MDI Kicks Off Semester with Faculty Luncheon

Written by Tilde Jaques, MDI Journalism Intern

With over thirty faculty attending, the Massive Data Institute (MDI) kicked off the fall semester with a faculty luncheon on Friday, September 1, 2023. The Luncheon attracted faculty from many different backgrounds, including affiliated faculty, research fellows, and other non-affiliated interested faculty members, who came together to discuss their research.

The luncheon was an opportunity for faculty to learn more about MDI and for affiliated faculty to reconnect and brainstorm about types of data and research MDI can support this academic year. 

At the Luncheon, Dr. Lisa Singh shared the mission of MDI, and highlighted research led by various faculty and affiliates, and the possible impact of this research. 

Among attendees was Ali Arab, Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Director of Graduate Studies, and an affiliated faculty of MDI. He works alongside Dr. Singh and Professor Katharine Donato on a forced migration project for which he does statistical modeling. He describes his work with MDI as “a great opportunity and a great environment for interdisciplinary scholarship and research.” Additionally, Professor Arab explained that for this project, MDI has a working relationship and a formal memorandum of understanding with UNHCR. He expects that their work “will not only improve scholarly understanding of forced migration but also have an impact on informing policymakers.” To learn more about this project, click here

The Faculty Luncheon attracted not only current affiliates and fellows of MDI, but also other Georgetown faculty who came to learn more about MDI. One such faculty member was Marie Hallward-Driemeier, Professor of the Practice of International Economics at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. She explained that she “came to learn more about data sources and opportunities” for her own research, which she described as “understanding how digital technology is impacting jobs, job creation, [and] job destruction, particularly in developing countries.”

Another MDI Faculty Affiliate, Robin Dillon-Merrill, Professor and Area Coordinator for the Operations and Information Management Group in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, is working with an  MDI Scholar this semester. Her research focuses on reporting around safety incidents. Dillion-Merrill and her MDI Scholar will focus on commercial airline incident reporting first, because she says “[commercial airlines] get over 50,000 reports a year in big text fields, so we want to help understand more about what’s going on.”

With Faculty Affiliates from across campus, Fellows, and Scholars MDI is working to find ways to connect faculty to new data sources that can be used to inform public policy.