Data Science newsletter – July 13, 2021

Newsletter features journalism, research papers and tools/software for July 13, 2021


University Senate approves new data science degree program for fall 2022

The Daily Illini student newspaper, Aliza Majid


The University Senate approved a new Data Science degree program on April 26. It will now have to gain the approval of the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the University of Illinois System before being implemented into the curriculum.

“If we get those approvals this fall or winter, then current students can start transferring into the degree starting in fall of 2022, and upcoming students entering class in fall of 2023 can apply for these degree programs,” said Matthew Ando, associate dean of LAS.

The X + Data Science degree will function as a double major degree rather than a sole data science degree to allow students to have the opportunity to further their studies through a data science lens.

UCLA study shows human influence on heavy rain, snow since 1980s – Daily News

Los Angeles Daily News, City News Service


A UCLA study shows that abnormally heavy rain and snowfall events since as early as the 1980s are intensifying globally due to human-driven climate change, researchers said Tuesday.

“These findings further elevate the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent even larger impacts down the road,” said senior author Alex Hall, director of the UCLA Center for Climate Science, which is a part of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

“We can now say that extreme precipitation is increasing globally due to human-induced climate change.”

The study was published Tuesday in Nature Communications and shows the human influence in issues like floods, soil erosion, crop damage and problems with water resource management.

Realizing Machine Learning’s Promise in Geoscience Remote Sensing

Eos, David Thompson and Philip G. Brodrick


Researchers have introduced modern signal processing and machine learning concepts to imaging spectroscopy analysis, with potential benefits for numerous areas of geoscience research. But to what extent has this potential been realized? To help answer this question, we assessed whether the growth in signal processing and pattern recognition research, indicated by an increasing number of peer-reviewed technical articles, has produced a commensurate impact on science investigations using imaging spectroscopy.

Team finds brain mechanism that automatically links objects in our minds

Johns Hopkins University, Hub


When people see a toothbrush, a car, a tree—any individual object—their brain automatically associates it with other things it naturally occurs with, allowing humans to build context for their surroundings and set expectations for the world.

By using machine-learning and brain imaging, researchers measured the extent of the “co-occurrence” phenomenon and identified the brain region involved. The findings appear in Nature Communications.

“When we see a refrigerator, we think we’re just looking at a refrigerator, but in our mind, we’re also calling up all the other things in a kitchen that we associate with a refrigerator,” said corresponding author Mick Bonner, a Johns Hopkins University cognitive scientist. “This is the first time anyone has quantified this and identified the brain region where it happens.”

IU Bloomington, IUPUI part of coalition to develop quantum technologies

Indiana University, News at IU Bloomington


Scientists at Indiana University Bloomington and IUPUI are partnering with two other institutes of higher education in Indiana to establish a quantum research center in the state.

The new Center for Quantum Technologies, led by Purdue University, will be established through the National Science Foundation’s Industry-University Cooperative Research program. Industry partners would provide research funding to the center’s scientists and gain early access to findings applicable to their businesses. The other university in the partnership is the University of Notre Dame.

Handful of cities driving urban greenhouse gas emissions – study

Reuters, Emma Rumney and Isla Binnie


Just 25 big cities – almost all of them in China – accounted for more than half of the climate-warming gases pumped out by a sample of 167 urban hubs around the world, an analysis of emissions trends showed on Monday.

In per capita terms, however, emissions from cities in the richest parts of the world are still generally higher than those from urban centres in developing countries, researchers found in the study published in the open access journal Frontiers in Sustainable Cities.

InQuBATE Training Program Integrates Modeling and Data Science for Bioscience PhD Students

Georgia Institute of Technology, Research


A new five-year, $1.27 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will help transform the study of quantitative- and data-intensive biosciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The grant will create the Integrative and Quantitative Biosciences Accelerated Training Environment (InQuBATE) Predoctoral Training Program at Georgia Tech. InQuBATE is designed to train a new generation of biomedical researchers and thought leaders to harness the data revolution.

Computational courtship understanding the evolution of online dating through large-scale data analysis

Journal of Computational Social Science; Rachel Dinh, Patrick Gildersleve, Chris Blex & Taha Yasseri


In this work, we examine the mate preferences and communication patterns of male and female users of the online dating site eharmony over a decade to identify how attitudes and behaviour have changed over this time period. While other studies have investigated disparities in user behaviour between male and female users, this study is unique in its longitudinal approach. We analyze how men and women differ in their preferences for certain traits in potential partners and how those preferences have changed over time. We report on the stronger yet declining emphasis that women put on income and education of their potential partners. We investigate to what extent physical attractiveness determines the rate of messages a user receives, and how this relationship varies between men and women; counterintuitively, the most self-reportedly physically attractive users are not the most popular ones. Third, we explore whether online dating practices between males and females have become more equal over time to find out biases and inequalities have indeed increased. Fourth, we study the behavioural traits in sending and replying to messages based on one’s own experience of receiving messages and being replied to and discover a robust positive relationship between attractiveness and selectivity. Finally, we found that similarity between profiles is not a predictor for success except for the number of children and smoking habits. This work has broader implications for shifting gender norms and social attitudes, reflected in online courtship rituals.

Google boss Sundar Pichai warns of threats to internet freedom

BBC News, Amol Rajan


The free and open internet is under attack in countries around the world, Google boss Sundar Pichai has warned.

He says many countries are restricting the flow of information, and the model is often taken for granted.

In an in-depth interview with the BBC, Pichai also addresses controversies around tax, privacy and data.

