Two data researchers at RMIT University are Australia’s sole representatives in the Summer 2013 funding round from global web giant Google.
Winning a Google Research Award equates to one year of funding for Professor Timos Sellis and Associate Professor James Thom, from the School of Computer Science and IT, whose structured data project was one of only 105 projects chosen from 550 submissions from around the world.
“We are very excited by the fact that our research ideas were of interest to Google,“ Professor Sellis said. “The majority of funding goes to projects from the US, so we were very fortunate, but we’re delighted to fly the flag for Australia and hopefully this will encourage other researchers over here.“
While the awards are intended to support the work of world-class full-time faculty members at top universities around the world, the grants also cover tuition for a graduate student and provide both faculty and students the opportunity to work directly with Google scientists and engineers.
“Probably even more exciting than the funding, is the opportunity that this award gives us to establish strong ties with researchers at Google working on common issues,“ Professor Sellis said.
For this project Professor Sellis and Associate Professor Thom are also partnering with NICTA - Australia's Information and Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence – with whom RMIT have collaborated many times.
“Though the grant is from Google, we will also be working with NICTA and we have already started some preliminary work with them,“ Associate Professor Thom said.
The structured data research project concerns the searching, combining and interpreting of tabular data in scientific papers, and Associate Professor Thom hopes that techniques they develop will make a real difference to the way data is treated.
“Through collaboration between RMIT and NICTA, we have access to two collections of biomedical papers that have already been annotated with a ground truth,“ he said.
“We hope that by developing new data techniques, scientists can use the data more effectively, particularly where the information being interpreted is spread across many scientific papers.“
Funding projects such as this complements Google’s own in-house research and contributes to the company’s stated mission: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
“Of course we are very pleased to receive a grant from an international IT company such as Google, especially as the Google Research Awards program is a very competitive international grant program, and brings opportunities for further collaboration,“ Associate Professor Thom said.