Beyond data: Supporting community during a pandemic

Families showing off their new face masks, donated by Sarah Davis.

When COVID-19 cases began to appear across the country, many RENCI employees felt a call to action. While several took it upon themselves to develop new data science technologies or to adapt existing ones to process COVID-19 data, others have contributed to communities in need by creating face masks, assisting food banks, connecting researchers to projects, and supporting foster youth.

Creating Face Masks

Like many across the nation, some RENCI employees have started sewing face masks to donate to medical workers, neighbors, and people in need.

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FABRIC and iRODS events shift to virtual venues

Due to the current COVID-19 situation, many previously scheduled in-person events are moving to virtual spaces. Events associated with RENCI projects and with consortium and partner institutions are making decisions daily about whether to postpone, transition to virtual, or potentially proceed in the late summer and fall. We will keep our events calendar updated, so check back regularly for announcements. 

Two major events that have made the choice to transition to virtual are the FABRIC Community Workshop and the iRODS User Group Meeting. Although this change is unprecedented, both teams are adjusting their sessions to accommodate the virtual atmosphere and provide a memorable experience for attendees.

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From the Director: RENCI responds to the COVID-19 crisis

The past few weeks have presented unique challenges to how we work, how we enjoy ourselves, and how we live our everyday lives. We are all worried about the uncertainties and about how this will affect us and our loved ones in the coming weeks. 

That being said, I am proud to work at RENCI and UNC-Chapel Hill, and blessed to be confronting the current challenges in a region where we are so fortunate to have skilled personnel and resources to bring to bear.

We can gather data and compute. We can volunteer. We can serve. We can encourage each other. We can broadcast. With relatively limited risk through working remotely, we can use our brains, our team spirit, our good will, our tools, and our machines to do science and serve.

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A Radical New Tack: True Collaboration

Data Commons Pilot Phase teams plan how a rising tide of data and tools can float all research boats

Last November the National Institutes of Health announced $9 million in pilot funding to explore feasibility and best practices for a new approach to advancing biomedical research. The initiative, known as Data Commons, is focused on making digital objects—that is, the data, models, and analytical tools that constitute the engine behind the modern research enterprise—available through collaborative platforms.

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RENCI Provides Insight on Data Science in Courtrooms

Stan Ahalt, Director, and Sarah Davis, Research Project Manager, attended the Science in the Courtroom Seminar for Resource Judges, held August 29-31, 2018, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC. The seminar – organized by Franklin Zweig, Esq., of the National Courts and Sciences Institute and Dr. James Evans of the UNC Department of Genetics and Bryson Center for Judicial Science Education – is part of an ongoing science training program for state and federal judges from around the country, educating the judges to become resources on scientific issues for judges in their jurisdictions.

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RENCI participates in NSF Cyber Carpentry workshop to prepare early-career researchers

Teacher and students discuss an issue with their team project.
From left: Andres Espindola-Camacho from Oklahoma State University, Jeremy Thorpe from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Gaurav Kandoi from Iowa State University, and Yingru Xu from Duke University discuss an issue with their team project.

Big data is only getting bigger, and that can cause big problems for researchers who need to store and share their data. Twenty doctoral students and post-doctoral associates from across the county learned the tools and techniques to solve these problems at the inaugural Cyber Carpentry Workshop at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and hosted by the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), the two-week workshop in late July introduced students to a variety of applications, platforms, and processes for data life-cycle management and data-intensive computation. The Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) provided support for the workshop in the form of instructors and project management staff.

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Strategies for hiring and maintaining a diverse data scientists workforce

RTI’s Kristina Brunelle (left) moderates a panel discussion with Amy Roussel, RTI (center); Gracie Johnson-Lopez, Diversity and HR Solutions (right); and Sackeena Gordon-Jones, Transformation Edge and NC State University (on screen).

Data science is hot. That’s good news for workers with data science skills. It also means organizations competing to hire data scientists need to understand how to recruit talent that will solve their data science challenges and contribute to creating a productive and diverse workforce.  Read more…

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Winston-Salem State University students visit RENCI, UNC-Chapel Hill

A group of undergraduate Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) students majoring in math recently visited Chapel Hill for an educational tour of RENCI and to make connections with peers and educators in the UNC-Chapel Hill math department.

John Hutchens and Felicia Griffin, assistant professors in the mathematics department at WSSU, arranged the visit as part of a series for their students to highlight the types of jobs available to math and computer science graduates. Read more…

Tracking the story of the ENIAC programmers

Jean Jennings Bartik (left), and Frances Bilas Smith in 1946 with ENIAC, the world’s first all-electonic computer. Photo credit: Computer History Museum

Six women who changed computing finally get their day in the spotlight.

More than 70 years ago, six brilliant mathematicians came to Philadelphia to take part in a secret U.S. Army project designed to help the Allies win World War II. These young pioneers of the computing age learned to program using only logical diagrams and their considerable talents—no programming languages or tools existed to help them.  Read more…

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Women to show their data science chops at 2018 WiDS conference

The Women in Data Science (WiDS) Conference returns for a third year to Stanford University on March 5. This one-day, technical conference features world-class speakers discussing a wide array of data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence research and applications, from computational finance, to astrophysics, to cybersecurity, and much more. All genders are invited to participate in the conference, which features exclusively female speakers.  Read more…

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