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Steven Koonin’s Growing Army of Big-Data Wizards is out to Make New York a Better City

Forget the ivory tower. Some new college programs launching in New York are tied into improving city life and boosting the economy. For example, Steven Koonin, director of New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), located in MetroTech in Brooklyn, is on the cutting edge of using big data to create jobs in New York in the private sector and government.

Launched in April 2012, CUSP currently is on target to graduate 24 master’s-degree students next year. But in the next decade, the program is primed to grow and graduate 500 master’s and doctoral students.

Koonin, a native New Yorker, has strong credentials. He served as under secretary at the Department of Energy from 2009 through 2001. He’s also been associated with the Institute for Defense Analyses and has a bachelor of science from Caltech and a doctorate from MIT.

In this question-and-answer session, Koonin discusses how CUSP works with government, what skills its graduates possess and how it’s on the cutting edge.

CUSP Collaborates in Public Mapping Mission

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CUSP is teaming up with NYU’s Govlab, MIT Media Lab, Public Lab and Peer-2-Peer University to offer a novel hybrid of massive open online course (MOOC) and hands-on team-based field work. The theme of the mission is using cameras attached to tethered balloons and kites for environmental mapping.

Online Seminar: Nov 22, 2013, 3:30PM EST – 5:00PM EST

Hands-On Mission: Dec 7, 2013, 11AM EST – 6:00PM EST.

In the online seminar, participants will meet community innovators who have mapped oil spills, landfills or industrial pollution sites. They will hear about how community-based mapping can influence public policy. Confirmed panelists include Francois Grey, CUSP, Jeff Warren, Public Lab, and Beth Noveck, The GovLab.

After the seminar, participants will form teams, build a balloon or kite mapping kit, and make plans for their hands-on mapping mission, which takes place two weeks after the online seminar. At the end of the mission, all teams will meet online to share images and stories.

Registration for this event is free at:

http://www.thegovlabacademy.org/public-mapping-mission/

NYU Announces Winners of “Grand Challenge” Science Competition

New York University today announced it is awarding $250,000 each to two teams of researchers in its newly created “Grand Challenge” competition to promote significant scientific research that has the potential to solve major national or global problems.

The two winners, which were selected from among 32 applicants, are a “MetaGenome” project that will map the microbial genome of New York City and a brain-machine technology that use neural signals to wirelessly enable sensory and motor prosthetics.

The aim of the Grand Challenge is to create ambitious but achievable goals that harness technology to solve important societal and health problems. The concept was first originated more than a century ago by mathematician David Hilbert, who listed 23 great unsolved mathematical problems.

NYU’s competition was created in response to President Obama’s call on universities and other institutions to identify and initiate Grand Challenges that would promote great research. (http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/grand-challenges)

Thomas Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said, “The President has called on research universities, companies, and foundations to join him in identifying Grand Challenges to promote scientific breakthroughs that advance national and global priorities, and to help create new industries and jobs that we can only dream about today. We commend NYU for launching a competition for research projects targeted at Grand Challenges, and we look forward to the seeing the results of the winners’ research.”

Deputy Mayor Robert Steel said, “New York City was built on innovation and the pursuit of big ideas, and the establishment of the Center for Urban Science and Progress is a great example of that. Their selection as a winner in NYU’s Grand Challenge is a tangible sign that Applied Sciences NYC is already encouraging scientific research that will strengthen our economy and improve the lives of New Yorkers.”

“NYU faculty and alumni have helped create some of the world’s most important technological breakthroughs, from the creation of the telegraph to the treatment for polio,” said Paul Horn, NYU senior vice provost for research. “The Grand Challenge demonstrates that NYU remains at the forefront of technology and supports research that can capture the public imagination and benefit all mankind.”

The $250,000 grants are unrestricted seed funds to help the two projects get off the ground. The University will also help the two winning teams generate support from philanthropies, individuals, foundations, governments, and corporations to continue their research. The seed money comes from the proceeds of spin-offs that used technologies and discoveries developed by the NYU faculty.

Thirty-two teams of NYU faculty submitted applications in the six-month competition for the Grand Challenge awards. The final awards were made by a distinguished external advisory committee. The applications were judged on validity, usability, originality, and affordability.

Here are descriptions of the two winning research projects:

Mapping NYC’s “MetaGenome”:

This project aims to map New York City’s microbial MetaGenome and could lead to the identification of potential bio-threats and improve the health of all New Yorkers. It could help predict and stifle flu epidemics as well as gauge the impact on the environment of events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. Researchers plan to gather microbial samples from sewage lines in all five boroughs and from dollar bills circulating in New York City–sources that capture many of the components of the city’s MetaGenome.

The team, led by biology Professor Jane Carlton, director of the NYU Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, includes Ari Patrinos, deputy director for research at Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP); Richard Bonneau, an associate professor in the Department of Biology and at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences; Patrick Eichenberger, an associate professor in the Department of Biology; Steven Koonin, director of CUSP; Cláudio Silva, head of disciplines at CUSP; Martin Blaser, director of the Human Microbiome Program at NYU School of Medicine; and Cheryl Healton, director of NYU’s Global Institute of Public Health and dean of Global Public Health.

