Friday, March 23, 2018 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm
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Location TBA, Harvard University

Data Science and Our Environment

Francesca Dominici, Professor of Biostatistics, HSPH; Co-Director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative (HDSI), will give a talk as part of the Institute for Applied Computational Science (IACS) Seminar Series.

Abstract: What if I told you I had evidence of a serious threat to American national security – a terrorist attack in which a jumbo jet will be hijacked and crashed every 12 days. Thousands will continue to die unless we act now. This is the question before us today – but the threat doesn’t come from terrorists. The threat comes from climate change and air pollution. Researchers have developed an artificial neural network model that uses on-the-ground air-monitoring data and satellite-based measurements to estimate daily pollution levels across the continental U.S., breaking the country up into 1-square-kilometer zones. They have paired that information with health data contained in Medicare claims records from the last 12 years, and for 97% of the population aged 65 or older. They have also developed statistical methods and computational efficient algorithms for the analysis over 460 million health records. Their research shows that short and long-term exposure to air pollution is killing thousands of senior citizens each year. Their data science platform is telling us that federal limits on the nation’s most widespread air pollutants are not stringent enough. This type of data is the sign of a new era for the role of data science in public health, and also for the associated methodological challenges. For example, with enormous amounts of data, the threat of unmeasured confounding bias is amplified, and causality is even harder to assess with observational studies. Dr. Dominici will discuss these and other challenges.

Speaker Bio: Francesca Dominici is Professor of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Co-Director of the Data Science Initiative, Harvard University. She received her PhD in Statistics from the University of Padua, Italy, in 1997.  From 1999 to 2009 she was a Professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. In 2009 she moved to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health as a tenured Professor of Biostatistics and was appointed Associate Dean of Information Technology in 2011. In Fall 2013, she was appointed Senior Associate Dean for Research and in February 2017, she was appointed as co-director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative.

Contact Name: 

Natasha Baker

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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