Abstract — The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges for colleges and universities regarding risks for transmission on campuses and in surrounding communities, particularly as they relate to decisions about reopening and bringing students to campus for in-person instruction. This panel brings together experts from Sociology, Computer Science, and Epidemiology for an interdisciplinary discussion of strategies to approach these challenges using computational and data-driven approaches.
Andrew Lover is an assistant professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, at UMass Amherst. His research covers a broad range of infectious disease epidemiology, including disease surveillance and forecasting; vector-borne disease; and the design, implementation, and analysis of complex epidemiological studies, in both domestic and global contexts. He is part of a UMass team that designed and maintains the UMass Amherst COVID-19 Dashboard; and a member of the UMass COVID Epidemiology and Public Health Response Groups . Among other local and state-level response activities, he is also leading a team of UMass researchers studying the levels of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) exposure on campus and throughout Massachusetts through a study that enrolled the campus community to test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.
Kim Weeden is Jan Rock Zubrow ’77 Professor of the Social Sciences and Director of the Center for the Study of Inequality at Cornell University. Her research investigates income inequality, gender, social class, and education. Her research mainly is quantitative and uses large-scale, nationally representative surveys. In May 2020 she published the article “The Small-World Network of College Classes: Implications for Epidemic Spread on a University Campus,” in Sociological Science with Benjamin Cornwell, which documented the structure of enrollment networks that connect students and classes using enrollment data for more than 22,000 Cornell students.
Prashant Shenoy is Distinguished Professor and Associate Dean in the College of Information and Computer Sciences at UMass Amherst. His research focuses on systems issues for distributed systems ranging from large server clusters to networks of small sensors. Current research projects in his lab include (i) cloud and edge computing, (ii) mobile computing and Internet of Things, and (iii) energy and sustainability. He is director of the Center for Smart and Connected Society, which released a new digital contact-tracing technique that is based on widely-deployed Wi-Fi technology. They intend the open-source software tool to help universities and colleges deploy campus contact tracing as students return under special pandemic management rules.