Author: clelialamonica

The CDHU’s involvement in national research infrastructures: Why now and how?

CDHU is a member of three research infrastructure consortia that were awarded by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet): SveDigArk, led by Archaeology at UU, HumInfra (led by HumLab at Lund University), and Infravis (via the Centre for Image Analysis at Uppsala University and led by Chalmers University of Technology). In the following post, Director of the centre, Associate Professor Anna Foka describes the particulars of CDHU’s involvement in large national infrastructure consortia and the importance for developing humanities and social sciences infrastructure at a national level. 

Uppsala has a brilliant tradition in historical-philosophical studies since at least 17th century, and the Heritage Law saw the formation of the first antiquities department here, the predecessor to the National Heritage Board of Sweden (Riksantikvarieämbetet). The first professor of Archaeology in Sweden was also at Uppsala, Oscar Almgren, in 1914. So, it should not come as a surprise that Uppsala is becoming involved in such national infrastructure projects. But why is this happening now?

One factor is the maturity of resources; there is now a Centre for Digital Humanities at Uppsala University, awarded with 30 million kr for the next five years and supported across disciplinary domains (HumSam, TekNat) and faculties (HistFil) which additionally supports these infrastructure initiatives from within by providing both socio-technical resources and providing support and access to a supercomputer (Uppmax) and a stable open cloud infrastructure (Central IT).  

This means that we can now financially support these nationally awarded infrastructures. The SveDigArk application led by our extraordinary colleagues at Uppsala Archaeology is supported by us via a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) expert.  We are further a part of HumInfra: the National Digital Humanities Infrastructure led by Humlab at Lund University; there our role as CDHU and within our module is to support artificial intelligence (AI) training, methods and tools for the humanities and social sciences, as well as to connect to European such infrastructures from the perspective of information science and information organisation. Our mission is develop our AI Laboratorium within CDHU. For InfraVis: The National Scientific Visualisation infrastructure led by Chalmers in Gothenburg, we are tapping onto another excellent resource: the Centre for Image Analysis at Uppsala University to experiment with the latest trends in scientific visualisation methods and tools. 

A second point is that we, academics, researchers, scholars, are currently more aware of how fast-pacing technology leads to organisational change, which then leads to new scientific discoveries and vice-versa. Having the opportunity to study those phenomena at a national level is also a consequence of technological development. 

A final factor is how we, global academics of the socially and environmentally challenging 2020s, seem to comprehend the importance of collegiality and collaboration for global impact. Researchers in any discipline are now commonly called upon to correspond to research questions that are not necessarily compartmentalised in disciplines or strictly bound to one geographical region, but are grounded in the complexities and relations of the real world and are meant to have global impact—in other words, to be both transformative and generative for humanity and society. This is what CDHU hopes to inspire, beyond digital methods and tools that we can all parse and process.

For research in the long run, these three projects mean that, across humanities and social sciences within UU and in Sweden more generally, we will together pioneer a number of trending digital methods and tools for research: namely Artificial Intelligence (such as image processing, natural language processing, machine learning) as well as Data Science, GIS, and Scientific visualisation more generally. It also means that we as researchers will be given the possibility to discuss these incredible new technologies within national clusters and complement each other’s findings, thus bringing Sweden to the forefront of international research. 

Meet our newest team members at CDHU!

We are happy to begin Autumn 2021 by welcoming several staff members to the CDHU! The research engineers, coordinators, and staff at the Centre for Digital Humanities work together offering consultation, practical, and technical support for world-class research that integrates digital methods and tools.

Our staff can support different stages of the research process—from research design to obtaining data, statistical analysis, data visualization, and more.

Research Engineers at CDHU have expertise in a variety of technical skills and knowledge sets, such as coding and data science, to statistical analysis, machine learning, and natural language processing.

Read below to learn more about our research engineers and coordinators:

Ekta Vats
Research Engineer

Ekta Vats

Research Engineer– AI and Image Processing

I am a Research Engineer at the Centre for Digital Humanities where I work as an image analysis and data science expert. I am interested in investigating how research-oriented AI solutions can be adopted in real-world applications in the field of Humanities and Social Science. At CDHU, I would like to help scholars and researchers gain an understanding of AI and data-driven methods, teach relevant courses, share knowledge through creative workshops, and also support their infrastructure needs.

By training, I am a PhD in Computer Vision, and have worked as an AI Scientist at Silo AI Stockholm, and prior to that, as a researcher at the Center for Image Analysis at Uppsala University. I am also working as a Computer Scientist AI/HTR at Folkrörelsearkivet for Uppsala Län on the Labour’s Memory project, which aims at making large scale material from The Swedish Trade Union Confederation-sphere (from the 1880s until today) available and accessible. 

