University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) Business School Overview



The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) offers these departments and concentrations: accounting, e-commerce, economics, entrepreneurship, ethics, finance, general management, health care administration, human resources management, insurance, international business, marketing, production/operations management, public policy, real estate, and quantitative analysis/statistics and operations research. Its tuition is full-time: $74,500 per year. At graduation, 81 percent of graduates of the full-time program are employed.

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania was the U.S.’s first business school and now has the largest alumni network in the country.

In addition to graduate business degrees, students can pursue joint degrees, including an accelerated MBA/J.D. degree in three years in conjunction with the Penn Law School; an MBA/M.A. degree in International Studies; and joint degree programs through the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Students can also earn a Ph.D. at Wharton, typically in four to five years, in nine areas including ethics & legal studies, statistics and applied economics.

Students learn how to handle stress, make critical decisions and lead a team outside the classroom on outdoor trips called Ventures. Whether students are mountaineering on Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro, trekking through Antarctica or sailing in Grenada, they put their leadership skills to the test during the weeklong trips. For leadership training closer to home, students can get hands-on experience in about 25 research centers on campus and have close to 150 organizations to get involved in.

The school has campuses in Philadelphia and San Francisco. Students at the Philadelphia campus can live in University City, an area also home to Drexel University and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

There are close to 90,000 alumni worldwide, and some of the most notable graduates are John Sculley, former CEO of Apple Inc.; Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn; and J.D. Power III, founder of J.D. Power and Associates, a global marketing information firm.

Stanford University Business School Overview



The Graduate School of Business at Stanford University offers these departments and concentrations: accounting, e-commerce, economics, entrepreneurship, ethics, finance, general management, health care administration, human resources management, leadership, manufacturing and technology management, marketing, not-for-profit management, production/operations management, organizational behavior, portfolio management, public administration, public policy, real estate, sports business, supply chain management/logistics, quantitative analysis/statistics and operations research, and technology. Its tuition is full-time: $73,062 per year. At graduation, 67.50 percent of graduates of the full-time program are employed.

Stanford University 2021 Rankings

Stanford University is ranked No. 1 (tie) in Best Business Schools. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence.






The University of Virginia is developing plans for the fall semester that assume classes will begin on time in August and that in-person instruction will conclude by Thanksgiving.

UVA leaders shared those and other initial decisions Thursday in a message to the University community, outlining key assumptions about operations for the coming academic year while emphasizing that many details remain to be sorted out – all of which remain contingent upon the guidance of health experts and subject to changing conditions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Final decisions and additional details are expected to be announced in mid-June.

“We have been guided by our desire to offer an exceptional experience for our students and, at the same time, to safeguard the health and safety of the UVA and Charlottesville community,” said the message, which was signed by President Jim Ryan, Provost Liz Magill, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Dr. K. Craig Kent.

A Fall 2020 Committee, formed in April and chaired by Magill, has spent weeks exploring issues and pursuing answers to key questions about the University’s upcoming academic year. The key issues have included:

  • Determining the date by which a decision about the fall semester must be made.
  • Identifying the safest date on which classes could resume on Grounds and what conditions might apply.
  • Thinking about alternative academic calendars and options for classes.
  • Looking at ways to support faculty in creating an amazing online experience.
  • Considering the impact of these decisions on the University’s finances and operations.

The committee and UVA leadership also have sought input from the University community, including conducting surveys of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students; holding a Faculty Senate virtual town hall; launching a faculty survey; and initiating plans for a staff town hall and survey.

In Thursday’s message, the UVA leaders said the current intention is to begin undergraduate courses on Aug. 25.

“Assuming state and federal public health guidelines allow, we are planning to have students back on Grounds and to hold in-person classes this fall,” the message indicated. “We are still trying to determine how many students we can have safely back on Grounds and living in dorms, and how many in-person classes we can host, given social distancing restrictions.”

Larger classes will remain online all semester, as will classes taught by faculty who have health concerns. Classes offered in-person, with the exception of some practicums, will also be available remotely, since some students will not be able to return to Grounds. Most students will have the option to remain home in the fall and participate in classes remotely. Most students also will continue to have options to defer enrollment or take a gap year.

To increase options and to ensure that all undergraduates can earn a full year’s worth of credits no matter how they begin the semester, the University is exploring an expansion of its January Term course offerings. It also is considering ways to allow students to stretch their classes across a longer period of time than the traditional academic calendar. Details on those considerations, as well as those for professional and graduate schools that might have unique requirements or constraints, will be coming later.

