Skip to Content

Research project led by Krannert professor receives DoD grant

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Yaroshkalave Ros

A project led by Yaroslav Rosokha, a professor in the Purdue University Krannert School of Management, received one of 17 Defense Established Program to Stimulate Research (DEPSCoR) awards from the Department of Defense (DoD). DEPSCoR is a congressionally mandated, capacity-building program designed to strengthen the basic research infrastructure at institutions of higher education.

Rosokha in collaboration with Dr. Sergey Gavrilets, a Distinguished Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will examine the dynamics of beliefs, power, and inequality in within- and between-group cooperation and conflict.

“Economic, social, and political inequality among individuals and groups is a common driving force behind the social unrest in developed and developing countries,” Rosokha says. “The aim of our project is to theoretically and experimentally study the extent to which such inequality contributes to the fragility of cooperation among individuals and groups, and to identify the behavioral aspects that may alleviate or exacerbate the problem.”

The study’s approach will include mathematical, computational, and experimental components. In particular, on the theoretical front, the researchers aim to develop a mathematical model that can capture the realism of the power dynamics among the individuals and groups that are faced with a sequence of collective action problems. On the experimental front, the researchers will run a set of behavioral economics experiments allowing them to test the theoretical prediction as well as identify behavioral and psychological factors that promote (or impede) within- and between-group cooperation. On the computational front, they will run simulations based on the model calibrated to the experimental data to get additional insights that are not practical or not feasible to run in the lab (e.g., long-lasting interaction among a large number of individuals and groups).

“In addition to providing the Army with improved theoretical tools that can be used to forecast emergent conflicts and understanding the basis for improving collective outcomes, the understanding of horizontal inequality may also contribute to developing institutions and norms that promote more robust inter-organizational cooperation and military alliances,” Rosokha says.

The competition was open to tenure and tenure-track faculty members with appointments in the 37 states and territories determined to be eligible to compete for DEPSCoR funds. Dr. Bindu Nair, director of the DoD’s Basic Research Office, notes, “States have a vital role to play in America’s research competitiveness, and each state has researchers with important contributions to the Department of Defense's scientific enterprise. DEPSCoR aims to enhance science and engineering research capabilities at institutions of higher education and to increase the number of researchers pursing research in DoD relevant areas to increase the long-term research growth and capability. It is crucial that we build a Department of Defense research infrastructure that strategically uses the research capabilities found across the country.”

For the FY20 competition, the DoD received over 150 white papers, from which subject-matter experts in the military services selected the final 17 collaborative teams. Each team will receive up to $600,000 over a three-year period of performance to pursue science and engineering research in areas relevant to DoD initiatives supporting the National Defense Strategy.