Data Science newsletter – March 3, 2020

Newsletter features journalism, research papers, events, tools/software, and jobs for March 3, 2020


Data Science News

WFU announces financial services and fintech hub in Charlotte with Kaplan partnership

Wake Forest University, Wake Forest News


Wake Forest University announced today it will open a new professional hub for Financial Services and Fintech in uptown Charlotte. The new course offerings are designed specifically for working professionals. This will expand executive education through non-credit courses, leading to a range of industry recognized certifications and designations. Wake Forest has partnered with Kaplan, an industry leader in financial training and professional development, to create these options. Kaplan will provide a range of services including marketing and recruitment, as well as assistance with curriculum, course development and content.

“Charlotte is recognized as the nation’s second largest financial center. Wake Forest is launching these expanded options to support the ongoing professional development of individuals and organizations in the growing financial services and fintech sectors.” says Todd Johnson, Vice President, Wake Forest University.

Find a home for every imaging data set

Nature, Technology Feature, Amber Dance


When Sjors Scheres set out to develop a tool to reverse flaws in cryo-electron microscopy images, he needed lots of data on which to test it. So Scheres, a structural biologist at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge, UK, turned to the Electron Microscopy Public Image Archive (EMPIAR), a database of raw images. There he downloaded, for free, data collected by the lab of Gabriel Lander, a structural biologist at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California.

Using his new technique, Scheres was able to squeeze sharper images from those data, improving1 the resolution of one structure from 3.1 angstroms to 2.3 angstroms.

“That’s precisely why we posted the data,” says Lander. “We knew some brilliant people out there would be able to improve on our processing.”

University technologies among competitors for $100 million idea grant

EdScoop, Jake Williams


A number of technology-enabled projects at universities rank among the top 100 finalists in contention for a $100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

The 100&Change competition, which last month named its finalists from a pool of 755 submissions, aims to help “solve one of the world’s most critical social challenges.” A new website, which the foundation calls the “Bold Solutions Network” was created showcase the top projects and “help top applicants gain visibility and funding from a wide array of funders.”

Its proposals, which were evaluated on their expected impact, feasibility, durability and reliance on evidence-based practices, include some from universities that take on problems as prosaic as drinking water and as lofty as redesigning higher education itself.

Deep learning rethink overcomes major obstacle in AI industry

Rice University, News & Media Relations


Rice University computer scientists have overcome a major obstacle in the burgeoning artificial intelligence industry by showing it is possible to speed up deep learning technology without specialized acceleration hardware like graphics processing units (GPUs).

Computer scientists from Rice, supported by collaborators from Intel, will present their results today at the Austin Convention Center as a part of the machine learning systems conference MLSys.

Scientists pair machine learning with tomography to learn about material interfaces

Argonne National Laboratory, Press Release


In systems from batteries to semiconductors, edges and interfaces play a crucial role in determining the properties of a material. Scientists are driven to study places in a sample where two or more different components meet in order to create materials that are stronger, more energy-efficient or longer lasting.

In a new study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, researchers have put a new technique based on machine learning to work uncovering the secrets of buried interfaces and edges in a material. By using machine learning as an image processing technique, scientists can dramatically accelerate the heretofore laborious manual process of quantitatively looking at interfaces without having to sacrifice accuracy.

First Decision Ever of a French Court Applying GDPR to Facial Recognition

AI Regulation, Theodore Christakis


A French court canceled today a decision by the South-Est Region of France (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – PACA) to undertake a series of tests using facial recognition at the entrance of two High schools considering that this would be illegal. This is the first decision ever by a French Court applying the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on Facial Recognition Technologies (FRTs).


In December 2018 the PACA region decided to conduct facial recognition tests at the entrance of a High School located in Nice and in another High School located in Marseille. The FRTs were used at the gates of these two establishments, granting or refusing access to the students of the two schools. The systems were put in place in February 2019 in order to “assist the personnel of the high schools” in controlling that only authorised students will enter and to avoid identity cards theft or misuse. The trials were supposedly based on the consent of the students involved.

There’s been a lot of claims and hype on #AI-> drug discovery. Here’s my summary of the 4 recent reports/candidates; the antibiotic is the most impressive to date. 2 are unpublished.

Twitter, Eric Topol


UNT To Offer First Masters Degree In Artificial Intelligence In Texas

CBS Dallas / Fort Worth, Caroline Vandergriff


The University of North Texas is launching a new program to meet the booming demand for artificial intelligence professionals.

UNT will be soon offer the only Master of Science degree in AI in Texas.

“I really think everyone should be learning more about AI,” said Mark Albert, a computer science professor at UNT.

