Nick Cercone, a professor in the Lassonde School of Engineering, has received $294,000 from the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), plus more than $217,000 from industrial partnership organizations through monetary and in-kind contributions, over three years, to study the expression of sentiment, affect, influence and emotions in social media.

As part of a Strategic Project Grant, titled “Enhanced identification and visualization of relevant social media content and free form text: Relationships, affect, information influence and diversity”, Cercone and his research team will identify the sentiment, conceptual and emotional content within texts and develop tools to better understand emotions found in social media texts. The project, in collaboration with OCAD University, Empress Software and The Globe & Mail, also seeks to develop new tools for media users to shape emotional content and respond to others.

Nick Cercone

“This project initiated in and leverages the Centre for Innovation for Visualization and Data Driven Design (CIVDDD), an Ontario Research Fund-supported network based at York with the partnership of OCAD University and University of Toronto,” said Cercone. “York and OCAD University will bring their complementary strengths in data analytics and visualization to support research on this popular field of inquiry.”

“The research project led by Professor Cercone underscores the importance of understanding the growing impact of social media in our lives,” said Robert Haché, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “NSERC’s investment supports the work of our researchers and enables them to continue to build and enhance their innovative research programs.”

The announcement was made by Gary Goodyear, minister of state (science and technology) at McGill University on Feb. 8. Cercone’s project was part of more than $36 million in funding and awards recently announced under NSERC’s Strategic Project Grants Program. Goodyear also announced more than $9.4 million in funding under the Strategic Network Grants Program.

“Our government’s top priority is creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity,” said Goodyear. “Fostering a strong research environment and supporting partnerships are fundamental building blocks for a modern competitive economy. This funding will allow companies to increase their research and development activities in Canada by maximizing the expertise and knowledge of our researchers.”