2021 Workshops for the 2022 Topics

The Convergence Accelerator selected 12 topics to further be developed through workshops. Topic submissions were gathered from the Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) NSF-21-012, focused on gathering convergence research topics for FY2022.

Climate Change & Resiliency

Accelerating Translational Materials R&D for Global Challenges

Award ID: 2122643, led by IBM Research, PI: Jed W. Pitera (pitera@us.ibm.com)

Many global challenges need materials innovation. This includes first-order innovations that create new industries (e.g., carbon capture, nitrogen fixation, novel thermoelectrics) and also second-order innovations to transform existing industries (e.g., novel energy storage chemistries, light-weight structural materials). Technologies like artificial intelligence and quantum computing are showing the potential to significantly increase the pace of fundamental materials discovery. These innovations need to be combined with global scale economic analysis, piloting, scale-up, lifecycle analysis, and adoption. Putting all these pieces together successfully is a complex challenge that involves not just academia but also industrial, government, and non-profit entities.

This multi-stakeholder, multi-day workshop will consist of a pre-read of three to four brief recorded presentations from experts in the field, a panel discussion/Q&A with the recorded speakers, and facilitated ideation sessions to identify roadblocks to materials innovation, collect visionary suggestions, aggregate ideas, and develop community actions for progress. The three days of the workshop will be roughly split into the themes of discovery, development, and impact.


Dates/Times: May 17, 2021 from 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. ET; May 20, 2021 from 12:00 p.m. - 4:05 p.m. ET to include a virtual field trip to NSF Advanced Manufacturing Panel at 3:45 p.m. ET; May 24, 2021 from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. ET; and June 1, 2021 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. ET
Workshop Website: http://translationalmaterials.hub.ki, to register visit http://go.hub.ki/materialsregistration

Coastal Sustainability: Clean, Smart, Safe and Equitable Coastal Communities

Award ID: 2123085, led by Northeastern University, PI: Geoffrey C. Trussell (g.trussell@northeastern.edu)

Human communities and economies are concentrated along the world’s coastlines. Yet ongoing climate change continues to drive complex interactions between geological, physical, social, and ecological systems that increase the environmental threats facing coastal communities and their economies. This Coastal Sustainability workshop will connect fundamental and translational scientists and engineers with stakeholders to co-develop knowledge, solutions and tools to enhance coastal sustainability. The ultimate workshop goal is to use nature-based solutions as a framework to develop convergent interdisciplinary research that is stakeholder-driven, inclusive, and focused on identifying and implementing sustainability solutions that promote clean, safe, smart, and equitable coastal communities.


Dates: April 27, 2021, May 10, and May 14, 2021
Times: 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. EST (April 27 and May 10) and 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 pm. EST (May 14)
Workshop Website: https://apply.hub.ki/coastalsustainability/

Societal Shock Resilience

Award ID 2124634, led by University of Southern California, PI: Christine Goulet (cgoulet@usc.edu)

People across the country are facing increased extreme, stressing events ("shocks") such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, and pandemics. Although specific shocks may be more regional in nature, the whole nation faces the possibility of extreme events disrupting normal societal functions. Yet, resilience and adaptation tools that can reduce the consequences of such shocks are still not implemented and their architecture is not yet fully developed. This situation is partially due to the lack of bridges between the different communities involved and the socio-cultural-economical barriers associated with the absence of interdisciplinary applied science on these issues. The goal of the workshop is to bring people from the diverse disciplines to find what parts of the interaction across the societal shock resilience framework need convergence the most. It's not about a specific hazard, it's about how we get the moving parts connecting with each other to develop convergence and actionable projects. In other words, this workshop is about defining how to "connect the silos" of the six elements (shock, exposure, vulnerability, response, recovery, mitigation) that span multi- and trans-disciplinary interactions to deliver actionable projects. 

