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Faculty Seed Grants - Resources - Berkeley Center for New Media
Faculty Seed Grants

Faculty Seed Grants

Applications are due March 1, 2023

The Berkeley Center for New Media is an interdisciplinary research center that studies and shapes media transition and emergence from diverse perspectives. Through critical thinking and making, we cultivate technological equity and fairness in our classrooms, in our communities, and on the internet.

As a focal point for research and teaching about new media, we are led by a highly trans-disciplinary community of 120 affiliated faculty, advisors, and scholars, from 35 UC Berkeley departments, including Architecture, Philosophy, Film & Media, History of Art, Performance Studies, and Music; the Schools of Engineering, Information, Journalism, and Law; and the Berkeley Art Museum.

BCNM’s seed grant fellowship program aims to identify innovative research incorporating questions of new media, and to support this work across campus.


This year, the Center has $10,000 to distribute. We will award grants of between $500 and $5,000.

Interested applicants should apply with a one page research proposal here.

Work proposed for the fellowship can be a new extension of existing research, or new research grounded in the applicant’s interest and experience. Collaborative applications are allowed and encouraged. Applications should address the urgency and impact of the research, as well as make clear how questions of new media—historic, contemporary, or both—are relevant. While a detailed budget is not necessary, we ask that you make clear what specific activities are likely to be supported by the fellowship funds.

Applications are due March 1, 2023.

Proposals will be assessed by the current Executive Committee according to the following criteria:

  • relevance to new media
  • academic rigor

Past Awards

Fall 2022

Celeste Kidd

Truth, lies, and misinformation during cognitive development

Our proposal collects empirical data on interventions designed to give children a greater ability to discern truth from falsity in online materials. Our objectives are to conduct foundational empirical studies on two types of interventions designed to facilitate children’s ability to discern fact from fiction in new media. The first set of interventions target factors external to the child relating to the information ecosystems in which they are making judgements. The second set of interventions involve investigating internal mechanisms children may have available for helping them detect misinformed opinions.

Clancy Wilmott

Rematriating the Map: Alternative Cartographies for Alternative Futures

Reorienting the Map: Alternative Cartographies for Alternative Futures focuses on the ever-present question of the colonial legacies in cartographic media, and the impact that this has on Indigenous efforts to decolonize the map, and fight for alternative futures (c.f. Rose-Redwood et. al, 2020). Working with the Sogorea Te Land Trust, Reorienting the Map proposes a series of interlinked collaborative cartographic works, which gradually scale up from the experimental to the infrastructural. They include a large scale paper wall map and a digital mapping media platform for the general public. Sogorea Te and studio.geo? have an established relationship via the Berkeley Center for New Media’s Indigenous Technologies program, and have already completed a collaborative digital map.

Spring 2022

Emma Fraser

As companies, including Facebook and Google, seek to develop future virtual environments that will come to mediate our engagement with the Web, including expanding the capacities of multiplayer online spaces, and moving into projected ‘metaverse’ productions, there is a particular urgency to questions of the representation of space. How can the historical context of spatial navigation and play in games help us to understand future directions in game design, but also the implications for VR, architectural modelling, and urban design and development?

Emma's research concerns digital space and visual materiality in video games, specifically the multimedial and corporeal ways in which urban space is represented, navigated, and configured through play in virtual worlds. She also investigates the use of physical hardware as a means to educate students on the historical contexts that have shaped the representation of space in games (for example, the use of peripherals like controllers, light guns, and joysticks).

Greg Niemeyer & Lisa Wymore

Greg and Lisa are spearheading a community-led VR immersive experience reflecting on the impact of recent California Wildfires on local Northern California communities - creating a space for mourning, learning and healing.

The 2017 Tubbs fire burned 36,807 acres of land, destroyed over 5000 homes, and claimed the lives of 22 residents of Santa Rosa, CA. The flames, sparkled by a downed power line, burned for almost a month.

Fire Time is not only an artistic Virtual Reality project utilizing the enormous amount of data collected during the Tubbs fire - from air quality, to fire speed and spread, to maps and images, and collected stories - it is also a community-led artistic process that will be used to address the fire from multiple perspectives.

Fall 2021

Celeste Kidd

In "The Effects of Cognitive Load and Theory of Mind on the Emergence of Political Polarization Online", Celeste tests how cognitive load in online environments may increase rates of polarization. From the neverending news feed of Twitter to Reddits limitless conversations, online environments offer individuals access to multiple information streams, thus increasing cognitive load. Celeste hopes to answer how we might expect this stress on cognitive systems to affect people’s ability to represent and judge the minds of others, and what this might tell us about the recent surge in political polarization in online environments such as Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit.

