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.

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

Alexandra Putka (Biology/Neuroscience), John Madden (Economics), and Lucy St. Charles (Global Health/Spanish) spent ten weeks understanding the coverage and timeliness of maternal and pediatric vaccines in Durham. They used data from DEDUCE, the American Community Survey, and the CDC.

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

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



Melanie Lai Wai (Statistics) and Saumya Sao (Global Health, Gender Studies) spent ten weeks developing a platform which enables users to understand factors that influence contraceptive use and discontinuation. Their work combined data from the Demographic and Health Surveys contraceptive calendar with open data about reproductive health and social indicators from the World Bank, World Health Organization, and World Population Prospects. This project will continue into the academic year via Bass Connections.

Click here to read the Executive Summary

Ashley Murray (Chemistry/Math), Brian Glucksman (Global Cultural Studies), and Michelle Gao (Statistics/Economics) spent ten weeks using sentiment and image analysis to understand semantic shifts in the way American presidents have used the term “poverty,” stretching from the 1930s to the present day.  

In addition to many YouTube videos of presidential speeches, they made use of a large archive of presidential addresses provided by the American Presidency Project.

Click Here for 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


Anna Vivian (Physics, Art History) and Vinai Oddiraju (Stats) spent ten weeks working closely with the director of the Durham Neighborhood Compass. Their goal was to produce metrics for things like ambient stress and neighborhood change, to visualize these metrics within the Compass system, and to interface with a variety of community stakeholders in their work.

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.

Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering major David Brenes, and Electrical and Computer Engineering/Computer Science majors Xingyu Chen and David Yang spent ten weeks working with mobile eye tracker data to optimize data processing and feature extraction. They generated their own video data with SMI Eye Tracking Glasses, and created computer vision algorithms to categorize subject gazing behavior in a grocery purchase decision-making environment.

Artem Streltsov (Masters Economics) and IIT Mechanical Engineering major Vinod Ramakrishnan spent ten weeks exploring North Carolina state budget documents. Working closely with the Budget and Tax Center, part of the North Carolina Justice Center, their goal was to help build a keystone tool that can be used for analysis of the state budget as well as future budget proposals.

Yuangling (Annie) Wang, a Math/Stats major, and Jason Law, a Math/Econ major, spent ten weeks analyzing message-testing data about the 2015 Marijuana Legalization Initiative in Ohio; the data were provided by Public Opinion Strategies, one of the nation's leading public opinion research firms.

The goal was to understand how statistics and machine learning might help develop microtargeting strategies for use in future campaigns.

Robbie Ha (Computer Science, Statistics), Peilin Lai  (Computer Science, Mathematics), and Alejandro Ortega (Mathematics) spent ten weeks analyzing the content and dissemination of images of the Syrian refugee crisis, as part of a general data-driven investigation of Western photojournalism and how it has contributed to our understanding of this crisis.

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.

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.

Boning Li (Masters Electrical and Computer Engineering), Ben Brigman (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Gouttham Chandrasekar (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Shamikh Hossain (Computer Science, Economics), and Trishul Nagenalli (Electrical and Computer Engineering, Computer Science) spent ten weeks creating datasets of electricity access indicators that can be used to train a classifier to detect electrified villages. This coming academic year, a Bass Connections Team will use these datasets to automatically find power plants and map electricity infrastructure.

Felicia Chen (Computer Science, Statistics), Nikkhil Pulimood (Computer Science, Mathematics), and James Wang (Statistics, Public Policy) spent ten weeks working with Counter Tools, a local nonprofit that provides support to over a dozen state health departments. The project goal was to understand how open source data can lead to the creation of a national database of tobacco retailers.

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.

Linda Adams(CompSci), Amanda Jankowski (Sociology, Global Health), and Jessica Needleman (Statistics/Economics) spent ten weeks prototyping small-area mapping of public-health information within the Durham Neighborhood Compass, with a focus on mortality data. They worked closely with the director of DataWorks NC, an independent data intermediary dedicated to democratizing the use of quantitative information.

Emily Horn (Public Policy, Global Health), Aasha Reddy (Economics), and Shanchao Wang (Masters Economics) spent ten weeks working with data from the National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color (NASCC), an ongoing survey project that gathers information about asset and debt of households at a detailed racial and national origin level. They worked closely with faculty and researchers from the Samuel Dubois Cook Center for Social Equity.

Computer Science and Psychology major Molly Chen, and Neuroscience major Emily Wu spent ten weeks working with patient diagnosis co-occurence data derived from Duke Electronic Medical Records to develop network visualizations of co-occurring disorders within demographic groups. Their goal was to make healthcare more holistic, and reduce healthcare disparities by improving patient and provider awareness of co-occurring disorders for patients within similar demographic groups.

Statistical Science majors Nathaniel Brown and Corey Vernot, and Economics student Guan-Wun Hao spent ten weeks exploring changes in food purchase behavior and nutritional intake following the event of a new Metformin prescription for Type II Diabetes. They worked closely with Matthew Harding and researchers in the BECR Center, as well as Dr. Susan Spratt, an endocrinologist in Duke Medicine.

Lindsay Hirschhorn (Mechanical Engineering) and Kelsey Sumner (Global Health and Evolutionary Anthropology) spent ten weeks determining optimal vaccination clinic locations in Durham County for a simulated Zika virus outbreak. They worked closely with researchers at RTI International to construct models of disease spread and health impact, and developed an interactive visualization tool.

With the significant international consequences of recent outbreaks, the ITP Lab conducted extensive stakeholder interviews and macro-level health policy analysis to expose gaps in pandemic preparedness and develop legal frameworks for future threats. 

With the significant international consequences of recent outbreaks, the ITP Lab conducted extensive stakeholder interviews and macro-level health policy analysis to expose gaps in pandemic preparedness and develop legal frameworks for future threats. 

How well and in what ways do governments communicate with their citizens? How do governments analyze data and create visualizations to promote public access to government information? 

This project summarizes the existing sample agreements from different institutions, analyzes the key contractual issues in the formation of alliances, and develops master charts of legal provisions to compare different approaches, to provide a reference for the formation of new alliances in the era of epidemic disease outbreaks.