Data Science Researchers Will Tackle COVID-19

covid virus graphic

Two professors in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science will use data science to address problems related to the coronavirus pandemic.

They are among 18 campus researchers recently awarded more than $1 million in grants from the UC Davis Center for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Research (CeDAR).

Thomas Strohmer, director for CeDAR and a professor in the Department of Mathematics, will develop synthetic data solutions that address privacy risks amid the demand for virus tracking via personal health information. Synthetic data is created from statistical models and doesn't contain identifiable personal information. His project is titled “Democratizing Health Research Through Privacy-Protecting Synthetic Data.”

Francisco Arsuaga, a professor in the departments of Mathematics and Cellular and Molecular Biology, will explore the landscape of mutations in COVID-19’s “S” protein. His project is titled “Using Data Science to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

CeDAR, one of four IMPACT Centers launched last fall by the UC Davis Office of Research, has the primary mission of fostering innovative and groundbreaking multidisciplinary research in data science, with a particular interest in funding innovative concepts that promised high reward and high impact.

The main objective of these grants—the first to be awarded by CeDAR—is to create strategic research partnerships across all disciplines on campus engaging in data science research. Grants awarded ranged from $40,000 to $100,000.

“Data science and artificial intelligence are playing an increasingly important and expansive role in the world today, including the rapid advancement in key research fields like healthcare, agriculture, environment and bioengineering,” Strohmer said.

A full list of funded proposals is available at CeDAR. Other funded proposals from the College of Letters and Science include: 

  • Fine-Grained Uncertainty Quantification of Predictive Algorithms for Healthcare Systems
    Krishnakumar Balasubramanian, assistant professor, Statistics
  • Natural Artificial Intelligence at the Onset of Chaos
    James Crutchfield, distinguished professor, Physics 
  • Nonsmooth Riemannian Optimization for Online Learning
    Shiqian Ma, associate professor, Mathematics

— Adapted from a press release by A.J. Cheline, Director of Marketing and Communications, UC Davis Office of Research