The DigInG (Digital Innovation Group) Story

In late 2012, two Biology and Society graduate students (Erick Peirson and Julia Damerow) started a project under the guidance of their advisor, Manfred Laubichler. The project started out by hiring two Master’s students from the computer science department and three undergraduate students from Biology and Society to support the development of software and its application to research projects of the Laubichler lab. This project would later be named the Digital Innovation Group (DigInG).

Five years later, the Digital Innovation Group has now developed multiple software tools that support researchers in processing and analyzing their data. DigInG has further supported several research projects of the Laubichler lab, as well as projects external to the lab. Among the developed tools are software packages for large-scale text extraction and OCR of documents, annotation of documents, and a library for bibliographic metadata analysis. Since mid-2016, DigInG has been collaborating with Department I of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, Germany. The main goal of this collaboration has been to combine software development efforts for the computational history of science. Since mid-2017, the Digital Innovation Group is one of the founding members of DHTech, a group of software developers and scholars with programming skills, that has the goal to support the development and reuse of software in the Digital Humanities.

DigInG brings together students from computer science and the humanities in order to create new and innovative tools, infrastructure, and methods for computational history and philosophy of science research and training. In doing so, it also creates new educational resources, opportunities, and experiences for its students. Students working for DigInG acquire hands-on skills in software engineering or computational research methods that gives them an advantage when moving on to their careers in academia or industry. Over 80% of former DigInG students are now working for companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and PayPal, or are pursuing graduate degrees at ASU and other universities. Over the years, the Digital Innovation Group has offered several digital humanities courses and workshops focusing on computational methods for the humanities as well as software development for digital humanities projects.

Contact: Erick Peirson and Julia Damerow