Data+X Project awards first-round funding to support interdisciplinary research

By Ge Gao

Staff writer

Duke Kunshan has announced the first round of funding in its Data+X Project, a three-year program to support interdisciplinary research that combines humanities and social sciences topics with big data.

Led by the Data Science Research Center (DSRC), with support from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the project will see two to four research teams each year share funds totaling RMB 200,000 (US$29,900). Teams are required to include at least one undergraduate student researcher.

‘We hope the Data+X Project will nudge further integration of data analytics into the humanities and social sciences,’ said Xin Li, associate dean for research and director of the DSRC. ‘In addition, we want to engage our undergraduate students early in interdisciplinary research.’

From left: DKU professors Jingbo Cui, Caio Yurgel, Coraline Goron and Zhaojin Zeng

2020-21 Data+X Project recipients

Jingbo Cui,
associate professor of applied economics

His research team will focus on the innovation capabilities and importance of patents in Chinese industries. By analyzing 30 million patent applications from China and 10 billion patent citations at major patent offices around the world, his team aims to gain better understanding of the impact of industry and public policy on the innovation capacity of companies based on mathematical models. Cui, who has a Ph.D. in economics from Iowa State University, joined Duke Kunshan in 2019.

Coraline Goron,
assistant professor of environmental policy

She will use the funding to further her research into environmental discussion on Chinese social media. Initially, her team will analyze the accounts of environmental protection agencies at different levels in Shandong and Jiangsu provinces, looking at their posts and audience response. The aim is to gain better understanding of the communication strategies and priorities of China’s environmental authorities.

Another area of focus will be analyzing the legal advice provided by lawyers on environmental disputes via China’s public legal advice platforms, to gauge legal practitioners’ knowledge of the field and the common concerns of the people posting questions. The team will work with researchers at Leeds University, U.K., and in Hong Kong. Goron, who has a double Ph.D. in political science from the University of Warwick and the Universit?? Libre de Bruxelles, joined Duke Kunshan in 2019.

Caio Yurgel,
assistant professor of humanities

His team will use big data to study the interactions between Chinese-speaking countries and Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking countries. Yurgel, who has a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the Freie Universit??t Berlin, Germany, joined Duke Kunshan in 2020.

Zhaojin Zeng,
assistant professor of history

His work will look into the history of China’s factories in the 20th century. He has collected factory records, local chronicles, government records and industrial census records from across the country by visiting old book markets, archives and online libraries. His team aims to address several questions through analysis of the data: Changes in the distribution of factories in China; geographic and cultural conditions; development of different industries across regions; and the impact of policies and social trends at the time. He plans to build a database and 20th-century archive for Chinese factories to support academic research and historians. Zeng, who has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas, Austin, joined Duke Kunshan in 2020.

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