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Data Science Class Investigating N.C. Shark Attacks

After weeks of research, graduate students in the UNC Charlotte course "Knowledge Discovery in Databases" have analyzed diverse data sets related to sharks and have discovered certain patterns emerge. There appears to be a correlation between the frequency of shark attacks and the phases of the moon, with attacks more prevalent around the time of the full moon. Other factors like tourism, crab population and sea temperature also appear in decision trees and rules that were part of the research process.

Adjunct faculty member Pamela Thompson is the instructor for the class, which is part of UNC Charlotte’s Data Science Initiative. She cautioned that the study was for a class project and not vetted, peer-reviewed research; she hopes that the project will lead to a formal and more thorough research study with collaboration among many.

"Student decisions on features to use, preprocessing and cleansing the data and even the choice of mining algorithms can affect the outcomes in either a positive and negative way," stated Thompson. She added swimmers should always be careful in the water, particularly with the increase in the number of attacks in North Carolina this year.

CCI to use NSF Grant to Transform Education

The College of Computing and Informatics (CCI) has received a five-year, $2 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation to fund "The Connected Learner: Design Patterns for Transforming Computing and Informatics Education." This project is a reorientation of undergraduate computing and informatics education to focus on student learning that connects to peers, the profession and the community.

"The project vision is to transform the student entering an undergraduate computing and informatics program from a person with an interest in computing to a person with an identity as a computing professional," said project principal investigator Mary Lou Maher, professor and chair of the Department of Software and Information Systems. "The project will transform faculty attitudes toward education, shifting their attitudes and behaviors away from knowledge transmission and lecturing toward a refreshed approach of developing educational activities that scaffold the computing knowledge and skills to build successful computing professionals."