COVID-19: Tracking, data privacy, and getting the numbers right

Berkeley Conversations: COVID-19

COVID-19 Events

May 13, 2020
10:00am to 11:00am
Virtual Presentation


Live Webcast
Berkeley Conversations: COVID-19
COVID-19: Tracking, data privacy, and getting the numbers right
Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Time: 10:00-11:00 AM Pacific

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Watch the live webcast here:

As plans for re-opening businesses, communities, and schools emerge, mechanisms to track the SARS-COV-2 virus become increasingly critical to consider.  In this conversation led by Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter, Director of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science and Professor of Physics, Berkeley faculty will present their recent research findings and data on COVID-19 infection and death rates. They will discuss how they are using data to better understand how many people are infected and actually dying from COVID-19, whether infections and deaths are going up or down, and how much we can afford to increase mobility.  They also will address broader questions about what data we need, how to protect it using encryption, and how to improve the ways we track and limit the pandemic. The panelists will be Shafi Goldwasser, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing; Uros Seljak, Professor of Physics, Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS) Senior Fellow; and Jacob Steinhardt, Assistant Professor, Department of Statistics.

This conversation is sponsored by the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society and the Berkeley Institute for Data Science as part of a live online video series, Berkeley Conversations: COVID-19, featuring Berkeley scholars from a range of disciplines.


Saul Perlmutter

Faculty Director, Berkeley Institute for Data Science

Saul Perlmutter is a 2011 Nobel Laureate, sharing the prize in Physics for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe.   He is the director of BIDS, a professor of physics, where he holds the Franklin W. and Karen Weber Dabby Chair, and a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  He is the leader of the international Supernova Cosmology Project, and executive director of the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics. His undergraduate degree was from Harvard and his PhD from UC Berkeley.  In addition to other awards and honors, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Perlmutter has also written popular articles, and has appeared in numerous PBS, Discovery Channel, and BBC documentaries.  His interest in teaching  scientific-style critical thinking for scientists and non-scientists alike led to Berkeley courses on Sense and Sensibility and Science and Physics & Music.

Uros Seljak

Professor, Physics, University of California, Berkeley

Uros Seljak is a professor in UC Berkeley's Physics and Astronomy departments, a Senior Scientist at LBNL in the Physics Division, as well as a co-director of Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics. His main research is in cosmology, where he combines theoretical, numerical, and data analysis methods to investigate the universe properties using cosmological observations, from cosmic microwave background to present day galaxy and dark matter distributions. His recent work combines statistics, numerical optimization, and N-body simulation methods to analyze large cosmological surveys, both space based (WMAP, Planck, Euclid, WFIRST) and ground based (SDSS, DESI, LSST). At Berkeley he teaches a course on Bayesian statistics and data science in Physics department. He has a PhD from MIT, was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard and a faculty at Princeton University and Zurich University prior to Berkeley. He is a recipient of Sloan and Packard Fellowships, NSF CAREER award, and the Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society.

Shafi Goldwasser

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, UC Berkeley

Jacob Steinhardt

Assistant Professor of Statistics, UC Berkeley