Research

Research projects at iiD focus on building connections. We encourage crosspollination of ideas across disciplines, and to develop new forms of collaboration that will advance research and education across the full spectrum of disciplines at Duke. The topics below show areas of research focus at iiD. See all of our research.

Our aim was to introduce students to the wealth of possibilities that human genotyping and sequencing hold by illustrating firsthand the power of these datasets to identify genetic relatives, using the story of the Golden State Killer’s capture with public genetic databases.

This Data Expedition introduced hypothesis-driven data analysis in R and the concept of circular data, while providing some tools for importing it and analyzing it in R.

Alec Ashforth (Economics/Math), Brooke Keene (Electrical & Computer Engineering), Vincent Liu (Electrical & Computer Engineering), and Dezmanique Martin (Computer Science) spent ten weeks helping Duke’s Office of Information Technology explore the development of an “e-advisor” app that recommends co-curricular opportunities to students based on a variety of factors. The team used collaborative and content-based filtering to create a recommender-system prototype in R Shiny.

Click here to read the Executive Summary

Statistical Science majors Eidan Jacob and Justina Zou joined forces with math major Mason Simon built interactive tools that analyze and visualize the trajectories taken by wireless devices as they move across Duke’s campus and connect to its wireless network. They used de-identified data provided by Duke’s Office of Information Technology, and worked closely with professionals from that office.

Click here for the Executive Summary

Lucas Fagan (Computer Science/Public Policy), Caroline Wang (Computer Science/Math), and Ethan Holland (Statistics/Computer Science) spent ten weeks understanding how data science can contribute to fact-checking methodology. Training on audio data from major news stations, they adapted OpenAI methods to develop a pipeline that moves from audio data to an interface that enables users to search for claims related to other claims that had been previously investigated by fact-checking websites.

This project will continue into the academic year via Bass Connections.

Click here to read the Executive Summary.

A team of students led by Professors Jonathan Mattingly and Gregory Herschlag will investigate gerrymandering in political districting plans.  Students will improve on and employ an algorithm to sample the space of compliant redistricting plans for both state and federal districts.  The output of the algorithm will be used to detect gerrymandering for a given district plan; this data will be used to analyze and study the efficacy of the idea of partisan symmetry.  This work will continue the Quantifying Gerrymandering project, seeking to understand the space of redistricting plans and to find justiciable methods to detect gerrymandering. The ideal team has a mixture of members with programing backgrounds (C, Java, Python), statistical experience including possibly R, mathematical and algorithmic experience, and exposure to political science or other social science fields.

Read the latest updates about this ongoing project by visiting Dr. Mattingly's Gerrymandering blog.

Kimberly Calero (Public Policy/Biology/Chemistry), Alexandra Diaz (Biology/Linguistics), and Cary Shindell (Environmental Engineering) spent ten weeks analyzing and visualizing data about disparities in Social Determinants of Health. Working with data provided by the MURDOCK Study, the American Community Survey, and the Google Places API, the team built a dataset and visualization tool that will assist the MURDOCK research team in exploring health outcomes in Cabarrus County, NC.

Click here to read the Executive Summary

Samantha Garland (Computer Science), Grant Kim (Computer Science, Electrical & Computer Engineering), and Preethi Seshadri (Data Science) spent ten weeks exploring factors that influence patient choices when faced with intermediate-stage prostate cancer diagnoses. They used topic modeling in an analysis of a large collection of clinical appointment transcripts.

Click here for the Executive Summary

Nathan Liang (Psychology, Statistics), Sandra Luksic (Philosophy, Political Science),and Alexis Malone (Statistics) began their 10-week project as an open-ended exploration how women are depicted both physically and figuratively in women's magazines, seeking to consider what role magazines play in the imagined and real lives of women.

Click here to read the Executive Summary

Jennie Wang (Economics/Computer Science) and Blen Biru (Biology/French) spent ten weeks building visualizations of various aspects of the lives of orphaned and separated children at six separate sites in Africa and Asia. The team created R Shiny interactive visualizations of data provided by the Positive Outcomes for Orphans study (POFO).

