EE Professor Zoran Kostic & Team Receive Research Grant from Columbia Center of AI Technology

February 01, 2021

Last fall, Columbia Engineering and Amazon announced the creation of the Columbia Center of AI Technology (CAIT). In conjunction with the news Columbia issued an internal request for research proposals, and its call for PhD student fellowship nominations.

Now four months later, CAIT is announcing the initial faculty research award recipients.

“The goal of CAIT is to establish a world-class center of knowledge discovery and talent training for broad societal impact,” said Shih-Fu Chang, director of CAIT, senior executive vice dean and Richard Dicker professor, Columbia Engineering, and an Amazon Scholar. “The research of our PhD fellows, and the initial research projects we’re funding are indicative of the kinds of transformative research and multi-disciplinary approaches to solutions that CAIT is supporting.”

Amazon is providing $5 million in funding over five years to support research, education, and outreach programs. Professor Zoran Kostic & team are the recipients of one of the research projects that have been selected.

Research project: 

Using speech and language to identify patients at risk for hospitalizations and emergency department visits in homecareZoran Kostic, professor of professional practice, Electrical Engineering, Columbia Engineering; Maxim Topaz, Elizabeth Standish Gill Professor of Nursing, Columbia University School of Nursing; and Maryam Zolnoori (Nursing).

This study is the first step in exploring an emerging and previously understudied data stream — verbal communication between healthcare providers and patients. A partnership among Columbia Engineering, Columbia’s School of Nursing, and the largest home healthcare agency in the US, the study will investigate how to use audio-recorded routine communications between patients and nurses to help identify patients at risk of hospitalization or emergency department visits. The study will combine speech recognition, machine learning, and natural language processing to achieve its goals.