SEC looks to expand SIP with ‘depth of book’ data in major overhaul plans

The TRADE, Kiays Khalil


The US financial watchdog has made moves to overhaul and expand key equity market data following years of fierce debate, in a play that could bring the costs of data down for market participants.

As part of a new proposal, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has suggested that ‘depth of book’ data be added to the US market’s real-time consolidated data feed, known as the Securities Information Processor (SIPs).

The regulator has also proposed a more decentralised model under which other market operators could also potentially produce SIP data feeds if approved by authorities. The move could serve to bring more competition to the space, which exchange groups have retained a monopoly.

Research during public health emergencies must embrace ethics

STAT, Beatriz da Costa Thomé and Heidi Larson


One lingering issue regarding research done in response to global health emergencies is lapses in ethics when conducting this kind of work. Local researchers and institutions in countries beset by public health emergencies have felt that their voices were not heard when decisions regarding research in their own communities were being made. Trials for novel vaccines and therapeutics have excluded pregnant or lactating women and children with no clear and scientifically sound justification. Front-line workers and researchers have reported being treated differently and feeling disadvantaged compared to expatriates occupying the same roles.

Conducting research while paying attention to ethics during a global health emergency can be especially challenging due to time and resource constraints, instability, and major health and social needs.

Garmin Partners with University of Kansas on Environmental Research Plane

Garmin Blog


In Lawrence, Kansas, a team at the University of Kansas School of Aerospace Engineering has taken technology from the 1970s and created a tool designed to gather environmental research data. The technology? A 1974 Cessna 172. The team has specially modified the aircraft with an advanced airborne radar designed to measure regional snow thickness throughout South Dakota’s Black Hills region.

The Mission

After spending four years in the hangar, the KU team restored a Cessna 172 to operational status to be used as a vehicle for gathering research data. A specially designed snow radars was installed on the classic Cessna and put into service gathering data throughout the Black Hills. The radars measure snow levels as the aircraft flies grid-like patterns over a specific area.

Biologists Capture Fleeting Interactions Between Regulatory Proteins and Their Genome-wide Targets

NYU, News Release


New York University biologists captured highly transient interactions between transcription factors—proteins that control gene expression—and target genes in the genome and showed that these typically missed interactions have important practical implications. In a new study published in Nature Communications, the researchers developed a method to capture transient interactions of NLP7, a master transcription factor involved in nitrogen use in plants, revealing that the majority of a plant’s response to nitrogen is controlled by these short-lived regulatory interactions.

“Our approaches to capturing transient transcription factor-target interactions genome-wide can be applied to validate dynamic interactions of transcription factors for any pathway of interest in agriculture or medicine,” said Gloria Coruzzi, Carroll & Milton Petrie Professor in NYU’s Department of Biology and Center for Genomics and Systems Biology and the paper’s senior author.

At Saturday event, Berkeley kicks off $6 billion ‘Light the Way’ campaign

University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley News


UC Berkeley on Saturday publicly launched the largest fundraising campaign in its history, to raise $6 billion by the end of 2023.

The ambitious goal aims to secure UC Berkeley’s status as the world’s top public research and teaching university. The Light the Way: The Campaign for Berkeley, has already raised $3.4 billion since its quiet phase began Jan. 1, 2014.

Major gifts announced at Saturday evening’s event at Memorial Stadium included an anonymous $252 million gift, the largest single gift Berkeley has ever received, to seed construction for a home for Berkeley’s new Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society, and $50 million from Gordon Rausser, former dean of the College of Natural Resources, will boost Berkeley’s leadership in addressing environmental and health challenges.

AeroVironment grows from military to commercial drone applications

Robotics Business Review, Eugene Demaitre


Many people have a negative opinion of aerial drones for military use, but unmanned aircraft systems first developed for the defense industry can save lives, whether on the battlefield or in emergency-response situations. AeroVironment Inc. has been serving the national security and commercial markets, and it demonstrates how robotics startups can grow from government roots.

“We see our experience as a big positive for numerous applications,” said Steve Gitlin, vice president of investor relations at the Simi Valley, Calif.-based company. “We think robotic airplanes have the potential to save lives, protect property, and reduce costs.”

When I see a sample size of”at least 150000 participants”, I immediately feel uneasy: how they will be recruited, what population they will represent, and how long they will stay enrolled.

Twitter, Christina Farr, Vadim Zipunnikov


I spent some time on the Apple and J&J study, and I think it’s a big deal for a few reasons.

