FY15 Projects

Innumeracy Project

Submitted by Alex Pang, Professor of Computer Science, Baskin School of Engineering

Sponsored by Ted Goldstein

Approved September 13, 2014


Innumeracy is a term that refers to the lack of skill to reason and apply numerical concepts. For example, a study found that most respondents favored a 50% increase in quantity over a 33% reduction in price when both are in fact the same.  The consequences of making the wrong decision in certain situations can be costly and possibly life threatening.  This project seeks to reduce innumeracy by creating a visual language that complements textual and numerical presentations to facilitate comprehension and convey the gist in an easy to understand, unambiguous, intuitive and/or easy to learn manner.  Such a language will have a theoretical basis from perceptual and cognitive studies, but also from practical applications on task oriented performance metrics. The central theme of this project is to devise ways of improving comprehension of uncertainty information, e.g. risk, by the general public. There are many applications where this can be useful, such as hurricane or severe storm warnings, health risks, security threats, etc.  In this project, we will initially focus on communicating the accuracy of diagnostic tests in medical applications.  Later on, we plan to incorporate base rates or prevalence of diseases in the presentation and evaluate how well the visual presentations help subjects to assess the likelihood of whether they have the disease or not, given the results of a diagnostic test. The requested funding will allow us to refine and improve the designs, develop interactive training materials, and recruit a more targeted population of subjects


  • Long-term goal is to improve communication and comprehension of information with uncertainty to the general public in order for them to make better decisions.
  • Short-term goal is to design and evaluate the effects of either standalone or accompanying visual presentation of uncertainty information about accuracy of medical diagnostic exams.
  • Provide research opportunities for undergraduate students involved with developing software and designing visual presentations.
  • Positive results from the research will be incorporated into teaching/learning materials for future classes that deal with data visualization.
  • The outcome of the work proposed in this project will be reported in relevant medical/technical literature and will form part of the groundwork for seeking external funding (such as the NSF-NIH inter-agency funding opportunity for smart and connected health).

Amount funded: $5,000 (approximately $3,000 for software development and $2,000 for conducting the survey and analysis).

Key UCSC faculty and staff:

Alex Pang, Professor, Computer Science

Margaret Delaney, Professor/Vice Chancellor, Planning and Budget

Paul Han, MD, MA, MPH, Director of Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Maine Medical Center

Jacob Cohen, undergraduate student, Computer Science

CASFS 3 Videos

Submitted by Anne Hayes, Associate Director of Development, Social Sciences

Sponsored by Alec Webster

Approved November 6, 2014


For more than forty years, the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) has been a world leader in training people in the science and art of sustainable food production. The oldest education program at CASFS is the Apprenticeship Program, a full-time residential training in organic farming and gardening. With almost 1,500 graduates, the impact of the Apprenticeship Program can be seen near and far. Apprentices are working in 45 states and in many different countries. While the impact of the Apprenticeship and other CASFS programs has been profound, the need for CASFS’s teaching continues to grow. CASFS needs to introduce more people to the concepts and practices needed to create sustainable food systems, and one way it can do so is to present its teaching digitally. To begin to develop this form of outreach and education, CASFS will produce three 5- to 8-minute training videos. The videos will supplement the Apprenticeship training manual, which is currently being updated and will be available online by the end of the year. The videos will also be made available free on the Web.


  • To produce three excellent, high-quality videos that provide detailed, in-field instruction.
  • To give beginning farmers clear, usable information in a manner that is appealing and memorable and is imbued with CASFS wisdom.
  • Our long-term goal is to produce a library of web-based instructional videos, and to explore the generation of revenue through subscriptions.
  • Enrich the overall impact and outreach of CASFS, and enhance funding opportunities and connection building with people who are interested and capable of helping CASFS.

Amount funded: $8,709 to fund three excellent, high-quality videos for CASFS in-field instruction.

