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Using a Virtual Ecological Research Assistant (VERA) to explain the impact of social distancing

COVID-19 continues to spread across the country and around the world. The current strategy for managing the spread of COVID-19 is social distancing, and a new white paper from Georgia Tech applies the use of an interactive Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool to conceptualize the impact of social distancing on the spread of COVID-19.

Funded with a South Big Data Hub SPOKE grant, the Virtual Ecological Research Assistant (VERA) is web application that enables users to construct conceptual models of ecological systems, and run interactive simulations of these models. This allows users to explore ecological systems and perform “what if” experiments to either explain an existing ecological system or attempt to predict the outcome of future changes to one.

Researchers using VERA have now documented utilizing the tool to develop develop a SIR model for the spread of COVID-19 and its relationship with healthcare capacity.

Read the full white paper here.

Spoke Project Addresses COVID-19 with VERA

The NSF Spoke Project ‘Using Big Data for Environmental Sustainability: Big Data + AI Technology = Accessible, Usable, Useful Knowledge’ has repurposed VERA to model the effect of social distancing on the spread of COVID-19, including the SIR model of epidemiology. VERA enables a user to build conceptual models and agent-based simulations, and conduct “what if” virtual experiments.

Read the white paper abstract below:

COVID-19 continues to spread across the country and around the world. Current strategies for managing the spread of COVID-19 include social distancing. We present VERA, an interactive AI tool, that first enables users to specify conceptual models of the impact of social distancing on the
spread of COVID-19. Then, VERA automatically spawns agent-based simulations from the conceptual models, and, given a data set, automatically fills in the values of the simulation parameters
from the data. Next, the user can view the simulation results, and, if needed, revise the simulation parameters and run another experimental trial, or build an alternative conceptual model. We describe
the use VERA to develop a SIR model for the spread of COVID-19 and its relationship with healthcare capacity.

View the project and white paper ‘VERA_Epidemiology – White Paper 1: Using VERA to explain the impact of social distancing on the spread of COVID-19 HERE

(CLOSED) The Program to Empower Partnerships with Industry and Government (PEPI-G) Applications CLOSED

Applications are closed!

PEPI-G supports data faculty members, research scientists, postdocs, and graduate and undergraduate students from across the country in working on high level problems for the federal government. Our 2020 program partner is the Department of Homeland Security – Advanced Research Projects Agency (DHS-ARPA).  

Qualifying applicants must be: (1) a US CITIZEN, (2) an academic professional (i.e. faculty, post-doctoral researcher, research scientist, graduate student, or rising junior and senior undergraduates), (3) able to pass a DHS background check (suitability) and (4) able to live and work in Washington D.C. for the duration of the fellowship.

Applicants can request 3-6 months for the fellowship.

Selected individuals will receive a stipend of $5000/month to off-set travel costs for relocating to Washington DC. 

For questions feel free to contact South Big Data Hub Program Coordinator, Kendra Lewis-Strickland at klewis-strickland@gatech.edu.