We invite registrants that span expertise such as hazard assessment (e.g., geoscience, climate science); ecologic, biological, and environmental science; engineering disciplines (civil, mechanical, electrical); mathematics and statistics modeling; computer science and software engineering, data science; social sciences (communication, education, urban planning, public policy, disaster management, public health, emergency response, and network analysis); economics and financial stress modeling. Experts from these disciplines also span a wide range of sectors including academia, government at all levels, and the private sector (for- and not-for-profit). In addition, stakeholders and communities depend on various entities for their resilience, which in turn span several sectors and at a minimum involve multiple industries, the natural and built environments, energy and storage facilities, distributed infrastructure such as transportation and utilities, and communication systems. We are looking for stakeholders across these categories as well.


Dates: June 7 - 8, and 11, 2021
Times: 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. PT
Workshop Website: https://www.scec.org/workshops/2021/resilience

Climate Change Modeling and Geospatial Observation

Bringing Land, Ocean, Atmosphere and Ionosphere Data to the Community for Hazards

Award ID: 2120238, led by Chapman University, PI: Ramesh P. Singh (rsingh@chapman.edu)

Natural hazards are associated with changes in ocean, land, atmosphere, and ionosphere. The ground, borehole, and satellite observations provide information at spatial and temporal resolution over the globe. Now optical and microwave satellites are capable in providing meteorological and atmospheric parameters at different pressure levels. With the sponsorship of an NSF Convergence Accelerator grant, this virtual international workshop will brainstorm how to use various data available to scientists to develop or continue development on early warning systems that alert people in local communities, through various social and digital media of natural hazards. Early warning systems have already shown that damage to life and property can be minimized. 

This workshop will be focused on discussion and sharing. Experts with experience with ground, surface, meteorological and atmospheric data, together with social scientists, NGOs, city planners, and people working with disaster management are invited to discuss the needs and how to reach an affected community with the natural hazards.


Dates: May 24 - 28, 2021
Workshop Website: https://www.agu.org/Natural-Hazards-Alerts


Award ID: 2121124, led by American Geographical Society, a project of the Fund for the City of New York, PI: Christopher Tucker (tucker@americangeo.org)

The GeoConvergence workshop is focusing on identify opportunities provided by geospatial science and technology across industries and disciplines to forge collaboration between a diverse, global community of thinkers, innovators, and practitioners. GeoConvergence Workshop participants will be able to identify geospatial solutions to societal and environmental challenges, network with others from a variety of backgrounds, and help define the future of research and development.


Dates/Times: May 18, 2021 from 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. ET; May 19, 2021 from 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. ET, and May 20, 2021 rom 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. ET
Workshop Website: https://www.geoconvergence.org/


Coastal Biocultural Restoration as a Nexus for Innovation

Award ID: 2121677, led by Purple Mai’a Foundation, PI: Kelsey Amos (kelsey@purplemaia.org)

Contemporary societies need science to apply the insights of Indigenous ecological knowledge to address the compounding crises of climate change, ecosystem loss, and resiliency. Indigenous cultures are biocultural, meaning they developed historically as part of a resilient and life-supporting social-ecological system. Because of this, Indigenous cultures hold immense ecological knowledge of how to manage regional resources sustainably. As Indigenous and local community groups in Hawaii and around the world have worked to restore biocultural relationships with place, they’ve created biocultural restoration zones that offer opportunities to unlock innovations in natural resource management, resilience design, computational and network systems for data-driven decision-making, regenerative economic development, and inclusive and equitable educational/workforce practices.

While biocultural restoration can apply anywhere, our focus is coasts and waterways. This workshop brings together Indigenous scientists and community knowledge holders with allied scientists from diverse disciplines and representatives to define potentials and priorities for use-inspired research and application centered around the process and practice of biocultural restoration.

If coastal biocultural restoration is the (cord / collective vision) of this convergence workshop, the workshop will be composed of four interrelated aho (string / core element) tracks, which will themselves draw in participation from individual (fiber / collaborators) with domain expertise.

