be active). Based on the number of BPL households in Karnataka and hospitalization rates, RSBY administrators estimated that roughly 1200 hospitals were needed to be empaneled to meet the projected usage of the insurance. However only about 650 hospitals are currently empaneled, and only half of those are active (have ever filed a claim). This study helped local policymakers meet their targeted empanelment and utilization levels by understanding the drivers of hospital decisions on both dimensions.

This project was organized by Anup Malani, Lee and Brena Freeman Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School and Medical School; Sarojini Rao, third year student in the Economics PhD program; and Phoebe Holtzman, Research Professional, Coase-Sandor Institute for Law and Economics.

The Indian Supreme Court and Significant Social Change 

This project was organised by Gerald N. Rosenberg, Associate Professor of Political Science and Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago and aimed to explore the role of the Indian Supreme Court in helping the relatively disadvantaged by bringing about Signification Social Reform, i.e., nationwide policy change that helps the relatively disadvantaged. Examples of such reform included the lessening racial and gender discrimination, providing benefits to the poor, protecting the rights of criminal defendants, cleaning the environment, etc.

As part of this project, a dozen of the leading experts on the Indian Supreme Court came together and presented papers examining the empirical effects of one Court decision carefully chosen to test hypotheses about the role of the Indian Supreme Court in bringing about Significant Social Reform.

The Effect of Resource Scarcity on Trust

This study explored the effect of resource scarcity on trust and their impact on the decision-making capacity of an individual. It worked towards explaining documented phenomena such as the low uptake of banking services among the poor, and poor adoption of rainfall insurance in India through research and experiments in the field. While past research has primarily investigated the cognitive effects of poverty on decision outcomes, this study investigated novel motivational consequences of poverty on choices, and therefore, has both policy as well as psychological import, using both field and laboratory experiments.

This study was a collaboration between Oleg Urminsky Associate Professor, Marketing, University of Chicago; Raghabendra Chattopadhyay Professor, Public Policy and Management, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta; Indranil Goswami PhD Student, Marketing, University of Chicago; Suhas Palshikar, Professor, Political Science at the University of Pune; and Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication .

Social Enterprise and Sanitation Research 

At present, over 600 million people in India defecate in the open. This severely impacts both the health and the economic productivity of citizens. To help address this problem, there is a rising concentration on re-inventing the toilet and building more toilets. Much less attention has been focused on behavior change, and that is the issue that this project focused on.

This project concentrated on leveraging the tools of social enterprise and decision making research to bring about behavior change and was a collaboration between the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Dasra, Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI) - University of Chicago Booth Business School, New Paths to Purpose - a Decision Research Lab Project at Chicago Booth Business School and Toilet Hackers.

The leadership team for this project consisted of Robert H. Gertner, Faculty Director, SEI, Michael TS Lindenmayer, Co-Founder Toilet Hackers, Christina Hachikian, Director, SEI, Nitika Nautiyal Chauhan, MBA Candidate, Class of 2014, Chicago Booth, Prof. H. Beck, Dean, School of Social Work TISS and Dr. Shaileshkumar Darokar, Assistant Professor, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies TISS.

Introduction to Financial Mathematics 

This two week summer workshop aimed at providing an introduction to financial mathematics to college students in India whose majors involve economics, finance or mathematics. It introduced a few math concepts and derivative pricing concepts and provided a glimpse on how these techniques are used in business, both in trading as well as derivatives research.

The main organisers of the workshop were Kevin Corlette, Professor in Mathematics and MSFM Director, Roger Lee,   Associate   Professor   in  Mathematics   and   MSFM Singapore Director and Balaji Srinivasan, Dept. of Mathematics Ph.D. '95.

