The Data Science Initiative at the Hariri Institute for Computing is pleased to host the 4th Annual BU Data Science (BUDS) Day on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. 

BU Data Science (BUDS) Day
Wednesday, February 6, 2019, 8:30 am – 6:00 pm
Trustee Ballroom, Metcalf Trustee Center
1 Silber Way (9th Floor)

Boston University
Audience: Anyone who builds, analyzes, or utilizes computational and statistical methods, tools, and software artifacts to collect, curate, store, transfer, analyze, or visualize various types of data in their work or research.

This year, the theme for BUDS Day revolves around ingredients for successful and impactful data science research and will feature a number of sessions in which BU colleagues will present and discuss:

  • on-going work
  • opportunities for future collaborations
  • unique expertise
  • capacities available at BU
  • on-going plans for advancing data science research and education at BU

We are also planning a pre-lunch lightning talks session and an end-of-day reception with poster presentations.  


BUDS Day Agenda

8:30 – 9:00  Attendee Check-In (light refreshments available)
9:00 – 9:15

Welcome & Opening Remarks

  • Azer Bestavros (Professor, Director of Hariri Institute for Computing, CAS)
  • Gloria Waters (Professor, VP and Associate Provost, Sargent College)
9:15 – 10:30 Panel 1 – Impactful Collaborations

This panel will share faculty experiences in creating successful collaborations that led to impactful outcomes that highlight the duality of data science research, connecting methodologies to applications. For each collaboration, this panel will include faculty from both ends of successful partnerships.

Moderator: Lei Guo (Assistant Professor of Emerging Media Studies, CAS)


  • Bill Adams (Professor of Pediatrics and Clinical Research Informatics, MED)
  • Margrit Betke (Professor of Computer Science, CAS)
  • Gerald Denis (Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, MED)
  • Yannis Paschalidis (Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, ENG)
  • Mayank Varia (Research Associate Professor of Computer Science, CAS)
10:30 – 10:45 Break
10:45 – 12:00 Panel 2 – Differentiating Capacities

On this panel, faculty who have worked on problems involving various data modalities will discuss opportunities for collaborations that would leverage methodological expertise or domain specific challenges related to these modalities – e.g., medical imaging, genomics, NLP, social network modalities.

Moderator: Vijaya Kolachalama (Assistant Professor of Medicine, BMC)


  • Lucy Hutyra (Associate Professor of Earth & Environment, CAS)
  • Dan Li (Assistant Professor of Earth & Environment, CAS)
  • Elaine Nsoesie (Assistant Professor of Global Health, SPH)
  • Chris Wells (Assistant Professor of Journalism, COM)
  • Derry Wijaya (Assistant Professor of Computer Science, CAS)
12:00 – 12:30 Faculty Lightning Talks 


  • Naomi Caselli (Assistant Professor of Deaf Studies, SED)
  • Gerald Denis (Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, MED)
  • Michael Dietze (Associate Professor at Ecological Forecasting Lab, CAS)
  • Daniel Fulford (Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy, Sargent College)
  • Suzanne Mitchell (Associate Professor of Family Medicine, MED)
  • Kenric Nelson (Research Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, ECE)
  • Christoph Nolte (Assistant Professor of Geography & Environment, CAS)
  • Gustavo Schwenkler (Assistant Professor of Finance, QST)
  • Gianluca Stringhini (Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, ENG)
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch – Food for Thought
1:30 – 2:15 Looking Ahead – Updates from the BU Strategic Planning Taskforce and the BU Data Science Task Force

This session will feature plenary remarks on the Data Science Initiative and on the University’s strategic planning process by Jean Morrison, University Provost and Chief Academic Officer. This will be followed by short updates on the work of the BU Strategic Planning Taskforce by Margrit Betke, Professor, CAS, and the work of the Envisioning Data Science at BU Taskforce by Azer Bestavros, Professor, Director of Hariri Institute for Computing, CAS. The session will conclude with an open discussion and Q&A.

2:15 – 3:15 Panel 3 – Research Enablers

This panel will feature presentations by representatives from BU units and organizations providing critical resources and support that enables Data Science research, including scalable and HPC platforms, software engineering, statistical design, as well as consultancy on a host of issues related to security, privacy, regulatory and ethical considerations.

Moderator: Azer Bestavros (Professor, Director of Hariri Institute for Computing, CAS)


  • Eleni Castro (Librarian, Digital Initiatives and Open Access)
  • Ziba Cranmer (Director, BU Spark!)
  • Wayne Gilmore (Director of Research Computing, IS&T)
  • Orran Krieger (Director of the Mass Open Cloud, Hariri Institute)
  • Andrei Lapets (Director of Software & Application Innovation Lab, Hariri Institute)
  • Matthew Ogrodnik (Director, Institutional Review Board)
  • Michael Pratt (Managing Director, Technology Development Office)
  • Emily Robbins (Program Manager, MetroBridge)
  • Masanao Yajima (MS in Statistical Practice, CAS)
3:15 – 3:30 Coffee Break
3:30 – 4:45 Panel 4 – Invisible Foundations

The focus of this panel is to highlight foundational research that is necessary for Data Science to work, including research in optimization, algorithms, data mining, database and software systems, and cloud platforms.

