Week ending April 27, 2018

Lehigh Announces Interdisciplinary Research Institutes
Lehigh University News – 4/27/18
Lehigh has announced the formation of three Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IRIs): the Institute for Functional Materials and Devices, the Institute for Data, Intelligent Systems, and Computation, and the Institute for Cyber–Physical Infrastructure and Energy. Lehigh’s IRIs will create communities of scholars and will catalyze crucial research in areas in which Lehigh can take a leading position on the national and international stage and make lasting societal contributions. 
“The power of interdisciplinary collaboration is central to Lehigh’s vision and culture,” said Lehigh President John D. Simon. “Interdisciplinary research is society’s best hope for addressing our most vexing challenges. Lehigh’s investment in this space is a critical component of our commitment to educate students and create knowledge that will have a lasting impact on society.” Read more

Mining the data
EurekAlert! – 4/24/18
Although Pennsylvania’s vast coal resources have been mined since before the creation of the United States, protection of the environment from the effects of mining have slowly evolved and expanded since the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act of 1945. Act 54 of 1994 amended the Commonwealth’s mining statutes to include a new set of repair and compensation provisions for structures and water supplies impacted by underground mining. Under the Act 54 amendments, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is required to assess the implementation of the new repair and compensation provisions every five years. Since 2009 the University of Pittsburgh has helped to mine the data that shapes how the Commonwealth conducts this assessment and responds to the concerns of individuals and industry. An interdisciplinary team of researchers led by the University of Pittsburgh has begun the fifth report, due August 2019, on “The Effects of Subsidence Resulting from Underground Bituminous Coal Mining on Surface Structures and Features and on Water Resources: Fifth Act 54 Five-year Report.” Read more

U of L Researchers Get $11 Million Federal Grant to study Microbiome
89.3 WFPL – 4/24/18
The University of Louisville is the recipient of a huge and prestigious federal grant to establish an interdisciplinary program to research bacteria. U of L will get $11.2 million over the next five years to study both the good and bad bacteria that either help or hurt our bodies’ ability to ward off disease, otherwise known as the microbiome. Some of the grant money, given by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, will go to the dentistry and medicine schools. Researchers there plan on exploring the bodies’ bacteria in relationship to arthritis, Parkinson’s and other diseases. Other funds are going to the U of L School of Engineering to research a new treatment for a condition called bacterial vaginosis. Read more

Using data science to improve public policy
MIT News – 4/23/18
100 researchers and students from MIT and six other universities gathered on campus this April for the first weekend-long MIT Policy Hackathon. This interdisciplinary event teamed data science, engineering, and policy students to explore solutions to real societal challenges submitted by sponsor organizations. The hackathon, subtitled “Data to Decisions,” was organized and run by students from MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS). Participants used datasets provided by nonprofit, education, and government institutions to pitch solutions to complex challenges in cybersecurity, health, energy and climate, transportation, and the future of work. A panel of judges evaluated the pitches and read final policy proposals. “It’s a different type of hackathon in that it is focused on public policy outcomes,” says Amy Umaretiya, a student organizer with IDSS’s Master’s program in Technology and Policy (TPP). “We have these concrete challenges put forth by organizations that have data analytics needs for social good that aren’t being met.” Read more 

Nursing schools across country work to combat the opioid epidemic
The Daily Tar Heel – 4/25/18
In light of the growing national opioid epidemic, several nursing schools are taking steps to prepare nurses to combat the evolving medical challenges presented by opioid misuse. Peggy Compton has only been a nursing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school for one year but is already partnering up with Heath Schmidt, a nursing professor at the university, to teach an undergraduate class, Opioids: From Receptors to Epidemic, in the fall. “We hope to have a very interdisciplinary student cohort, with students from policy, students who won’t necessarily be health professionals, students in anthropology, who knows,” Compton said. “We wanted to open it up to everybody to make it not just nursing specific. Our hope is that we can have students who can attack this issue from all different levels.” Read more