Welcome to the 4th annual Ken Kennedy Institute Data Science Conference at Rice University. COVID-19 has forced us to hold the conference virtually this year. This has presented many challenges, but it is also an amazing opportunity to invite broad participation for what promises to be an exciting few days of talks, posters, and discussions from Data Science. The theme of the conference has also been shaped by COVID-19. This year’s virtual conference will explore how the pandemic has influenced the use of data as well as the development and application of data science. Speakers will discuss everything from the genome analysis to data governance, from human behavior to water treatment plants, and will highlight the role of computing hardware and software in these endeavors.

For the past four years, the annual conference has been interested in exposing how data science can be used to address interesting challenges for translating data to knowledge through advances in data engineering, analytics, machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement learning, and more broadly, artificial intelligence.

The conference features talks by leading experts, which will be complemented by thematically organized sessions with talks selected from submitted abstracts in four tracks:

  • COVID-19
  • Algorithms & Foundations
  • Business Impact
  • Healthcare

This year the conference was expanded to include a special collaboration with MD Anderson that takes place on Wednesday and will offer a discussion about the Data-Driven Determinants for COVID-19 Oncology Discovery Effort (D3CODE), which was established to create a cross-functional, institution-wide data science initiative linked to understand cancer in context of the pandemic.

On Tuesday afternoon there will be a poster session, a unique conference component that enables presenters and participants to engage more deeply around topics, as well as explore partnerships and employment opportunities.

The three-day conference offers opportunities to engage during networking breaks and the sponsor networking session on Monday afternoon. Recognizing that discovery and innovation happens at interfaces of disciplines and communities, the conference aims to bring together a diverse set of people from multiple communities spanning academia and industry. In hopes of improving connections in these virtual times, we have implemented a virtual conference platform that prioritizes networking matches based on each attendee’s interests and goals. When viewing matches, attendees can send a meeting request and message to schedule a video chat directly in the platform.

We are grateful to our sponsors, partners, and data scientists, who share our enthusiasm and who seek the opportunity to support and engage with the community. We would like to say a special thank you to our Conference Committee and Special Track Team for their many contributions to this year’s conference at this unusual time.

On behalf of the Data Science Conference Committee and Special Track Team, our fellow constituents and sponsors, Rice University, and the Ken Kennedy Institute Team, we want to thank you for being here. Enjoy the conference.

Angela Wilkins
Executive Director, Ken Kennedy Institute

Lydia Kavraki
Director, Ken Kennedy Institute

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Bringing together Data Science professionals. #ricedsc