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Ph.D. student conducts research in Discovery Analytics Center as part of governor’s data internship program

Siddharth Krishnan Siddharth Krishnan

Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s data internship program is offering Siddharth Krishnan an unexpected -- and invaluable -- learning opportunity.

During the spring 2016 semester, Krishnan, a computer science doctoral student, has been assigned to the project, Health Opportunity Index: Modeling the Health and Cost impacts of Social Determinants of Health. He is conducting this research at the Discovery Analytics Center (DAC) in the Virginia Tech Research Center ─ Arlington.

"Collaborating with the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity to analyze biological, social, economic, and environment factors underlying population health provides me with a fantastic opportunity to apply my research skills in a way that can tangibly impact the community.” Krishnan said.

The data internship program, which launched in 2014, supports Gov. McAuliffe’s ongoing initiative to provide easier access to open data in Virginia. The internships also support treating data as an enterprise asset, one of four strategic goals of the enterprise information architecture strategy adopted by the Commonwealth in August 2013.

According to the governor’s office, better use of data allows the Commonwealth to identify opportunities to avoid duplicative costs in collecting, maintaining and using information; and to integrate services across agencies and localities to improve responses to constituent needs and optimize government resources.

Virginia Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson and CIO of the Commonwealth Nelson Moe are leading the effort on behalf of the state.

Krishnan, from Chennai, India, earned a master’s degree in math and computer science from Florida State University. He began the Ph.D. program at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and moved to the National Capital Region in spring 2014 when Naren Ramakrishnan, the Thomas L. Phillips Professor of Engineering and DAC Director, moved to the university’s research center in Arlington.

Krishnan’s dissertation research broadly focuses on characterizing and forecasting information flow in online social media. “I work to develop models and metrics to analyze population level dynamics,” he said.

By the end of the semester, Krishnan plans to develop a dashboard that will communicate data-driven insights to analysts at the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity.

Krisnan’s project is part of a larger group of initiatives at the Discovery Analytics Center focused on urban computing, the study of problems faced by urban populations using computational methods of data science. Led by DAC, Virginia Tech recently received a highly selective NSF National Research Traineeship grant to train doctoral students in urban computing and connect them to industry, government, and non-profit organizations that are exploring data science approaches to societal problems.

Posted February 18, 2016