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.
Lata Kodali looks at statistics as a great bridge between theory and application.
“It is also a field that is applicable in a broad spectrum,” she said, “and right now I see myself working in an industry position with a focus on research and design that also encourages creativity.”
Kodali has a bachelor’s degree from Carson-Newman University and a master’s degree from Wake Forest University, both in mathematics. Prior to her Ph.D. work, most of her experience was theoretical rather than applied.
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.