Key UCSC faculty and staff:

Daniel Press, professor, Environmental Studies

Darryl Wong, research

Jim Leap, former farm manager

Sky DeMuro, Chadwick Garden assistant Manager

Martha Brown, principal editor

Jim Clark, videographer (consultant)

C4E Hack UCSC 2015

Submitted by Brent Haddad, Director, Center for Entrepreneurship

Sponsored by Brandon Allgood

Approved December 22, 2014


Hack UCSC 2015 is the premier hackathon for the Santa Cruz Monterey Bay area.  On January 9 – 11, 2015, over 350 coders, designers, and entrepreneurs will come together at UCSC Crown Merrill Cultural Center to build unique solutions.  An estimated 60 – 100 different teams will complete for $80,000 in cash and prizes.  Award categories include Innovation, AgTech, and Tech Cares (social entrepreneurship). We are encouraging projects supporting 50th anniversary themes: environmental sustainability, social justice and technology.  The key elements of a hackathon – teamwork, creative thinking, problem solving, and finishing projects – cut across all disciplines.  Innovation purse awards are funded by donations from the City of Santa Cruz, South Swell Ventures, and Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp.  AgTech purse awards are funded by donations from the Santa Cruz Community Foundation and Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp.  The event is open to students from UC Santa Cruz, Cabrillo College, Cal State University Monterey Bay, and local high schools.  The event is also open to non-students to encourage community involvement, with the condition that the number of students on each team must be the majority. Funds will pay the cost of an Awards Dinner on January 11. The attendees will be by invitation only, selected and invited by organizers, hosts, key sponsors, and will include the top 10 finalist teams. More information at http://www.hackucsc.com/.


  • Jobs: A survey conducted two weeks after the inaugural Hack UCSC in April 2014 revealed that over 50% of the participants had been made job offers by the local business community.
  • Sparking entrepreneurship: Great experiences at hackathons can lead to new businesses.
  • UC Santa Cruz Alumni giving back: Great experiences at UCSC translate to grateful alumni giving back.

Amount funded: $6,400 to sponsor the award dinner for the Hack UCSC 2015 on January 11, 2015.

Key UCSC faculty and staff:

Brent Haddad, Director, Center for Entrepreneurship (organizer)

Jim Whitehead, Professor of Computer Science (judge)

Chancellor George Blumenthal (speaker)

Vision and the Cosmos - Russell Crotty and Lick Observatory

Submitted by Katherine Robinson, Senior Director of Development, Institute of the Arts and Sciences

Sponsored by Peder Jones and Loren Kinczel

Approved April 30, 2015


The Institute of the Arts and Sciences at University of California, Santa Cruz (IAS) and the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) are organizing Vision and the Cosmos - Russell Crotty and Lick Observatory, a unique project based on a multi-visit artist residency at the UC Lick Observatory and collaboration with astrophysicists from Theoretical Astrophysics Santa Cruz (TASC), a scientific working group at UCSC.  Russell Crotty is known internationally for his drawings and sculpture based on direct astronomical observation, investigating the cosmos and exploring the nature of the universe through art. Vision and the Cosmos brings the highly original Crotty to UC Santa Cruz for a series of rich interactions with art and science faculty and students. The residency and collaboration will result in a new body of work by Crotty, a subsequent exhibition at the ICA, and a range of interactions between faculty and students at UC Santa Cruz.  The exhibited work and associated materials from Lick and UC Santa Cruz will grapple with the history and future of astronomical imaging, offering the public a view of the role that Lick has played in both astronomy education and our knowledge of the universe.  Opening in November 2016, the exhibition will be offered to museums for tour starting in the spring of 2017. 


  • Bring artists and scientists together to generate new ways to further work in both areas, leveraging UC Santa Cruz academic strengths to create national caliber public programs.
  • Provide a transformative learning experience for students through a unique workshop on the role of vision and seeing in the search for knowledge in both astronomy and in the visual arts.
  • Engage Silicon Valley audiences interested in science and the arts, and educate them about UC Santa Cruz’s stature as a world center of astronomy and astrophysics.
  • Catalyze on-campus collaborations between a nationally prominent artist and UC Santa Cruz scientists, artists, and students in astronomy, astrophysics, and art; foster interaction between undergrads in the arts and sciences.
  • Model concrete ways that the new Institute of the Arts and Sciences can contribute to UC Santa Cruz, both educationally, and in terms of public profile.
  • Create synergy between the emerging program of the IAS and the university's efforts to seek new funding for research and teaching at the UCO Lick Observatory.
  • Mount a significant exhibition that blends science history, contemporary scientific research, and contemporary art; tour it beyond Santa Cruz

Amount funded: $10,000 to provide partial support for the Vision and the Cosmos project

Key UCSC faculty and staff:

John Weber, Director of the Institute of the Arts and Sciences

Greg Laughlin, Chair of Astronomy and Astrophysics

Joel Primack, Professor of Physics, Director of High-Performance Astro-Computing Center (HI-PACC)

Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, Professor Astronomy and Astrophysics

Tony Misch, Director and Curator of Archives, Lick Observatory

Claire Max, Interim Director, Lick Observatory