DIA2 eases search for NSF funding data

Mihaela Vorvoreanue
Mihaela Vorvoreanue (Vincent Walter)

04/22/2016 |

More and more data requires more and more robust ways of searching for it. And when it comes to understanding the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) funding portfolio — which is voluminous, diverse and complex — it’s often difficult for investigators to find the information they’re searching for.

Enter DIA2 (Deep Insights Anywhere, Anytime), a new Web platform for knowledge mining and visualization of the NSF funding portfolio. Funded by the NSF with an award of $3 million over four years, it’s designed as a central resource for the community of researchers, educators and learners who are transforming undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The application is available to anyone who wants to explore where NSF funding goes and how it’s distributed geographically across NSF divisions, topics and institutions. Users also can explore collaboration networks of researchers who worked together on proposals, identify who’s well connected in a field, and figure out which NSF programs and program managers have funded research similar to theirs.

DIA2 was designed with the philosophy “No Manuals, No Training.” Researchers built the platform so that it was easy to use with no learning curve by putting users at the center of the design process. Krishna Madhavan, an associate professor of engineering education, was the PI of the project.

“We started with user research to understand user needs, and moved through ideation, wireframing, testing, the whole nine yards,” says Mihaela Vorvoreanu, an associate professor in the Departments of Computer Graphics Technology and Technology Leadership and Innovation, who served as co-PI on its development, leading the UX (user experience) team.

Follow-up surveys by Vorvoreanu and her cohorts indicate that DIA2’s interface is visually appealing, provides relevant information and is easy to navigate, and that the application increases their productivity. User numbers back up these findings: In the past year, the application has had more than 1 million hits and 145,000 unique queries.

To use DIA2, simply go to http://www.dia2.org/ and click on the launch button.

– Angie Roberts
See original article at http://bit.ly/1TnWE6s