The University is planning to finish in-person instruction by Thanksgiving, after which students will not return to Grounds until the new year to minimize risks associated with travel back and forth to Charlottesville. Whether exams can be hosted on Grounds before Thanksgiving or offered remotely hasn’t been determined.

The University community message also promised plans for enhanced safety measures, including protocols for testing, tracing and isolating anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, as well as identifying spaces to quarantine on-Grounds residents exposed to those who have contracted COVID-19.

“We are also acquiring personal protective equipment – including masks – for students, faculty and staff. And we are developing social distancing guidelines, as well as norms and rules around these guidelines,” the message stated. “This includes making plans for managing dining halls, libraries and recreational facilities, as well as for ramping up scholarship and research – which we are preparing to do now.”

The message acknowledged there are risks associated with bringing students back to Grounds and emphasized the trust being placed in the entire University community.

“We also believe we should do our best to be open for students, for several reasons. One of UVA’s greatest strengths is our world-class residential learning experience – something that, as all of you know by now, cannot be fully replicated online,” the message said. “We also appreciate that learning remotely is much harder for some students than others, given different living arrangements, family circumstances, and family obligations. There is also no end in reasonable sight for this virus, which makes it even more imperative that we do our best to adapt.”

Additional updates concerning the framework for the upcoming semester will be announced in mid-June.





To the University community,

On Sunday, I offered some brief reflections on social media regarding the death of George Floyd. Those reflections and that medium were inadequate to the topic, which is why I am writing to you today.

Let me start with the obvious but nonetheless essential. What happened to George Floyd – his callous and indifferent killing at the hands of a white police officer – was immoral and sickening. As Dean Risa Goluboff wrote recently, it might be tempting also to say it was “shocking,” but that wrongly suggests it was surprising. The recent and senseless deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others before them whose lives were cut short demonstrate otherwise. This sort of violence against black people, including at the hands of those who are supposed to protect all of us, is sadly all too familiar and stretches back not just decades, but centuries, through the Civil Rights Era, Jim Crow, Reconstruction, and slavery.

And let me apologize. When I wrote last weekend, I felt deep despair. Despair for the treatment experienced by so many people of color in this country – not just by police, but by every segment of society, including higher education, including here at UVA. Despair for the current state of our country, which seems to be unraveling before our eyes. Despair for the continued racial inequities across a wide range of contexts – education, criminal justice, health care, housing, jobs – that are still there, as is the systemic racism that underlies those inequities.

But in my own despair, in indulging in it, I failed to express the genuine sorrow I feel for the unequal and unfair burden that I know our black students, faculty, and staff carry with them, not just through this episode, but through every day. George Floyd’s death is just another sharp reminder that far too many people of color in this country live a life that is less secure – less safe – than white people, in part because of encounters with police officers who inflicted harm on people they were meant to protect. As a white parent of four kids, I have not had to have the conversation that so many black parents have had with theirs, cautioning them about how to behave around those who are meant to protect all of us. For all of that, I am truly sorry – both for that burden and for failing to acknowledge it.

And I know it’s time to act and not simply to despair or rest on faith. Over the weekend, the Division for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at UVA posted a powerful statement from a group of faculty, staff, and community members reflecting on the latest tragedies. In it, they wrote:

We must continue to do the hard work that will help ensure that our future is different, more just, more accepting, and more inclusive. The future we envision is one in which the devaluing of life is no longer accepted, and where bigotry no longer contaminates our systems and institutions, burdening some community members much more than others.

I couldn’t agree more, and I am committed to that work. It’s in many ways why I came (back) here.

Through the hard work of many students, faculty, and staff – not to mention the persistent advocacy of alumni and community members – UVA is a better place today than it was a decade ago, or the decade before that. But there is more work to do in order for UVA to look more like the state and country in which we live; in order for UVA to be a trusted neighbor to the Charlottesville region; and in order for all students, faculty, and staff to have their voices and their presence equally valued, respected, and included in their everyday lives on Grounds.