Beth Piatote

Decolonial Conversions is a project with the purpose of reclaiming old media, namely a nineteenth century mission printing press, for new use as a tool of Indigenous language revitalization. Beth submitted this proposal on behalf of the Nez Perce writing group, luk’upsíimey/North Star Collective, of which she is the co-organizer, for a project to repurpose the mission press. Together, Beth and Nez Perce writers and language activists carry out this project of “decolonial conversion,” which has symbolic and material significance to the Nez Perce language community and to Indigenous language revitalization work more broadly. The press will get a new mission: to support rather than attack Nez Perce culture.


Eric Paulos

This proposal leverages preliminary work through a series of semi-structured interviews with 15 expert creative practitioners across a diverse range of domains including performance, craft, engineering, science, art, and design, and their use of artifacts generated throughout their creative processes. We examine the shifing roles that artifacts play, and identify strategies used across a range of creative practices. Informed by these studies, we have initiated an early prototype of a new creative, education, and (hopefully) transdisciplinary creativity support system that cross disciplinary boundaries.

Our tool is called Kaleidoscope and is modeled afer the busy, messy, but inspiration workspaces we inhabit. It supports a range of “artifact” types from text, google docs, websites, videos, images, Figma designs, 3D models, various online collaborative repositories such as GitHub, etc. Rather than to only showcase final work, Kaleidoscope is focused on capturing process, sidesteps, pivots, and all the beautify and valuable messiness that goes into any creative process. It is a new approach to documentation of creative work. Within a classroom setting, it allows for elements of assignments to be submitted for critique and feedback by other classmates, teaching staff, or outside domain experts.

Jill Miller

Parts without Bodies is a new series of digitally fabricated sculptures that combine 3D printed creature corpuses with embedded audio systems, which form a tangible object that plays audio files when touched. The creatures are designed by digitally scanning detritus and “dead” objects - for example, a tree branch with burrows left from termites, a sand dollar shell, and a titanium hip removed post-mortem. The objects are manipulated in a CAD program, then “reborn” in their freaky new state: sculptural objects the size and weight of a newborn baby, responsive to touch when held or caressed. The three objects are reanimated by the audio tracks played while they are touched. The audio files reflect a moment of magic and fantasy - when the object is reanimated with the sounds of its former self: the creaking of tree branches in the wind, the sounds of the ocean where the sea urchin once thrived, or the sounds of the circulatory system that once surrounded the hip implant when it was inside a human body.

Asma Kazmi

After Jahangir is a photographic project of self-portraits based on Islamic Mughal miniature portraits, which explore questions around the built environment, consumerism, and ecofeminist thinking. The Mughal emperor Jahangir (1569-1627) was given the name “World Seizer” for his preoccupation with collecting. He enthusiastically acquired plants, animals, minerals, and rarities from different parts of the globe. During his reign, Jahangir commissioned many royal portraits where he was often pictured with his arm lifted up to his face, holding up a distinguished object to ruminate on its properties. In these paintings dynamic architectural details and/or natural settings were thematized to reflect Jahangir’s love of natural/manmade materials, architecture, and the environment. In Asma's series After Jahangir, she performs Jahangir’s gesture of carefully gazing at a household consumer object placed in her palm to contemplate her relationship to material goods that she consumes. Her self-portraits will be taken at various locations in San Francisco and Karachi, representing the uneven urbanization of the two cities. In addition, she will create sculptural objects inspired by Islamic architectural forms and Mughals gardens to be placed in the photographic frame, engendering multiple spatial and temporal orientations. By creating a series of images depicting entanglements of historical representations and placing herself within this system, she is interested in imagining new and unique possibilities of thinking about matter, materiality, and the ecology.


Celeste Kidd

The Role of Reasoning and Metacognition During Belief Formation in the Internet Era seeks to formalize and test theories that can explain why people sometimes believe things that they shouldn’t, and how this potentially destructive tendency might be overcome with the right interventions, using cognitive science, anthropology, and mathematical modeling methods. With a Faculty Seed Grant, the Kidd lab will apply an interdisciplinary approach to testing their hypothesis about the role of confirming feedback via new media in the perpetuation of false ideas. Activities would include (1) writing an ethnography of flat earth beliefs, (2) testing the scientific reasoning abilities of flat-earth belief holders, and (3) conducting lab-based pilot experiments to test whether unjustified certainty can be reduced through interventions designed to highlight knowledge gaps and renew curiosity in the topic via feedback.

William White

People’s Park Digital Heritage Project will be an effort to document the evolution of People’s Park as an urban space and its role in Berkeley history. The goal is to create a digital model of what this parcel used to be before it was transformed into a park, and to highlight the central role it played in the anti-establishment uprising in support of the park so publics can digitally experience this part of Berkeley history.A Faculty Seed Grant will help: (1) cover costs for a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey to identify archaeological materials associated with People’s Park; (2) create a 3-D streetscape of the park prior to 1969 using archival photos and drone-based photogrammetry renderings of buildings moved from the park area, and; (3) build a virtual tour of places and events associated with the 1969 uprising.


