Kumar Lab Alumni Win $1M USAID Grand Challenge Award

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November 1, 2016

Department of Computer Science and Engineering and Kumar Lab alumni James Faghmous and Matthew Le are part of a team that has been selected as one of the winners of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) “Grand Challenge to Combat Zika and Future Threats.” The award sought up and coming innovators to address outbreak of Zika in hopes that the work will provide solutions to manage Zika outbreaks and other infectious disease.

"By working together with leading innovators and our partners in government, business, and civil society, we will quickly scale up new innovations to help communities everywhere including the world's most vulnerable to combat Zika and prevent future outbreaks,” said Wendy Taylor, Director, Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact at USAID in the press release.   

The award includes $1M to help fund the team pilot their ATLAS spatial platform to monitor Zika in Guatemala.  The team’s approach uses telecom data, collected from mobile phones, to enhance Zika surveillance, thereby mapping the risk of international disease spread using data visualization and social mobilization.

To help the team carry out their work, Digital Globe is providing them with the highest available resolution for civilian imagery.

Much of the early inspiration for this kind of research was conducted by Faghmous and Le here at the University of Minnesota, where they were mentored by CS&E faculty on spatiotemporal data mining.

Please join the Department in sending our congratulations to Faghmous and Le for taking on a global challenge.

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