I have tried to champion some of that work in my two years as president, and some of it – like increasing student and faculty diversity and being a good neighbor to the Charlottesville region – is in our strategic plan. To complement and push that work forward, today I have asked three colleagues to lead a racial equity task force: Ian Solomon, the Dean of the Batten School of Public Policy; Kevin McDonald, our Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and Barbara Brown Wilson, a faculty member in the School of Architecture and the faculty director of The Equity Center. This group will convene with students, faculty, and staff to gather together the growing list of recommendations, suggestions, and demands regarding the subject of racial equity at UVA – and to solicit others – and will send me a concrete and prioritized set of recommendations about the best steps forward, including actions that can be implemented right away.

Eleven days after I returned to UVA to begin as president, I spoke at an event to mark and remember the one-year anniversary of the white supremacist march through Grounds the year before. As I said then and will say again here:

I stand here today as an ally. I am surely an imperfect one, which is to say I am human, like all of you. I will disappoint some of you for doing too much and others for doing too little, some for going too fast and others for not going fast enough. But I know in my heart where I would like to go, and that is the place where our aspirations and our realities finally intersect. I know that many of you, so many of you, would like to get there as well.

I look forward to our continued, imperfect journey together.



James E. Ryan
University of Virginia

U-M Precision Health COVID-19 research




M-CURES (Michigan COVID Utilization and Risk Evaluation System)

Goal: to build models using clinical data including laboratory results, vital sign measurements, and receipt of medications for predicting patient outcomes and resource utilization in patients who test positive for COVID-19, to guide clinical and operational work.
This project is a partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation (IHPI), requested by Jeffrey Desmond, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Michigan Medicine, and John Ayanian, MD, MPP, Director of IHPI and Chair of Precision Health’s Faculty Advisory Committee.

Brahmajee Nallamothu
, MD, Data Analytics & IT Workgroup Leader, Precision Health; Professor, Cardiovascular Diseases, Dept. of Internal Medicine; Director, Michigan Integrated Center for Health Analytics & Medical Prediction (MiCHAMP)
Michael Sjoding, MD, Assistant Professor, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Dept. of Internal Medicine
Jenna Wiens, PhD, Co-Director, Precision Health; Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Engineering
Karandeep Singh, MD, MMSc, Assistant Professor, Learning Health Sciences and Medicine

I am extremely impressed with how my grad students came together and worked together. They exceeded all expectations. —Jenna Wiens

Early risk stratification of COVID-positive patients using chest imaging data

Goal: make available, through the Precision Health Analytics Platform, the chest x-ray images of all Michigan Medicine patients tested for COVID-19.

Lead: Michael Sjoding, MD, Assistant Professor, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Dept. of Internal Medicine

COVID-19 survey

Goal: to send a COVID-19 survey to all CBR-consented participants.  The survey asks about COVID symptoms and SARS-CoV-2 exposure, enhancing the biorepositories and allowing research to continue to develop a COVID-19 phenotype.

Lead: Cristen Willer, PhD, Cohort Development Workgroup Leader, Precision Health; Associate Professor, Internal Medicine, Human Genetics, and Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics

Our overarching objective is to evaluate the impact of the novel coronavirus and to identify clues to prevent severe COVID-19 disease. —Whitney Hornsby, Willer Lab

Wearables In Reducing risk and Enhancing Daily Life-style (WIRED-L) / COVID-19 Health Evaluation & Cardiovascular Complications (CHECC) Study

WIRED-L Goal: establish the Wearables In Reducing risk and Enhancing Daily Life-style (WIRED-L) Center, dedicated to building and testing mobile health (mHealth) apps that leverage wearables like smartwatches to improve physical activity and nutrition in hypertensive patients. WIRED-L will enroll diverse communities that include African Americans and older adults rarely included in mHealth studies, to better close the digital divide between rich and poor. Funded by the American Heart Association.
(CHECC) Study ($200K supplemental research grant related to WIRED-L)

Goal: to better understand the broad impact of COVID-19 infection on the daily lives of MIPACT and REACH-OUT participants. Specific aims include determining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physiologic parameters among mHealth participants, and determining the short- and intermediate-term CV health and outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lead: Brahmajee Nallamothu, MD, Data Analytics & IT Workgroup Leader, Precision Health; Professor, Cardiovascular Diseases, Dept. of Internal Medicine; Director, Michigan Integrated Center for Health Analytics & Medical Prediction (MiCHAMP)

COVID-19 starting population at Michigan Medicine

Goal: to capture the COVID-19-positive patient population at Michigan Medicine and make this starting population (and relevant data) available through the self-serve tool DataDirect for cohort-building and research purposes.

