Dr. Nitin Agarwal Receives New ONR Grant

Nitin Agarwal

With a new grant from the Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Research (ONR), Dr. Nitin Agarwal, Jerry L. Maulden-Entergy Endowed Chair Professor of Information Science, continues to establish himself as a leader in social media research. The grant, which builds on a previous ONR-funded project that Dr. Agarwal conducted, enables him and his team to dig deeper into the organized use of social media by deviant groups to spread misinformation, stoke violence and panic, and conduct recruitment and radicalization campaigns.

The previous project, “Predictive Modeling of Cyber Flash Mobs: Understanding Emerging Socio-Technical Behavior for Conflict Monitoring,” investigated how groups mobilize and spark action in the “real” world via social media. The recent $85,964 grant will fund new computational equipment that will allow the researchers to conduct richer, more nuanced examinations of social media tactics and patterns, leading to practical, innovative results.

It will also allow the UALR researchers to work directly with researchers at Arizona State University, University of Maryland Center for Advanced Studies of Language, Naval Postgraduate School, and Carnegie Mellon University, easily sharing discoveries, resources, and knowledge. “The equipment will enable further discovery and analysis [and] data and knowledge exchange among stakeholders,” Dr. Agarwal says.

Though the field and use of social media propaganda is relatively young, the relevance and importance of this research is major. According to Dr. Agarwal, “There is a need to systematically study these new artificial means of spreading rumors, hate speech, viewpoints, and opinions.”

The recently funded project is part of a larger research program in Dr. Agarwal’s lab, funded by the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, Air Force Research Lab, and Army Research Office. More details on these projects can be found at ualr.edu/nxagarwal/Homepage/Projects.html.

This project is sponsored by the Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Research under the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP).

Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Naval Research.

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