Following a commitment by President Robert J. Jones to increase externally funded research, the University has advanced a more aggressive internal awards program to support its researchers through both seed funding and continuous investment. In 2015-16, these endeavors included the Presidential Initiatives Fund for Research and Scholarship (PIFRS), the Collaborative Venture Fund and the Faculty Research Awards Program (FRAP).

Hear More From David Hochfelder PIFRS aims to stimulate new cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research in areas, such as the Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Humanities, Advanced Data Analytics, and Forensic Science and Cybersecurity. The awards combined provide approximately $500,000 in support. Historian and faculty member David Hochfelder benefitted in late 2014 when he received the PIFRS to support his “98 Acres in Albany” project. The multimedia effort takes an intensive look at the most transformative change in the history of New York’s state capital since its founding in 1624.

Corner of Hudson Street and High Street, 1963; current approximate location of the Egg
Corner of Hudson Street and High Street, 1963; current approximate location of the Egg

Through a blog and GitHub sites, Dr. Hochfelder and his team tell the story of New York’s appropriation of 98 acres of established neighborhoods in the heart of downtown Albany in order to construct the Empire State Plaza. Still considered controversial, the project demolished 1,200 buildings and displaced about 8,000 people, and now houses several state government agencies.

“We’ve used the PIFRS funding to collect data and test out its presentation on a digital map using two sample downtown blocks, and to continue to expand our on-line presence through our blog,” said Dr. Hochfelder.

The digital GitHub map, created by Chris Rees, a UAlbany research scientist, opens up to buildings that existed before demolition and depicts names of residents, businesses and business owners. “What we believe this project can do, by bringing these streetscapes back to life, is inspire other researchers to do similar projects, documenting what American cities were like before Urban Renewal demolished so many neighborhoods,” Dr. Hochfelder said.

What we believe this project can do, by bringing these streetscapes back to life, is inspire other researchers to do similar projects, documenting what American cities were like before Urban Renewal demolished so many neighborhoods..

“98 Acres” is just one of 14 UAlbany faculty research projects awarded by the PIFRS program.

The Collaborative Venture Fund rewards joint efforts of faculty from UAlbany and Albany Law School, and involved 44 faculty in its inaugural year of 2016. The initial projects included the development of a human rights research agenda, the collaboration of students on experiential learning to tackle local urban blight, a legal history roundtable and public discussion series, and a conference examining how violence and injustice occur both within and outside legal institutions.

Madison Cathedral Rectory 1963
Madison Cathedral Rectory 1963; current location of the southeast corner of Empire State Plaza

The Faculty Research Awards Program awarded 39 faculty members up to $10,000 to sup-port their research and creative efforts in the STEM fields and the humanities. These projects included computationally designing nucleic acid probes for the detection of tumor-specific MicroRNAs, an in-depth intellectual his-tory of liberal international-ism, a study of 3D tracking visualization from surveil-lance videos, and a comprehensive look at journalist censorship in Vietnam.