Click here to read the Executive Summary

Aaron Crouse (Divinity), Mariah Jones (Sociology), Peyton Schafer (Statistics), and Nicholas Simmons (English/Education) spent ten weeks consulting with leadership from the Parents Teacher Association at Glenn Elementary School in Durham. The team set up infrastructure for data collection and visualization that will aid the PTA in forming future strategy.

Click here to read the Executive Summary

In tracing the publication history, geographical spread, and content of “pirated” copies of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Gabriel Guedes (Math, Global Cultural Studies), Lucian Li (Computer Science, History), and Orgil Batzaya (Math, Computer Science) explored the complications of looking at a data set that saw drastic changes over the last three centuries in terms of spelling and grammar, which offered new challenges to data cleanup. By asking questions of the effectiveness of “distant reading” techniques for comparing thousands of different editions of Robinson Crusoe, the students learned how to think about the appropriateness of myriad computational methods like doc2vec and topic modeling. Through these methods, the students started to ask, at what point does one start seeing patterns that were invisible at a human scale of reading (reading one book at a time)? While the project did not definitively answer these questions, it did provide paths for further inquiry.

The team published their results at: https://orgilbatzaya.github.io/pirating-texts-site/

Click here for the Executive Summary

Ashley Murray (Chemistry/Math), Brian Glucksman (Global Cultural Studies), and Michelle Gao (Statistics/Economics) spent 10 weeks analyzing how meaning and use of the work “poverty” changed in presidential documents from the 1930s to the present. The students found that American presidential rhetoric about poverty has shifted in measurable ways over time. Presidential rhetoric, however, doesn’t necessarily affect policy change. As Michelle Gao explained, “The statistical methods we used provided another more quantitative way of analyzing the text. The database had around 130,000 documents, which is pretty impossible to read one by one and get all the poverty related documents by brute force. As a result, web-scraping and word filtering provided a more efficient and systematic way of extracting all the valuable information while minimizing human errors.” Through techniques such as linear regression, machine learning, and image analysis, the team effectively analyzed large swaths of textual and visual data. This approach allowed them to zero in on significant documents for closer and more in-depth analysis, paying particular attention to documents by presidents such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Lyndon B. Johnson, both leaders in what LBJ famously called “The War on Poverty.”

Click Here for the Executive Summary

Natalie Bui (Math/Economics), David Cheng (Electrical & Computer Engineering), and Cathy Lee (Statistics) spent ten weeks helping the Prospect Management and Analytics office of Duke Development understand how a variety of analytic techniques might enhance their workflow. The team used topic modeling and named entity recognition to develop a pipeline that clusters potential prospects into useful categories.

Click here to read the Executive Summary

Tatanya Bidopia (Psychology, Global Health), Matthew Rose (Computer Science), Joyce Yoo (Public Policy/Psychology) spent ten weeks doing a data-driven investigation of the relationship between mental health training of law enforcement officers and key outcomes such as incarceration, recidivism, and referrals for treatment. They worked closely with the Crisis Intervention Team, and they used jail data provided by the Sheriff’s Office of Durham County.

Click here to read the Executive Summary

Maddie Katz (Global Health and Evolutionary Anthropology Major), Parker Foe (Math/Spanish, Smith College), and Tony Li (Math, Cornell) spent ten weeks analyzing data from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Their goal was to understand how the discrimination faced by the trans community is realized on a state, regional, and national level, and to partner with advocacy organizations around their analysis.

ECE majors Mitchell Parekh and Yehan (Morton) Mo, along with IIT student Nikhil Tank, spent ten weeks understanding parking behavior at Duke. They worked closely with the Parking and Transportation Office, as well as with Vice President for Administration Kyle Cavanaugh.

Luke RaskopfPoliSci major and Xinyi (Lucy) Lu, Stats/CompSci major, spent ten weeks investigating the effectiveness of policies to combat unemployment and wage stagnation faced by working and middle-class families in the State of North Carolina. They worked closely with Allan Freyer at the North Carolina Justice Center.

