Participate in UCARE project

Grand Challenges
Grand Challenges

Project Name: Equitable Access to Civil Justice: Interdisciplinary Research Project (Computer Science and Data Science)

Project Description: Access to justice is a fundamental human right. It involves the ability to effectively address civil legal problems including discrimination and other rights violations. The U.S. lags behind most Western countries in access to civil justice and faces a serious civil justice crisis known as the civil justice gap—many people need civil legal assistance and very few receive any help. This issue disproportionately impacts Black, Hispanic, and other underserved communities. The civil justice gap negatively impacts people’s ability to exercise legal protections in many domains, including those that impact health, education, and housing. Reducing the civil justice gap requires a comprehensive effort to characterize “pockets of unmet need” to inform intervention efforts. This requires the development of analytic tools to aggregate existing data, collect missing data, and generate useful models. It also requires providing historical context (capturing oral and written history), literary analysis of the stories told (by communities, practitioners, and government), and policy and ethics discussions.

A team of interdisciplinary faculty (psychology, law, computer science) is looking for undergraduate research assistants to assist with projects associated with a funded Grand Challenges Planning Grant aimed to address the civil justice gap. These research assistants will engage with the team to conduct novel research to address these issues. Undergraduates who are interested in computational and data science research will primarily work with Drs. Ashok Samal and Leen-Kiat Soh in the School of Computing. In addition, there will be interactions with faculty researchers from psychology and law. Students will be invited to participate in symposiums and research team meetings in addition to conducting research projects.

Applicant Qualifications: The most important qualification is a keen interest in access to civil justice and computational techniques to analyze, visualize, and model data. Applicants should also be organized and willing to put in the necessary time to ensure attention to detail. Project participants will work in a team environment, so applicants with excellent verbal and written communication skills are preferred.

Faculty Advisor Mentoring Philosophy: Students in this program will be integrated into existing projects with other undergraduate research assistants, graduate students, and the research team. Students will be expected to learn how to carry out literature review, write technical reports, design and develop software programs, and work with others effectively. Drs. Samal and Soh are long-time collaborators who have co-advised numerous students together in the areas of data mining, agent-based modeling, and intelligent data analysis in several domains including social unrest analysis, hydrology, and CS education.

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