  • Aho 1: Coastal Biocultural Restoration for Resilience: Food & Flooding
  • Aho 2: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge of Place with Computational & Network Systems
  • Aho 3: Sustainable Development and Coastal Biocultural Restoration
  • Aho 4: Indigenous People in STEM & Resource Management


Dates/Times: May 13, 2021 from 2:30 - 4:00 HST and May 14 - 16, 2021 from 10:00 am - 4 p.m. HST
Workshop Website: https://www.bcrworkshop.com/


Reimagining Advanced Research for Human Good through Industry and Educational Partnerships

Award ID: 2119846, led by IBM Research, PI: Lauren Thomas Quigley (lauren.thomas@ibm.com)

Advanced research in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, cloud computing and other science and technology related areas have the opportunity to change the world as we know it. To ensure an equitable scientific future, we propose an ecosystem approach to ensuring representation, success and meaningful outcomes of science and technology for future scientists, engineers and technologists and society at large. This goal requires that we re-think the educational process itself.

Through a series of workshops titled "Reimagining Innovation in STEM Education" (RISE), we will bring together practitioners from various public and private institutions including institutions of secondary and higher education, industrial and academic research organizations, social justice organizations, government agencies, tech companies and startups, along with current students to focus on a convergence approach in discussing and addressing four areas:  

  • Support for advancement of underrepresented groups in STEM to pursue and obtain post-secondary degrees and careers in high-demand tech fields like artificial intelligence (AI), quantum technology, cloud technology, cybersecurity, biotechnology, etc.
  • Social and human good research foundations to explore how research topics, such as the use of technology for social or human good, might ignite the interest of students from underrepresented groups by associating the application of technology with issues they care about.
  • Technology supported education to identify how advanced technology areas like AI can be used to shape new models of education, evaluate and potentially course correct traditional education models and make connections from initial technology entry points (e.g., social/human good contexts) to application of the expertise to other technology challenges. Also, identify learning modules to address particular tech education gaps and help bridge the educational, aspirational and financial gaps caused and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Data trust development to capture details on student demographics, educational pursuits, participation in specific programs to support their advancement, and the resulting student educational and career outcomes. Also, recommend specific internship or research opportunities based on student skills and interests, or conversely, help hiring organizations identify candidates from underrepresented groups with appropriate skills.


Dates: May 25, May 27, June 3, and June 8, 2021
Times: 1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. ET
Workshop Website: https://peergroupconsulting.com/rise

Food Systems & Security

Digital and Precision Agriculture

Award ID: 2120483, led by Iowa State University, PI: James Reecy (jreecy@iastate.edu)

Given the increasing world population and expanding climate crisis, digital and precision agriculture provides a promising path forward in feeding the world while also helping protect the planet. Agricultural production practices and techniques that utilize emerging, cutting-edge technologies can boost output and efficiency and farmers’ profitability, while also enhancing the resilience and sustainability of agricultural systems around the globe.

The latest digital farm management systems offer end-to-end traceability of crops, making it possible to target consumers who want to buy from farmers committed to responsible land use and low carbon emissions. However, to achieve these gains, precise, accurate and field-deployable sensors and biosensors will be needed across the entire food chain. In addition, integrated analytics will be needed to manage the food and agricultural system. To ensure continued improvement in food production and quality, new techniques and systems will be needed to dramatically increase the rate of genetic improvement in both plants and livestock.

To assess the critical needs and map out future strategic priorities, Iowa State University is working in tandem with North Carolina A&T State University and Penn State University to host a NSF-funded Convergence Accelerator Workshop on digital and precision agriculture. The workshop is intended to serve as a brainstorming and ideation platform that brings together:

  • Scientists across a range of agricultural disciplines;
  • Engineers with expertise in sensor development;
  • Computer scientists with knowledge and skills in machine learning and artificial intelligence, rural broadband and data science; and
  • Stakeholders throughout the food production value chain.


