U-M symposium focuses on how data can be used in service to others

February 10, 2020
Written By:
Laurel Thomas
  • umichnews@umich.edu


DATE: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Feb. 25, 2020

EVENT: The 3rd annual University of Michigan Data for Public Good Symposium will highlight the unique ways in which students, faculty, staff and community members have worked together to analyze and assess data to benefit others.

The event also includes a presentation by Data Driven Detroit, which provides accessible high-quality information and analysis to nonprofit organizations, foundations, universities, governments, businesses and individuals to drive informed decision-making in the city. The discussion will focus on how university/community groups can make the most of the 2020 census data, and how the community can prepare now for the 2030 census.

From the opioid and drinking water crises in nearby communities, to domestic violence shooting deaths in the United States, to environmental threats across the world, data is being used to inform policy and programing decisions for the public good.

Improving access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder is a project Marina Haque will highlight, one of two she was involved with featured at the symposium.

Haque, a dual-degree graduate student at the U-M Medical School and School of Public Health, worked on the opioid research with several U-M faculty and Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive of the state of Michigan, who leads the newly formed Michigan Opioids Task Force. Haque will detail the former team’s research and her current work during a talk “Analyzing Barriers to Accessing Medication-Assisted Therapy in Detroit for Opioid Use Disorder.”

Haque was part of a group that performed interviews with local and state government officials, addiction experts and health care providers, and performed a comprehensive literature review with the end goal to create a set of policy recommendations to increase access to medication-assisted treatment in Detroit and the state of Michigan.
She also is involved with Paani, an initiative to create sustainable, evidence-based solutions to increase access to clean water, reduce health disparities and advocate for gender equity locally and abroad.

“I recognize I am in a position of extreme privilege, likely amongst the top 1% educated in the world,” Haque said. “There have been so many people who have made it possible for women and minorities, such as myself, to be able to occupy spaces as highly esteemed as the University of Michigan. I aspire to always pay it forward as so many have done before me.”

Alice Lesemann-Elliott, a recent alumna with a master’s degree in conservation ecology and bachelor’s in environmental studies, will present “Science for the People: A Vision for Data Serving Grassroots Campaigns.”

When community groups have scientific needs, such as water testing, air quality testing or interpreting complex government documents, they can reach out to the group, which will use its database to match them with scientists who might be able to contribute skills or get involved with the group’s work.

Science for the People was created in the 1960s from scientists organizing against the Vietnam War, Lesemann-Elliott said. Today, the group focuses on “educating, agitating, and organizing, trying to make scientists understand the political ramifications of their work, and trying to fight the corruption of science by systems of power.”

“Like most scientists presenting, I care very deeply about public good and social justice,” Lesemann-Elliott said.

Other projects at this year’s event include:

  • The Flint Water Crisis: Data-Driven Solutions & Transparency
  • Development of Sustainable Sources of Clean Water and Sanitation Curricula in Rural Pakistan through Paani and Community Partners
  • Enhancing Opioid Overdose Response Strategies in Detroit
  • Pesticide Exposure Levels and Disease Biomarkers among Northern Thailand Farmworkers

Students will share some of their data-driven projects through a poster session, including:

  • Network-Based Matching of Patients and Targeted Therapies for Precision Oncology
  • The Experience of Diabetes and Weightloss in Genessee County Residents
  • Policy Predictors of Domestic-Violence Shooting Incidence in the United States, 2014-19
  • Mississippi Lead in Drinking Water Project
  • Developing Community-Academic Partnerships to Examine Local Food Environments in Detroit
  • Analysis of the Collection Process of the City of Dearborn’s Residential Recycling Program

PLACE: 10th floor of Weiser Hall, 500 Church St, Ann Arbor

SPONSORS: Statistics in the Community is the lead sponsor of the event that is hosted by the Michigan Institute for Data Science. Collaborators include Center for Education Design, Evaluation, and Research and the Community Technical Assistance Collaborative. Funding provided by the Michigan Institute for Data Science, School of Public Health’s Dean’s Fund and Rackham Student Government.