Creating informed responses: Berkeley’s computing and data science in action

April 7, 2020

Berkeley ConversationsBerkeley engineering professors offered interesting insights on the coronavirus pandemic during the Division of Computer, Data Science, and Society's webinar on COVID-19.

Max Shen, who chairs the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, said social distancing presented unprecedented disruption to supply chains.

Work normally done by multi-people in close proximity to each other no longer possible now. For example, trucks normally carry two drivers, one to rest, one to drive. Now only driver occupies the truck and he/she must rest for 12 hours.

Shen urged the federal government to reach contracts with manufacturers for key supplies BEFORE a pandemic hits rather than simply respond to the crisis after it has already occurred.

Kathy Yelick, a professor with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, said a lack of good data is hampering researchers' efforts to develop robust prediction models about how interventions like testing and stay-at-home orders will impact different populations.

She is co-chairing an effort by the U.S. Department of Energy to bring its full resources to bear in combating COVID-19, including expertise in supercomputing, light, genomics, and synthetic biology.

For a roundup on the webinar, go to

Berkeley Conversations - COVID-19