The Effects of Language and Gesture on Math Learning in Indian Preschoolers

This project was built on an existing randomized, controlled trial designed to determine whether math-related educational games introduced in preschool play a beneficial role in children’s later success in primary school. The ultimate goal of the larger research program was to prepare disadvantaged children––cognitively and motivationally––for success in school. The project evaluated the games together as a curriculum by introducing them to children in Indian preschools in the framework of a randomized controlled trial to assess whether the group of games together produces changes in children's mathematical competence or motivation, both at the end of preschool and for at least one year later. The plan was to use the data from the study to make the curriculum in India more effective (emphasizing games with the greatest impact and improving games to increase impact) and sustainable (economizing and streamlining game production and teacher training methods so that games can be taught and supervised by regular preschool teachers). The program sought to scale up successful aspects by encouraging others in India to adopt them.

The organizers of this project were Susan Goldin-Meadow (Professor of Psychology, University of Chicago), Neon Brooks (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Chicago), Elizabeth Spelke (Professor of Psychology, Harvard University), Esther Duflo (Professor of Economics, MIT and Co- Founder, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab), and Rukmini Banerjee (Director of Research, Pratham).

Culture, Society, Religion, Arts

An Annotated Repository of the Art Cinemas of India

This was a research, archiving and documentation project on India’s art cinemas movements. Variously described as the New Cinema, parallel cinema, or the independent cinemas of India, the movements were roughly in the period between the late 1960s and the early 80s, during which time they spanned several regions of the country – principally Assam, Bengal, Manipur, Gujarat, Orissa, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala – and saw landmark films made in this period. More importantly, the films innovated a new aesthetic in Indian cinema, often in conversation with local literary, theatrical and visual forms, alongside new production strategies for making (including community fund raising) and showing (the film society movement). As texts they were often (but not always) engaged in a dialogue with existing political currents of the day. Both the films themselves, and the circumstances of their production and exhibition constitute incredibly valuable material for any study of modern India. This project identified a short list of 20-30 of the essential films of the Art Cinemas movement. Researchers then annotated each film in detail, wherever possible in close collaboration with, the original producers/filmmakers.

The key researchers for this project were Rochona Majumdar, Associate Professor, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, Cinema and Media Studies, The University of Chicago; Ashish Rajadhyaksha , Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of Culture and Society Bangalore; Jacqueline Stewart, Professor, Cinema and Media Studies, Member, National Film Preservation Board, Board Member, Association of Moving Image Archivists, USA; and Moinak Biswas, Chair, Department of Cinema Studies, Jadavpur University.

Audio Cultures of India: New Approaches to the Performance Archive

This project engaged South Asian participants from the sciences, technology, humanities, and social sciences and continued discussions initiated under the Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society to explore and define a larger initiative on audio in performitive and expressive cultures. The intention was to continue investigation of how the methods of big science might elucidate and facilitate the humanistic understanding of music, speech, and other audio expressions. For example - the use of data mining - developed in the sciences and productively used for such initiatives as the human genome projects - might be applied to early recordings and the digital analysis of musical instrumets as means of developing news ways to use music and musical instruments as history.

This project was organized by UChicago colleagues, Philip V. Bohlman and Kaley Mason, Department of Music; James Nye and Laura Ring from the Library.

Tibetan Manuscripts and Early Printed Books: Selected Resources in South Asia

This project was organized by Matthew T. Kapstein from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, and represented one component of a larger project dedicated to advancing the study of traditional Tibetan books. Under this project, specific holdings of the National Library of Bhutan and the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives were examined and some of the selected material was reproduced.

This project was motivated by the need to preserve an understanding of traditional methodologies in the face of the rise of digital technologies and an important component of it seeked precisely to clarify the application of the new technologies to the study of traditional books. The successful conclusion of the project not only provided invaluable resources for education in Tibetan Studies but also provided materials accessible to those interested in the culture of the book in the neighboring civilizations of Asia and, beyond this, throughout the medieval world.