My research interests broadly span computer vision, image processing, machine learning and handwritten text recognition, with applications in Digital Humanities and Social Sciences. I like to challenge myself with different types of problems, and also from different domains, and have expertise in deep learning and data science. My most recent work includes large-scale image analysis and machine learning for digital palaeography, using computerised methods to automatically analyse Swedish medieval charters.

Mudassir Imran Mustafa 
Research Engineer

Mudassir Imran Mustafa 

Research Engineer-Infrastructure

I am a design researcher with a multidisciplinary background (i.e., Information Systems, Computer Science and Software Engineering). As a design researcher, I have the curiosity and desire to learn new things, see new perspectives and be involved in creating a better world. My research interests include the identification of quality characteristics and formulation of design principles to continuously preserve, improve, and adapt the research infrastructure in an academic research context to allow such infrastructure to be maintained and to evolve more efficiently. 

At the Centre for Digital Humanities (CDHU), I would like to help scholars and researchers gain an understanding of how to use the research infrastructure available (e.g., UPPMAX/SNIC) and manage research data.  I hope to use my interdisciplinary research expertise, particularly about understanding and designing digital research infrastructures and digital practices, to offer guidance and support for the various interdisciplinary research projects in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

More generally, I am very excited to build a sustainable research infrastructure at the CDHU, I believe this is especially important to the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Marie Dubremetz

Research Engineer-AI and Natural Language Processing

I began my studies with a Bachelor’s degree in Classics and Humanities, but following my Master and PhD in Computational Linguistics, I transitioned from a literary background to a more technical profile. 

As a natural language processing specialist, I hope to help researchers in their use of tools to process textual data–novels, news articles, historical texts… Through python, bash scripts, and many other tools, corpora will give the best of themselves. For ideas of what I can do and how I can help, you can have a look at my list of projects on my website: www.mariedubremetz.com .

Through my career I have witnessed how bringing technology and programming to humanist profile can foster extraordinary research. Whether one is an anthropologist or philosopher, lawyer or historian… humanists cultivate a meaningful approach that the innovation field needs to benefit from. I envision the center as a competitive, inspiring, but also as an open and welcoming place. Transitioning from literary studies to programming is exciting but not easy, especially if you are alone in this process. I will be there to help.

Karl Berglund
Research Coordinator

Karl Berglund

Research Coordinator

My background and PhD is in literature, more specifically oriented towards the sociology of literature, a sub-field that has for a long time applied quantitative methods on literary materials. When digitisation started to take off in the 2000s, it opened up completely new possibilities for systematic literary analyses on a larger scale. I understood that I needed to learn some basic programming and statistics to be able to master these digital methods myself, and this road led me to the digital humanities. 

As a scholar, I am currently PI in a research project on contemporary bestselling fiction called “Patterns of Popularity”. Among other things, I track audiobook consumption patterns from datasets derived from Storytel, along with a colleague at computational linguistics. I am also the founder and coordinator of the Uppsala Computational Literary Studies Group (UCOL). 

At CDHU, I am a research coordinator, which means that I try to help HumSam researchers that need technical and/or methodical support in different ways, mostly by being a link to our engineers. I manage our pilot project support calls, plan workshops and seminars, and am currently in the process of planning a PhD course in “Cultural Analytics”, to be held in the spring 2022. I am also the main organiser of the DHNB 2022 conference that will be hosted at Uppsala University in March next year.

I believe that computational methods will be a standard element in the HumSam research toolbox of the future. My vision for CDHU is that we aid HumSam researchers at UU both by providing technical expertise, and by teaching them to do things themselves (and thereby generate interest to learn further). For me, the latter is especially important as I hope it can empower future generations of HumSam scholars.

Clelia LaMonica
Communications Officer

Clelia LaMonica

Communications Officer

My background is in general linguistics, with a more recent focus on English language and use. In my research I have explored statistical methods for analyzing mixed qualitative and quantitative data related to language perception and production, as well as discourse analysis of certain registers such as Legal English, Business English, and teaching English for Specific Purposes. The interdisciplinarity of these topics led me to seek methods of visualizing and combining different forms of data, such as corpus research, network analysis and GIS, and I then became involved in the GIS for Language Studies (LanGIS) group, as well as Digital Humanities here at Uppsala.

My focus at CDHU as communications officer is to connect with and expand our network, both internally among the faculties, centres, departments, and scholars, and externally among international universities, organisations, and research programmes. I would, overall, like for CDHU to communicate a unique profile for academics looking to explore digital methods and techniques, as well as the infrastructure we have available.

My hope is that researchers who have not previously explored digital methods, or who are uncertain what ‘digital humanities’ actually encompasses, reach out to the Centre and expand their digital horizons! The Centre is a fantastic resource that has something for everyone—individual researchers and large international programmes alike—so I look forward to working in Uppsala and across Sweden, as well as with our international partners, to expand the Digital Humanities infrastructures and support that exist for scholars in the Humanities and Social Sciences.