Letter from the Director

The Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) navigated another year of uncertainty, facing a series of unforeseen challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am immensely grateful to the MIDAS team, our affiliated faculty, and all of our partners for their diligent efforts to persevere. I greatly appreciate their ability to pivot successfully and continue to find innovative data science solutions to some of today’s most pressing challenges.

MIDAS partners with more than 420 affiliate faculty members from all schools and colleges across the Ann Arbor campus, and many from Dearborn and Flint. Their expertise encompasses theoretical foundations of data science, a wide range of data science and artificial intelligence methodology, and its applications in nearly all research areas. I am proud to share that with a strong 2021, MIDAS-led research has eclipsed 130 projects and received upwards of $120 million in support from external sponsors throughout the institute’s existence.

Some of our greatest accomplishments this year include:

  • Institute Framework for Integrative Data Equity Systems
    • A MIDAS-led team, backed by a National Science Foundation grant, is establishing a framework for a national institute that would prevent the misuse and misinterpretation of sensitive data by deploying new techniques and technologies that enable responsible data science, while establishing an interdisciplinary community focused on the study, design, deployment, and assessment of equitable data systems.
  • Data Science for the Social Good
    • MIDAS was provided a unique opportunity as the first academic partner in Microsoft’s initiative to expand digital equality in metropolitan areas, including Detroit (via Microsoft Airband), by improving broadband internet access and affordability in communities – particularly underserved areas with diverse populations.
  • Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic with Data Science
    • With data science methods at the core, seven MIDAS-funded teams worked to combat the pandemic in a variety of creative ways, such as identifying improved clinical decisions for in-patients, developing strategies to improve testing, generating data-driven guidance for social distancing and reopening, and aiding detection of high-risk communities, all while addressing inequality in healthcare and in society’s recovery. These projects demonstrate the resolve, expertise and creativity of U-M data scientists facing a global catastrophe. They lend us hope that science will help us prevail.
  • Reproducible data science and AI research
    • MIDAS continues to promote reproducible data science together with researchers in our community, through raising awareness, celebrating best practices, enabling the scholarly investigation of reproducible research, and developing tools that can be widely adopted.
  • Michigan Data Science Fellows
    • We provide outstanding young researchers with intensive data science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) experience as they ready themselves for independent research and faculty positions. Upon completing the program our Fellows have gone on to careers at Ford Motor Company and General Motors, as well as faculty positions at Penn State, Carnegie Mellon, the University of Texas-Austin, and right here at Michigan.
  • MIDAS intensifies support for research in four interconnected “pillars”
    • We unveiled the beginning of a new phase – MIDAS 3.0 – that will build on our previous success to pursue a new strategic goal: using focused “pillars” to achieve maximum impact, while continuing to support data science and AI research across the university broadly by promoting cutting-edge methodological work in data science and AI as the essential foundation.

I want to offer a sincere thank you to the MIDAS staff, affiliated faculty, students, and our 50-plus partners in industry, academia, government and nonprofit organizations. With your help, our work at MIDAS offers far-reaching positive impacts and ensures that Data Science research is enabled by real-world data and inspired by real-world challenges, and that research outcomes are translated into products, services and policies for positive social change.

Thank you!

H.V. Jagadish
MIDAS Director

Return to MIDAS 2021 Highlights