The Past for Sale: A Workshop on Archaeological Looting and Antiquities Trafficking in India

This project was part of a larger interdisciplinary research funded by the Neubauer Collegium, The Past for Sale: New Approaches to the Study of Archaeological Looting and the Illicit Trafficking of Antiquities at the University of Chicago. The key aim of this project was to develop new ways of understanding how best to safeguard archaeological sites, cultural heritage sites, and museums from market-driven antiquities looting. A workshop at the Center in Delhi was organized to explore the possibility of collaborating with colleagues in India to help answer the developing questions and contribute to the larger goals of the project.

The key faculty from The University of Chicago engaged in this project were - Kathleen D. Morrison, Anthropology and South Asia Language & Area Center; Mark T. Lycett, Program on the Global Environment, Anthropology, and Center for International Studies; Lawrence Rothfield, English Language and Literature; Fiona Greenland, Neubauer Collegium postdoctoral scholar; and Anna Seastrand, Collegiate Assistant Professor.

Poetry Reading and Roundtable Discussion

This project involved a literary reading and a 'pilot discussion' on intersections in contemporary, American and South Asian Anglophone poetics.

A literary reading evening held at the Center in Delhi featured Srikanth Reddy, faculty director of The University of Chicago Program in Poetry and Poetics, and the Delhi writer and musician Jeet Thayil. One of the leading Anglophone Indian writers of his generation, Thayil has published four volumes of poetry—one of which received the Sahitya Akademi Award for English. On the second day, an informal discussion was held on possible initiatives involving contemporary English language poetry by South Asian writers in India and the United States (including Keki Daruwalla, Rukmini Bhaya Nair, etc.)

Contemporary Arts

India has emergent prominence as an art epicenter. As politics and power have shifted geographically in the last decade, so have the attentions of the art community. India has substantiated itself as a vital player on this international stage, while art’s historical insularity within the United States and Europe has opened to an expanded discourse whose values, histories, and politics are different from our own and in flux.

Laura Letinsky, a Professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago, organized this project as a research trip to study contemporary arts in India, based on a similar program held in Beijing, for Masters of Fine Arts students.

Laura conducted research visits to Delhi, Mumbai and Kerala as part of the project. The research visits yielded partnerships similar to those in Beijing and helped provide students of the MFA program in Chicago exposure to global diversity that expanded their frame of reference with new stimulation and enable thinking and working that would not be possible otherwise.

Science, Energy, Medicine, Public Health

Neonatal Antimicrobial Stewardship: Sepsis Pathway (NASSP)

The project targeted the increasing need for judicious antimicrobial use worldwide.  It implemented a clinical pathway within a vulnerable pediatric population, while also allowing opportunity for professional development. Starting with two Indian institutions, the project aimed to give paediatric providers within the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) a clinical pathway, or tool, by which to make evidence based and clinically appropriate decisions regarding the initiation and continuation of antimicrobial agents in neonatal patients.

The  organising team consisted of Colleen Nash, M.D., M.P.H, Fellow in the Section of  Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital; Allison Bartlett,  M.D., M.S., Assistant Professor in the Section of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and the Associate Medical  Director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship and Infection Control Programs at the University of Chicago  Comer Children’s Hospital; Kenneth Alexander, M.D., Ph.D., Professor in and Chief of the Section of  Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital; and Rohitkumar  Vasa, M.D., Director of Neonatology at Mercy Hospital in Chicago, and Clinical Associate at the  University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, NB Mathur, M.D., Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and  Neonatal Unit Director, Maulana Azad Medical College, Lok Nayak Hopital, New Delhi, India; and  Somashekhar Nimbalkar M.D., Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Section of Neonatology, and  Director of Central Research, Pramukh Swami Medical College, Shree Krishna Hospital, Karamsad,  Gujarat, India.

Formation of a Strategic Partnership in Cancer Research between India and the University of Chicago

The aim of this project was to initiate a conversation between researchers at the University of Chicago and at various Indian institutions that led to joint research and capacity-building initiatives in cancer research. The intent was to leverage respective strengths in the areas of genomics, signal transduction, big data analysis, and targeted therapies to undertake novel research that not only have immediate application to cancer diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic treatment, but also serve as a model for addressing other diseases.

