Food insecurity, gerrymandering and museums: the Data + summer research program combines data science and social impact
Of food insecurity at virtualized museum collections at gerrymandering and voting models, this summer’s Data + range covers a wide range of 23 projects. In this 10-week summer program, students conducted data-driven research in small teams led by faculty and graduate students.
Data + is typically hosted in person, with a dedicated workspace on campus at Gross Hall. The program has run virtually this year and last year, but even virtually, Data + projects seek to have a social impact.
A project this year, From Farm to Fork, delivers fresh produce to more than 350 food insecure patients at Duke University Health System and Lincoln Community Health Center and their families every two weeks.
“A large number of [our patients] suffer from diet-related chronic diseases like diabetes, heart and kidney disease and would benefit from better access to fresh fruits and vegetables, ”said Willis Wong, project leader and fourth-year MD / MBA candidate at the Faculty of Medicine.
Products are packaged in a central warehouse, and student volunteers drive food to patients’ homes every other Saturday. Due to the looser COVID-19 restrictions this summer, some students were able to experience these aspects of their research in person.
“We hope they can continue to engage with our team in this way,” said Wong.
The team chose one particular area to focus on: sustainability. They are studying the environmental impacts of the food delivery service and looking for data-driven ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
“This [research] includes an assessment of our management of the food supply and looking for opportunities to minimize food waste, such as composting, ”Wong said.
Another team is working on a project called Redistricting School Zones in Durham County. Students are reinventing school districts based on county demographics, which plans to redesign the district in the fall.
Originally, the project explored racial disparities in the child welfare system, but the team had to focus more after facing limited access to sensitive data, according to second year Kassie Hamilton. .
“This project still has a lot of the same elements as the old one, such as working with data involving children and race,” Hamilton said. “We hope to include data on race, walkability, and income in our final district productions.”
Hamilton said that in the meantime, the team is focusing on “using demographics to create districts that separate schools.”
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Examining both Durham and Duke, the Mental Health and Justice System in County Durham Project focuses on the experiences of incarcerated people in County Durham who also encounter the Duke Health System.
“We have administrative data from both sources that have been matched at the person level,” wrote Ruth Wygle, project manager and freshman, in an email. “While the original goal of the project (now in year 5!) Was to focus on people in this population living with a mental health diagnosis, we have really expanded beyond that now and are looking at many health problems and outcomes. ”
The students on this team are busy cleaning up the newly obtained data over the past two years. Tea is hoping to have the data in good shape for the Data + poster session so they can continue doing more interesting analysis during the school year in a Bass Connections project.
Wygle’s main hope is to raise awareness of the criminal justice system.
“Getting as many people as possible to think about how the justice system works, who is most affected and the consequences of these two things is, for me, the clearest path to change,” she wrote. .