News and Awards

As of July 1st, 2018, Daniel will be leaving CMU to join New York University, as Associate Professor of Computer Science and Public Service, in NYU’s Courant Institute Department of Computer Science and Wagner School of Public Service, and Associate Professor of Urban Analytics, in NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress. Please direct all correspondence to

Our pre-syndromic surveillance project was selected as the runner-up in the Department of Homeland Security’s Hidden Signals Challenge, a nationwide system design competition which focuses on detecting emerging bio-threats in real time. Here is the link to the winner announcement. Congratulations to Daniel and Mallory!

Congratulations to William Herlands on winning the 2018 George Duncan Award, presented yearly to Heinz College’s best Second Heinz Research Paper. This is William’s second Best Heinz Paper award, and the sixth for the lab since 2012!

Daniel is guest co-editor of a special issue of GeoInformatica on “Analytics for Local Events and News”. Submissions are due August 15th. Please feel free to distribute this call for papers. Note that all papers should be submitted through the Springer GeoInformatica website.

Our “pre-syndromic surveillance” team (Daniel Neill and Mallory Nobles) has been named one of five first-stage winners of the Department of Homeland Security’s Hidden Signals Challenge, pioneering new ways to detect emerging biothreats.

Thanks to Randy Rieland at for a thought-provoking article on fairness and bias in predictive policing. The article highlights some of the design decisions we’ve made to try to mitigate bias in CrimeScan/CityScan while (correctly) pointing out some of the challenges to ensuring fairness in algorithmic decision-making. Algorithmic fairness has been an active research topic in our lab (see our paper on auditing black-box algorithms for fairness and bias here) as well as the growing community researching fairness, accountability, and transparency in machine learning.

Congratulations to William Herlands (and fellow Joint PhD in Machine Learning and Public Policy student Maria de Arteaga) for organizing a very successful NIPS Workshop on Machine Learning for the Developing World. William and EPD Lab alumnus Skyler Speakman were featured in a very nice article on Quartz.

Daniel is excited to visit the International Monetary Fund next spring, to give an invited seminar on “Machine Learning, Big Data, and Development”.

Daniel gave the opening keynote talk, “Event and Pattern Detection at the Societal Scale”, at the ACM SIGSPATIAL Workshop on Learning from Events and News (LENS 2017), held in Redondo Beach, CA on 11/7/17.

Our crime prediction work in Pittsburgh was recently featured on NBC News.

Our rodent prevention work was recently featured in an article on CityLab. According to the article, “The city of Chicago is still running Neill’s predictive analytics approach and has touted that it’s 20 percent more effective than the traditional method of baiting rats after they’ve been discovered.”

Congratulations to Dylan Fitzpatrick and William Herlands for winning first place in three categories of the NIJ Crime Forecasting Challenge! Dylan and William received prize money totaling $30,000!

Congratulations to Seth Flaxman on his new faculty position, as a lecturer in statistics and data science at Imperial College London!

Daniel has recently been named Associate Editor of three journals: Security Informatics, ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems, and Decision Sciences.

Our paper on Semantic Scan: Detecting Subtle, Spatially Localized Events in Text Streams was named the winner of this year’s Yelp Dataset Challenge. Our approach for identifying emerging topics can be used both for public health (detecting “novel” outbreaks with rare or previously unseen symptom patterns) as well as identifying emerging regional business trends. Thanks to both Yelp and CMU for their very nice press coverage of this work!

Our crime prediction work with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police was featured in an editorial in the 30 Sep 2016 issue of Science.

Congratulations to William Herlands on winning the 2016 Suresh Konda Award, presented yearly to Heinz College’s best First Heinz Research Paper.

Our comprehensive review article, “Youth violence: what we know and what we need to know”, was featured in a press release by the American Psychological Association. The article was published in the January 2016 issue of the APA’s flagship journal, American Psychologist, and is available here.

We are grateful to the Richard King Mellon Foundation for their support of our project, “Urban Predictive Analytics for a Safer and Cleaner Pittsburgh”, as part of the award, “Metro21: Knowledge-Powered Pittsburgh to Improve Urban Quality of Life”. More information on this project is available here.

What can machine learning do for the healthcare industry? Here are some examples from our work, presented as part of the UPMC Enterprises “Inspiration, Innovation, and Excellence” talk series. And here is a related summary of our recent work and ongoing projects in healthcare and other domains.

