Drawing on her international leadership in data science and computing, Knight Foundation Chair of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, Yelena Yesha, PhD, encouraged University of Miami students to “dream big” at the State of the University Town Hall Panel on Innovation (virtual and in-person) on Tuesday evening, September 28, 2021.
“Be prepared to take a giant leap, because
there is no progress without innovation.”
“Be prepared to take a giant leap, because there is no progress without innovation,” said Dr. Yesha, who is the Institute for Data Science and Computing’s (IDSC) first endowned Knight Chair, IDSC Innovation Officer and Head of International Relations, Director of the IDSC AI + Machine Learning program, Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Computer Science, and Founding Director of the National Science Foundation’s Center for Accelerated Real Time Analytics (CARTA).
Dr. Yesha contributed her insights during the panel discussion on innovation within the UM community, South Florida, and around the world. Norma Sue Kenyon, PhD, Vice Provost for Innovation and Chief Innovation Officer of the Miller School of Medicine, welcomed the panelists: Dr. Yesha; Brian Breslin, MBA, Director of The Launch Pad (University of Miami Entrepreneurship Center); Niani Mays, President of UM chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers; and Willis Jones, PhD, Associate Professor of Higher Education, UM School of Education and Human Development, Educational & Psychological Studies.
“Today’s students need to understand
how to apply technology in their careers.”
University President Julio Frenk, MD, MPPH, PhD, kicked off the panel discussion by noting Dr. Yesha’s contributions to blockchain technology, personalized health care, smart cities, and other fields. “What are some examples of your health-related research?” he asked.
Dr. Yesha said she is leading several data-related projects at IDSC. “We are focusing on identifying and diagnosing COVID-19 cases at an early stage using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI),” she said. “We are also joining with leading medical schools across the country to combat health disparities, and collaborating with researchers in Europe and Israel on studies related to aging. We want to understand how people can age gracefully, which is now a global theme for the World Health Organization (WHO).”
“We have proven that safeguarding health and
growing prosperity are not mutually exclusive.”
Later in the discussion, Dr. Yesha noted the importance of applying data science to a wide range of disciplines, including business, education, and the arts and sciences. “Today’s students need to understand how to apply technology in their careers,” she said. “That is crucial for ongoing innovation, as we address and adapt to changes in the future.”
In his talk, Dr. Frenk emphasized the strength and resilience of the UM community in the face of the public health, economic, and social justice challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted the contributions of many “unsung heroes” in keeping the University moving forward during the past 18 months and he applauded the resilience of faculty, staff, and students. “We have proven that safeguarding health and growing prosperity are not mutually exclusive,” he said. “In fact, the attainment of one can reinforce the other.”
Dr. Frenk also noted UM’s deep commitment to advancing social justice, as well as making technology a force for fairness. “We must become the connective university, bringing together research and service, science and humanities, geographies and generations,” he said. “We look forward with optimism to an ever-brighter future.”
STORY by Richard Westlund
Photo Gallery Source and Additional Coverage: “State of the U Highlights Resilience, Future Initiatives” by Robert C. Jones, Jr.