Innovation Lab Sample Projects


Analysis of Male Sexual Assault Data

Dr. Kristina Jones, a psychiatrist and researcher, is working on a project that analyzes legal, political and clinical data related to male sexual assault. Students will work with me, and her, on innovative ways to present and analyze this research.

Visualization and Analysis of War Trauma Research Dr. Adeyinka Smith, a psychologist and researcher, is working on several projects related to war trauma and female genital mutilation. Students will work with me, and her, on innovative ways to present and analyze this research.

Creation of a Visual Interface for Narratives Associated with Survivors of Torture

A large number of discrete stories of victims of human rights abuses have been recorded. This project seeks to create an interface to these stories. Example interface designs include Humans of New York ( or an interface based on Google Maps. Although students may seek out their own subjects to record, I have found two video artists who have an award winning body of work who have expressed in interest in working with students on their own “bearing witness” project.

Creation and Assessment of a Questionnaire App for Standard Intake Questionnaires (PHQ, HTQ, etc)

Many human rights organizations working with trauma patients use manual intake procedures. This project involves the design and implementation of an Android application that directly writes to a database back-end, thereby reducing redundant work, and reducing the need to keep paper records.

This project has a design and software development component.

Extension of an Intake Interview Application to Include Geo-location Data Tied to Torture and Other War Crimes Narratives

Every year approximately 70,000 refugees are assessed by human rights workers.  A simple, web-based touch screen interface to Google Maps could simply collect information of direct relevance to the quantification, assessment and prosecution of war crimes. Such a tool could also be used to provide external verification of refugee claims, and thereby assist refugees during the asylum process.

This project has a design, software development and advocacy component.

Creation of a Crowd-sourced Data Collection Tool

One of the most important recent developments in human rights work has been the wide-spread use of crowd-sourcing tools that are used to bear witness to crimes, and to collect forensic evidence that can be used both in clinical practice and in the prosecution of criminals. The following link to a sexual assault data collection tool provides an excellent template for a possible term project:

Voice Recording and the Clinical Intake Process

Researchers frequently emphasize the importance of engagement, empathy and attention of therapists when engaging with clients.  The manual recording of intake interviews interferes with this process.  This project would assess the utility of using a voice recognition system, for example Dragon by Nuance or Cortana by Microsoft, to transcribing an intake narrative.

Voice Analysis in the Clinical Intake Process

Considerable research has been done on the semantic analysis of the speech of Alzheimers and autistic patients, with a view to increasing the accuracy of diagnoses. Surprisingly little research has been done with trauma patients. This project involves summarizing research done on voice analysis in the area of clinical diagnosis, and creating a prototype application that could be used for further research in this area.

Creation of a Real-Time Tool for Providing Variance Analysis of Assessment Test Takers

Currently there is a separation between the data collection and analysis tasks at trauma clinics. This project involves designing and implementing a tool that takes clinical intake questionnaire data and integrates it with data relating to an existing population of torture survivors in order to provide real-time T-Tests (and other variance analyses) to show how a particular patient’s responses relate to the overall population of patients at the clinic. 

This project involves the cooperation between software developers, statisticians and designers.

Assessment of the Relative Value of D3 and Google Maps as Mapping Tools for Human Rights Advocacy Work

One of the goals of the Lab is to teach students who have an interest in human rights work about data visualization tools. This project involves a critical assessment of existing data visualization libraries.

Critical Assessment and Integration of Existing Advocacy Tools

Organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union have created tools designed to monitor police brutality and state terror, as well as collect forensic information for litigation, war crimes prosecution and asylum applications. Students participating in this project would assess these tools and suggest ways in which they way be integrated and / or enhanced.

Creation of a Standardized Structure for the Collection, Aggregation and Analysis of Torture Data for Centers for Survivors of Torture

The association that handles the aggregation of torture data in the United States currently uses excel spreadsheets for information interchange. This project involves creating a JSON/SQL based web interface that handles the reading and writing of this data, in order to dramatically improve the efficiency of this process. This project has a design, computer science and advocacy component.