Proposal from Prof. Philip E. Paré selected for US-India Collaborative Research Program
A proposal from Philip E. Paré, assistant professor in Purdue University’s Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been funded as part of the US-India Collaborative Research Program. In February 2022, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) issued a letter encouraging joint U.S.-India research projects involving principal investigators from both nations for collaborative research that can accelerate the development of new technologies, tools and systems for mutual societal and economic benefit. The program is very high profile, led by the NSF Director and his Indian counterpart, and was a topic of discussion with Prime Minister Modi of India when President Biden visited Asia in the Spring. The proposal call was quite competitive with only a limited number of projects selected, having to be approved by both the NSF and Indian review processes. The program is supporting collaborative research that can “accelerate the development of new technologies, tools and systems for mutual societal and economic benefit.” Paré’s Indian PI counterpart on the project is Ashish Ranjan Hota, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur and alumnus of Purdue ECE (PhD ’17).
Professor Paré’s project, titled “Learning Time-Varying Network Structure from Sparse Epidemiological Data,” aims to develop a method of inferring the prevalence of infectious diseases from testing data and using it as feedback for deploying optimal interventions, such as lockdown, contract tracing, vaccine rollout, etc. The funding was awarded as a supplement to his existing NSF EECC-EPCN Grant titled “Collaborative Research: A Comprehensive Approach to Modeling, Learning, Analysis and Control of Epidemic Processes over Time-Varying and Multi-Layer Networks,” a collaborative project with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Professor Paré says the goal of the new project is to determine how the spread of a disease process evolves over a network while the network, and the corresponding limited and selective data, are changing. He says this study is important in order to predict the future and make the best decisions to prevent further spreading in a given epidemic process.
“If you assume your data is reliable when it is not, you can make bad predictions which may lead to bad decisions,” says Prof. Paré. “So, we are trying to provide tools that help avoid costly and inefficient countermeasures being deployed.”
He says they will leverage techniques from the fields of game theory, dynamical systems, and system identification to learn time-varying network structure from sparse epidemiological data and predict the future evolution of the infected population. Professor Paré says an open-source decision support tool will be released which may be used by public health authorities for improved monitoring and detection of epidemics.
The project is intended to deepen the scientific ties between India and the United States and serve as a stepping stone towards more broad collaborations. In collaboration with six Technology Innovation Hubs (TIH) supported by the Indian Department of Science and Technology, the National Science Foundation awarded nearly $3-million in supplemental funding to support the US-India Collaborative Research Program. The goal is to add international collaboration to existing research projects in the U.S. via India.
Towards this goal, as part of the funded project, Professor Paré and one of his PhD students will be visiting IIT Kharagpur in Spring 2023. He will also be hosting two of Professor Hota’s students in Summer 2023. The hope is that this project will further strengthen the Purdue-India Partnership and the ties between Purdue and IIT Kharagpur, leading to more research and funding opportunities in the future.