2023 William and Karen Sonneborn Chair for Interdisciplinary Collaboration Award Winners

The Office of the Provost is pleased to announce the 2023 William and Karen Sonneborn Chair for Interdisciplinary Collaboration Award Winners:


Study of Forces Migration

Lisa Singh, Professor, Department of Computer Science, College of Arts & Sciences and McCourt School of Public Policy
Katharine Donato, Professor, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
Ali Arab, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics & Statistics, College of Arts & Sciences

Professors Lisa Singh, Katharine Donato, and Ali Arab collectively focus on utilizing organic big data sources to predict forced migration. This team, consisting of a computer scientist, demographer/sociologist, and statistician, represents a remarkable collaboration across the College of Arts & Sciences, the Walsh School of Foreign Service and the McCourt School of Public Policy. They use organic big data sources to predict forced migration in a world where conflict, environmental risks, and economic inequality are driving increasing numbers of people from their homes. Unlike existing explanations that emphasize planned economic migration, their dynamic framework accounts for variations in the drivers of forced migration over time and space, different types of migration, and the impact of factors like war, famine, and extreme weather. They combine organic data from sources like Google  and social media with traditional data to develop models that consider the unique spatial-temporal dependencies of forced migration. This project is essential for both migration scholars and humanitarian practitioners struggling to respond effectively to emerging crises. The team is building a text analytic portal to make their findings accessible and plans to share their models and methods through tutorials and software libraries. They have a track record of successful collaboration and numerous publications, and their research has already contributed to understanding migration dynamics. In addition to their published work, they have actively engaged in sharing their research through presentations at conferences and symposiums. Recognizing the importance of funding for their impactful work, they have secured substantial grants to support their research efforts.

Indian Ocean Studies

Rogaia Abusharaf, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Georgetown University – Qatar
Ananya Chakravarti, Associate Professor, Department of History, College of Arts & Sciences
Cóilín Parsons, Associate Professor, Department of English, College of Arts & Sciences

Professors Rogaia Abusharaf,  Ananya Chakravarti, Cóilín Parsons collaborative project, spanning across disciplines and  Georgetown University campuses in Washington, D.C. and Doha, Qatar, is not only internationally recognized, but also offers an innovative research opportunity for students. The Indian Ocean region, home to nearly half of the world’s population, holds a rich history of economic and cultural exchange that predates globalization. This study is crucial for understanding the Global South, envisioning alternatives to a Global North-dominated world, and addressing  issues like slavery, environmental degradation, and intercultural exchange. Given the historical significance of the Gulf region, the Georgetown University campus in Qatar is a natural fit for Indian Ocean Studies. The application builds on a decade of extensive research collaboration, supported by the Indian Ocean Working Group founded in 2014 at GU-Q and culminating in the establishment of a peer-reviewed journal in 2023. The proposed program for the Sonneborn Chair promises increased student involvement in faculty-driven research, deeper intellectual collaboration in course planning, and interdisciplinary research and teaching. Collaboration with Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship and the Red House, along with a focus on student research dissemination and publication, will enhance Georgetown’s visibility as a leader in Indian Ocean Studies and student research in the humanities and social sciences. The plan’s emphasis on amplifying voices from the Global South aligns well with GU-Q’s diverse student body, offering a unique opportunity to create a truly diverse educational experience for students in Doha and D.C.. The proposed collaboration promises to be in high demand given Georgetown University’s global outlook, providing students with lasting educational experiences and making a significant impact in the field of Indian Ocean Studies.