Smart Neuroprosthetics: Brain-Machine Interfaces for the 21st Century:

This project seeks to develop a new generation of powerful wireless implantable devices that could be used to manipulate prosthetic limbs, improve auditory prosthetic implants, or improve impaired learning, memory, or social cognition.  The team will seek to build on technology already in its infancy. Current implantable devices are large, use too many wires, and interact imperfectly with the brain. NYU-Poly is already working on smaller, high-resolution, wearable, and bendable device arrays. The Grand Challenge team will work to make the devices wireless and ultimately usable for medical purposes. This technology could also open a new window into understanding brain function.

The team is led by engineering Professor Jonathan Viventi of NYU-Poly and includes Robert Froemke, professor of otolaryngology at the School of Medicine; Michael Long, professor of physiology and neuroscience at the School of Medicine; Dan Sanes, professor in the Center for Neural Science; and Bijan Pesaran, professor in the Center for Neural Science.

 

New York University, founded in 1831, is one of the world’s foremost research universities and a member of the selective Association of American Universities. NYU has degree-granting university campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai; has eleven other global academic sites, including London, Paris, Florence, Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, and Accra; and sends more students to study abroad than any other U.S. university.  Through its numerous schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and performing arts, music and studio arts, public administration, social work, engineering, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.

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Media Contacts:

Phil Lentz - 212.998.6833

Philip.lentz@nyu.edu

 

James Devitt - 212.998.6808

James.devitt@nyu.edu

Mayor Bloomberg Welcomes NYU’s Center for Urban Science & Progress Inaugural Graduate Class

CUSP Student Photo with Mayor Bloomberg

Brooklyn, NY — August 26: Mayor Bloomberg was on hand to welcome the inaugural class of graduate students at New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP). The NYU center was designated just last year as part of the City’s groundbreaking Applied Sciences NYC initiative, which seeks to increase New York City’s capacity for applied sciences. Building on its mission to define the emerging field of Urban Informatics, CUSP will shape its students into the next generation of scientists who will understand urban data sources and how to manipulate and integrate large, diverse datasets. These skills will enable them to develop solutions to pressing urban problems that recognize and account for the constraints embedded in complex urban systems.

“NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress will establish New York City as a global leader in urban informatics, and I’d like to welcome their inaugural class of graduate students to Downtown Brooklyn,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “As a key part of our Applied Sciences initiative, we are excited to see CUSP attract even more of the best and brightest from around the world to New York City.”

“We are truly excited to welcome our first class of students,” said CUSP Director Steve Koonin.  “We believe that CUSP’s curriculum offers a vigorous, dynamic and comprehensive educational program.  This first group of students has outstanding credentials, validating the idea that the best young minds are drawn to studying cities, and we are particularly honored to have Mayor Bloomberg – whose Applied Sciences NYC initiative made all this possible – here to welcome them.   Using New York City as its classroom, this accomplished group of students, along with CUSP researchers, will be poised to study and use big data analytics to drive decision-making in urban areas.  We believe that CUSP’s graduates will go on to work for private technology firms, public sector agencies, and in entrepreneurship and new venture creation.”

The incoming class of 25 students will receive a Master of Science in Applied Urban Science and Informatics. The class holds degrees from 24 universities around the world and come with training in more than 20 different academic disciplines – some from the core disciplines like Mathematics, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering and Physics; others with strong preparation in the social sciences such as Sociology, Political Science, and Urban Studies & Planning.  The unprecedented range of backgrounds illustrates the diversity of the inaugural class ranging from one student with a Ph.D. in Mathematics and another with a degree in Studio Art with near perfect quantitative GRE scores.

The M.S. program offers students the opportunity to engage in the interdisciplinary study of urban science and informatics and to apply their technical skills to challenges facing cities around the world.  The intensive, one-year, three-semester M.S. program provides students with core courses in the science of cities, urban informatics, and information and communication technology in cities.  Students will select from multiple policy domains to gain breadth and depth in the application of big data analytics to urban problems.  The program also contains a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation leadership, and students will be given the option to study technology entrepreneurship or “change leadership” in an existing organization.  The core of the one-year curriculum is a two-semester project – the Urban Science Intensive – during which students, working closely with mentors from CUSP’s Industrial and National Laboratory partners, will apply the principles of informatics to address an actual urban problem with a New York City agency to have a direct and meaningful impact on the quality of life in cities.

About New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress

CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New YorkUniversity and NYU-Poly with a consortium of world-class universities and the foremost international technology companies to address the needs of cities. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world.  This research will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics”.  For more news and information on CUSP, please visit http://cusp.nyu.edu/.

