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By Jayasree Jaganatha, Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) – 

Notes, takeaways, and resources from our inaugural event (featuring Kathryn Desplanque, Corbin Jones, and Timothy Shea) – 

On January 26, 2022, Carolina Data Science Now launched its seminar series, which will strive to link the people, research, and resources by highlighting the many faces of data science across our campus, and demonstrating the integral role data science can play in all disciplines. To view a recording of this session, please click here.

Dr. Terry Magnuson, Vice Chancellor for Research, began the inaugural event by welcoming the nearly 120 UNC faculty and staff in attendance. He spoke on the overarching goals to create more awareness among UNC-CH faculty and staff about one another’s research and to build a data science community across our campus. Jay Aikat, Chief Operating Officer at RENCI, expressed her appreciation for the members of the Research Dean’s Meeting and the event staff for the parts they played in making Carolina Data Science Now a reality.

This Month’s Speakers

The theme of the event was “The Usual and Unusual Suspects.” The speakers were selected to represent how data science is used in a broad range of disciplines at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Kathryn Desplanque | Art & Art History

Kathryn Desplanque spoke on her core book project, “Inglorious Artists: Art-World Satire and the Market Economy for Art, 1750-1850,” which examines a corpus of 530 satirical images of artistic life in Paris published between 1750 and 1850. Read more about the lightning talk here.

Corbin Jones | Biology and Genetics

Corbin Jones presented, “Crosstalk: Using biology to inspire new analytic approaches to biological data,” which featured a collection of projects that he and members of his department are working on that leverage and analogize the methods used in disparate fields of biology to analyze emerging datasets. Read more about the lightning talk here.

Timothy Shea | Classics

Timothy Shea spoke on the current development behind the “Spatial Antiquity Lab,” which aims to be a permanent space dedicated to research and teaching in spatial humanities and focused on the study of ancient cities, urbanism, and regional cultural landscapes. Read more about the lightning talk here.

Speaker Q&A

Questions for the speakers were collected through an EasyRetro board. Topics during this section included:

  • The utility and essentiality of bridge individuals and communities.
  • Benefits of data storage and processing capabilities at the university for storing mass amounts of genetic data in the cloud.
  • Interdisciplinary programs and resources across campus.
  • Historical barriers and recent improvements in accessing grant funding for interdisciplinary projects using data science.

Conversations with the Data Science Community

For this month’s community activity, Aikat encouraged attendees to share their thoughts on what goals and initiatives Carolina Data Science Now should prioritize to bring the greater data science community at UNC together.

Ideas were collected through an EasyRetro board. Topics during this section included:

  • The importance of building bridges to create a community for those who work with the application of data, as well as those working with the science and tools of data.
  • Ideas for keeping the community connected, such as a Slack channel and sharing jobs and resources.
  • Creating a “matchmaking process” to connect faculty and staff who need help with data science to those willing to offer assistance and resources.
  • Raising funds and pooling resources to create research clusters and positions for boundary students to work on interdisciplinary research projects.

A list of educational programs, funding opportunities, on-campus support services, tools and software, and more shared during Carolina Data Science Now seminars can be found on our Resources page.

Missed Connections

[ FROM KATHRYN DESPLANQUE ] “To the person who asked about “Boundary Object” work, I would love it if you reached out to me and we could chat about this! I find the concept of the “boundary object” fascinating though I’ve seen it discussed more in the history of medicine, science, and technology, and less in art history and visual culture. I can be reached at”

Next Seminar

On February 24 at 12 PM, please join us for “Tackling Underrepresentation with Data Science.” The event will feature three lightning talks by professors and researchers in UNC-Chapel Hill’s academic community, centered around how data science is used across different disciplines to address underrepresentation. Speakers include Deen Freelon, Andrés Hincapié, and Matt Jansen. These talks will be followed by a guided panel, an opportunity for questions and answers with the speakers, and a discussion with the data science community at UNC-Chapel Hill, where we’ll collaboratively examine the resources that enable researchers from a variety of disciplines to tackle underrepresentation through data science. Please register here.

Check out a playlist of our events here.

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