Congratulations to the winners of the NSF CREATIV grant, INSPIRE

The proposed project falls at the intersection of the fields of pure mathematics, computer science, psychology, and neuroscience. The proposed work uses the principles of group theory to provide a conceptual and computational framework for understanding regularity perception and brain activation in humans, and for designing human-perception inspired symmetry detection algorithms that can operate at a level of practical usability. The work has the potential to advance our understanding of visual regularity perception in both human and machines. The project is high risk given the ambitious nature of what the PIs propose to do, but it is also high reward given the potential impact on science, education, and a wide set of potential applications.

The NSF CREATIV (Creative Research Awards for Transformative Interdisciplinary Ventures) award is a pilot grant mechanism under the Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE) initiative, which seeks to support bold interdisciplinary projects in all NSF-supported areas of science, engineering, and education research. According to NSF Director Subra Suresh: "INSPIRE is aimed to encourage cross-disciplinary science. INSPIRE will help to break down any disciplinary barriers that may exist within NSF and encourage its program managers to use new tools, collaboration modes and techniques in the merit-review process to widen the pool of prospective discoveries that may be hidden from or circumvented by traditional means." The program is intended to attract unusually creative high-risk / high-reward proposals, providing substantial funding that is not limited to exploratory stages. According to the NSF record of 2012 submissions, approximately 400 formal inquiries were received, and 48 full proposals were authorized by PDs and submitted.

This newly funded award resulted from an initial collaboration among the three co-PIs (Gilmore, Liu and Norcia), supported by a Penn State Institute of the Neurosciences (PSIN) seed grant (2010-2011, PI: Gilmore).