Key organizers of this project included Marsha R. Rosner, Ben May Department for Cancer Research, University of Chicago and Partha P. Majumder, Director, National Institute of Biomedical Genomics.

Collaborative Research on Stem Cells 

This project provided an opportunity for Sri Lankan faculty and investigators from the USA to formalize an alliance based on common interest and themes where they can write joint grant applications and initiate faculty/student exchanges. The main goal of the study was to identify common themes and projects and establish on-going educational and research collaborations between Sri Lankan faculty and the US faculty at their respective institutions.

This project was organised by Prof. Amittha Wickrema, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, Prof. Gerald P. Schatten, Director of the Division of Developmental and Regenerative Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Prof. Asgi T. Fazleabas, Director, Center for Women's Health Research , Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Prof. Primal DeLanerolle, Department of Physiology   Biophysics, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, Prof. Kamani H. Tennekoon, Chairperson, Organizing Committee, Dr. Sameera R. Samarkoon Coodinator, Stem Cell Symposium and Workshop, Institute of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.

Nanomaterials Characterization using Advanced Electron Optical Instrumentation

This project was organized by N J. Zaluzec, University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory; and R.P. Tandon, University of Delhi and EMSI 2014 Conference Chair, and consisted of a day long series of lectures by senior scientists/educators who reviewed the basic instrumentation, operating modes, ancillary equipment and applications of today's state-of-the-art instruments used for nanomaterials characterization. The lectures discussed the basics of imaging (CTEM, STEM, HREM, ARM), diffraction (SAED, CBED), and microanalysis techniques (AEM, XEDS, EELS,EFTEM) which are used to conduct materials characterization from the sub-millimeter to the sub-nanometer scales.

This workshop served as an introduction for students and novices as well as a refresher for those who were returning to the field. Importantly, it was held in coordination with the EMSI-2014 meeting which brought together the research community of India and a number of internationally recognized scientists to discuss their latest work using microscopy applied to both the physical and life sciences.

Spectroscopy of nanocrystal materials and their assemblies

Colloidal semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) have been the subject of several studies because of their unusual optical and physical properties. Colloidal wet chemical methods allow for the preparation of large quantities of these materials relatively inexpensively. These materials exhibit large, broadband absorption cross sections as well as strong, luminescence. Quantum efficiencies approaching unity have been demonstrated in several systems. QDs are therefore expected to have significant applications as phosphors in displays and lighting applications.

This project aimed to stimulate dialogue, interactions and collaborations between research groups involved in the study of QDs at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory with research groups based at the Indian Institute of Science. The primary emphasis was on the synthetic and spectroscopic studies of QDs and their assemblies.

The principal faculty organizer for this project was Philippe Guyot-Sionnest, Department of Chemistry and Physics, University of Chicago.

Disorder effects at interfaces of correlated electron systems: heterostructures and battery electrodes

This project sought to understand the effect of disorder on the electronic state and transport properties at interfaces of correlated electron systems. The interfaces could be of an oxide-oxide type as in heterostructures or an oxide-electrolyte type as in batteries. In heterostructures, the 2D layer of interest is surrounded by a much bulkier host that can make standard bulk probes such as magnetisation measurements, neutron scattering or NMR difficult to use. Just like in semiconductor heterostructures, transport (resistivity, resistivity noise and anomalous Hall) measurements would be the natural choice for probing the electronic state at the interface. By suitable adaptaions, even NMR can be indirectly performed through transport measurements. In superlattices, bulk probes may still be useful. In electrodes where intercalation and doping also enters the bulk, the standard experimental tools may still be useful in addition to transport measurements. Thus, the mesoscopic nature of the problem requires greater focus on local probes such as transport.

The project was a collaborative effort between Prof. V. Tripathi at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai and Prof. Peter Littlewood of the University of Chicago and Director of Argonne National Laboratory.

