2014-2015 LIFT Award Recipients

The following proposals were selected to receive funding for FY 2014-2015.

Thrive @ UT: Using Technology to Promote UT Students’ Emotional Intelligence and Academic Success

Thrive@UT will be a mobile app geared towards the personal development of emotional wellness and life success of college aged students. The focus of this project aligns with UT’s strategic four-year graduation rate goal. The mobile tool will consist of engaging videos, guided exercises, and interactive “assignments” designed to help students integrate newly acquired concepts into their daily lives. This app will also send users notifications to their phones, reminding them of key learning points and encouraging them to apply these concepts to their daily interactions.

Participants: Dr. Chris Brownson, Counseling and Mental Health Center; Dr. Ricardo Ainslie Department of Educational Psychology; Elana Bizer, Counseling and Mental Health Center; Katy Redd, Counseling and Mental Health Center

CARL: The Cloud-based Advanced Robotics Laboratory

The goal of the proposed project is to build a Cloud-based Advanced Robotics Laboratory (CARL) that will enable UT students, faculty, and staff to use, program, and experiment with human-centered robots for educational and research purposes. The key novelty and contribution of the proposed project is the development of an online portal that enbales members of the UT community to remotely (1) reprogram the robot and testbed software using the provided API and conduct experiments, (2) monitor and interact with human-centered roborts, (3) access the raw experiment data, and (4) collaborate with other users.

Participants: Luis Sentis, Mechanical Engineering; Aloysius Mok, Computer Science; Matt Mangum, Faculty Innovation Center

Dynamic Virtual Earth Science Collections

The proposed project will make 4 million or so specimens held in the Non-vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory collections virtually accessible thru an online database. These often forgotten specimens will be photographed using Google Glass and will allow these collections to be accessible throughout the world.

Participants: Ann Molineux, Jackson School of Geosciences & Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab; Tomislav Urban, Texas Advanced Computing Center & Data Management and Collections; Faye Geigerman, Jackson School of Geosciences & Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab

Bringing the Tools of Research Direct to the UT Classroom: Systemic, a Virtual Lab for Students

This proposal will build on the already existing app, Systemic, that allows students to independently explore astronomical data, through visualizations, games, and a specialized curriculum that fits naturally into this new program. The program serves two purposes: (1), it will empower students to explore scientific concepts through a “virtual lab.” This virtual lab will provide student centered, interactive learning experiences that utilize engaging apps with game elements, a high degree of scientific accuracy, and actual astronomical datasets. (2), it will produce a power, yet user-friendly data analysis package with community input, which will provide usability and quality control for a variety of astronomical projects.

Participants: Dr. Stefano Meschiari, Department of Astronomy; Dr. Joel Green, Department of Astronomy; Dr. Randi Ludwig, UTeach Primary


Environ is an educational game that puts students in the role of a decision maker. The game is set in near-future Earth, and the player must take a series of actions to help improve the Earth’s environment without destroying economic output. The resources are limited, so the player must deeply analyze different courses of action to make difficult and complex decisions. Game players will be put in a position to appreciate the complexity and difficulty of the decisions that world leaders must make.

Participants: Peter Elam, Center for Teaching and Learning – Digital Media Institute; Matt O’Hair, Center for Teaching and Learning – Digital Media Institute, Digital Median Institute Student Staff; Faculty and Graduate Student Subject Matter Experts