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Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) – 

Notes, takeaways, and resources from our October 2022 event

On October 27, 2022, Carolina Data Science Now hosted the eighth iteration of 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.

This Month’s Speakers

The theme of the event was “Unearthing Environmental Impact.” The event was moderated by Jay Aikat, and the speakers were selected to provide insight on how data science is used to study, impact, and improve the environment.

Brian Blanton | Earth Data Sciences, Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI)

Brian Blanton discussed “Advanced Visualization for Real-Time Storm Surge Predictions.” He presented on APSViz, a visualization tool built for the ADCIRC Prediction System, which provides real-time storm surge and wave predictions for the eastern US and Gulf of Mexico coasts.

Read more about the lightning talk here.

Greg Characklis | Environmental Sciences and Engineering; Center On Financial Risk In Environmental Systems

Greg Characklis spoke on efforts and research from the Center on Financial Risk in Environmental Systems, which works at the intersection of natural, engineered, and financial systems.

Read more about the lightning talk here.

Angel Hsu | Public Policy and Environment, Ecology and Energy Program; Data-Driven EnviroLab

Angel Hsu presented “Seeking the Signal Through the Noise: The Data-Driven EnviroLab.” She provided an overview of the Data-Driven EnviroLab, an interdisciplinary and international group of researchers, scientists, programmers, and visual designers, discussing global climate action from a data science approach.

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:

  • Ensuring that insurance and reinsurance agencies and policymakers have access to sound and up-to-date data, which will allow them to make important decisions about credit and human interactions with natural and engineered systems.
  • The ways that data science often involves “janitorial work.” Data needs to be cleaned and harmonized appropriately to be helpful.
  • Recognizing that there is infrastructure behind data, which is not typically considered a part of data science, but is an essential part of maintaining and presenting usable data.
  • Identifying the trade-off between what is possible and feasible with the available data when trying to answer important questions. The data granularity and availability make a big difference in what data scientists can accomplish.
  • The fiscal issues that the new UNC School for Data Science and Society intends to address, including aspects of sustainability, risk analysis, and insurability. The team is currently designing a curriculum with input from the greater data science community.
  • Strategies to access natural and engineered systems data, including utilizing open source data from research institutes like NOAA and USGS and building relationships in the private sector.
  • How data can help empower people to advocate for needed change, but can also be easily manipulated or misconstrued. It is up to data users and consumers to think critically about the data and request data transparency, considering what is presented and what the data leaves out.
  • Methods for working with interdisciplinary teams and ensuring adequate communication of data science findings to help data inform and influence decision-makers.
  • Making data science approachable to those in the arts and humanities by acknowledging that data can take many forms and exposing students to varied methods in use.

During the event, several attendees shared resources relevant to the conversation. A full 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.

Next Seminar

Our next seminar will be held on November 10 at 12 PM (ET). Please stay tuned to our website for the most updated information.

Check out a playlist of our previous events here.

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