Research

Research projects at Rhodes 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 Rhodes iiD. See all of our research.

This team is part of an ongoing project dedicated to exploring how states and local communities responded to the causes of the 2007-09 Global Financial Crisis. Led by faculty from the Global Financial Markets Center at Duke Law the Data+ team  will conduct analysis of multiple states mortgage enforcement databases to gain a better understanding of how state regulators were, or were not, enforcing existing state law pertaining to mortgages leading up to the crisis. Our website has an example of what this will look like, as last year we analyzed North Carolina’s mortgage enforcement actions and displayed them by topic.

Project Lead: Lee Reiners

Nationally there is a disproportionate number of children of color (African American & Latino) in the child welfare system. Durham County is no different. However, reviewing this problem through the lens of data has not been done to formulate or implement possible solutions. Durham County Department of Social Services Child & Family Services would like to evaluate systems to identify where and how disproportionality and disparity are occurring. It is occurring at the entry point of Reporting child abuse and neglect? Is it occurring at the case decision? Is our reunification time different for African American children? Or Does it take longer for a child of color to achieve permanence through adoption? Organizing the data to show us our “hot spots” would facilitate further discussion and focus on solutions to an age-old systemic problem.

Faculty Lead: Greg Herschlag

Project Lead: Jovetta L Whitfield

A team of students led by researchers at Duke University and UC Davis will visualize data on child and family health from Yolo County, California. Data varies from single words or numbers per variable (e.g. gender, age) to more complex (e.g. crime and violence, social integration, housing/homeless impact). The visualization dashboard will be used by academic researchers and community service providers in addition to Yolo County community members. The overall goal of the research is to reduce health disparities through strengthening academic-community partnerships.

Project Lead: Leigh Ann Simmons (UC Davis)

This project seeks to understand voting patterns and their effect on election outcomes across geography and time. This involves examining precinct-level votes across a large array of historical votes (including 2020 and as far back as 2012). Students will employ a variety of techniques in dimension reduction to uncover large-scale voting patterns and investigate the evolution of voting patterns across the decade. This work will help answer questions like "did the suburbs vote with the cities?" The students will use voting patterns to explore the "stability" of gerrymandering as they compare election outcomes under certain maps compared with large ensembles of non-partisan maps.

This project is part of an ongoing set of projects by the sponsoring faculty around Voting, Gerrymandering and Democracy. See their blog ( https://sites.duke.edu/quantifyinggerrymandering/) for more information and projects from previous years of Data+ and Bass Connections.


Project Leads: Greg Herschlag, Jonathan Mattingly

The Root Causes Fresh Produce Program, led by an interdisciplinary team of graduate and undergraduate students at Duke and UNC, leverages the power of student volunteers and community partnerships to address food insecurity in our community by delivering fresh and locally sourced produce to the doorsteps of patients in the Duke, Lincoln, and Samaritan Community health systems. Our program leadership is looking for team members to join us in exploring the use of data visualization and analysis to improve upon the processes that allow us to carry out our student-run service. Specific projects will include improving the program’s delivery route optimization software, improving the crop assessment and inventory management tools of small farmers and wholesale markets, as well as developing a dashboard integrating client location data and GIS information to identify location-specific service providers. Together, in collaborating with our team of interdisciplinary students as well as local Durham agencies, we hope to give you an opportunity to make an impact on our local community and food system while gaining a deeper appreciation for the role of data visualization and analysis through a population health intervention.

Project Lead: Willis Wong

This project is inspired by an inter-institutional Bass Connections team from Duke and North Carolina Central University that is committed to developing more responsible and imaginative ways of partnering with Durham Public Schools (Link: https://bassconnections.duke.edu/project-teams/strengthening-partnerships-between-durham-public-schools-and-local-universities-2020). Students will use existing data sets combined with historic and contemporary city context to better understand the complex and nuanced details of different school communities.  Students will prioritize the public schools that most commonly partner with each respective university.  Our research aims to inform future pre-service trainings for university students, support local neighborhood schools in visualizing their communities, and help varied university offices articulate what “community” actually looks like.

Project Lead: Alec Greenwald

Project Manager: Nicolas Restrepo Ochoa

Mental illness is often over-represented among the incarcerated population.  Durham county leaders are aware of this, and have taken many steps in recent years to support incarcerated people with mental illness and also to reduce incarceration in this population.  This work requires a community-wide effort, and Duke University Health System, as the major health care provider in the county, has a potential role to play. This Data + team will use data from the Durham County Detention Facility and Duke Health System to examine patterns of health-service utilization in the incarcerated population, including those with and without mental illness diagnoses.  We will use statistical methods such as longitudinal modeling to analyze the effects of the many interventions recently implemented, including increased mental health services, medication-assisted treatment for addiction, among others.  

