Data Science newsletter – January 17, 2020

Newsletter features journalism, research papers, events, tools/software, and jobs for January 17, 2020


Data Science News

Tufts awarded $1.5 million NSF grant for interdisciplinary data science institute

The Tufts Daily, Matthew McGovern


The Tufts Center for Transdisciplinary Research in Principles Of Data Science (T-TRIPODS) will celebrate its launch on January 31, following the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) $1.5 million grant awarded to Tufts in October 2019 to establish the center.

Funding for T-TRIPODS comes in three annual $500,000 installments from the NSF, which fund alternating and overlapping cycles of research, teaching, and practice, according to the T-TRIPODS website.

UCLA researchers help develop predictive model with aim to combat homelessness

University of California-Los Angeles, Daily Bruin student newspaper, Priscilla Guerrero


Researchers at UCLA and the University of Chicago have found a way to predict which Los Angeles citizens are at risk of becoming homeless, opening up avenues to help them before they do.

The California Policy Lab at UCLA and researchers at the University of Chicago Poverty Lab have developed a predictive model using data science that shows when an individual is likely to become homeless. Their research, announced in a December press release, also includes a plan to intervene before housing-insecure individuals become homeless.

Academic bullying: Desperate for data and solutions

Science, Science@Work


As a nanoscientist at Michigan State University, Morteza Mahmoudi investigates the factors at the nanotechnology–biology interface that are key for nanomedicine diagnostics and treatments to succeed. He is also the founder and director of the Academic Parity Movement, a nonprofit organization that aims to address academic bullying through research and awareness. Dr. Mahmoudi discusses why bullying behavior thrives in academia, its impacts on targets and research, and possible solutions to the problem.

Data analytics expert to lead degree program

Washington State University, WSU Insider


A highly successful educator and researcher committed to interdisciplinary collaboration and problem solving, Nairanjana “Jan” Dasgupta has been named director of the Program in Data Analytics at Washington State University.

Dasgupta is the Boeing Science/Math Education Distinguished Professor in Mathematics and Statistics at WSU and an expert and practitioner in data analytics, the science of examining large volumes of raw data to extract useful information, such as patterns, correlations and trends. She has been on faculty in mathematics and statistics at WSU since 1996 and was instrumental in establishing the interdisciplinary data analytics degree program in 2016.

PHL is getting facial-recognition scanners

Philadelphia Inquirer, Ellie Rushing


Starting Tuesday, travelers boarding certain international flights at Philadelphia International Airport will have their face scanned along with their boarding pass.

Why we need to talk about big data

World Economic Forum, Alice Gast


Seven decades after the book 1984 was published, George Orwell seems prescient and clairvoyant. Perhaps he just understood human nature. We have arrived, it seems, in a world that is so data rich and technology-enabled that secrets are hard to come by.

On the one hand, everywhere we turn, business leaders, policymakers, healthcare providers and educators are seeking the best and latest in AI and data science to further their work. We know that data is essential to making decisions and it is an important resource for improving medical diagnoses, weather predictions and demographic trends. Data-rich AI is helping oncologists spot ovarian and breast cancer more effectively than humans are able to do alone. The UK’s National Health Service, Imperial College London and other universities, along with industry partners like DeepMind are creating these opportunities, and helping reduce the number of missed cancer diagnoses in the UK.

Low-Quality Data Hinders VA’s Efforts to Reduce Care Disparities

HealthIT Analytics, Jessica Kent


hile the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has taken measures to reduce care disparities, incomplete or inaccurate race and ethnicity data hinder the organization’s ability to effectively close health outcome gaps, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

GAO noted that although the VA has funded several studies to identify health disparities and explore interventions to reduce or eliminate them, health disparities persist among the VA’s patient population.

For example, in 2019, the VA found that African American veterans with cancer and cardiovascular-related illnesses had lower survival rates compared with other minority veterans and white veterans.

Exclusive: Washington pressures TSMC to make chips in US

Nikkei Asian Review, Lauly Li and Cheng Ting-Fang


Washington has upped the pressure on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to produce its military-use chips in the U.S., in order to ensure that the world’s biggest contract chipmaker can manufacture the high-security components free from potential Chinese interference, sources have told the Nikkei Asian Review.

Arbitrator says UC Berkeley owes its computer science TAs $5 million

Inside Higher Ed, Colleen Flaherty


The University of California, Berkeley, must pay $5 million to teaching assistants it improperly denied tuition remission and other benefits, an arbitrator said this week after reviewing a union grievance.

Berkeley says it’s disappointed with the decision but that it will cooperate.
Inside Higher Ed Careres

The case concerns about 1,000 students, including many undergraduate teaching assistants in the department of electrical engineering and computer science. Enrollment in these kinds of courses has swelled nationally in recent years, contributing to a major computer science faculty shortage.

2020 rules of the road for the Age of Misinformation

Axios, Sara Fischer


With just weeks to the Iowa caucuses, social media platforms have finalized their rules governing political speech — and fired a starting pistol for political strategists to find ways to exploit them from now till Election Day.

Why it matters: “One opportunity that has arisen from all these changes is how people are trying to get around them,” says Keegan Goudiss, director of digital advertising for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign and now a partner at the progressive digital firm Revolution Messaging.

Principled Artificial Intelligence – Mapping Consensus in Ethical and Rights-based Approaches to Principles for AI

Harvard University, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Jessica Fjeld and Adam Nagy


The rapid spread of artificial intelligence (AI) systems has precipitated a rise in ethical and human rights-based frameworks intended to guide the development and use of these technologies. Despite the proliferation of these “AI principles,” there has been little scholarly focus on understanding these efforts either individually or as contextualized within an expanding universe of principles with discernible trends.

