Beautiful Big Data

Beautiful Big Data

As ideas go, data science is as big as, well, data itself, which is shaking up disciplines across the academy, from astronomy to engineering, business, education, public health, and more. Now broadly accepted as the fourth mode of scientific discovery - along with theory, physical experimentation, and computational analysis - data science holds promise for solving any number of the world's big problems.

At SPH, researchers are mining huge data sets - some generated by social media (see page 39), others by more traditional methods - to pioneer life-saving advances in statistical genetics, gene/environment interactions, medical and electronic health records, health services and systems, disease surveillance, chronic disease management, transportation safety, air pollution, brain imaging, and a range of other areas. So prominent is the school's work that this fall, U-M SPH became the initial home to the brand new Michigan Institute for Data Science, a locus for U-M's vast multidisciplinary work in this fast-changing field.

This image above of social contact patterns between individuals was created by U-M doctoral student Will Huang and SPH Assistant Professor Marisa Eisenberg as part of a collaborative project tracking disease transmission in contact networks. Also involved in the project are SPH doctoral student Ali Walsh, U-M Associate Professor Prabal Dutta, and Allison Aiello of the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.