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TAMIDS Establishes Two New Thematic Data Science Labs

Dr. Nick Duffield, Director of the Texas A&M Institute of Data Science (TAMIDS), is pleased to announce the establishment of two new Labs through its competitive Thematic Data Science Labs program: the Data Justice Lab, and the VIVID Lab for Visceral Inter­sensory Visualization & Information Design. According to Duffield, “the Thematic Labs program aims to develop ecosystems in emerging areas of Data Science that will strengthen TAMU’s prominence and competitiveness. We look forward to engaging with Lab members in the hub for Data Science that we are creating in TAMIDS new location in the Blocker building”.

Labs Mission: each Lab will develop knowledge, resources, and community around its thematic area, encompassing research, education, and outreach. TAMIDS supports each Lab through a combination of seed funding for new research; effort from TAMIDS scientific personnel; existing TAMIDS programs to support course development, workshops, seminars, and student participation; and organizational and logistical support. The support for each Lab amounts to approximately $300,000 over a two-year period.

Award Process: Lab support was awarded through a competitive process in which full proposals were invited based on Letters of Intent submitted in February 2021. Each full proposal was evaluated based on the promise of their programs for research, education, and outreach; engagement of Lab members in its activities; and pre-submission community building events through which the proposers could establish the coherence of the program amongst Lab members and demonstrate wider interest and relevance of the Lab.

Labs Focus and Personnel: The 2021 TAMIDS Thematic Labs program support Labs with members from the Colleges of Architecture, Education and Human Development, Engineering, Liberal Arts, and Science.

The Data Justice Lab will focus on applying cutting-edge methods from Data Science and Machine Learning to challenging problems in social sciences. According to Lab Director Dr. Lu Tang, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, College of Liberal Arts, “We look forward to studying biases in technology, health, education, and other social domains through Data Science and identify creative solutions for social justice”. The Lab personnel are: Lu Tang (Director) Department of Communication, Theodora Chaspari (Associate Director), Department of Computer Science, Ruihong Huang (Associate Director), Department of Computer Science, Sherecce Fields, Psychological and Brain Sciences,  Leann Smith, Educational Psychology, Na Zou, Engineering Technology & Industrial Distribution, Srividya Ramasubramanian (Founder and External Advisor), Syracuse University and formerly in the Department of Communication. 

The VIVID Lab for Visceral Inter­sensory Visualization & Information Design explores how both experts and non-experts can interact with the analyses of Data Science, through systems and technologies to produce both visible and tangible representations. According to Lab Director Dr. Ann McNamara, Associate Professor in the Department of Visualization and Associate Dean for Research in College of Architecture, “The VIVID Lab will take visualization beyond the traditional notion of a visual display. A display can encompass non­visual information presentation. Technology is now primed to deliver new mechanisms to serve as non­visual displays, including sensors, Augmented and Virtual Reality, craft, and 3D printing and fabrication. We are so excited to get started.” The Lab personnel are: Ann McNamara (Director), Department of Visualization, Derya Akleman, Department of Statistics, James Caverlee, Department of Computer Science, Cynthia Hipwell, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Shuiwang Ji, Department of Computer Science, Jeeeun Kim, Department of Computer Science, Vinayak Krishnamurthy, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Courtney Starrett, Department of Visualization.

These two new Labs join the TAMIDS Scientific Machine Learning Lab (SciML Lab) created in early 2021, and the Operational Data Science Lab (OpDataSci Lab), joint with TAMU GEOSAT, which partners with Texas A&M operational units to apply Data Science to management, facilities, and administration. To learn more about the Texas A&M Institute of Data Science, visit https://tamids.tamu.edu/