Interdisciplinary Dialogue

Data Science for Social Equality

Monday, June 27, 2022
Climate, Weather and Earth Sciences
Chemistry and Materials
Computer Science and Applied Mathematics
Humanities and Social Sciences
Life Sciences
Montreal Room


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Session Chair

Lois Curfman



Our society remains profoundly unequal. We will discuss how data science can be used to increase social equality, focusing on applications from areas like women's health, COVID-19, policing, and pain. We will also discuss, on a more personal level, the path to doing this kind of work.



Michael Hengartner is President of the ETH Board. The Swiss-Canadian citizen, born in St. Gallen, Switzerland, grew up in Québec City, Canada, and studied biochemistry at the Université Laval. After his PhD studies at MIT with Nobel laureate H. R. Horvitz, he led a research group at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA. In 2001, he became professor for molecular biology at the University of Zurich (UZH). He served 2014-2020 as president of UZH, and was 2016-2020 president of swissuniversities, the Swiss Rectors' Conference. Michael received the Swiss National Latsis Prize in 2006, the Credit Suisse Award for Best Teaching at UZH in 2010 and an honorary doctorate from Sorbonne University in 2016.


Emma Pierson is an assistant professor of computer science at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech and the Technion, and a computer science field member at Cornell University. She holds a secondary joint appointment as an Assistant Professor of Population Health Sciences at Weill Cornell Medical College. She develops data science and machine learning methods to study inequality and healthcare. Her work has been recognized by best paper, poster, and talk awards, a Rhodes Scholarship, Hertz Fellowship, Rising Star in EECS, MIT Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35, and Forbes 30 Under 30 in Science. Her research has been published at venues including ICML, KDD, WWW, Nature, and Nature Medicine, and she has also written for The New York Times, FiveThirtyEight, Wired, and various other publications.