And he argues artificial intelligence is more profound than fire, electricity or the internet.

Biden’s new executive order could let you fix your iPhone

MSNBC, Hayes Brown


One of the weirdest and dumbest parts of modern digital life is how little control consumers have over products they “own.” Digital copies of movies can be lost forever if a subscription service ends. Books you purchased for one reader can’t be shared with someone on another platform. And when your cell phone breaks, there’s often nobody who can do anything to fix it except the manufacturer itself.

That last one in particular may change soon, thanks to a new executive order that President Joe Biden signed Friday afternoon. There’s a lot of room for debate about what regulations the government can and should issue when it comes to how businesses operate — but this seems like such a no-brainer of a policy move that it’s wild it hasn’t happened sooner.

Future AI toys may be smarter than parents and less protective

CNBC, Mikaela Cohen


The thought of a child’s toy listening in on a family 24/7 is unsettling. While smart toys can be useful, educational tools for kids, they also pose privacy risks which toy makers and privacy experts are still learning how to balance.

Smart toys made with artificial intelligence, such as machine-learning capabilities, can collect different forms of data from kids. Whether an AI-enabled toy is personalizing lessons based on how fast your kid learns shapes, or a doll is learning your kid’s favorite ice cream flavor, toy experts expect more of these toys to be introduced in the years ahead, even though early missteps and high sales prices have limited consumer interest to date.

“As an AI toy starts to learn the child, this means the toy in the next 15 years will be smarter than the parent and gather all this data that could one day hurt the child,” said, singer-songwriter and chair of the World Economic Forum’s Smart Toy Awards’ judging committee, recently speaking at CNBC’s Evolve Global Summit.

UC Berkeley’s CDSS adds 4 associate deans to aid in mission

The Daily Californian student newspaper, Ryan Teoh


UC Berkeley’s Division of Computing, Data Science and Society, or CDSS, nominated four associate deans with the purpose of diversifying leadership and strengthening the division’s outreach.

The nominations include Charis Thompson as associate dean for campus partnerships, Catherine Choy as associate dean of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and justice, Armando Fox as associate dean of online programs and John DeNero as associate dean of undergraduate studies, according to Tiffany Lohwater, chief communications officer for CDSS in an email.

Kathy Yelick, CDSS’s former associate dean for research, will also transition from her previous role, becoming the new executive associate dean, Lohwater noted.

The leadership will be crucial in forming campus partnerships and using computing and data science to find solutions to the critical and challenging issues faced by society, according to Jennifer Chayes, associate provost for CDSS.

Program increases underrepresented groups in biomedical data science, quantitative biology

University of Illinois, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology


FUTURE-MINDS-QB, a bridge program streamlining a path from a master’s degree at Fisk University, a historically Black university in Nashville, to a doctoral degree at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has received a T32 training grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The FUTURE-MINDS-QB program will provide rigorous training, a nurturing environment, and academic and professional mentorship for students from underrepresented ethnic, racial, and gender groups in quantitative biology and biomedical data sciences. Quantitative biology encompasses bioinformatics, computational biology, genomic biology, and biophysics. The program is currently accepting applications.

Can machine learning bring more diversity to STEM?

Harvard University, John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences


Could machine learning help researchers better understand the factors that contribute to those disparities? Or are machine-learning tools partly to blame for the gender and racial discrepancies in STEM? Haewon Jeong, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Flavio Calmon, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is embarking on a research study to explore both questions.

Jeong received a 2021 Harvard Data Science Initiative Postdoctoral Research Fund award for the project. She will collaborate with Nilanjana Dasgupta, Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who studies implicit bias and stereotypes in STEM education, and Muriel Médard, Cecil H. and Ida Green Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at MIT.

“We will use machine learning tools to find out what factors feed into implicit bias about science and math in middle school students,” Jeong said. “Because machine learning can pick up subtle patterns that humans often miss, we may be able to use it to detect students who are likely to fall prey to implicit bias and may be at risk for giving up on more advanced math classes in school.”

Uninsurable risk is the ticking time bomb that will cause massive climate related change

Twitter, Paul Kedrosky


As California wineries lose fire insurance, going out of business looms.


South Big Data Innovation Hub All-Hands Meeting

South Big Data Hub


Online July 28-30. “Conference tracks align with the priority areas of the South Big Data Hub and are each led by a game changer within their area of expertise. These leaders are building sessions to spark conversations and create collaborative opportunities.” [registration required]


Focus on affordable and clean energy: call for contributions

“We are looking for researchers, users and stakeholders to write, or talk, about their work. If you are interested in communicating your research efforts to a wider audience then please do get in touch.” Deadline for submissions is August 15.



The eScience Institute’s Data Science for Social Good program is now accepting applications for student fellows and project leads for the 2021 summer session. Fellows will work with academic researchers, data scientists and public stakeholder groups on data-intensive research projects that will leverage data science approaches to address societal challenges in areas such as public policy, environmental impacts and more. Student applications due 2/15 – learn more and apply here. DSSG is also soliciting project proposals from academic researchers, public agencies, nonprofit entities and industry who are looking for an opportunity to work closely with data science professionals and students on focused, collaborative projects to make better use of their data. Proposal submissions are due 2/22.


Tools & Resources

We have updated and expanded our database of PhD fellowships.

Twitter, Dennis Wirtz


We now list 198 fellowships, including link, description, amount, eligibility criteria, deadline.


Full-time positions outside academia

Senior Data Engineer

City of Detroit, Dept of Innovation & Tech; Remote

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