On Friday, December 10th, the CUSP community gathered virtually for our fall Capstone Showcase. After working for two semesters on applied data science projects, seven graduate student teams presented their findings and recommendations to faculty members, colleagues, project sponsors, family and friends.
The Capstone Program is the major hands-on component of CUSP’s MS in Applied Urban Science and Informatics degree. Each year, it attracts sponsors from local government, private entities, academic institutions, and even international partners who sponsor a project that addresses an ongoing urban issue. Teams of graduate students are paired with sponsors, as well as faculty members, to collect and analyze data using a variety of data science and informatics methodologies. Team members then work together to compile analytic reports, interactive applications, research publications, and policy recommendations.
Host and NYU Adjunct Professor Dr. Mona Sloane commended the students on their energy, creativity, and rigor in their search to find solutions for the various urban problems that affect quality of life. “This year, our CUSP students have pushed themselves to new heights with extremely relevant projects, and novel ways of tackling some of the most pressing problems cities face today,” said Sloane.
One of CUSP’s defining features is its ability to use NYC as a living laboratory. Consequently, a few projects focused specifically on challenges that affect New Yorkers. CUSP students Jin Li, Qian Dong, Jaehee Kim, Karen Worthing, and José Ramón Romero Pineda attempted to understand what has caused results to deviate from intended goals in past NYC rezonings to better anticipate and mitigate deviations in future rezonings. Another team, Nico Ampuero, Jeremy Rucker, and Xiaolin Li, identified urban farming hotspots, distribution gaps, and neighborhood impacts in order to contribute to NYC’s food resiliency plans. A third group, Nicole Allegretti, Wenting Chen, and Zhuoqi Niu, honed in on a topic critical to NYC dwellers: designing a strategy for optimal subway expansion.
On the other hand, CUSP’s interdisciplinary and mission-oriented nature creates an opportunity to expand research and findings well outside of its home base in Brooklyn. For example, two teams investigated broader topics that have been affecting people around the world since COVID-19 took hold on the world. Chris Carey, Maia Guo, and Nuoyi Wang studied the relationships between food acquisition and health outcomes during the pandemic through a longitudinal study on human mobility in major U.S. cities. Ari Lewenstein, Shu Wang, and Haochen Xing looked at business closures and survival and the resulting impacts on surrounding communities in the context of the pandemic.
Beyond that still, two more groups analyzed situations ranging from the imperceptible to the unimaginable. Students Anbo Guo, Claudia Gomez Palacios, Letao Hou, Rachel Liu, and Smriti Mohta looked at commonplace behaviors and how private companies use technology and sensors to track consumers in physical spaces in public environments and whether they do so responsibly. Daisuke Nakanishi, Gurpreet Singh, and Kshitij Chandana, on the other hand, looked at extreme events and how autonomous drones could navigate, map, and explore disaster areas, weighing tradeoffs between coverage and scalability.
The leadership at CUSP would like to congratulate all of the students who participated for their highly impressive work, and to thank all of the sponsors and faculty mentors who make the program possible.
To watch the video or to learn more about each project presented, visit the Fall 2021 Capstone Projects page.