Project Lead: Nicole Schramm-Sapyta

Project Manager: Ruth Wygle

Our team members have spent the summer working with the North Carolina Division of Public Health Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch to build a pilot environmental public health data dashboard, with the hope that the pilot tool will be used in DPH’s grant proposal to the CDC for a fully-funded tool. The pilot tool, which is a Tableau dashboard, displays population, health, and environmental data for North Carolina counties and census tracts. The project involved data processing in R, the creation of a detailed metadata table, and building interactive visualizations Tableau.

Carrying forward the work of a 2019-20 Bass Connections team, our Data+ team has worked to better understand the state of the home mortgage market leading up to the financial crisis. The team has built a more in-depth analysis of North Carolina to understand its different regions. We have also expanded the scope of the analysis developing a quantitative portrait on the state of the mortgage market in Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Ohio, creating visualization devices for different mortgage market statistics.

Our group aims to reveal the effects of urban and agricultural land use on metabolic productivities of rivers through statistical manipulation and visualization. During this summer, we classified sites and conducted covariate analyses based on patterns of metabolism, and produced reproducible code that can be used by researchers with similar research goals. We hope that our findings would suggest hypotheses of how disruption is caused by land development, and what factors should land planners avoid introducing.

Our team examined the relationship between race and home values across several units of analysis (household, address, HOLC rating area, census block, block group, and tract) in Durham, NC. We combined data from the decennial censuses (1940-2010), American Community Survey (2005-2018), Durham County Register of Deeds (1997-2020), and Durham County Tax Administration (1997-2021). We find that home values are strongly associated with the racial composition of areas, that homes in black neighborhoods are worth less, and that they accumulate less value over time.

This summer, our objective was to take data provided by the Durham County Detention Facility (DCDF), Duke Health, and Lincoln Community Health Center and analyze trends across the local justice system and these health care institutions, specifically in regards to individuals with mental illness. We analyzed the experience of individuals who were incarcerated by looking at their demographic characteristics, emergency department usage, and criminal justice encounters. Using these initial findings, we hope to better understand the relationship between health care utilization and rates of recidivism in Durham County during the school year through a Bass Connections Team.

Project Leads: Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, Maria Tackett

Project Manager: Ruth Wygle

 

Click here to view the team's final project summary

 

Watch the team's final presentation (on Zoom) here:

 

 

 Micalyn Struble (Computer Science, Public Policy), Xiaoqiao Xing (Economics), and Eric Zhang (Math) spent ten weeks exploring the use of neuroscience as evidence in criminal trials. Working with a large set of case files downloaded from WestLaw, the team used natural language processing to build a predictive model that has the potential to automate the process of locating relevant-to-neuroscience cases from databases.

 

Click here to read the Executive Summary

 

Faculty Lead: Nita Farahany

Project Manager: William Krenzer

Ellis Ackerman (Math, NCSU), Rodrigo Araujo (Computer Science), and Samantha Miezio (Public Policy) spent ten weeks building tools to help understand the scope, cause, and effects of evictions in Durham County. Using evictions data recorded by the Durham County Sheriff’s Department and demographic data from the American Community Survey, the team investigated relationships between rent and evictions, created cost-benefit models for eviction diversion efforts, and built interactive visualizations of eviction trends. They had the opportunity to consult with analytics professionals from DataWorks NC.

Project Leads: Tim Stallmann, John Killeen, Peter Gilbert

Project Manager: Libby McClure

 

How Much Profit is Too Much Profit?

Chris Esposito (Economics), Ruoyu Wu (Computer Science), and Sean Yoon (Masters, Decision Sciences) spent ten weeks building tools to investigate the historical trends of price gouging and excess profits taxes in the United States of America from 1900 to the present. The team used a variety of text-mining methods to create a large database of historical documents, analyzed historical patterns of word use, and created an interactive R Shiny app to display their data and analyses.

Click here to read the Executive Summary

 

(cartoon from The Masses July 1916)

Faculty Lead: Sarah Deutsch

Project Manager: Evan Donahue

Aidan Fitzsimmons (Public Policy, Mathematics, Electrical & Computer Engineering), Joe Choo (Mathematics, Economics) and Brooke Scheinberg (Mathematics) spent ten weeks partnering with the Durham Crisis Intervention Team, the Criminal Justice Resource Center, and the Stepping Up Initiative. Utilizing booking data of 57,346 individuals provided by the Durham County Jail, this team was able to create visualizations and predictive models that illustrate patterns of recidivism, with a focus on the subset of the population with serious mental illness (SMI). These results could assist current efforts in diverting people with SMI from the criminal justice system and into care.

Click here to read the Executive Summary

Faculty Lead: Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, Michele Easter

Project Manager: Ruth Wygle

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 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

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.