This project is a collaboration with the Michigan Medicine Data Office for Clinical and Translational Research and the Research Data Warehouse.

COV-IND-19 app (

Goal: to provide a resource to describe the COVID-19 outbreak in India to date, as well as prediction models under various hypothetical scenarios. The figure and forecasting models update as new data becomes available, at least daily.

Lead: Bhramar Mukherjee, PhD, Cohort Development Workgroup Leader, Precision Health; John D. Kalbfleisch Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics; Chair, Biostatistics

Data scientists have a huge role to play in this collective war against the virus, not just for forecasting but for optimally deploying resources. As we go through this pandemic, I root for public health, for science and innovation, and for the magic of human kindness. —Bhramar Mukherjee

Understanding COVID-19 co-morbidities and risk factors

Goal: using electronic health record data on patients in Michigan Medicine who tested positive for a SARS-CoV-2 infection, to expand knowledge about the underlying risk factors and comorbidities. By characterizing COVID-19 patients’ health profiles and contrasting them with the overall Michigan Medicine cohort, the project can highlight differences in regard to pre-existing conditions and lab measurements, and use demographics to quantify existing health disparities. The aim of the project is to identify subgroups in the overall patient cohort that are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

Lead: Bhramar Mukherjee, PhD, Cohort Development Workgroup Leader, Precision Health; John D. Kalbfleisch Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics; Chair, Biostatistics
Lars Fritsche
, PhD, Assistant Research Scientist, Biostatistics
Sachin Kheterpal, MD, MBA, CO-Director, Precision Health; Professor, Anesthesiology; Associate Dean, Research Information Technology (Medical School)
Lynda Lisabeth, PhD, MPH, Cohort Development Workgroup Leader, Precision Health; Professor, Epidemiology; Research Professor, Neurology
Cristen Willer, PhD, Cohort Development Workgroup Leader, Precision Health; Associate Professor, Internal Medicine, Human Genetics, and Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics
Maxwell Salvatore, Research Area Specialist

Remote outreach for recovered and recovering COVID patients

Goal: Use current Precision Health protocol (remote outreach, e-consenting, and electronic survey delivery) to contact recovered and recovering COVID patients. Biosamples are being used when available.

Lead: Bhramar Mukherjee, PhD, Cohort Development Workgroup Leader, Precision Health; John D. Kalbfleisch Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics; Chair, Biostatistics


Near real-time cytokine measurement in COVID-19 patients

Goal: To apply the cytokine screening platform to COVID-19 patient cytokine monitoring and potentially develop a fully automated system near the bedside that would be useful in guiding the immunotherapy of cytokine storm, which is frequently associated with severe cases of COVID-19 patients. This is an extension of the PH-funded project of PH Scholar Yujing Song.

Benjamin Singer, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Katsuo Kurabayashi, PhD, Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

I’m personally very excited about this synergistic collaboration between Engineering and Medicine to translate our platform to wide clinical use to tailor biomarker-targeted immunomodulatory therapy. —Katsuo Kurabayashi

Digital assistance to help people cope with the COVID-19 outbreak

Goal: To build an online interface in which people can write about the major issues they are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak. The system will use natural language processing to analyze the responses and provide personalized feedback and pointers to useful resources. In collaboration with psychologists from University of Texas, motivational interviewing experts from the U-M School of Public Health, and health communication experts from Michigan Medicine. This work is directly related to the PH-funded research of PH Investigators Rada Mihalcea and Veronica Perez-Rosas.

Lead: Rada Mihalcea, PhD, Janice M. Jenkins Collegiate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering; Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Professor, Data Science Initiative, U-M Office of Research

Natural language processing to understand mental health changes in response to COVID-19 outbreak

Goal: Development of natural language processing methods to understand the changes in mental health associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, and whether certain people are more susceptible to be affected by these changes. This work is informed by collaborations with psychologists and experts in the study of depression from the School of Public Health and Medical School at Michigan, and the Psychology department at the University of Texas.

Lead: Rada Mihalcea, PhD, Janice M. Jenkins Collegiate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering; Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Professor, Data Science Initiative, U-M Office of Research

Network analysis for drug repurposing

Goal: A multidisciplinary team including Danai Koutra, PhD, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, aims to develop network analysis techniques to identify combinations of existing drugs that could improve outcomes for COVID-19 patients until a vaccine is developed.

