In its effort to promote the research and development of data science methods in support of scientific research, the Academy of Data Science Discovery Fund has granted a pair of awards for the 2023-24 academic year.

The projects focus on the use of data science methods in the fields of chemistry and post-quantum cryptography.

The Academy of Data Science Discovery Fund was established in 2021 to support pilot studies, data collection, or data analysis that will enable eventual application for external interdisciplinary research funding.

Open to all College of Science faculty members, including collegiate and research faculty, the fund provides up to $10,000 to a single investigator and up to $20,000 for multiple investigators.

Recipients of this year’s awards are:

  • Emily Gentry, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry, for “Reverse Metabolomics to Map Host-Microbe Co-metabolism of Phytonutrients.” In her research, Gentry aims to discover and phenotype new dietary phytochemical metabolites in humans. Achieving this through data collection and analysis, the overall goal of the project is to better understand how interindividual differences in phytochemical metabolism modulate human health and potentially identify new biomarkers, biological pathways, and therapeutic targets. The award is $10,000.
  • Jason LeGrow, assistant professor, Department of Mathematics, and co-principal investigator Gretchen Matthews, professor, Department of Mathematics, and director of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative in Southwest Virginia, for “A Data Science Approach to Data Protection.” This collaboration is intended to address a pair of problems. The first is to construct exotic signatures – variants of digital signature protocols that offer enhanced functionality or modified security properties – for post-quantum blockchain. The second is to describe the growth of influences for families of spatially coupled codes. This project has the potential to open new possibilities for code-based cryptographic protocols. The award is $20,000.
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“Data science is essential to much of the research being conducted in the College of Science today,” said Tom Woteki, founding director of the Academy of Data Science. “With these awards, we are excited to support the investigators who are using data science to address significant issues in society.”

The Academy of Data Science was launched in 2020 to promote the application of data science methods to help solve scientific problems and foster the development of data science methods in support of science. An interdisciplinary hub for data science collaboration and research for faculty, it serves as the connective fabric between the College of Science and other Virginia Tech colleges and institutes in collaborating to develop new data science methodologies and applications.

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