Two Ph.D.s first graduates of NSF-sponsored urban computing program

Gloria Kang (left) and Huthaifa Ashqar (right)

Gloria Kang and Huthaifa Ashqar recently earned doctorates from Virginia Tech in totally different fields, but they have something in common — cross-disciplinary training to solve today’s tough urban challenges.

Kang and Ashqar are the first graduates of the National Science Foundation-sponsored urban computing certificate program. Both are planning to walk at the December commencement ceremony in Blacksburg.

Administered through the Discovery Analytics Center, the program trains students across disciplines in the latest methods in analyzing massive datasets to study key issues concerning urban populations.  Click here to read more about Gloria and Huthaifa.


Naren Ramakrishnan reappointed Thomas L. Phillips Professor of Engineering

Naren Ramakrishnan, professor of computer science and Director of DAC

Naren Ramakrishnan, professor of computer science in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech and director of the Discovery Analytics Center, was reappointed as the Thomas L. Phillips Professor of Engineering by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke. Click here to read more about Naren’s reappointment.


DAC Student Spotlight: Shruti Phadke

Shruti Phadke, DAC Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science

The relevance of Tanushree Mitra’s research and its socio-psychological aspect attracted Shruti Phadke to the Discovery Analytics Center in Fall 2017 while she was earning a master’s degree in computer science at Virginia Tech.

“I have always been inclined to work in interdisciplinary fields so the opportunity to work with Dr. Mitra seemed like a perfect fit for me,” said Phadke.

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Virginia Tech study identifies recurring elements in conspiracy theories to learn what people who propagate them are thinking

Tanushree Mitra, DAC faculty member and assistant professor of computer science

What do online conspiracy theorists discuss; what are the recurring elements in these conversations; and what do they tell us about the way people think?

As Tanushree Mitra, assistant professor of computer science and a faculty member at the Discovery Analytics Center, and Mattia Samory, a post doc in the Department of Computer Science, set out to find answers, they turned to Reddit, a social media platform of thousands of smaller communities or “subreddits” connecting users with similar interests. Click here to read more about Tanu’s research.


DAC Student Spotlight: Khoa Doan

Khoa Doan, DAC Ph.D. student in computer science

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Webster University, Khoa Doan entered the workforce. For the next few years, he held positions as a software developer and data engineer in the advertising industry and at NASA and gained experience processing large datasets.

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DAC Student Spotlight: Zhiqian “Danny” Chen

Zhiqian “Danny” Chen, DAC Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science

Generating new music inspired by existing music datasets is a major area of interest for Zhiqian “Danny” Chen, a Ph.D. student at the Discovery Analytics Center.

“Music, with its complex hierarchical and sequential structure and its inherent emotional and aesthetic subjectivity, is an intriguing research subject at the core of human creativity,” said Chen. “And because of rapid advances in data-driven algorithms such as deep learning, exploring computational creativity via machine learning approaches is increasingly popular.”

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DAC welcomes new faculty Jiepu Jiang and Anuj Karpatne

Anuj Karpatne (left) and Jiepu Jiang (right), DAC faculty members and assistant professors in the Department of Computer Science

The Discovery Analytics Center continually brings together computer scientists, engineers, and statisticians to meet the research and workforce needs of today’s data-driven society. This fall, DAC welcomes two new faculty to bolster its strengths in information retrieval, data mining, human-computer interaction, and information science.

The two new faculty members are Jiepu Jiang and Anuj Karpatne, both assistant professors in the Department of Computer Science.

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DAC Student Spotlight: Chen Gao

Chen Gao, DAC Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering

Chen Gao traveled to Newcastle, United Kingdom, last month to present a paper on human-object interaction at the 29th British Machine Vision Conference, a major international conference on computer vision and related areas held in the UK.

Gao is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. After graduating with a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor in April 2017, Gao came to Virginia Tech as a visiting research assistant to work with Jia-Bin Huang. It was this experience that sparked his interest in the university’s Ph.D. program. Huang, a faculty member at the Discovery Analytics Center, is now his advisor.

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DAC faculty and students share research, organize workshop at 2018 IEEE VIS Conference in Berlin

Chris North, associate director of the Discovery Analytics Center, and Ph.D. students Michelle Dowling and John Wenskovitch will be in Berlin, Germany, from Oct. 21 to 26, attending the 2018 IEEE VIS Conference.

In addition to presenting their research, the three are organizers of a conference workshop: Machine Learning from User Interaction for Visualization and Analytics.

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DAC Student Spotlight: Rongrong Tao

Rongrong Tao, DAC Ph.D. student in computer science

The prospect of being located in the heart of Northern Virginia drew Rongrong Tao to Virginia Tech and the Discovery Analytics Center in the National Capital Region. A Ph.D. student who earned a master’s degree in computer science at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Tao conducts research on misinformation detection and analysis.

“This location provides opportunities for collaboration with academic institutes in the metropolitan D.C. area and an advantage for future career advancement,” said Tao. After graduation, she would like to work in an industry where she can apply data mining techniques to real-world problems.

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