Dates: May 10, 12, 14, and 21, 2021
Times: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. CDT
Workshop Website: https://www.research.iastate.edu/digital-precision-agriculture/

Please note the workshop is invitation only, but individuals may express internet in participation by emailing Jim Reecy, jreecy@iastate.edu, or Cari Park, caripark@iastate.edu.

Sustainable Systems Enabling Food Security in Extreme Environments and Food Deserts employing a Convergence of Food, Energy, Water and Systems

Award ID: 2119533, led by University of Texas at El Paso, PI: Deidra R. Hodges (drhodges@utep.edu)

The Sustainable Systems Enabling Food Security in Extreme Environments and Food Deserts employing a Convergence of Food, Energy, Water and Systems workshop is focusing on ensuring the development of sustainable food production systems and achieving food security in extreme environments. Workshop topics include food security, sustainable systems and agriculture; renewable energy and sustainable water resources; sustainable, integrated and smart systems; and social engagement, policy, and education. The overall workshop objective is accelerated convergence of sustainable food systems and food security through a facilitated convening of vested stakeholders from academia, industry, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, foundations and others, enabling accelerated innovation.

The results of this NSF-funded Convergence Accelerator workshop will inform future investments from the National Science Foundation for sustainable food systems and food security research and innovation at the intersection of food, energy, water and systems.


Dates: May 19 - 21, 2021
Workshop Website: www.convergentfoodsystems.org

Workforce, Rehabilitation, and Disabilities

Accelerating Disability Inclusion in Workplaces through Technology

Award ID: 2122120, led by Wichita State University, PI: Vinod Namboodiri (vinod.namboodiri@wichita.edu)

The labor market participation rate of persons with disabilities (PWD) is significantly lower than persons without disabilities. There are more than one billion PWDs in the world and constitute a source of talent for employment towards the development and offering of products and services. The challenges faced by this population in contributing equally in our society has implications not only to our economies, but also human rights, equality, equity, and diversity.

The Accelerating Disability Inclusion in Workplaces through Technology workshop is focusing on creating a research agenda to include various emerging and expected developments in technology in conjunction with human factors, and social and behavioral sciences. In addition, by taking a comprehensive and universal design view, it plans to consider all the major disabilities (e.g., vision, hearing, cognitive and intellectual, physical and mobility, and combinations of these).

The workshop is focusing on identifying specific assistive technologies to be designed to integrate PWDs in the future workforce and the associated education and training initiatives that will be required. The project will be informed by participants that span non-profit organizations serving PWDs, employers of PWDs, workforce training institutions, national disability inclusion advocates, individuals with disabilities, and researchers from academia and industry


Dates: May 20, 25, and 28, 2021
Times: 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. ET
Workshop Website: https://apply.hub.ki/disabilityinclusion/

Liberate 2021: Living Better through Rehabilitative and Assistive Technology

Award ID: 2125017, led by Georgia Institute of Technology, PI: Patricio A. Vela (pvela@gatech.edu)

The vision of the Liberate 2021 workshop is to explore how technology can facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities or impairments in all aspects of daily life; including for work, school, home, social interaction. Across the landscape of disabilities and impairments, inclusion can take many forms—from technologies that promote easier access to those that provide augmentation. Greater inclusion in the activities of daily life is understood to apply to people who will fully recover, who will partially recover, or who will require lifetime accommodations. To best understand this landscape and aim for a convergent understanding, the workshop hopes to involve a diverse set of stakeholders, elicit their understanding of the above, and arrive at a unifying conceptual understanding of how technology can best empower people with disabilities or impairments. From this understanding, the workshop aims to identify near-term, convergent opportunities to expand and advance the solution space of rehabilitative and assistive technologies for persons with disabilities or impairments.


Dates: May 14, 18, 21, and 26
Times: 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. ET
Workshop Website: sites.google.com/view/liberate2021