Fighting a pandemic: convergence of expertise, data science and policy

This panel will address the challenges and opportunities of using data science to fight a pandemic. Of particular interest are real-world cases where using data science helped the fight against the pandemic and cautionary tales of when it hindered that fight.
Chair:
  • Tina Eliassi-Rad, Northeastern University, USA
  • Nitesh Chawla, University of Notre Dame, USA
Panelist:
  • Vittoria Colizza, INSERM & Sorbonne University, France
  • Lauren Gardner, Johns Hopkins University, USA
  • Marcel Salathé, EPFL, Switzerland
  • Samuel Scarpino, Northeastern University, USA
  • Joseph T. Wu, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

Nitesh Chawla
Nitesh Chawla
University of Notre Dame
Nitesh Chawla is the Frank Freimann Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. In June 2020, he was appointed the founding director of the University’s Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society. He directs the Notre Dame Center for Network and Data Science (CNDS) and the Data Inference Analytics and Learning Lab (DIAL). Chawla joined the Notre Dame faculty in 2007. His research focuses on machine learning, data science, and network science. He is at the frontier of interdisciplinary applications with innovative work in healthcare analytics, social and information networks, business analytics, national security, and climate/environmental sciences. He received his PhD from University of South Florida.
Tina Eliassi-Rad
Tina Eliassi-Rad
Northeastern University
Tina Eliassi-Rad is a Professor of Computer Science at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. She is also a core faculty member at Northeastern University's Network Science Institute. Prior to joining Northeastern, Tina was an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Rutgers University; and before that she was a Member of Technical Staff and Principal Investigator at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Tina earned her Ph.D. in Computer Sciences (with a minor in Statistics) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research is rooted in data mining and machine learning; and spans theory, algorithms, and applications of big data from networked representations of physical and social phenomena. Tina's work has been applied to personalized search on the World-Wide Web, statistical indices of large-scale scientific simulation data, fraud detection, mobile ad targeting, cyber situational awareness, and ethics in machine learning.
Vittoria Colizza
Vittoria Colizza
INSERM & Sorbonne University, France
Vittoria Colizza completed her undergraduate studies in Physics at the University of Rome Sapienza, Italy, in 2001 and received her PhD in Statistical and Biological Physics at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, in 2004. She then spent 3 years at the Indiana University School of Informatics in Bloomington, IN, USA, first as a post-doc and then as a Visiting Assistant Professor. In 2007 she joined the ISI Foundation in Turin, Italy, where she started a new lab after being awarded a Starting Independent Career Grant in Life Sciences by the European Research Council Ideas Program (more info on the EpiFor project webpage). In 2011 Vittoria joined the INSERM (French National Institute for Health and Medical Research) in Paris where she now leads the EPIcx lab within the Equipe 1 Surveillance and modeling of communicable diseases of the Pierre Louis Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health (IPLESP). She works on the characterization and modeling of the spread of emerging infectious diseases, by integrating methods of complex systems with statistical physics approaches, computational sciences, geographic information systems, and mathematical epidemiology. In 2017 she was promoted Research Director at INSERM.
Lauren Gardner
Lauren Gardner
Johns Hopkins University, USA
Lauren Gardner, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering at Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, is the creator of the interactive web-based dashboard being used by public health authorities, researchers, and the general public around the globe to track the outbreak of COVID-19 that has spread worldwide since early January, infecting millions and killing more than 500,000 people. The dashboard, which debuted on January 22, has been shared by practically every major news outlet worldwide and now receives billions of usage requests per day. Because of her expertise, Gardner was one of six Johns Hopkins experts who briefed congressional staff about the outbreak during a Capitol Hill event in early March 2020. Gardner is co-director of the Center for Systems Science and Engineering and affiliated faculty in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Prior to joining JHU in 2019, Gardner was a senior lecturer in civil engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney, in Australia. Her research expertise is in integrated transport and epidemiological modeling. Beyond mobility, her work focuses more holistically on virus diffusion as a function of climate, land use, mobility, and other contributing risk factors. She obtained her PhD in engineering from The University of Texas at Austin.
