Catch the Replay! IDSC Day Showcased The U’s Interdisciplinary Research—Photos and VIDEOS

IDSC Day 2023

Catch the Replay! IDSC Day Showcased The U’s Interdisciplinary…

Marta Missiaggia has been a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Miami for over a year, but it wasn’t until she helped a friend search for a data science job at the University that she discovered the Frost Institute for Data Science & Computing (IDSC). She couldn’t believe what she stumbled upon.

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Missiaggia’s research in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Miller School of Medicine is focused on developing a new detector for proton radiation therapy treatments. But that research requires massive computational power and expertise in machine learning, skills that she and her colleagues don’t have. So when she heard about “IDSC Day”—an event held in the heart of the UM campus on September 28, 2023, to introduce the UM community to IDSC—Missiaggia raced over.

“I’d never heard of this institute,” Missiaggia, who holds a PhD in physics, said as she walked through rows of posters highlighting IDSC research projects. “I’m trying to see if there’s an opportunity to collaborate. I’d like to find a second mentor who can help me. There’s a lot of potential here.”

Missiaggia’s discovery was exactly what IDSC leaders were hoping to accomplish. The Institute has grown rapidly over the past four years, recruiting world class scientists and securing millions of dollars in research grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and others. But that expansion started just before the U.S. was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which sent most everyone into quarantine and forced IDSC’s growing stable of experts to work in the anonymity of their home offices.

Nick Tsinoremas, founding director of IDSC, said the Institute has the added challenge of having their experts spread out across UM’s three campuses in Coral Gables, Virginia Key, and the medical campus in downtown Miami. But he said events like IDSC Day, which was attended by more than 130 people, are helping to evolve the Institute beyond the “nucleation phase” into a more mature, well-known institute.

“This is our first opportunity to get to know each other, to see each other, to talk with each other,” Tsinoremas told the crowd gathered for the event. “Hopefully, we can make this a tradition.”

Guillermo PradoGuillermo “Willy” Prado, the University’s chief academic officer who serves as interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, told the crowd that he had worked with members of the IDSC team since their early years when the Institute was known as the Center for Computational Science. “IDSC is a gem,” Prado said. “The University is very committed to data science and computing. My colleagues and I have benefited greatly from the work that IDSC has done in the past. And I’m looking forward to seeing all the great work that’s going to come out of IDSC in the coming years.”

Throughout IDSC Day, members of the Institute presented their latest research during a series of lectures. Dozens of projects were outlined on posters and visitors were allowed to play with some hands-on projects, including a virtual reality program where users “paddle” through Miami’s waterways to learn the value of mangroves.

But one of IDSC’s main goals is to spread the gospel of data science beyond the Institute to every corner of the U. The Institute has brought on a series of joint-appointments in recent years—researchers who split their time between IDSC and another school or department at UM. “We’re hoping that these faculty members will attract attention and people will reach out to them and collaborate,” said Ben Kirtman, deputy director of IDSC.

That’s why much of the focus of IDSC Day was on the unique partnerships, collaborations, and grant programs offered by IDSC for students, faculty, and researchers at UM. Abigail Fleming, associate director of the Environmental Justice Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law, showed off an interactive data tool created in conjunction with IDSC that allows builders, politicians, and residents of Miami-Dade County to measure the real-world costs when new construction projects displace residents. Lynn Perry, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, explained how she worked with IDSC to develop a computer-based tracking system to better understand how preschoolers communicate. And Samantha Ballard, a postdoctoral research associate at the Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science, explained how a 2023 grant from IDSC allowed her to hire an intern and receive the computational assistance she needed to advance her research into atmospheric gravity waves in tropical cyclones.

“People could see data science as a barrier if they’re not already involved in it, so the fact that IDSC is interdisciplinary is great,” Ballard said after her presentation. “I liked the setup with IDSC. I’d like to stay involved.”

Sierra BainterSierra Bainter, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, has been using IDSC resources for years. As a quantitative psychologist, she and her research assistant have used the Triton supercomputer to run their data and have received help from IDSC experts to make that process work. But Bainter, who prefers working in teams rather than doing solo projects, attended IDSC Day to meet their experts in machine learning and see if there are other ways they can collaborate. “I was able to connect directly with IDSC staff to learn more and ask questions about supercomputing resources, onboarding, and consulting,” she said.

Interactions like those, Tsinoremas said, show why IDSC Day will likely return in 2024. “This is our first,” he said. “It’s not going to be our last.”


Story by Alan Gomez | Videos produced by Explica Media Solutions


IDSC Day Presentations

IDSC Core Faculty Members

IDSC Fellows Program

IDSC Collaborative Data Science Awardees



Full IDSC Day Playlist

IDSC Core Faculty Members

  1. Mingzhe Chen (15:30)
  2. Ching-Hua Chuan (14:04)
  3. David R. Chapman (17:28)
  4. Samuel Goldberg (17:23)

IDSC Fellows Program

  1. Sadegh Tale Masoule (10:48)

IDSC Collaborative Data Science Awardees

  1. Lynn K. Perry (15:20)
  2. Francisco Cardozo [Eric Brown] (8:26) (
  3. Samantha Ballard (9:07)
  4. Vanessa Aguiar-Pulido (17:23)
  5. Abigail Fleming (11:05)

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