Congratulations to Dr. Sriram Somanchi on the successful defense of his Ph.D. thesis, “Detecting Anomalous Patterns in Health Care Data”, on December 3rd, 2015! Sriram will be joining the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business as a tenure-track assistant professor in January 2016.

Congratulations to Dr. Seth Flaxman on the successful defense of his Ph.D. thesis, “Machine Learning in Space and Time: Spatiotemporal Learning and Inference with Gaussian Processes and Kernel Methods”, on August 5th, 2015! Seth will be joining Oxford University’s Department of Statistics as a postdoctoral fellow, working with Prof. Yee Whye Teh, in the fall.

Our paper, “Penalized Fast Subset Scanning”, in the Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics, was selected for the “Best of JCGS” invited session at the 45th Symposium on the Interface of Computing Science and Statistics by the journal’s editor in chief.

Congratulations to Dr. Edward McFowland III on the successful defense of his Ph.D. thesis, “Efficient Methods for Anomalous Pattern Detection and Discovery”, on April 22nd, 2015! And a special congratulations to Ed on receiving Heinz College’s William W. Cooper Doctoral Dissertation Award, given annually to the college’s best Ph.D. thesis. Ed will be joining the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management as a tenure-track assistant professor in the fall.

Sriram was the 2015 winner of Heinz College’s award for Best Teaching Assistant. Congratulations Sriram!

According to ProQuest, Daniel’s 2006 doctoral dissertation, “Detection of Spatial and Spatio-Temporal Clusters,” was the second most-accessed dissertation of 2014, across all academic subjects. (link)

Thanks to Yvonne Wenger of the Baltimore Sun for this very nice article featuring our planned work on rodent prevention with the City of Baltimore.

Congratulations to Dr. Skyler Speakman on the successful defense of his Ph.D. thesis, “Fast Constrained Subset Scanning for Pattern Detection”, on September 24th, 2014! Skyler will be joining IBM Research Africa in January 2015.

Thanks very much to the Disruptive Health Technology Institute for their generous gift of $20,000, which will be used to support the EPD Lab’s work on “Discovering Anomalous Patterns of Care to Improve Health Outcomes and Reduce Costs”.

Thanks to Heinz College for this great news story corresponding with the launch of our new EPD Lab website!

Skyler was named the winner of the 2014 Carnegie Mellon Graduate Student Teaching Award. Congratulations Skyler on this well-deserved honor!

Here is a great article by Sean Thornton, featuring some of our work with the City of Chicago on predicting and preventing rodent infestations. Some recent press releases on our rodent project are here and here.

Congratulations to Skyler and Ed on their successful completion of the secondary masters degree in Machine Learning, and congratulations to Sriram on his admission to this program.

Daniel was named Associate Editor of IEEE Intelligent Systems, in addition to his current role as the publication’s “AI and Health” Department Editor.

Sriram was the 2013 winner of the George Duncan Award, presented yearly to Heinz College’s best Second Heinz Research Paper. This makes three of the last five Heinz College Best Paper Awards presented to members of our lab. Congratulations everyone!

Seth was the 2013 winner of the Suresh Konda Award, presented yearly to Heinz College’s best First Heinz Research Paper.

Ed and Sriram were awarded fellowships to participate in the Data Science for the Social Good summer program, held in Chicago, IL in Summer 2013.

Daniel was named the recipient of the H.J. Heinz III College Dean’s Career Development Professorship, November 15th, 2012. Thanks to the College for this great honor and to the Heinz Endowments for their support of this endowed chair!

Ed was the 2012 winner of the Suresh Konda Award, presented yearly to Heinz College’s best First Heinz Research Paper.

Skyler was the 2012 winner of Heinz College’s award for Best Teaching Assistant.

Daniel served as Scientific Program Chair of the International Society for Disease Surveillance Annual Conference, held in Atlanta, Georgia in December 2011. The conference was a great success, with with 321 registered participants, 96 contributed talks, 65 posters, and 10 invited talks.

Ed was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (link) and an AT&T Labs Research Fellowship, 2011. (link)

Daniel was named one of the top ten “artificial intelligence researchers to watch” by IEEE Intelligent Systems, Jan/Feb 2011. (link)

Daniel received the National Science Foundation CAREER award for his work on “Machine Learning and Event Detection for the Public Good”, July 2010.