National Science Foundation awards planning grant to College.

Irma Becerra-Fernandez, associate professor of decision sciences and information systems in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University, has been awarded a research planning grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a project titled “Enabling Globally-Distributed Electronic Collaboration (GLODEC) for Expertise Studies and Human and Social Dynamics.” The year-long grant will make it possible for Becerra-Fernandez, serving as principal investigator, and a co-principal investigator, to explore ways to enhance the capabilities of the Knowledge Management Lab, an entity she founded within the College in 1997.

“We would like to design a pioneering program that supports interdisciplinary research on the study of expertise—whether it’s among athletes, chess players, knowledge workers, or others,” said Becerra-Fernandez, who has been the recipient of many grants, including a number from NASA and private sources. “This collaboration will require a technology infrastructure, and we expect to apply for an infrastructure grant from NSF at the end of our planning period.”

Not only will Becerra-Fernandez use the grant period and funding to look at ways to build the technology infrastructure to support interdisciplinary work among experts on the topic of expertise, but also she is exploring the creation of innovative, interdisciplinary graduate programs.

“Currently no university offers a Ph.D. in expertise studies,” she said. “If we can equip our graduate students—particularly at the Ph.D. level—with background in the two areas of expertise and human and social dynamics, and if we can expose them to the researchers we hope to involve from other universities, it will give them a competitive advantage.”

The plans align well with the objectives of the new complex that will house the College’s programs.

“Our state-of-the-art building complex will include the Faculty and Research Center Hall, which will feature research labs to support the kinds of projects and programs Dr. Becerra-Fernandez is envisioning,” said Executive Dean Joyce J. Elam, who will work closely on the project with Dr. Becerra-Fernandez during the coming months.

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