Western Connecticut State University Department of Philosophy and Humanistic Studies will present Dr. Rick Lawrence, of Ridgefield, for a discussion, “COVID-19: Perspectives from a Data Scientist,” at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 3, in Room 125 of the Science Building on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St., Danbury. The talk is free and open to the public in-person (masks must be worn) or virtually through this link. The program is also sponsored by WCSU’s Department of Computer Science and Department of Mathematics.
Lawrence currently volunteers as the COVID data scientist on Ridgefield’s COVID-19 Task Force, providing daily analysis of the latest COVID-19 data to help town officials make science-based policy decisions, and provides periodic analysis of vaccination rates to the Office of the Governor of Connecticut.
Lawrence's work has evolved from nuclear science to computer science to machine learning and, most recently, to quantitative finance. He joined IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, New York, in 1987, where he held a number of management positions, most recently as Distinguished Research Staff Member and Senior Manager, Machine Learning & Decision Analytics. From 2016 to 2019, he was president of PCIX, Inc., a New York City venture capital-funded startup that used machine learning to extract quantitative insight on the relationship between private-equity transactions and the performance of public markets. Lawrence received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and a doctorate in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Illinois.
WCSU Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Humanistic Studies Dr. Anna Malavisi said that the program will begin with an overview of the COVID-19 data reported by the CDC and the State of Connecticut and describe the data-science framework developed to ingest and analyze this data. Lawrence will then answer key questions from a pure data-science perspective, including what is the current state of the pandemic in the U.S. and Connecticut, will the U.S. reach herd immunity, do masks reduce COVID infection rates, and what is the relationship between vaccination rates, natural immunity and new case rates.