Professor honored with IBM award

first_imgEarlier this month, IBM awarded its Watson Solutions Faculty Award to Notre Dame computer science professor Nitesh Chawla. The IBM award recognizes the work of faculty on the forefront of big data and analytics and applying that work to social problems as well as incorporating it into curriculum, according to a University press release. Chawla, who currently serves as director of both the Interdisciplinary Center of Network Science and Applications and the Data, Interference, Analytic and Learning Lab, was honored for his work with the research of big data and healthcare innovation to examine possible solutions for the future of the healthcare field. “Big data is becoming a cornerstone of the modern economy,” he said. “A lot of my research has been around data, data mining, machine learning, network science and applications, and so my Watson Faculty Award was a recognition of that work and a recognition of the curriculum.” Chawla created a multidisciplinary course at Notre Dame called Healthcare Analytics, which uses his research ideas in part as a basis for the curriculum and includes majors from multiple colleges, he said. “It may be one of the more multidisciplinary courses on campus,” Chawla said. “Students from each discipline then are focused on how we can think about data and healthcare, how data in healthcare can lead to more personalized healthcare, more cost-effective healthcare.” The South Bend healthcare community has been responsive to the research and the class, Chawla said, and many local leaders in the industry have worked with the class, including executives from Michiana Health Information Network and the chief information officer of Beacon Health System. Chawla said this kind of outside interest and involvement is important to the class as well as demonstrating why IBM was so interested in his work, especially with the creation of its new initiative, the artificial intelligence machine known as Watson. IBM popularized its Watson machine by pitting it against top human competitors on the television game show “Jeopardy!”, but its capabilities are much greater than that, Chawla said. “[The class] is sort of emblematic of the work that Watson is doing. The machine is a cognitive system which brings in data and information from a variety of sources, processes it and delivers it in a viable form,” Chawla said. “That’s what we are trying to create in the classroom environment, where you have people from different disciplines, different backgrounds, different expertise working on projects together and then delivering it in a way that would make a difference to healthcare.” The class is split up into several groups that work on semester-long projects with the goal of operating at the intersection of medicine and big data research, Chawla said. Project topics include studying patient scheduling issues, readmission rates and global health partnerships. Contact Kevin Noonan at knoonan2@nd.edulast_img read more

Dairy industry leaders unite to offer recommendations to USDA

first_imgDuring the recent visit of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to Vermont, dairy industry leaders from across the state came together to present a statement on behalf of dairy producers encouraging Secretary Vilsack to address the issues and challenges of the dairy industry.The statement is in response to the volatile milk pricing system that dairy farmers are subject to. In 2009 dairy producers experienced the lowest prices paid for fluid milk in decades with costs of production at an all time high. This, coupled with the world recession, is threatening to cripple the dairy industry in Vermont and across the region.“The time for action is now. We can’t wait for the 2012 Farm Bill to do something to support our dairy industry. Even with milk prices increasing slightly it is still not meeting the cost of production and each month we lose more dairy farms,” said Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Roger Allbee. “With each farm that ceases operation, our rural communities and economies feel the impact. It also threatens the open, working landscape Vermonters treasure and that draws visitors to our state.”In the statement that was presented personally to Mr. Vilsack during his visit, puts forth a number of calls to action on the federal level including:Enact and fund the provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill relating to dairy, including improved dairy product price reporting and transparency in the price discovery process. Agree to hold a Federal Order public hearing to consider flooring the Class I fresh drinking milk price at the earliest possible date.  Support for such a price floor was recently endorsed by the Commissioners and Secretaries of Agriculture in the Northeast states.  We recommend this hearing address setting an adequate minimum Class I price mover for all Federal Orders as well as allow adjustments on the Class I price to accommodate changes in energy and other costs associated with dairy farming.Continue to use the DEIP program to the maximum extent possible to assist dairy product exports. “We were pleased to have the Secretary Vilsack visit Vermont and to hear his concerns regarding food security and the need for regional approaches and solutions. I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate how the dairy industry in Vermont and the region has been able to come together, develop points of agreement and offer as specific requests for action. In his opening comments he specifically requested such action and we were ready and demonstrated that it could be and had been done,” commented Robert Foster.Priorities that Mr. Vilsack outlined for USDA included Regional Food Systems, Renewable Energy, Ecosystems,  Agri-tourism and Recreation and Broadband Access. These are all priorities Vermont has been focused on and we are uniquely positioned to bring them to fruition. Vermont has more methane digesters and farmers’ markets per capita than any other state. We have also been a leader in sourcing local foods as well as connecting tourism and agriculture.The full statement presented to Secretary Vilsack can be viewed at www.vermontagriculture.com(link is external).Source: VT DOE. 2.24.2010###last_img read more