Moderator: Evimaria Terzi (Associate Professor of Computer Science, CAS)


  • Yves Atchade (Professor of Mathematics & Statistics, CAS)
  • Manos Athanassoulis (Assistant Professor of Computer Science, CAS)
  • Alex Olshevsky (Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, ENG)
  • Lorenzo Orecchia (Assistant Professor of Computer Science, CAS)
4:45 – 5:00 Student Lightning Talks

  • Ruidi Chen (Graduate Student in the Division of Systems of Engineering)
    “Robust Regression Under the Wasserstein Metric”
    Nominating Faculty: Yannis Paschalidis (Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, ENG)
  • Sahar Chiquinquir Abi Hassan Abdul Samad (Graduate Student in the College of Arts and Sciences)
    “Specialization or Generalization: The Evolution of Ties within US Supreme Court Advocacy Networks”
    Nominating Faculty: Dino Christenson (Associate Professor of Political Science, CAS) 
  • Artem Gureev (Undergraduate Student in Mathematics and Philosophy)
    “Foundations and Formal Languages After Gödel”
    Nominating Faculty: Juliet Floyd (Professor of Philosophy, CAS)
  • Sachi Hashimoto (Graduate Student in the Department of Mathematics)
    “Number Theory Meets Data Science”
    Nominating Faculty: Jennifer Balakrishnan (Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, CAS)
  • Jingling Li
    “Analyzing the Probabilistic Forecasts of a Machine Learning Algorithm.”
    Nominating Professor: Kenric Nelson (Research Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, CAS)
  • Kate Mays (Graduate Student in Emerging Media Studies)
    “‘Crowdcoding’ as an Approach to Analyzing Social Media Data”
    Nominating Faculty: Lei Guo (Assistant Professor of Emerging Media Studies, CAS)
  • Nataniel Ruiz (Graduate Student in the College of Arts and Sciences)
    Mona Jalal (Post Graduate Student in the Image & Video Computing Group)
    “Student Outcome Prediction on an Intelligent Tutoring System”
    Nominating Faculty: Stan Sclaroff (Interim Dean of Arts & Sciences)
  • Jessica Sandler (Undergraduate Student in Information Technology)
    Heather Johnson (Undergraduate in Computer Science)
    Jacob Kozol (Undergraduate in Physics and Computer Science)
    Nicholas Pearce (Undergraduate in Computer Science and Cinema and Media Studies)
    “Predicting Appointment Cancellations Using Engagement Patterns”
    Nominating Faculty: Kate Saenko (Associate Professor of Computer Science, CAS)
  • Shangran Qiu (Graduate Student in Physics)
    “Multimodal Data Fusion Using Deep Learning to Assess Alzheimer’s Disease”
    Nominating Faculty: Vijaya Kolachalama (Assistant Professor of Medicine, BMC)
  • Claudio Toro Serey (Graduate Student in the Cognition & Decision Lab)
    Sean Tobyne (Graduate Research Assistant in the Cognitive Neuroimaging Lab)
    “Unsupervised Topographical Clustering of Resting Brain Activity Using Spectral Network Partitioning”
    Nominating Faculty: Joseph McGuire (Director of the Cognition and Decision Lab)
  • Xiaoli Yang (Graduate Student in the Questrom School of Business)
    “Effect of Publisher’s Content Strategy on Online News Subscription”
    Nominating Faculty: Nachiketa Sahoo (Associate Professor of Information Systems, CAS)
  • Siqi Zhang (Graduate Student in the College of Arts and Sciences)
    “Plant Specimen: Feature Detection with Machine Learning”
    Nominating Faculty: Ziba Cranmer (Director, BU Spark!)
  • Henghui Zhu (Graduate Student in Systems Engineering)
    “Clinical Concept Extraction and Contextual Word Embedding”
    Nominating Faculty: Yannis Paschalidis (Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, ENG)

Honorable Mention: Emma Weizenbaum

5:00 – 6:00 Reception & Student Poster Session


BUDS Day Co-Chairs

Lei Guo
Assistant Professor
College of Communication–Emerging Media Studies
Boston University

Vijaya Kolachalama
Assistant Professor
School of Medicine–Computational Biomedicine
Boston University

Evimaria Terzi
Associate Professor
College & Grad School of Arts & Sciences–Computer Science
Boston University






BUDS Day Officers & Prior Chairs

Azer Bestavros, William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor
Department of Computer Science, College of Arts & Sciences
Founding Director, Hariri Institute for Computing

John Byers, Data Science Faculty Fellow, Data Science Initiative
Department of Computer Science, College of Arts & Sciences
Interim Associate Dean of the MCS Faculty, CAS

Neha Gondal (2018 Co-Chair), Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology–College of Arts & Sciences

Brian Kulis (2018 Co-Chair), Paul J. Levine Career Development Assistant Professor
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering–College of Engineering

William Evan Johnson (2017 Co-Chair), Associate Professor
School of Medicine–Computational Biomedicine

Dylan Walker (2017 Co-Chair), Assistant Professor
Questrom School of Business–QST Information Systems

Dino Christenson (2016 Co-Chair), Associate Professor
College & Grad School of Arts & Sciences–Political Sciences

Prakesh Ishwar (2016 Co-Chair)Professor
College of Engineering–Ishwar Lab

2018 BUDS Day Attendee Reactions

  • “The event has become a tradition that reinforces the strengths of BU in high-level computation and machine learning sciences. This is crucial based on the initiatives that we have been implementing at the university, and relative to the universities stature in mathematics, computation, and science in general.”
  • The event was very successful and created a platform for researchers from different fields to get to know each other’s work and foster collaborations.”
  • The event was incredibly successful. On my panel alone learned a lot, and I found myself talking about other panels long after BUDS was over. I was particularly intrigued by Chris Schmidtt’s presentation. Having panelists from multiple disciplines is genius.”

Previous Years at BUDS Day

Data Science Defined

Methodological, generalizable, and scalable extraction of knowledge from data by developing and applying methods from computer science and statistics and by building software artifacts to collect, curate, analyze, mine, synthesize, and visualize various types of data.