This project is a multidisciplinary collaboration among the Graph Exploration and Mining at Scale (GEMS) lab, the U-M Center for Drug Repurposing, and Michigan Medicine.

Statistical estimation of time-varying transmission and removal rates in epidemiological processes: an application to the COVID-19 pandemic

Goal: to study the pandemic in the most severely impacted countries, and analyze and forecast the evolving pandemic by using a Poisson model with time-dependent transmission and removal rates, which can capture possible random errors in reporting.

Lead: Yi Li, PhD, Professor, Biostatistics


Lead: Nikola Banovic, PhD, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Antibody fractionation and cytotoxicity testing of patient’s COVID-19 convalescent plasma

Lead: Sofia D. Merajver, MD, PhD, Professor, Hematology/Oncology, Dept. of Internal Medicine

Molecular pathways of COVID-19 acute kidney injury

Lead: Matthias Kretzler, PhD, Professor, Internal Medicine/Nephrology and Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics

HARMONY – Home Activities and Routines Observed Naturally

Lead: Richard Gonzalez, Amos N. Tversky Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Statistics; Director, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research

Disposable face shields as PPE for healthcare workers

Lead: Max Shtein, PhD, Professor, Material Science and Engineering and Stamps School of Art & Design

Intern Health Study (assessing risk exposure, work demands, and physical and mental health of 1500 training physicians during the COVID-19 outbreak)

Lead: Srijan Sen, MD, PhD, PROMPT Precision Health Study Leader; Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg Professor of Depression and Neurosciences, Associate Chair for Research and Faculty Development, Dept. of Psychiatry; Associate Vice President, Health Sciences, U-M Office of Research

Assessing COVID-19 using social media

Al Hero, PhD, John H. Holland Distinguished University Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; R. Jamison and Betty Williams Professor of Engineering; Professor, Statistics
Walter Dempsey, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biostatistics; Assistant Research Professor, Institute for Social Research

Internal medicine family support network

Lead: Amy Cohn, PhD, Data Analytics & IT Workgroup Leader, Precision Health; Alfred F. Thurnau Professor, Dept. of Industrial and Operations Engineering; Associate Director, Center for Healthcare Engineering and Patient Safety

Survey: older Americans’ access to prescriptions during COVID pandemic

Lead: Brian Zikmund-Fisher, PhD, Associate Professor, Health Behavior & Health Education; Research Associate Professor, Dept. of Internal Medicine

Prophylactic vaccination against COVID-19

Lead: James Moon, PhD, John G. Searle Associate Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences; Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Don’t Be Afraid to Fall: Brené Brown Delivers Message of Resilience for 2020 Graduates



Internationally acclaimed researcher and author, UT Austin graduate and McCombs School of Business visiting professor Brené Brown delivered a message of resilience and hope for 2020 graduates at The University of Texas at Austin’s Spring Commencement ceremony.

Brown was the keynote speaker for this year’s virtual ceremony, which included a celebratory Tower lighting and live conferring of degrees.

“My falls have taught me a hundred times more than any of my achievements ever have, ever could and ever will,” Brown told graduates. “I owe 100 percent of my accomplishments to taking smart risks and trusting myself.”

New Online Master’s Degree in Data Science is a First for The University of Texas at Austin



USTIN, Texas — In response to high demand for professionals with scientific and technical training to understand and work with massive amounts of data, The University of Texas at Austin is set to launch a new online master’s degree program in data science. Pending final approval by UT System and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the new program will be a collaboration between the Department of Computer Science, ranked among the top 10 programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report; the Department of Statistics and Data Sciences, one of the university’s newest and fastest-growing departments; and online learning company edX.

“UT Austin is home to top leaders in diverse disciplines ranging from statistics to data science to machine learning,” said Paul Goldbart, dean of UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences. “These talented faculty experts are joining together to advance a highly relevant new master’s degree program that will prepare our students for professional success across nearly every industry.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2026, there will be a need for 11.5 million more data scientists. Data science professionals tackle projects within organizations as diverse as searching for a COVID-19 vaccine, engineering cybersecurity solutions, and helping publishers and broadcasters understand their audiences’ preferences.

