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The South Big Data Hub’s Program to Empower Partnerships with Industry (PEPI) pairs early career faculty and researchers throughout the South with Industry Partners and support their travel to make collaboration possible. The program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Computing Community Consortium (CCC), UnitedHealthCare Group and McKesson Corporation. Through PEPI, the South Hub provided funding to support data-intensive fellowships with industry for early career faculty, research scientists, and postdocs. Each award provided the recipient with up to $15,000 of travel and salary support to pay for their full-time effort for 2 – 5 weeks working at the company site.

The 2016 PEPI Fellows and Companies

Gerard Dumancas, PhD


Gerard Dumancas, PhD

Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Louisiana State University, Alexandria

Project Title: Use of data analytics for moisture prediction during tablet granulation.

Host company: GlaxoSmithKline


Soomin Lee, PhD


Soomin LeePhD

Postdoctoral Associate, Duke University

Project Title: Optimal Parallel Methods to Speed Up Big Data Processing.

Host company: McKesson Corporation


Ragib Hasan, PhD


Ragib Hasan, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer & Information Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Project Title: Big Data Analytics for CyberCrime: A Scalable Authorship Attribution Approach Towards Real-time Detection and Classification of Malicious Emails.

Host company: PhishMe, Inc.


Xia (Ben) Hu, PhD


Xia (Ben) Hu, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science & Engineering, College of Engineering, Texas A&M University.

Project Title: Anomaly Detection in Large Graphs.

Host company: UnitedHealthcare


Meng Li, PhD


Meng LiPhD

Assistant Professor,  Department of Statistical Science,  Duke University

Project Title: Statistical Analysis on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Host company: Biogen


Yongchao Liu, PhD


Yongchao Liu, PhD

Research Scientist II, School of Computational Science & Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology.

Project Title: Compressive Computing for Big Data Applications Based on Accelerators.

Host company: Accelogic


David Gotz, PhD


David Gotz, PhD

Assistant Professor, School of Library & Information Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Project: Applying Scalable Temporal Visual Analytics Methods to Complex Health Analytics Challenges.

Host company: Allscripts


Turgay Ayer, PhD


Turgay Ayer, PhD

Assistant Professor, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Project Title: Sequential blood pressure monitoring based on data from wearables.

Host company: UnitedHealthcare


Hui Wang, PhD


Hui WangPhD

Assistant Professor, Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering, Florida State University

Project Tilte: Big Data Analytics for Cost-Effective Load Control in Wind Farm Based On Distributed ITOFPress Sensors.

Host company: Nanotechnology Patronas Group



All of the PEPI Faculty Fellows plan to continue their research relationship with industry after the completion of the PEPI program. Some examples of how the program impacted faculty research and bridged a critical gap between sectors are provided below.

“PEPI was valuable because it provided the funds needed for prolonged deep-dive discussions between industry and academic experts. In my past experience, these conversations have been limited to a short meeting or perhaps a day-long event of some kind. However, having several consecutive days or weeks to meet, brainstorm, and develop a long term plan was invaluable.”
– David Gotz, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“The interaction with the Hub helps me find new applications in applying my expertise to industry big data. I have experience in spatiotemporal data modeling, monitoring, and diagnosis based on distributed sensing. This opportunity provides opportunities to demonstrate my relevant expertise in the green energy industry. This PEPI program motivates me to seek diverse industry big data problems, thereby expanding my career opportunities.
– Hui Wang, Florida State University

“I benefited greatly from the support from the Big Data Hub under PEPI. I am always interested in malware analysis, but this field is dominated by commercial vendors. It is difficult to get university support in creating the large-scale data collection and analysis infrastructure that industry can provide. PEPI has enabled me to get in touch with this industry.”
–Ragib Hasan, University of Alabama at Birmingham

“I successfully received real-world data from UHC to significantly facilitate the progress of my ongoing project. By working with those folks, we are interested in continuing the collaboration towards other topics as well.”
–Xia (Ben) Hu, Texas A&M University

Original Program Announcement:

Date Published
Sunday, September 1, 2019 - 12:00 pm