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UC Irvine, Intel partner on $12.5-million research center

June 26, 2012 | 11:14 am

Left to right, Scott Mainwaring of Intel Labs, who will co-lead a new social computing center with UC Irvine anthropology professor Bill Maurer and UC Irvine informatics professor Paul Dourish.

UC Irvine is home to a new $12.5-million research center funded by chip maker Intel Corp., the company announced Tuesday.

The center, named the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing, applies social science and the humanities to the design and analysis of digital information. The center opened on June 1.

"Technology is profoundly entangled with our everyday lives. As researchers, we can't get a handle on what's going on by looking at technical factors alone," said UC Irvine professor Paul Dourish, who will co-lead the center. "We have to study them in concert with human, social and cultural aspects."

Justin Rattner, Intel chief technology officer, announced the center publicly Tuesday in San Francisco.

UC Irvine is the research hub, with four other campuses participating. The university will receive $5 million over five years, with an additional $7.5 million being split among the participating universities.

Experts from those schools, which include Cornell University, Indiana University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and New York University, specialize in anthropology, media studies, digital humanities, philosophy and computer science, among other disciplines.

Each year, the research center will explore a new defining theme, the first being restoring "materiality" to information. Researchers will explore the "connection of information to the physical world," Dourish said.

Intel researchers will work with dozens of faculty members, graduate and doctoral students in the campus labs. The research will not be owned by Intel and will instead be public, open intellectual property, the university said.

The grant is under the company's larger $100-million program to increase research at universities in the country and abroad.


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Photo: From left, Scott Mainwaring of Intel Labs and  UC Irvine professors Bill Maurer and Paul Dourish. Credit:  Brad Whalen/Intel Labs