Jacob Gaboury

Regimes of Identification: Queer Computing and Digital History seeks to understand how queer identity has been so radically transformed by contemporary digital technologies, examining the queer history of computer science and proposing a queer theory of computing through an investigation of non-binary figures in the early history of mathematics and computation. Extending Alan Turing's early writing on uncomputability, Gaboury looks to articulate a queer externality to so-called “universal computation” through an investigation of queer sites and practices in media art, philosophy, and computer science. In doing so, his goal is to parse the relationship between these two disparate regimes of identification and their broad influence on our contemporary digital culture.

Rita Lucarelli

From Papyrus to Coffins in 3D: The New Media of the Book of the Dead is aimed primarily at building up a new platform for an in-depth study of the materiality of the Book of the Dead texts and images through the 3D visualizations of inscribed, anthropoid coffins produced in the First Millennium BCE, when magical texts and iconography were particularly en vogue on mortuary objects in Egypt. The main outcome of this project is to allow the scholarly community to work on the translation and on other metadata (transcription and translation of the hieroglyphic text, iconographic analysis, coffin typology, origin and whereabouts of the coffins’ owner, etc.), having as a basis this new media – the 3D model of the coffin.


Andrew Atwood

New Apps for New Audiences will further Andrew’s previous work and research on interactive app designs as way to engage and attract new audiences to architecture. Within the spirit of this accessibility and freedom, this research grant would support the development of an app that builds on my ongoing research into Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) design. This grant will aid the production of an interactive mobile tool that enables people to consider the possibilities of adding housing to their existing home, like a traditional ADU, but additionally will allow people to speculate on small scale housing solutions in other open spaces that have not yet been considered by planning institutions or developers. In this way, the app enables everyone, practitioners and the public alike, to rethink our preconceived notions about zoning and challenge us to think small on a big scale.

Asma Kazmi

Cranes and Cube: Architecture, built and unbuilt is a multifaceted new media art/architecture project. The aim of this project is to map the radically changing sites and topographies of Saudi Arabia. It surveys the political force fields of idealism and grandeur of the real estate boom in the region, which is in dialogue with cycles of change and transformation of preexisting structures and localities. This project aims to analyze the interminable currents of buildings–built and unbuilt–and the histories, desires, and concurrent contexts that inform this process. Asma will lead a research trip, along with 2 graduate students, to film, document, and re/present the current state of the sites and locations that Al-Hariri-Rifai, a Syrian American artist, traveler, architect, teacher, and writer, drew. The final outcome of this investigation will be an art exhibit which will interweave Wahbi al-Hariri-Rifai’s drawings with a critical juxtaposition of new media objects and documents collected and made during this trip, particularly through immersive technologies such as AR/VR.

Neyran Turan

New Cadaver Exquis: Matter, Debris, and Ruins aims to build unconventional linkages between architecture, digital media, and geology. It positions certain problems brought by climate change and the Anthropocene, such as materiality, obsolescence, and waste in architectural terms. Inherent in the premise of the project is the proposition of a new conception of architecture’s engagement with the wider world through a specific focus on design’s capacity to impact planetary imagination. This is an extension of Neyran’s previous project on architectural materiality, which from the recalcitrance of a particular raw matter and its extraction from a specific geographic location, to its processing, transportation, and construction into a desired finished effect in a building, to its maintenance, demolition and waste, aims to open future dialogues in relation to the spatial and temporal long-span of architectural materiality.

Damon Young

After the Private Self asks the question: is the self of Rousseau’s Confessions the same as the self of the twenty-first century digital selfie? To what extent is subjectivity bound up in the apparatuses of its technical mediation? In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a “modern individual” took shape through the relatively new forms of the novel and the autobiography. That modern individual, writes Dipesh Chakrabarty in Provincializing Europe, is “supposed to have an interiorized ‘private’ self that pours out incessantly in diaries, letters, autobiographies, novels, and, of course, in what we say to our analysts.” In this project, I ask in what way this “private self” survives into the twenty-first century, when novels and autobiographies have ceded their position as “cultural dominant” to new media modes and platforms, and when psychoanalysis has ceded its own position of cultural dominance to cognitive behavioral therapy and other data-based and empirical methods.


In 2016, we were pleased to award Abigail De Kosnik, Eric Paulos, Greg Niemeyer, and Ed Campion with faculty seed grants, in our first pilot of the program. Recipients were selected by BCNM alumni. Read more here.