“Data science is the fastest growing career field in the world, and there is a huge demand for experts,” said Michael Mahometa, director of consulting and professional development in the Department of Statistics and Data Sciences. “There are very few aspects of the modern economy that data science doesn’t touch.”

UT Austin’s online data science master’s degree will be the first from a top-tier university to be available for less than the cost of a new economy car. Students who receive admission to the program will be able to complete the degree for about $10,000, in contrast to other competitive, nationally ranked institutions with data sciences degrees, for whom the cost of tuition ranges from $20,000-$70,000. The degree program is designed to offer flexibility, allowing prospective students to attend part time on their own schedules.

“Too often, qualified students forgo graduate study because of factors such as family obligations, the need to maintain an income, or the fear of not being able to afford tuition,” said Don Fussell, chair of the Department of Computer Science. “Our objective when we embarked on this project was to create the first technical data science master’s degree that didn’t force students to make those tradeoffs.”

The Department of Computer Science launched a successful computer science online master’s degree program last year in conjunction with edX. The new program will build on the achievements of that program.

To be admitted into the program, candidates must have completed an undergraduate degree, ideally in science or engineering, and taken the GRE. Program leaders are encouraging candidates with degrees in other fields to apply if they have a passion for data science and work experience in the field.

Applications for the new data science online master’s program will open this summer.

UW launches new Center for Research and Education on Accessible Technology and Experiences with $2.5 million investment from Microsoft



Martez Mott works on Smart Touch with Provail participant Ken FryeDennis Wise/University of Washington

The University of Washington today announced the establishment of the Center for Research and Education on Accessible Technology and Experiences (CREATE). Fueled by a $2.5 million inaugural investment from Microsoft, UW CREATE is led by an interdisciplinary team whose mission is to make technology accessible and to make the world accessible through technology.

“We are proud to partner with the UW on their journey to build the CREATE center,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. “This is the next step in a longstanding journey to empower people with disabilities with accessibility and technology advancements. UW has truly embedded accessibility as part of their culture and we’re proud to support their next step to drive thought leadership on accessibility to empower people with disabilities.”

On the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act’s enactment, there have been enormous strides in the accessibility of public spaces and the availability of personal mobility technologies. Yet, equitable participation in society depends on the successful use of technology, now more than ever.

People with disabilities are dependent on technology and if accessibility is not embedded into the start of the development process then it can leave people behind. Achieving accessibility involves expertise and innovation across a range of disciplines. As a result, the major challenge of developing technology to make a more accessible world is outpacing even the most talented individual researchers and small teams.

“CREATE will help us take accessible technology research and education from small, incremental gains to true breakthroughs. This chance to advance inclusion and participation for people of all abilities is the kind of opportunity that inspires the entire UW community,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce.

The UW is a global leader in accessible technology research and design. The center will bring together existing areas of excellence and build upon the university’s ability to catalyze progress in education, research and translation. CREATE faculty bring multiple perspectives not just in technology but also disability rights and advocacy.

The CREATE leadership team hails from six campus departments in three different colleges, including the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, The Information School, Rehabilitation Medicine in the UW School of Medicine, Mechanical Engineering, Human Centered Design & Engineering, and the Disability Studies Program.

The center will build upon current projects in prioritizing and automating personalization, transitioning transportation to be accessible; augmenting abilities through wearable technologies; developing inclusive, intelligent systems and data sets; and “do-it-yourself” accessible technology production.

The UW and Microsoft have been working together in this space for more than a decade and share the same values and commitment to work with the disability community on driving innovation in accessibility research. This partnership has opened student internship and career opportunities, as well as ongoing research engagements with the Ability Team at Microsoft Research. Current projects include developing audio-first representations of websites for smart speakers; understanding how perceptions of software developer job candidates with autism may impact hiring decisions; AI-based sign language recognition and translation as well as ongoing work on an ASL to English dictionary; and data-driven mental health apps.


See related stories in The Seattle Times and GeekWire.

In addition to the impact of Microsoft’s funding for this collaboration, the company’s endorsement of the UW’s accessibility work promises to catalyze additional investment, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, which, ultimately, could generate the full funding needed to provide long-term support for the center. The goal is to raise $10 million for CREATE to provide five years of support. The center employs a consortium model for academic, industry, and community partners.  CREATE is seeking additional partners who are interested in the deployment of accessible technology and the development of inclusive communities.

