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.
UrbComp students Bryse Flowers (left) and Farnaz Khaghani were on the student team working with WMATA. Behind them is Brian Mayer, project manager and research scientist at the Discovery Analytics Center, who oversaw the study.
Last fall, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) struck a partnership with Virginia Tech’s graduate program in urban computing for help in predicting its system’s on-time performance (OTP).
The resulting study, by a team of students enrolled in Introduction to Urban Computing, a computer science course in the UrbComp certificate program administered by the Discovery Analytics Center, is one of the first steps in connecting WMATA’s Rush Hour Promise — initiated in January 2018 to provide a refund to any customer delayed by 15 minutes or more during rush hour — to underlying service disruptions, according to Jordan Holt, senior performance analyst at WMATA. Click here to read more about the collaboration.
Michelle Dowling, DAC Ph.D. student in computer science
The desire to combine psychology with her knowledge and expertise in computer science in an interesting and challenging way drew Michelle Dowling toward her current research in human-computer interaction (HCI). This area of study allows her to focus on the cognitive (human) side of research rather than just on programming and computer science.
While exploring graduate program opportunities at Virginia Tech, Dowling, who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Grand Valley State University, met DAC Associate Director Chris North. North introduced her to his research in information visualization and interactive data analytics tools. “I felt it was a perfect fit and decided to join Dr. North in his InfoVis Lab,” Dowling said.
When Chandan Reddy, associate professor in computer science, joined the DAC faculty in the National Capital Region in August 2016, one of his Ph.D. students, Tian Shi, moved right along with him.
“I feel very lucky to be Dr. Reddy’s student. He has helped me very much in both my research and life,” said Shi.
A Ph.D. in computer science will be the second Ph.D. for Shi. His first, from Wayne State, is in physical chemistry.
Shi’s research was in theoretical and computational chemistry built upon quantum mechanics, statistical physics, and ab initio calculations. Various projects led him to computer science, where he found an interest in data mining, machine learning, and data visualization. Continue reading…
Alex Endert, DAC Ph.D. alumnus and an assistant professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech
While a student at DAC, Alex Endert (Ph.D. computer science 2012) worked with his advisor Chris North on a user interaction technique for visual analytics (semantic interaction) that helped adjust analytic models by computing on simple, well-understood interactions. For example, by highlighting a phrase of text or grouping a pile of documents adjusts underlying algorithms they can help people without data science training make sense of large amounts of text quickly. This line of research ultimately led to Endert’s dissertation, and grounds much of his research today.
“Working in data science and machine learning is exciting, but it is even more exciting when science helps us solve real-world challenges,” said Yue Ning, a Ph.D. student in the computer science department.
The opportunity to be involved in high impact research drew Ning to Virginia Tech and DAC. “I am fortunate and honored to be working with Dr. Naren Ramakrishnan, who is one of the leading researchers in data analytics and applied machine learning,” she said.
Tanushree Mitra, DAC faculty member and assistant professor of CS
Tanushree (Tanu) Mitra, an assistant professor of computer science and a DAC faculty member, has received a grant from the National Science Foundation supported by the Division of Information and Intelligent Systems to lead a study that will use social computing and human-centered approaches to better understand the relationship between people and technology in the context of online news.
“The aim is to provide new perspectives that address digital misinformation by focusing on how we can establish differences between mainstream sources and misleading sources of online news and how we can nudge people to be more careful and conscious consumers of online news,” said Mitra.
Do you think working with image and video would make an interesting career?
Yuliang Zou definitely does. The first-year Ph.D. student — who would like to join the research arm of a major company one day — is researching computer vision, trying to teach computers to analyze and think like a human when they are given visual data like still images, RGB-D data, or video sequences.
Students and judges at 2018 Data Ethics Case Competition are (front row) Rob Day, Techlab; Stacey Clifton; and Matt Slifko; (back row) Rich Wokutch, professor of management; Davon Woodard; and John Grant, Palantir.
So they teamed up to enter the competition, sponsored by the Center for Business Intelligence & Analytics, which bridges classroom learning with a real-life situation and important questions for the future and encourages diverse trans-disciplinary teams.