Contact:

Kim Alfred. CUSP – 917.392.0859
kim.alfred@nyu.edu

John Marino, The Marino Organization – 212.889.0808
john@themarino.org

Mayor Bloomberg Welcomes NYU’s Center for Urban Science & Progress Inaugural Graduate Class

Brooklyn, NY — August 26: Mayor Bloomberg was on hand to welcome the inaugural class of graduate students at New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP). The NYU center was designated just last year as part of the City’s groundbreaking Applied Sciences NYC initiative, which seeks to increase New York City’s capacity for applied sciences. Building on its mission to define the emerging field of Urban Informatics, CUSP will shape its students into the next generation of scientists who will understand urban data sources and how to manipulate and integrate large, diverse datasets. These skills will enable them to develop solutions to pressing urban problems that recognize and account for the constraints embedded in complex urban systems.

“NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress will establish New York City as a global leader in urban informatics, and I’d like to welcome their inaugural class of graduate students to Downtown Brooklyn,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “As a key part of our Applied Sciences initiative, we are excited to see CUSP attract even more of the best and brightest from around the world to New York City.”

“We are truly excited to welcome our first class of students,” said CUSP Director Steve Koonin.  “We believe that CUSP’s curriculum offers a vigorous, dynamic and comprehensive educational program.  This first group of students has outstanding credentials, validating the idea that the best young minds are drawn to studying cities, and we are particularly honored to have Mayor Bloomberg – whose Applied Sciences NYC initiative made all this possible – here to welcome them.   Using New York City as its classroom, this accomplished group of students, along with CUSP researchers, will be poised to study and use big data analytics to drive decision-making in urban areas.  We believe that CUSP’s graduates will go on to work for private technology firms, public sector agencies, and in entrepreneurship and new venture creation.”

The incoming class of 25 students will receive a Master of Science in Applied Urban Science and Informatics. The class holds degrees from 24 universities around the world and come with training in more than 20 different academic disciplines – some from the core disciplines like Mathematics, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering and Physics; others with strong preparation in the social sciences such as Sociology, Political Science, and Urban Studies & Planning.  The unprecedented range of backgrounds illustrates the diversity of the inaugural class ranging from one student with a Ph.D. in Mathematics and another with a degree in Studio Art with near perfect quantitative GRE scores.

The M.S. program offers students the opportunity to engage in the interdisciplinary study of urban science and informatics and to apply their technical skills to challenges facing cities around the world.  The intensive, one-year, three-semester M.S. program provides students with core courses in the science of cities, urban informatics, and information and communication technology in cities.  Students will select from multiple policy domains to gain breadth and depth in the application of big data analytics to urban problems.  The program also contains a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation leadership, and students will be given the option to study technology entrepreneurship or “change leadership” in an existing organization.  The core of the one-year curriculum is a two-semester project – the Urban Science Intensive – during which students, working closely with mentors from CUSP’s Industrial and National Laboratory partners, will apply the principles of informatics to address an actual urban problem with a New York City agency to have a direct and meaningful impact on the quality of life in cities.

About New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress

CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New YorkUniversity and NYU-Poly with a consortium of world-class universities and the foremost international technology companies to address the needs of cities. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world.  This research will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics”.  For more news and information on CUSP, please visit http://cusp.nyu.edu/.

A First Look at NYU’s Big Data Campus

When real estate broker Misha Chiporukha leaves his Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, apartment on Livingston Street and Flatbush Avenue, he is bombarded with New York noises: Buses exhale at the stop in front of his door. A boutique down the street blasts rap music from speakers. And at night, “there’s a garbage truck loading garbage for an hour somewhere behind the Chase building,” Mr. Chiporukha fumed.

Mr. Chiporukha, who has often been driven to Facebook to vent about noise, said the constant clatter around him sometimes feels like a breaking point. “When I can purchase an apartment,” he said, “I’ll move to a quieter neighborhood.”

This inevitable stress of city life? Maybe it’s not so inevitable anymore.

A Different Kind of Impact Factor

Applied science is taking off in New York, and physics skills are in demand.

Conference rooms aren’t usually the main attraction at a meeting, but the ceiling-high windows on the 40th floor of 7 World Trade Center offer one of the most spectacular views of downtown Manhattan that I’ve seen. It was the perfect backdrop for a panel discussion at the Gotham-Metro Condensed Matter Physics meeting held here in mid-November: the face of science in New York is changing, and graduate students and postdocs, most of them doing basic research, wanted to know about it.

In the past year, New York City has contributed seed money, land, and space to Cornell and New York University to build research centers where students can learn to work on problems with direct impact on urban life. These academic powerhouses hope to attract scientists, engineers, and computer geniuses, as well as the next generation of tech savvy companies, to New York, putting the city on the US technology map along with Boston and Silicon Valley.

The Promise of Urban Informatics (Video)

Director, Dr. Steve Koonin gives an overview of the Center for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP).
 Read more

Masoud Ghandehari

NYU-CUSP Mayor’s Press Conference

DataGotham 2012 – Steve Koonin, NYU-CUSP