CROSS 2019


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CROSS 2019: Selected projects

NB: The projects are listed in alphabetical order of their principal investigators.

Principal investigator: Denis Gillet, EPFL (STI IEL)

Co-investigator: Delphine Preissmann, UNIL (SSP FBM)


This project aims to provide insights on how technology can assist the detection and prevention of trauma, as well as its treatment. Furthermore, it aims to provide insights on the importance of increasing anonymity for the self-disclosure of trauma using digital mediation tools. By using biometric sensors in a set of controlled experiments with healthy subjects exposed to a disturbing movie, we also aim to contribute to the cognitive and social psychology research dimension in human-computer interaction.

Principal investigator: Rafael Lalive, UNIL (HEC)

Co-investigator: Dario Floreano, EPFL (Robotics)


In this project, we aim at developing a new approach to better understand which types of human jobs will likely prove resilient to robot invasion, and which ones will not. Some activities currently performed by humans may stay if they complement or make work supplied by robots more valuable. Other types of human work may not resist and become extinct, but could be made resilient with further training. Our approach will significantly contribute to identify the key training challenges to keep the human workforce resilient, and even to make sure that it can benefit from automation.

Principal investigator: Caroline Roberts, UNIL (SSP)

Co-investigators: Daniel Gatica-Perez, EPFL (IDIAP), Jessica Herzing, UNIL (SSP FORS)


This project addresses the challenge of ‘resistance’ in the context of social survey research using smartphones. The increasing popularity of smartphones opens up exciting new opportunities for survey data collection. Research participants can use their smartphones to fill in traditional questionnaires online, as well as to provide other forms of data that could either substitute or supplement survey measures (e.g. by taking photographs, making videos, or providing access to their sensor data). Yet there are numerous obstacles associated with gaining the trust and cooperation of participants and maintaining their privacy. The project will explore ways to overcome these, and contribute to a broader effort aimed at developing and exploiting technologies that are adapted to human behaviour, engaging to use, and which motivate the sharing of information for research purposes.

Principal investigator: Robert West, EPFL (DLAB)

Co-investigator: Ahmad Abu-Akel, UNIL (SSP)


Soaring polarization, and a concomitant decrease in civility, pose a major challenge to today’s societies. There is an urgent need to convince Web users to be respectful and seriously consider others’ divergent opinions. We will explore a novel method for assuaging extreme opinions by exposing users with extreme views to quotes by celebrities they know and respect. We will systematically test the efficacy of a number of different approaches to opening up one group to the other group’s perspective in a randomized control study leveraging a large database of celebrity quotes. Based on this, we will also design algorithms for determining the optimal spokesperson for mellowing a given extreme opinion.

The theme of the 2019 Collaborative Research on Science and Society program (CROSS) is resistance. CROSS awards grants to interdisciplinary projects at UNIL-EPFL.

Resistance is defined as a body’s capacity to resist an action or force generated by another body; it is opposition to movement, or the ability to face up to a physical or moral challenge. Electrical resistance, for example, represents the ratio of voltage to current. By measuring the resistance of materials, we can calculate the limitations and potential for distortion in the structures we build. In biology, resistance refers to organisms’ ability to withstand unfamiliar or unfavorable conditions.

Over the last few decades, research into the possibility and scope of radical social change has led scholars in anthropology and political science to incorporate the idea of resistance – be it passive or active – into their analysis of social phenomena. Although it has historically been associated with opposition movements, the idea of resistance has taken on a new, contemporary meaning in the human and social sciences.

Resistance can thus refer to a wide range of study areas, including but not limited to mechanics, politics, psychology, chemistry and acoustics. It is a research focus shared between a number of different disciplines.

In 2019, CROSS will give priority to projects that examine the notion of resistance in scientifically original and promising ways. Proposals on other topics are also accepted.

The committee particularly wishes to encourage projects related to the digital humanities.

Please send your proposal as a single pdf file to [email protected].

The submission deadline for this year’s call for proposals is: September 30th 2018.

Contact: [email protected]