DAC is home to high-profile research, garnering recognition within and beyond the data analytics community.
Our talented team has been recognized with many competitive research awards and featured in major news and media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, the Boston Globe and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Mahmud Shahriar Hossain was recently promoted to associate professor of computer science, with tenure, at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). He leads the university’s Discovery Analytics Lab. Hossain earned his Ph.D. in computer science from Virginia Tech in 2012 and joined UTEP as an assistant professor in 2013.
While at the Discovery Analytics Center at Virginia Tech, his work with advisor, Naren Ramakrishnan focused on event analysis, “storytelling,” and data abstraction techniques like alternative clustering and scatter/gather clustering. He applied his methods to solve a broad spectrum of problems in multiple disciplines, including national security, biomedical science, and mechanical engineering.
Shane Bookhultz, DAC and UrbComp Ph.D. student in the Department of Statistics
Graphic is from Bookhultz’s poster presentation “Measuring Polarity from News Sources: a Topic Modeling Approach”
“Working with text data is challenging but that is what I like about it,” said Shane Bookhultz, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Statistics. “It is inherently noisy because of different mannerisms, choices of words, and tones. Unlike numerical data, which is pretty concrete, text data can have various interpretations.”
Jianfeng He, DAC Ph.D. student in computer science
Along his educational path, Jianfeng He learned an important lesson: Having a good advisor should be the number one priority in choosing a Ph.D. program. The opportunity to work with Chang-Tien Lu drew him to Virginia Tech and the Discovery Analytics Center after spending a short period of time at another university.
He’s focus is on data analysis of social media and he is currently working on image editing based on user requests and text classification based on machine learning.
This research builds upon an interest that began while He was an undergraduate majoring in digital media technology at the Central China Normal University and required to learn media design software, including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere, and MAYA.
“My work is frequently motivated by public health, urban computing, and web-related problems and this location is fertile ground for collaborations in these domains,” Prakash said. “Moving to the greater Washington D.C. metro area will help me further expand my research activities, due to its ‘one of its kind’ proximity to government agencies, companies, and hospitals/medical centers.”
A second year Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, AlBahar said she is “extremely fortunate to be able to explore and broaden my knowledge in computer vision and machine learning with Professor Jia-Bin Huang and my fellow colleagues at the Discovery Analytics Center. Working with people from different backgrounds and experiences has enabled me to grow and learn in ways I never knew possible.”
You Lu knew that the Discovery Analytics Center would be a great fit for his research when he applied to the Virginia Tech Ph.D. program in computer science. “I had heard about Professor Bert Huang and knew that he and I were working in a similar research area — graphical models,” said Lu. “I felt I could learn a lot from him and I am so glad he agreed to be my advisor.”
Prerna Juneja, DAC Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science
With a master’s degree in computer science from Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Delhi, Prerna Juneja joined Dell EMC where, for three years, she worked for the company’s flagship product VPLEX, a storage virtualization appliance that provides continuous availability and data mobility. She garnered four awards for her work there: the Dell Champion Award in 2018, and Excellence@Dell Bronze Award in 2018, 2017, and 2016.
Deciding to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science, Juneja said she chose Virginia Tech over other universities because of its faculty who work in cutting-edge interdisciplinary research in the area of human computer interaction. Her advisor is Tanushree Mitra.
There, the Ph.D. student in the planning, governance, and globalization program in the School of Public and International Affairs and a research trainee in the National Science Foundation-sponsored Urban Computing (UrbComp) Certificate program administered through the Discovery Analytics Center, will conduct the first phase of research for his dissertation. He is comparing both online and offline social networks in two historically marginalized black communities — Johannesburg and Bronzeville in Chicago, Illinois — to get a better understanding of their structure, practices, and effects. Click here to read more about Davon’s research on social networks.
Mehta is a Ph.D. student in computer science at the Discovery Analytics Center, advised by Naren Ramakrishnan. In May, she began a summer internship as a data scientist at Netflix headquarters in Los Gatos, California, where she is researching novel methods to improve machine translation for subtitles.
“I applied to the Summer School because deep learning and reinforcement learning are very relevant to my work at problem solving both at DAC and at Netflix,” said Mehta. “Hearing directly from some of the pioneers in the field will be a great – and invaluable – experience.”
Mitra is among 60 international researchers — and one of only two women principal investigators — to receive the grant, funded by a number of leading foundations and administered through a Social Science One and Social Science Research Council collaborative partnership that bridges the gap between academics and the private sector. Click here to read more about Mitra’s grant.