Research Scientist, Center for Studies in Demography & Ecology
Phil Hurvitz joined CSDE as a research scientist in 2019 to lead the UW Data Collaborative, a high-performance, high-capacity data storage and computing cluster that allows researchers at the UW to access and analyze data that contain highly sensitive personal or health information (e.g., Add Health, CMS-Medicare, IBM MarketScan) to support innovative, interdisciplinary research and evidence-driven policy making. The UWDC servers allow users to access these data sets through a secure and encrypted remote desktop interface and to perform analysis on centralized servers, analogously to “cold rooms” that housed sensitive data on computers with no network access. There are two major benefits to this new approach: (1) multiple researchers may access data simultaneously, whereas cold rooms could only support one researcher at a time, and (2) data sets that may have been available to only single researchers or labs can be used by multiple researchers, many of which would not have been able to obtain these data. The UWDC achieves its secure functionality through network segmentation, virtual private networks, and dual-factor authentication, so that users can log in and perform analysis, but any data transfers out of the secure environment are carefully reviewed to be stripped of any identifiable information. The UWDC serves a broad user group at the UW, including researchers from Sociology, Geography, Real Estate, Pharmacy, and Public Health. He works closely with CSDE’s IT group to assure that the servers are maintained to provide a high level of performance and a high level of security.