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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.

Top Research Symposium Posters Recognized

Three undergraduate students were honored for outstanding posters at the fourth annual Summer Research Symposium as part of the Charlotte Research Scholars program. More than 100 students competed in the competition presenting on a broad range of topics of scholarly inquiry.

This year’s Best Poster winners were: Alexis Friesz for "Hunger and Food Insecurity among College Students: Understanding the Problem and Identifying Solutions" in the category social sciences, humanities, education, business and arts (Kim Buch, mentor); Kenneth Panora for "Effective Treatment of Malignant Ovarian Cancer Cells by Means of Nanoparticle Coated Aptamers" in the natural sciences and public health category (Christine Richardson, mentor); and Eli Bostian for "Electrical Properties of Simple Devices Glued with D-Sorbitol Doped PEDOT:PSS" in the engineering, nanomaterials and computing category.

"Undergraduate research through the Charlotte Research Scholars program enhances the student learning experience and expands the intellectual vitality of the University. Undergraduate researchers tackle important, real-world questions ranging from how to improve K-12 education to improving disease prevention and from enhancing the livability of urban communities to understanding and protecting the environment," explained Tom Reynolds, Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School.