BME major Neel Prabhu, along with CompSci and ECE majors Virginia Cheng and Cheng Lu, spent ten weeks studying how cells from embryos of the common fruit fly move and change in shape during development. They worked with Cell-Sheet-Tracker (CST), an algorithm develped by former Data+ student Roger Zou and faculty lead Carlo Tomasi. This algorithm uses computer vision to model and track a dynamic network of cells using a deformable graph.

Xinyu (Cindy) Li (Biology and Chemistry) and Emilie Song (Biology) spent ten weeks exploring the Black Queen Hypothesis, which predicts that co-operation in animal societies could be a result of genetic/functional trait losses, as well as polymorphism of workers in eusocial animals such as ants and termites. The goal was to investigate this idea in four different eusocial insect species.

Weiyao Wang (Math) and Jennifer Du , along with NCCU Physics majors Jarrett Weathersby and Samuel Watson, spent ten weeks learning about how search engines often provide results which are not representative in terms of race and/or gender. Working closely with entrepreneur Winston Henderson, their goal was to understand how to frame this problem via statistical and machine-learning methodology, as well as to explore potential solutions.

Matthew Newman (Sociology), Sonia Xu (Statistics), and Alexandra Zrenner (Economics) spent ten weeks exploring giving patterns and demographic characteristics of anonymized Duke donors. They worked closely with the Duke Alumni Affairs and Development Office, with the goal of understanding the data and constructing tools to generate data-driven insight about donor behavior.

Runliang Li (Math), Qiyuan Pan (Computer Science), and Lei Qian (Masters in Statistics and Economic Modelling) spent ten weeks investigating discrepancies between posted wait times and actual wait times for rides at Disney World. They worked with data provided by TouringPlans.

Over ten weeks, Computer Science Majors Amber Strange and Jackson Dellinger joined forces with Psychology major Rachel Buchanan to perform a data-driven analysis of mental health intervention practices by Durham Police Department. They worked closely with leadership from the Durham Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Collaborative, made up of officers who have completed 40 hours of specialized training in mental illness and crisis intervention techniques.

Building off the work of a 2016 Data+ teamYu Chen (Economics), Peter Hase (Statistics), and Ziwei Zhao (Mathematics), spent ten weeks working closely with analytical leadership at Duke's Office of University Development. The project goal was to identify distinguishing characteristics of major alumni donors and to model their lifetime giving behavior.

Lauren Fox (Cultural Anthropology) and Elizabeth Ratliff (Statistics, Global Health) spent ten weeks analyzing and mapping pedestrian, bicycle, and motor vehicle data provided by Durham's Department of Transportation. This project was a continuation of a seminar on "ghost bikes" taught by Prof. Harris Solomon.

Over ten weeks, Math/CompSci majors Benjamin Chesnut and Frederick Xu joined forces with International Comparative Studies major Katharyn Loweth to understand the myriad academic pathways traveled by undergraduate students at Duke. They focused on data from Mathematics and the Duke Global Health Institute, and worked closely with departmental leadership from both areas.

Liuyi Zhu (Computer Science, Math), Gilad Amitai (Masters, Statistics), Raphael Kim (Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering), and Andreas Badea (East Chapel Hill High School) spent ten weeks streamlining and automating the process of electronically rejuvenating medieval artwork. They used a 14th-century altarpiece by Francescussio Ghissi as a working example.

John Benhart (CompSci, Math) and Esko Brummel (Masters in Bioethics and Science Policy) spent ten weeks analyzing current and potential scholarly collaborations within the community of Duke faculty. They worked closely with the leadership of the Scholars@Duke database.

Zijing Huang (Statistics, Finance), Artem Streltsov (Masters Economics), and Frank Yin (ECE, CompSci, Math) spent ten weeks exploring how Internet of Things (IoT) data could be used to understand potential online financial behavior. They worked closely with analytical and strategic personnel from TD Bank, who provided them with a massive dataset compiled by Epsilon, a global company that specializes in data-driven marketing.

