The start of a new quarter brings exciting new projects to the DataLab! Undergraduate students from our inaugural Adventures in Data Science course will be joining DataLab staff to assist with research across the UC Davis community. Each project offers students the chance to utilize their new data skills “in the wild” with real research projects, while project partners gain DataLab support and expertise to help them answer their questions.

If you would like to learn more about this quarter’s projects, you can visit the project page for each below! If you have an idea for your own startup project, keep a look out for our next call for applications. You can look at the previous call for an idea of expected materials.

Spring 2021 Startups

Bibliographic approach to the role of science in policy making

Although science-informed policymaking is frequently touted as a solution to policy design and implementation dilemmas, there are few empirical studies of how scientific information informs policy making. The UC Davis DataLab is continuing it’s research collaboration with researchers in Environmental Science and Policy to help quantify and characterize the use of science and federal agencies’ environmental assessments.
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The CovidDocs project aims to collect and catalog all official state communications related to COVID-19, such as executive orders, emergency declarations, public health orders, and guidance documents. These documents are tagged with relevant metadata, such as what restrictions are being called for in these documents. CovidDocs provides data for analyses by DataLab’s data scientists and collaborating UC Davis faculty. The goal of the study is to create a well-documented data set that can inform research into the pandemic and the public health response.
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Geodynamics Collaborative VR

Analysis of large 3D datasets is difficult on traditional desktop software, as the limited perspective often clutters the view or hides important detail. Previous experience has demonstrated that these visualization challenges are overcome with interactive and immersive virtual reality (VR) tools. Building off of the research done at the UC Davis KeckCAVES, the DataLab will extend the capability of our current 3D data visualization software 3D Visualizer to read and visualize emerging hierarchical mesh data structures such as those used by the community-developed ASPECT simulation code.
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Molecular Eugenics

Dr. Emily Klancher Merchant’s Molecular Eugenics project seeks to identify the intellectual trajectory of eugenics across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This project investigates how the contents of eugenics journals (including journals in such related fields as behavior genetics and sociobiology) changed over time, particularly as those journals dropped the word “eugenics” from their title. Dr. Merchant suspects that the journals may have adopted a more technical vocabulary — particularly as behavior geneticists began to utilize molecular methods after the completion of the human genome project — but continued to reflect hereditarian assumptions about the origins of socioeconomic inequality.
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Strategy & Democracy Project

After a half-century of deregulatory and market-centered politics, markets and democracy now appear to be on separate, divergent tracks. The Strategy & Democracy Project, headed by Dr. Stephanie Mudge, seeks to historicize and account for this state of affairs. Why, after almost a century of democratic political development—giving rise, by the year 2000, to what many characterized as an age of triumphant democratic capitalism—are democratic institutions failing while markets thrive? How might we have foreseen the coming of the current democratic crisis?.
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Wine Chemistry

The site characteristics often cited as likely contributors to the flavor of a wine include factors such as soil type, soil moisture, air temperature, solar exposure, and elevation. Both the site characteristics and the grape juice or wine characteristics can be measured and quantified, which means they lend themselves to exploration with quantitative and statistical methods of investigation. The DataLab will be working with Professor Ron Runnebaum to build a data infrastructure capable of comparing how these quantifiable growing conditions impact the characteristics of the resulting grape juice.
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You can see these projects, along with everything else the DataLab is working on by visiting our project page!