UTD Researchers Win $400,000 NSF Grant
To Improve Analysis of Environment, Health Data

Trio to Bring Elements of Place and Time to Information Retrieval

RICHARDSON, Texas (Nov. 21, 2005) – A trio of researchers from The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant worth nearly $400,000 to develop sophisticated techniques to better analyze data related to environmental and public health issues – including, possibly, the spread of avian, or bird, flu.

The three-year grant, which totals $397,500, will fund a study led by Dr. Weili Wu, assistant professor of computer science in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UTD.  Wu, the project’s principal investigator, will be joined in the research by two of her colleagues – Dr. Edwin Sha, professor of computer science in the Jonsson School and Dr. Fang Qiu, assistant professor of geographic information sciences in UTD’s School of Social Sciences.

Dr. Weili Wu
Dr. Weili Wu, assistant professor of computer science in the Erik Jonsson School at UTD, will conduct research with two of her colleagues to develop better analysis of data related to public health issues.

Just the title of the study – “Efficient Spatial-Temporal Analysis of Environment and Public Health Related Data” – might be enough to intimidate many non-scientists.  Wu explained that spatial-temporal analysis “incorporates the elements of place and time” in the manipulation of large data sets.

“This project aims to develop advanced techniques to improve the retrieval of information based on spatial and temporal similarity in order to better characterize existing trends and predict future trends in a wide range of domains.”

Wu said that the UTD team’s work would include both theoretical research and empirical studies.  Among other things, the trio will produce an estimate of the numbers and locations of bird habitats for an investigation of the spread of avian flu and do an analysis of the impact of ozone in the atmosphere on hospital admissions for asthma.

While the UTD study will focus on data related to the environment and public health, Wu said that the results could have broad applications in a number of other fields, such as public safety, transportation, real estate management and business logistics.

“We believe the solutions proposed by my colleagues and I will promote a more effective use of geospatial data to support informed decision making in these and other areas,” Wu said.

Wu joined the UTD faculty in the fall of 2002.  Her major research interest is databases, particularly data mining and distributed database systems.  She received a Ph.D. degree in computer science and engineering from The University of Minnesota in 2002.

About UTD

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls nearly 14,500 students.  The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores.  The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs.  For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s website at www.utdallas.edu.