Over ten weeks, Mathematics/Economics majors Khuong (Lucas) Do and Jason Law joined forces with Analytical Political Economy Masters student Feixiao Chen to analyze the spati-temporal distribution of birth addresses in North Carolina. The goal of the project was to understand how/whether the distributions of different demographic categories (white/black, married/unmarried, etc.) differed, and how these differences connected to a variety of socioeconomic indicators.

Over ten weeks, Public Policy major Amy Jiang and Mathematics and Computer Science major Kelly Zhang joined forces with Economics Masters student Amirhossein Khoshro to investigate academic hiring patterns across American universities, as well as analyzing the educational background of faculty. They worked closely with Academic Analytics, a provider of data and solutions for universities in the U.S. and the U.K.

Graduate Student: Jacob Coleman, 3rd year Ph.D. student in Statistical Science

Faculty Instructor: Colin Rundel

Class: STA 112, Data Science

Anne Driscoll (Economics, Statistical Science), and Austin Ferguson (Math, Physics) spent ten weeks examining metrics for inter-departmental cooperativity and productivity, and developing a collaboration network of Duke faculty. This project was sponsored by the Duke Clinical and Translational Science Award, with the larger goal of promoting collaborative success in the School of Medicine and School of Nursing.

Computer Science majors Erin Taylor and Ian Frankenburg, along with Math major Eric Peshkin, spent ten weeks understanding how geometry and topology, in tandem with statistics and machine-learning, can aid in quantifying anomalous behavior in cyber-networks. The team was sponsored by Geometric Data Anaytics, Inc., and used real anonymized Netflow data provided by Duke's Information Technology Security Office.

Students in the Performance and Technology Class create a series of performances that explore the interface between society and our machines. With the theme of the cloud to guide them, they have created increasingly complex art using digital media, microcontrollers, and motion tracking. Their work will be on display at the Duke Choreolab 2016.

A virtual reality system to recreate the archaeological experience using data and 3D models from the neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, in Anatolia, Turkey. 

This project transforms an inaccessible audio archive of historic North Carolina folk music colllected by Frank Clyde Brown in the 1920s-40s into a vital, publicly accessible digital archive and museum exhibition. 

Molly Rosenstein, an Earth and Ocean Sciences major and Tess Harper, an Environmental Science and Spanish major spent ten weeks developing interactive data applications for use in Environmental Science 101, taught by Rebecca Vidra.

Nonnegative matrix factorization (NMF) has an established reputation as a useful data analysis technique in numerous applications. However, its usage in practical situations is undergoing challenges in recent years.The fundamental factor to this is the increasingly growing size of the datasets available and needed in the information sciences. To address this, in this work we propose to use structured random compression, that is, random projections that exploit the data structure, for two NMF variants: classical and separable. In separable NMF (SNMF) the left factors are a subset of the columns of the input matrix. We present suitable formulations for each problem, dealing with different representative algorithms within each one.

Ethan LevineAnnie Tang, and Brandon Ho spent ten weeks investigating whether personality traits can be used to predict how people make risky decisions. They used a large dataset collected by the lab of Prof. Scott Huettel, and were mentored by graduate students Emma Wu Dowd and Jonathan Winkle.

Spenser Easterbrook, a Philosophy and Math double major, joined Biology majors Aharon Walker and Nicholas Branson in a ten-week exploration of the connections between journal publications from the humanities and the sciences. They were guided by Rick Gawne and Jameson Clarke, graduate students from Philosophy and Biology.

The goal of this project is take a large amount of data from the Massive Open Online Courses offered by Duke professors, and produce from it a coherent and compelling data analysis challenge that might then be used for a Duke or nation-wide data analysis competition.

Kelsey SumnerEvAnth and Global Health major and Christopher Hong, CompSci/ECE major, spent ten weeks analyzing high-dimensional microRNA data taken from patients with viral and/or bacterial conditions. They worked closely with the medical faculty and practitioners who generated the data.