Interdisciplinary Research Clusters at USM


Interdisciplinary Research Clusters at USM

Four teams of USM faculty and students from the sciences, technology, arts and humanities have come together with industry and community partners to conduct research ranging from how Maine businesses should address cyber security breaches to better management of chronic illnesses through the use of information technology.

Research cluster proposals were solicited with the goal of building USM faculty expertise to address industry and community needs, deepening the impact of research through an interdisciplinary approach to solving problems, and leveraging external funding to sustain collaborative efforts.

The four research clusters were competitively selected from eight proposals that were submitted by faculty in response to the Research Cluster Development Seed Funding Competition announcement.  The objective of this funding opportunity is to seed support the development of research teams that bolster and expand scholarship and innovative high-impact multi-disciplinary research across college lines to bring knowledge to bear on issues of intellectual, scientific, social, economic, environmental and cultural importance and to work more effectively with the private sector, other institutions and the community.

The four research clusters, which have begun their work, are supported through awards of $150,000 each over two years from USM’s share of the Maine Economic Improvement Fund (MEIF).

Health Lifestyle Management Technologies

Lead PI: Carol A. Fackler, DNSc, RN – CSTH School of Nursing

A team representing nursing, social and behavioral sciences, computer science, and exercise health and sport sciences will develop and pilot a technology-based lifestyle management system. Initially, it will track and help manage weight as an indicator of chronic illnesses. The team, with input from students and others in the health care community, plans to be competitive in applying for funding to further test the system’s application to other areas of chronic illness.

Digital Maine

Lead PI: John Muthyala. – CAHS English

Co-PIs: Jan Piribeck – CAHS Art and Matthew Bampton – CMHS Geography and Anthropology

Faculty, students and staff throughout the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHS) and the Muskie School of Public Service will work with computer scientists to harness digital technologies in such a way that a variety of research is more accessible to a much wider audience. The team plans to enliven diverse topics, ranging from the impact of a rise in sea levels to the labor history of Maine’s paper mills, through the development of new software applications and the use of geospatial technologies.

Research and Development of Web-based Systems to Support Disadvantaged Populations

Lead PI: Jeannette Andonian, MSW – CMHS School of Social Work

Co-PI: Glenn Wilson, Director, Information and Innovation – CSTH Technology

This project will provide opportunities for youth campers to stay connected all year with a critical web-based support network. The pilot project focuses on Camp Susan Curtis, but long term, the project will pioneer technological approaches to creating safe and enticing educational experiences for other disadvantaged populations. The project brings together USM’s School of Social Work, Departments of Computer Science, Technology, and Communication and Media Studies with off-campus partners Maine College of Art, Maine Medical Center’s Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, Maine’s Office of Information Technology, and Poland Spring.


Solving Big Data Problems to Support Population Health Analytics and Health System Transformation

Lead PI: Bruce MacLeod, Ph.D. - CSTH Computer Science

Co-PI: Andy Coburn, Ph.D. - CMHS Public Health

Transformational shifts in the delivery and financing of health care have heightened the information needs of health systems, while at the same time the amount of electronic data created by the health care sector has increased exponentially. Maine is on the cutting edge for many health data developments, including having the only operational, statewide Health Information Exchange, and one of the first all-payer claims data warehouses. While these and other data hold enormous promise for research and changes to clinical practice, the size, scope, and design of health data systems have created numerous challenges to data access and operability. Our proposed research cluster will tackle these and other big data problems in health care delivery, financing, and population health. Representing faculty and staff from two colleges, three degree programs, and two research programs, cluster members reflect a diverse body of knowledge and an extensive theory-based and applied research portfolio with clear relevance to health informatics and health care system performance. In collaboration with our external partners, we intend to develop solutions that improve health care delivery and quality and respond to local industry and community needs.

Research Mission

To support research, scholarship and creative activity to: promote knowledge, discovery and practical application to advance Maine's economy, communities and the quality of life for Maine citizens; to strengthen classroom education and transform the lives of students through real world learning opportunities; and to support faculty and staff commitment to excellence in scholarly accomplishments regionally, nationally and internationally.