Accelerating International Collaboration and Science Through Connective Computation in India

This project envisioned not only sharing experiences, technology, and best practices for high energy physics computing between North America and India, but also aimed at exploring pockets of opportunity to leverage the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) computing experience for other domains in science. Sometimes called the “long tail of science”, these are research groups lacking the scale, expertise and organization to implement the “cyber facilities” their research is increasingly demanding. In this regard, software, data centers, advanced networks, and advanced data and computing service platforms are becoming the new building blocks for the next big science discoveries. To help in the development of these computation resources, the project aimed at bringing together leaders in physics and other interested disciplines with experts from computing and other on-going related initiatives in India. It included an open invitation to interested academic institutes in India, as well as experts from NKN, C-DAC, and Garuda projects specifically. A full technical program covering two days was envisioned to allow wide participation of potential proposal stakeholders and investigation of successes and obstacles to date.

Key faculty engaged in this project were Robert Gardner, Computation and Enrico Fermi Institutes, University of Chicago,  US, Kirti Ranjan, Department of Physics University of Delhi,  Kajari Mazumdar, Department of High Energy Physics Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Mumbai, Paul Dave and Ravi Madduri, Computation Institute, Argonne National Laboratory and University of Chicago.

Climate Change in South Asia – Projections, Societal Impacts and Education

Climate change is one of the many challenges facing India as it emerges from a developing country status to a leading economic power. Climate impacts all aspects of life in India in more direct and measurable way than any other place in the world. Life revolves around the monsoon season and the rain it produces. Human impacts resulting from changes in precipitation patterns, temperature, and the flow of the snow‐fed rivers could be immense. Anticipated changes in climate and the potential impact it may have on Monsoon rainfall is a critical and as of yet unanswered question. Targeted regional scale analysis, forecasting/projections and estimates of the socio‐economic impacts are quite scarce and needed urgently.

This project proposed to develop a holistic approach to study the climate change and its impact over India, leveraging the University of Chicago’s strengths in computing, social sciences and expertise in modeling of the regional climate over India, data accesses and a motivated student body in the collaborating institution, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) located in Bangalore, India. This initiative also developed an integrated approach to model, evaluate, and measure, at the regional scale, the impacts and potential pathways for adaptation and mitigation of climate change on energy, water, and food security.

The organizers of this project were V. Rao Kotamarthi, Senior Fellow, Computational Institute; Ian Foster, Director Computation Institute and Professor; Ravi Nanjundiah, Professor, CAOS, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India; S. K. Satheesh, Professor, CAOS, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.

Developing a Rights-Based Approach to Prevention and Treatment of Tuberculosis in India

The global TB crisis remains at epidemic proportions. In 2012, there were approximately 8.6 million new cases of TB and 1.3 million deaths from TB—nearly 3,600 deaths a day. In 2012, an estimated 26% of all global incidences of TB occurred in India alone. The central truth about the TB crisis in India is that social and economic factors and structural barriers drive the epidemic.

This project aimed to examine and articulate how human rights, and the right to health in particular, may be used as tools to increase access to testing and treatment for TB in India, including multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB). It also articulated the human rights obligations of government and non-state actors toward regulating and financing public and private sector testing and treatment for TB in India. It further analysed the role that the rights of people living with and vulnerable to TB in India play in prevention and treatment of the illness, including the right to be free from discrimination, the right to participation, the right to access health information, and the right to informed consent. The project formulated human rights benchmarks and indicators associated with the prevention and treatment of TB and the protection of the rights of people living with and vulnerable to TB. It then developed methods through which a rights-based approach to TB can be implemented in India and other low and middle income countries, such as through pilot projects, litigation and advocacy.

The key organizers were Evan Lyon, MD – Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Brian Citro, JD - Clinical Lecturer in Law, International Human Rights Clinic,
University of Chicago Law School, Kiran Raj Pandey, MD - Physician and Health Services Research Fellow, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Mihir Mankad, MA, JD - Health Policy Advisor, Save the Children UK, along with Anand Grover, LLB - United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health; Executive Director, HIV/AIDS United, Lawyers Collective.