UConn students contribute to coronavirus data visualization


Two students at the University of Connecticut are part of a team of scholars working to create data visualizations and share the impacts of COVID-19. 

Serene Feng, a first semester electrical engineering major, and Norah Kader, a first semester civil engineering major, got involved in the Coronavirus Visualization Team (CVT) to contribute to the data available for COVID-19, and to pitch stories to reporters based on the data they find.

Norah Kader on left, Serene Feng on right.  Images courtesy of Norah Kader and Serene Feng
Norah Kader on left, Serene Feng on right. Images courtesy of Norah Kader and Serene Feng

“CVT looks directly at the ‘hidden implications’ within datasets and probes at the deeper topics behind COVID-19’s surface level impact,” Feng said.

Feng and Kader are part of the CVT community, which includes a learning community of over 1,100 members from over 100 universities, according to a CVT press release. 

Kader works on editing, revising and creating video content in order to spread awareness of the pandemic, she said. These videos are often aimed at younger people and college students. 

“I was really compelled by the idea of connecting to the world through media at this time,” Kader said. “As we are all dealing with this pandemic together.” 

Feng said she works on conducting market research on policy development for environmental policy and socio-economic policy. She also acts as the managing director of publications, allowing for CVT’s findings to reach journalists and research groups. 

Graphic by Melissa Jones/Courtesy of Serene Feng
Graphic by Melissa Jones/Courtesy of Serene Feng

“Right now, media outlets look at hot topics like the number of deaths or infection rates [due to COVID-19], but they gloss over qualitative data on pollution levels, income levels and resource availability,” Feng said. “We aim to pitch local story ideas to local reporters based off of data analysis we conduct that is relevant to that particular region.” 

Kader and Feng said they are hopeful for a COVID-19 resolution soon, and are working to share information to the student body to be well-informed. 

“We hope that we can share CVT’s data visualizations to UConn students to educate, support and provide knowledge about what’s been happening around Storrs and beyond,” Kader said. 

Feng encourages UConn students to look into the remote opportunities that may be available to them, based on her experiences with CVT, and said she’s been inspired by the initiatives they have accomplished as a team. 

“I never fully believed that an online organization can create value to an actual market,” Feng said. “There are many opportunities online that [are] worth trying out for! If what you’re looking for doesn’t exist, then create it.” 

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