Please join the Makuu Black Cultural Center and the SEAS Office of Diversity and Inclusion for a discussion focused on Black students in STEM. The university community is welcome, with a particular emphasis on STEM faculty, Black students who are STEM majors, and Black students interested in STEM.
Cheryl Hickey, the Administrative/Event Administrator for CIS, is an active member of the SEAS Green Team, and earnest about her efforts to help the environment.
Below is a snippet of Cheryl’s nomination letter, written by Jackie Caliman, the Director of Administrative Operations for CIS:
“Cheryl led the effort in CIS to switch from paper coffee cups to ceramic mugs to help protect the environment. She purchased 150 ceramic mugs and distributed them throughout the dept. She also encouraged faculty, staff and students to bring in their own mugs for coffee or tea use. She even found some new, leftover mugs from another event, and distributed them as well. Eliminating the use of paper cups has a huge impact on protecting our environment by helping to keep waste out of our landfills, and that was Cheryl’s goal.”
Join us in congratulating Cheryl for all of her hard work!
The work was an effort to look at the many ways in which the rate of transmission could be reduced, and it wasn’t Kristian’s first experience with studying data around communicable diseases.
In 2013, she was working at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, simulating epidemic outbreaks. It was here — creating realistic population models to mimic the spread of disease in pragmatic ways — that she first began thinking of applying statistical expertise to issues of social justice.
“One of the things I was thinking about was applying the methods that we were using to model incarceration is, as a contagious disease,” says Kristian in a recent ACM Bytecast episode. “It was really a fairly direct move. I was applying the same sorts of methods that we were using to simulate things like the spread of infectious disease through a population, to think about what sorts of social influence can cause close associates of people who are incarcerated, to themselves become incarcerated.”
Positions in academia and industry, working with nonprofits and politicians, has given Kristian a unique and multi-faceted perspective: “stark disciplinary boundaries” are not necessary. She uses her methodology from training as a statistician to guide her research in algorithmic fairness and transparency.
Wearing multiple hats and juggling various roles is nothing new to Kristian. In an interview with CIS, the Duke graduate described her path as a “winding” one, each varied experience leading to another not-so-predictable professional move.
“It’s really helped me to see problems from a variety of perspectives,” says Lum. “When you’re in academia, you tend to see it from the perspective of other academics who’ve come before you, from what makes it into the academic literature. Those perspectives aren’t always the same as, what you get when you work for, say, a nonprofit. A lot of the work there, I was listening to advocacy groups, or listening to lawyers, or policy makers.”
Much in line with her professional boldness, Kristian has plans to shake things up in the world of statistical prediction.
“One thing I’m interested in doing in the future is sort of flipping the script on various machine learning or statistically-based prediction tools,” says Lum. “Oftentimes they will be pointed at predicting the risk an individual poses to society, or measure something like whether they’ll be arrested. I’d like to try and flip the script in some ways by using similar data sets and make predictive tools that sort of predict the risk the system poses to that individual.”
In the article, Professor Davidson discusses how, in these times, data access and scrutiny from the public is the highest it’s ever been, and how the need for apt and skilled statisticians to assist with interpreting such data is more critical than ever. She notes how data science education will also be important moving forward, and mentions that “this fall’s Big Data Analytics course has 400 students from 50 different majors across campus.” Integrative indeed.
** To read the full article, click HERE. ** ** To view Susan Davidson’s insightful overview of the field of data science, click HERE. **
Cecilia Fitler Moore Professor in Penn Engineering’s Departments of Computer and Information Science (CIS) and Electrical and Systems Engineering (ESE) Insup Lee leads a team of researchers who have just received a five-year, $6million Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant.
According to their site, the “CoRL is a selective, single-track conference for robot learning research, covering a broad range of topics spanning robotics, ML and control, and including theory and applications.” With an acceptance rate of 34% this year, the conference was able to increase their intake slightly due to the fact that it’s taking place solely online. The call for 2020 submissions featured a variety of topics such as Imitation learning and (inverse) reinforcement learning, Bio-inspired learning and control and Multimodal perception, sensor fusion, and computer vision.
The CIS Highlights site is one of the department’s many digital platforms that centers prominent research from students and faculty, as well as other interdisciplinary programs and centers affiliated with CIS. Featured research areas include projects in the fields of Computational Biology and Biomedical Informatics, Natural Language Processing, and Formal Methods and Logic. And of course, highlights — featuring important department blurbs and updates from CIS’ own chair, Zachary Ives.
What research/ projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on research in the field of privacy-preserving data analytics with my advisor Andreas Haeberlen and a group of other great collaborators at Penn CIS. We’re working mostly on how to design systems for massive-scale distributed data analysis while guaranteeing differential privacy. It’s a nice mix of applied cryptography and distributed systems thinking, which has been really enjoyable for me. I’m currently thinking of how to expand some of our work to graph analytics, which introduce a host of other challenges, but also bring in a lot of possible applications (even potentially in understanding aggregate statistics during the pandemic).
What has been keeping you grounded and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The most important quarantine hobby I have is exercise – I mostly work out in my apartment, but I’ve also recently started playing tennis again (a naturally physically-distanced sport!) I have also been trying to stay on a constant reading schedule outside of research, with a healthy mix of baking every once in a while.
What future research/ projects are you excited about?
I’m excited to continue my research on privacy-preserving technologies, because I believe they have so much potential to unlock additional sources of sensitive data, and also because they can give a chance for people to have meaningful consent and control over the data they choose to contribute for aggregate analytic purposes. In the long-term, I’m passionate about all sorts of public interest technology, particularly those that can help protect privacy rights, decrease inequality, and strengthen democracy.
Favorite culture intakes right now.
I’m a huge fan of the Ezra Klein podcast – he’s a great systems-level thinker and brings on so many incredible guests from a wide variety of fields. A good chunk of the podcast is about politics, but regardless of your interests, I guarantee you can find an episode in the catalog which will leave you thinking about the world in a new way. I’ve been listening to a lot of different music, but one artist I’ll highlight is Jazmine Sullivan, because her voice makes me feel things!
The CIS Colloquium series is proud to feature the Distinguished Lecturer for Fall 2020, Princeton University’s own Adam Finkelstein.
As a Computer Science professor at Princeton, Adam’s research focuses on the “art of science,” comprising audio, photo and video manipulation. Much like the title suggests, his lecture with CIS will focus specifically on “Recovering, manipulating and enhancing recorded speech (1905-2020).” Projects up for discussion and survey include the process of retrieving audio recorded onto a postcard over a century ago, as well as a method designed to make real-world recorded speech sound as if it was recorded in a studio!
***The seminar will take place on Tuesday, September 15th, 3PM-4PM. Click HERE for more info.