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Data Science for the Public Good Symposium 2023: Keynote Speaker Marc Ruggiano

Event Details

Thursday, August 3, 2023
1:00pm-3:45pm Eastern Time (ET)

Biocomplexity Institute*
1100 Wilson Blvd. Suite 2910
Arlington, VA 22209

*Upon Arrival at 1100 Wilson Blvd, please proceed to the security desk at the top of the escalator. A staff member will meet you to take you up to the SDAD office suite.

Please join us for our annual Data Science for the Public Good Symposium, a hybrid event featuring keynote speaker Marc Ruggiano, Administrative Director of the Darden Collaboratory of Applied Science and Lecturer at the School of Data Science at the University of Virginia and Lecturer at the Darden School of Business. This event features Data Science for the Public Good (DSPG) Young Scholars Program research presentations. Our DSPG Program is a summer program for undergraduate and graduate students from across the country. The program brings together and engages students on research projects that address state, federal, and local government challenges around critical social issues relevant in the world today.

We hope you will attend this exciting event!

Registration is required.

If you cannot attend in person, please use this link to attend virtually.


1:00 PM - 1:10 PM: Welcome
1:10 PM - 2:10 PM: Symposium Keynote
2:10 PM - 2:15 PM: Q&A
2:15 PM - 2:30 PM: Break with light refreshments
2:30 PM - 3:45 PM: Student presentations

Marc Ruggiano HeadshotKeynote Speaker: Marc Ruggiano, Inaugural Director of the UVA Darden Collaboratory for Applied Data Science and Lecturer, School of Data Science; Lecturer, Darden School of Business
Talk Title: Healthy Choices: Understanding and influencing health decision-making to improve health, increase equity, and improve performance.
Abstract: The healthcare system in the United States is expensive, with spending averaging more than $11,500 per capita and totaling 16.8% of GDP in 2019, exceeding the OECD averages of $4,087 and 8.8% respectively. In addition, investment in medical and health research and development approached $200 billion in 2019, or about 1% of US GDP.  Despite spending and investment that far exceed the rest of the world, life expectancy in the United States is 78.7 years at birth and ranks 26th of 37 OECD countries.

While some Americans lack access to the care they need to be their healthiest, many have most or all of the tools that are required, including some of the best nurses, doctors, tests and treatments in the world. The same is true of many other determinants of health. Many, but not all, Americans also have access to clean water and air, healthy food, sufficient shelter and protection from harm, and the opportunity to be active and social.

So, why aren’t Americans the healthiest and longest lived in the world? And why isn’t the system of healthcare in the United States the model for all others? Among the factors that contribute to this underperformance is one that is both easy to grasp and nearly impossible to understand. Americans are not the healthiest people, in part, because we choose not to be.

All too often, we choose to behave in ways that diminish our health or forego actions that would improve it. Understanding the determinants of these seemingly irrational choices may allow us to develop targeted interventions that positively influence decision-making and help to mitigate the impacts of the acute emergencies, chronic health crises, and health disparities that threaten the well-being of individuals, the vibrancy of our communities, and the viability of our healthcare system.

In this talk, we will explore several examples of the ways that data science is contributing to our understanding of and ability to influence health-related choice behavior, and discuss some of the potential implications for practitioners, educators and policy makers.

Project Descriptions

U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences
DSPG Young Scholars: Nakshatra Yalagach, Sara Shallenberger
Sponsor: Andrew Slaughter

U.S. Census Bureau
DSPG Young Scholars: Jianing Cai, Marijke van der Geer

U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service
DSPG Young Scholars: Annie Xie​, Steve Zhou​
Sponsor: John Pender

Social Impact Data Commons
DSPG Young Scholars: Anjali Mehta, Prashanth Wagle, Trinity Chamblin
Sponsor: Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth

Biokind Analytics
DSPG Young Scholars: Anjali Mehta, Annie Xie, Jianing Cai, Marijke van der Geer, Nakshatra Yalagach, Kate Lanman, Prashanth Wagle, Sara Shallenberger, Steve Zhou, Trinity Chamblin
Sponsor: Alex Han

Please check out more information about the Data Science for the Good Forum.

Want to support the Data Science for the Public Good Forum? We appreciate gifts of any size and ask that you make a note in the special instructions to: "allocate funds to Data Science for the Public Good." Thank you for your support.