Marcel Salathé
Marcel Salathé
EPFL, Switzerland
Marcel Salathé is a digital epidemiologist working at the interface of health and computer science. He obtained his PhD at ETH Zurich and spent two years as a postdoc in Stanford before joining the faculty at Penn State University in 2010 at the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics. In 2014, he spent half a year at Stanford as visiting assistant professor. In the summer of 2015, he became an Associate Professor at EPFL where he heads the Digital Epidemiology Lab at the Campus Biotech in Geneva. In 2016, he founded the EPFL Extension School, whose mission is to provide high quality online education in digital technology, and where he is the Academic Director. Marcel Salathé works at the forefront of artificial intelligence and its application in health and other domains. His lab spun off AIcrowd.com, an AI challenge platform whose goal is to accelerate research on AI across multiple domains, and which is used by organizations such as OpenAI, Microsoft, Google, SBB, Stanford University, and many others. He is the initiator and co-organizer of the “Applied Machine Learning Days”, now one of Europe’s largest conferences on the application of machine learning across all domains. He also founded the AIforNutrion.org project, a suite of AI-based platforms, mobile apps, and datasets to advance personalized nutrition. He published numerous scientific papers in the biological, medical, and computational fields, and wrote a book called "Nature, in Code". He led the development of two popular MOOCs, “Epidemics - The Dynamics of Infectious Disease”, and “Nature, in Code: Biology in JavaScript.” Marcel Salathé is a member of the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Taskforce, where he leads the “Digital Epidemiology & Contact Tracing” expert group. He is also a member of the DP-3T group whose work provided the foundation of the Apple & Google Exposure Notification API which powers decentralized digital contact tracing apps around the world. Marcel spent a few years in the tech industry as web application developer. He was part of the renowned Y Combinator startup accelerator’s class of Winter 2014. In 2018, he was elected as one of the 100 Digital Shapers in Switzerland by Bilanz and Digital Switzerland.
Samuel Scarpino
Samuel Scarpino
Northeastern University, USA
Samuel V. Scarpino, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University and has 10+ years of experience translating research into decision support and data science tools across diverse sectors from public health and clinical medicine to real estate and energy. From 2017 to 2020, he was Chief Strategy Officer and head of data science at Dharma Platform, a social impact, technology startup. He has given over 100 keynote, invited, and professional presentations at international conferences, has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles, and is a Deputy Editor at PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. His research has been covered by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, Vice News, National Geographic, and numerous other venues. Scarpino earned a PhD from The University of Texas at Austin and was a Santa Fe Institute Omidyar Fellow.
Joseph T. Wu
Joseph T. Wu
University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Professor Joseph Wu specializes in mathematical and statistical modelling of diseases and their interventions. His research aims are: (i) to develop useful analytics and strategies for disease control and prevention; and (ii) to translate his research findings into public health policy and practice for improving global health. He has worked on COVID-19, seasonal and pandemic influenza, hand-foot-and-mouth diseases, HPV, MERS, yellow fever, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer and breast cancer. He earned his PhD in Operations Research from MIT in 2003 and BS in Chemical Engineering from MIT in 1999. Professor Wu is the director of HKU's first Massive Open Online Courseware (MOOC) Epidemics which has had more than 16,000 people enrolled since its first launch in 2014. He is the director of the Croucher Summer Course Vaccinology for Public Health and Clinical Practice. Professor Wu is a member of the Center for Communicable Diseases Dynamics (CCDD) at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is an associate editor of the American Journal of Epidemiology and a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health in the UK. He is a member of the WHO Advisory Committee on Immunization and Vaccines-related Implementation Research (IVIR-AC). He is a member of the Technical Working Group for the WHO Public Health Research Agenda for Influenza. He is a member of the MIT SOLVE Challenge Leadership Group and an SME advisor of MIT Innovation Node.

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