To that end, this white paper and its associated data visualization compare the contents of thirty-six prominent AI principles documents side-by-side.

New Computational Media Thread First to Cross Three Colleges

Georgia Institute of Technology, College of Computing


Georgia Tech’s Computational Media (CM) program is set to expand later this year with the launch of a new Music Technology curriculum. The new thread will available to CM undergraduates for the Fall 2020 semester.

NOAA Releases Extended Version of 20th Century Reanalysis Project

Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, News Center


Calling it a time machine for weather data and a treasure trove for climate researchers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released an updated version of the 20th Century Reanalysis Project (20CRv3) – a high-resolution, four-dimensional reconstruction of the global climate that estimates what the weather was every day back to 1806.

DeepMind’s AI is getting closer to its first big real-world application

Wired UK, Matt Reynolds


DeepMind is starting to tackle one of science’s trickiest problems: protein folding. A paper published in the journal Nature details how DeepMind’s AI system was able to beat all of its opponents in a competition where algorithms predicted the structure of a protein based on its genetic makeup. Being able to predict the structure of proteins could make it much easier for us to develop new drugs, understand how genetic mutations lead to disease and develop synthetic proteins.

“They did blow the field apart,” says Paul Bates, leader of the biomolecular modelling laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute in London, and a fellow participant in the Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Prediction (CASP) competition.

CES 2020: The hottest product is privacy

CNN Business, Kaya Yurieff


Forget the headless cat robots, vertical TVs and automated trash cans. The hottest product at this year’s CES technology conference may just be privacy.

Several of the biggest tech companies attending the closely watched trade show in Las Vegas this week are putting a special emphasis on user privacy, following years of mounting scrutiny from regulators and consumers over the industry’s handling of personal data.

Google (GOOGL) announced on Tuesday that it has added two new voice commands for people to better control their privacy when using its voice assistant. For example, users can tell Google Assistant to forget what it just heard if it was activated accidentally by using the new command: “Hey Google, that wasn’t for you.”


Generous Gift from Family Establishes Lecture Series to Honor Illinois CS Alumnus Utpal Banerjee

University of Illinois, Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science


Urbana, IL April 13. “[Sanchita Banerjee Saxena] and her family have agreed to make a major gift to establish the Utpal Banerjee Distinguished Lecture Series in High Performance Computing. The inaugural event will be April 13, delivered by Banerjee’s PhD advisor, Professor Emeritus David J. Kuck.”

Industry Collaboration Accelerating Mobile Health Data Standards [xpost from IHE]

Open mHealth


Cleveland, OH January 23. “A full day Device/Health Apps Standards Acceleration Track [at the IHE North American Connectathon] will be held on January 23, 2020. The morning sessions will characterize the need for mobile health apps. The afternoon session will employ an accelerated proposal process to outline opportunities for the newly formed Mobile Health Apps Work Group in the IHE Personal Connected Health Subdomain.” [registration required]


Award for Research Data Stewardship: Call for Nominations

“The Future of Privacy Forum Award for Research Data Stewardship recognizes a research partnership between a company that has shared data with an academic institution in privacy protective manner, thereby driving the use of privately held data for academic research. The leadership award will be presented to both the company and its academic partner based on several factors, including the adherence to privacy protection in the sharing process, the quality of the data handling process, and the company’s commitment to supporting academic research.” Deadline for nominations is February 20.

The Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge – A global competition with $750,000 in prizes for innovative solutions

“The Global Data Sub-Challenge seeks solutions that measure the environmental and social impacts of ASM and equip people with tools to improve the environmental and social outcomes of ASM practices.” Deadline for applications is March 1.

What Do You Think About Artificial Intelligence? The Pentagon’s AI Center Wants to Know.

“According to a proposed information collection notice published in the Federal Register Thursday, the Defense Department’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is funding a RAND Corporation-led study ‘exploring civil-military views regarding AI and related technologies.'” Deadline to contribute comments is March 16.
Tools & Resources

Criteria for good data visualization, according to design and statistics

Quartz, Anne Quito & Dan Kopf


The field of data visualization has become a tussle between accuracy and beauty. In one corner, designers say that data is fungible as long as the presentation is eye-catching. In the other corner, statisticians argue that clarity should rarely be sacrificed in the name of novelty or entertainment.

The latest AIGA Design Census is a vivid illustration of this skirmish. Published by the oldest and largest professional design organization in the US, the report—based on an industry survey—contains some valuable insights about the country’s creative sector, but some argue that the findings are obscured by the report’s “very bad” data visualization.

Eleven tips for working with large data sets

Nature, Technology Feature, Anna Nowogrodzki


PDF version

Big data are everywhere in research, and the data sets are only getting bigger — and more challenging to work with. Unfortunately, says Tracy Teal, it’s a kind of labour that’s too often left out of scientific training.

“It’s a mindset,” says Teal, “treating data as a first-class citizen.” She should know: Teal was until last month the executive director of The Carpentries, an organization in Oakland, California, that teaches coding and data skills to researchers globally. She says there’s a tendency in the research community to dismiss the time and effort needed to manage and share data, and not to regard it as a real part of science. But, she suggests, “we can shift our mindset to valuing that work as a part of the research process”, rather than treating it as an afterthought.

Here are 11 tips for making the most of your large data sets.


Full-time positions outside academia

Program Associate, Digital Information Technology

Sloan Foundation; New York, NY

Data Scientist

RStudio, Marketing and Sales Team; U.S.A.

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