The University of Massachusetts Amherst

DACSS Research Symposium a Success

Monday, August 30, 2021
On August 25th, 2021, the Data Analytics and Computational Social Science (DACSS) Program hosted a Research Symposium with nine presenters, including current DACSS students, recent DACSS alumni and even a few PhD students in the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences.
DACSS brought together five Professors from a cross-section of disciplines to be the judges for the night, including: 
  • Weiai Xu - Communications
  • Justin Gross - Political Science
  • Forrest Bowlick - Geosciences/Environmental Conservation
  • Henry Renski - Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning
  • Deepanker Basu - Economics
Presenters were judged on five specific categories, and it should be noted that each presenter won at least one category from at least one judge - a true testament to the quality of the presentations. 
The categories are as follows: 
  • Clarity of the question asked
  • Ambition or scope of the project
  • Best use of methods for the data
  • Visualization and design of the poster
  • Best oral presentation
There were two “Best Overall” winners and several commendations.
The Best Overall Winner is Roselyn Abassah-Manu, whose project “Text-as-Data: Measuring Emotions through Text” was unanimously voted as having the most sophisticated question, which Henry Renski said “allowed her to use the right methods for the type of data she was collecting. Furthermore, she so clearly described her topic, was incredibly engaging and we’re excited to see where she takes this project.” 
The Best Overall Winner (Non-PhD) is Maddi Hertz, whose project “Affordable Access, Balanced Budgets, and Compassionate Care: The Evolution of Congressional Healthcare Debate (1993-2012)” had the entire committee impressed with the scope of her project. Weiai Xu mentioned that “the question she asked and answered fit her data and methods beautifully, especially when we look at such a large scope of data - 20 years.”
For our Commendations: 
  • Best use of methods for the data - Helene Grogan - Looking Down the Rabbit Hole: Sense-Making and QAnon
  • Visualization and design of the poster - Nate Reynolds - Ideological Divides in Political Podcasts
  • Best oral presentation - Larri Miller - SharpieGate: The Spread of Twitter Misinformation Surrounding the 2020 American Presidential Election
Lastly, we’d like to thank all of our presenters for the amazing work that they’ve done: 
  • Edwood Brice - Life Insurance & Wearable Technology: Wearables in the Life Underwriting Formula
  • Alexander Hong - Investigating Streamer Equity Within Twitch
  • Kazmiera Breest - So, How Much is Minimum Wage Labor Actually Worth?
  • Zichao Li - Textual Analysis Of Covid Vaccine Conspiracy Theories On Reddit
  • Krishna Kathala - A Study on Emotional Polarity from a Twitter Dataset to Identify The Change in Consensus of Opinions Among People About COVID-19 Vaccine Over a Period of Time as a Comparative Study in the USA and the World.
We will soon have all of these available (and more!) on our research website and we hope you’ll join us at our next Research Symposium on November 4th, during UMass’s annual Homecoming. We hope to see you there!