“The University of Washington has for many years led the field in cutting-edge accessible technology research and design,” said Jacob Wobbrock, professor and inaugural co-director of the center. “Our faculty and students are incredibly motivated to tackle the hard problems of accessibility. Now, with CREATE, we will be able to take on even bigger collaborative challenges in this space. I am honored to work with co-director Jennifer Mankoff, and to be supported by such world-class colleagues in the center.”

University of Washington launches online training for contact tracing to help fight COVID-19



As businesses and public spaces reopen across the nation, the old-school public health detective work known as contact tracing is becoming a major component of the battle to contain the novel coronavirus that causes the deadly COVID-19 disease.

It’s an investigative strategy long used for finding and informing people exposed to contagious diseases, such as measles and STDs, and now agencies across the country focused on combating the pandemic need support to expand their workforce to conduct contact-tracing interviews and save lives.

To provide training for this expanding workforce, the University of Washington’s Northwest Center for Public Health Practice created the free, online course Every Contact Counts to support public health agencies — including smaller, rural public health districts and tribal health departments — to help their existing and growing workforce in the art and science of conducting a contact-tracing interview.

“At the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice, we were keenly aware of the strain public health workers and agencies were under long before the novel coronavirus hit,” said Betty Bekemeier, professor in the UW School of Nursing and director of the center. “As COVID-19 spread, we knew from practice partners that a training was needed for the public health workforce that ​could quickly and efficiently assist a wide variety of public health agencies.”

While Washington state has launched a large-scale effort to train contract tracers, other states and their partners can take similar steps using Every Contact Counts instead of creating all of their own training from the ground up. This is why Every Contact Counts was developed at the request of and in partnership with the Kansas Health Institute, which has been helping Kansas enhance its contact-tracing efforts at the state level. Now, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is requiring Every Contact Counts as part of its training plan for all new contact tracers.

“We wanted to create a foundational training that not only met the needs for us in Kansas, but could support other states across the country in assisting their own local health departments where a lot of the COVID-19 containment work is being done,” said Charles Hunt, a senior analyst with the Kansas Health Institute. “While many local health departments manage their own contact-tracing workforce, they need access to training resources, like Every Contact Counts, that set their staff up for success and protect their communities.”

The federal Health Resources and Services Administration promoted the training in an email to public health professionals, along with the National Network of Public Health Institutes and other national organizations.

With Every Contact Counts, professionals will learn to describe contact tracing and why it’s important to public health, articulate why COVID-19 is unique when it comes to contact tracing, identify the key components of a successful contact-tracing interview and complete an interview with confidence, clarity and compassion.

Since each state has slightly different policies for containing the outbreak, the UW training provides a foundation for performing contact tracing and a certificate to verify successful completion of the course.

“Contact tracing is going to be an essential part of our reopening and containment efforts moving forward,” said Janet Baseman, professor of epidemiology in the UW School of Public Health whose work with UW graduate students provided the basis for the training. “We need to trace every contact possible, because every contact counts in stopping this disease.”

Cold-calling people who have tested positive for the virus or who may have been exposed to it — and getting them the information and help they need to self-isolate — can be challenging. While some will be thankful for the information and help, others can be annoyed or agitated. Protecting privacy is paramount in these encounters, and some subjects may actively resist engaging with the interviewer. The UW training is designed to help interviewers approach, with skill and compassion, the fears and the sudden, dramatic change in their lives that subjects face.

The training falls into three main categories — what contact tracing is, contact-tracing specifics for COVID-19, and communicating with cases and contacts. Exercises include interview skill-building videos, section quizzes and an exercise where participants practice key decision-making during a contact interview.

Throughout the training site are tips and encouragement from experienced contact tracers, such as this segment from Neil Abernethy at the UW School of Medicine:


At the end of the course, there’s a final assessment. Participants who receive a score of 80% or better will get a non-credit certificate of completion that they can download and use to verify the training they received.

“With Every Contact Counts, we want public health professionals to feel like they have the knowledge and resources to complete a contact-tracing interview with confidence, clarity and compassion,” said Sarah Manchanda, e-learning manager at the Northwest Center. “We know they will be talking to community members who are scared, overwhelmed or possibly even dismissive of contact-tracing efforts. This training helps interviewers prepare and practice so they can provide needed information in a way that encourages people to listen and slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The Northwest Center for Public Health Practice developed this training, which was made possible thanks to a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation and contributions by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Health Institute.