  • the watch is subsidized at $49 + tax for those who purchase
  • this is a tech + pharma + retail partnership (Best Buy)
  • focus on seniors makes a ton of sense

    Save the Date! Ethics of Big Data Symposium

    Marquette University, Michael Zimmer


    Milwaukee, WI May 7 at Marquette University. “This year we are bringing together a cross-section of practitioners, researchers, and policymakers to discuss the broad complexities of engaging with “ethics” within data-driven organizations, ranging from big data analytics firms, social media platforms, and developers of artificial intelligence.” [save the date]

    Data For Good: Zachary Lipton

    Columbia University, Data Science Institute


    New York, NY March 6, starting at 12 noon, Columbia University Data Institute (Schapiro CEPSR, 530 W. 120 St). Zachary Chase Lipton is an assistant professor of Operations Research and Machine Learning at Carnegie Mellon University. [registration required]

    The Quant Conference

    The Quant Conference


    New York, NY April 3. “TQC is a forum that engages the brightest young minds and foremost thought leaders from the industry and academia to dive into the latest innovations in quant finance, foster collaboration and facilitate opportunities.” [$$$]

    Academic Data Science Alliance, Data Science Education Special Interest Group Call

    Academic Data Science Alliance


    Online April 2, starting at 10 a.m. Pacific. “Is your institution considering starting a data science degree program? Come hear three ADSA community members discuss how their organization decided to create data science degree programs and how these programs took the shape they did. We’ll be hearing from Sarah Stone (University of Washington), Ajay Anand (University of Rochester), and HV Jagadish (University of Michigan).” [registration required]

    Next Generation Genomics

    Britt Adamson (Princeton), Teresa Davoli (NYU), Evan Macosko (Broad) Samantha Morris (WUSTL), Randall Platt (ETH), Rahul Satija (NYU), Cole Trapnell (UW)


    New York, NY August 5-6 at New York University. “In this conference, we aim to showcase the ‘next-generation’ of genomic methods and technologies, and in particular to provide a platform for junior faculty to present recent discoveries and innovations.” [$$$]

    Machines + Media 2020

    NYC Media Lab


    New York, NY May 6, starting at 8 a.m., sponsored and hosted by Bloomberg (731 Lexington Ave). “AI, machine learning, computer vision, and future interfaces – data continues to change the way media is produced, distributed, consumed and monetized. NYC Media Lab’s fourth annual Machines + Media conference.” [application required]

    Tools & Resources

    How We Improved Data Discovery for Data Scientists at Spotify

    Spotify Labs, Andrew Maher


    “At Spotify, we believe strongly in data-informed decision making. Whether we’re considering a big shift in our product strategy or we’re making a relatively quick decision about which track to add to one of our editorially-programmed playlists, data provides a foundation for sound decision making. An insight is a conclusion drawn from data that can help influence decisions and drive change. To enable Spotifiers to make faster, smarter decisions, we’ve developed a suite of internal products to accelerate the production and consumption of insights. One of these products is Lexikon, a library of data and insights that help employees find and understand the data and knowledge generated by members of our insights community.”

    “We’ve learned a lot since we first launched this product. In this blog post, we want to share the story of how we iterated on Lexikon to better support data discovery.”

    Hints On Data Storage And Transport From High Energy Physics

    BioIT World


    It may be surprising that with a PhD in biochemistry, Brigitte Raumann spends a lot of time these days considering data storage and transport in high energy physics and astronomy. But that also puts her in the perfect position to recognize some of the lessons from those disciplines that the life sciences can pick up.

    Raumann is the product manager for Globus, a research data management department of the University of Chicago. As she has worked on data storage and transport issues for many disciplines, she sees opportunity for the life sciences in automation, identifying—and removing—the mundane tasks that are still bottlenecks to research. Researchers should not be solving IT challenges, but should be solving bigger biomedical challenges, Raumann emphasizes.

    Bio-IT World sat down with Raumann to talk about the challenges she sees in data management in the life sciences and the solutions available.

    BigQuery BI Engine documentation

    Google Cloud


    “BigQuery BI Engine is a fast, in-memory analysis service that allows you to analyze data stored in BigQuery.”

    RSA CTO outlines pitfalls to avoid when operationalizing AI

    TechRepublic, Veronica Combs


    Zulfikar Ramzan, chief technology officer of RSA, moderated a panel on cryptography at RSA 2020 and shared this advice. Ramzan leads technology strategy for the organization and holds more than 50 patents. He said that AI and machine learning have been part of the security world for more than a decade. The difference now is that people are talking about the tool instead of the problem.

    “The focus became the mechanism for solving the problem instead of the actual problem,” he said. “AI is a how rather than a why.”

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