Date(s) - 10/11/2022
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Please join us for a UW Data Science Seminar event on Tuesday, October 11th from 4:30 to 5:20 p.m. PDT. The seminar will feature two projects from our Data Science for Social Good 2022 summer program: Vidisha Chowdhury, Philippe Schicker, and Shamsi Soltani will discuss “Heating Loads in Alaska and Beyond,” and Abhilash Biswas will discuss “Satellite Streaks in Astronomical Images.”

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“Heating Loads in Alaska and Beyond”

Abstract: Decarbonization is a critical global issue where planning and executing implementation strategies is currently regionally underway. In the Arctic, there is extra urgency and complexity as warming is occurring twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Transitioning power and heat from primarily carbon intensive to net-zero sources is needed to meet decarbonization targets. About 75% of the energy requirements in the Arctic region are thermal (heating). Developing better estimates of heating needs is important for navigating decarbonization pathways, including weighing the role of building energy efficiency and centralized vs decentralized approaches. The goal of this project was to create an improved method for estimating thermal energy use in Alaska Railbelt and Arctic regions.

Biographies: Vidisha Chowdhury is passionate about using data-based insights to drive social impact and has a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving. She is pursuing her second master’s degree in Data Analytics, Public Policy and Management at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University. Her most recent work applies natural language processing to social media data to find effective ways of creating mental health awareness. Her work experience and her coursework in environmental policy at Heinz helped her understand the disproportionate effects of climate change on various communities.

Philippe Schicker (he/his) is a master’s student at Carnegie Mellon University studying public policy and data analytics with a focus on environmental policy and justice. Philippe holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and has published multiple peer-reviewed papers on sustainable engineering solutions. Philippe has attended universities in Los Angeles, CA, Starkville, MS, and Pittsburgh, PA to study environmental impacts on different regions of the United States. He continued his education to supplement his technical engineering education with quantitative policy and data analysis tools to better combat climate change and advocate for environmental justice.

Shamsi Soltani is a public health professional and scholar pursuing a PhD in Epidemiology and Clinical Research at Stanford University. Her past work includes transportation injury surveillance and COVID emergency response at the county level, as well as clinical trials, program evaluation, and community based HIV prevention. Currently she’s exploring how to use big data methods with an equity focus, and is excited to experience production level coding in a team environment via DSSG. Shamsi holds an MPH in Epidemiology from Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, and a BS in Neuroscience with French minor from UCLA. She is a multicultural, multilingual first-gen American who likes to read copiously for pleasure, get outdoors, dance, bike and– occasionally, when the mood strikes­– bake elaborate meringues.

satellite image

The background image shows the double star Albireo in Cygnus and was taken on 26 December 2019. Two out of ten 2.5-minute exposures recorded Starlink satellites moving across the field.

“Satellite Streaks in Astronomical Images”

Abstract: We are on the cusp of fundamentally altering the night sky, which has been a source of wonder, storytelling, and discovery since humanity’s earliest ancestors. Space is becoming increasingly industrialized, and large numbers of bright low-Earth-orbit satellites are beginning to leave bright streaks visible to the unaided eye and to telescopes. These impact our ability to observe and analyze astrophysical phenomena from Earth as well as traditional and cultural practices centered on the night sky. The pace of satellite launches is increasing, meanwhile, the scope of the impacts are not well constrained. This project addressed this problem by quantifying that change and enabling astronomers and more to do something about it. Once we can measure how bright satellites appear in different situations, we can study how the streaks are changing over time and better inform stakeholders about mitigation options.

Biography: Abhilash Biswas is currently pursuing an MS in Public Policy and Data science at Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to this, he was working at a global non-profit called IDinsight where he worked with decision makers in the development sector in India to conduct statistical evaluations and provide data driven evidence for informed decision making. As a part of his work, Abhilash supported the monitoring and evaluation of flagship government welfare programs in India. Abhilash has a keen interest of applying public interest technology towards social impact, aimed at better optimization and delivery of welfare services in resource constrained developing countries.

The UW Data Science Seminar is an annual lecture series at the University of Washington that hosts scholars working across applied areas of data science, such as the sciences, engineering, humanities and arts along with methodological areas in data science, such as computer science, applied math and statistics. Our presenters come from all domain fields and include occasional external speakers from regional partners, governmental agencies and industry.

The 2022-2023 seminars will be virtual, and are free and open to the public.