Industrial Engineering Professor to Partner with IBM on Food-Borne Illness Response

Xiao Liu, assistant professor of industrial engineering.
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Xiao Liu, assistant professor of industrial engineering.

An industrial engineering professor has been awarded funding to collaborate with IBM to harness big data aimed at improving how intelligent food-borne outbreaks investigations are handled.

Xiao Liu, assistant professor of industrial engineering, has received a $238,000 award through the National Science Foundation's Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). Liu will partner with the Industrial and Applied Genomics team at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California.

The reseach focuses on inventing new statistical methodologies to handle huge data sets related to food-borne outbreaks. His project will test and validate advanced statistical models to accelerate food-borne outbreak investigations.

Understanding the complex interactions between different data points in a food-borne outbreak can help prevent or minimize future issues, Liu said.

"Successfully addressing this challenge enables us to understand why critical events happened in the past, when events of interest will recur in the future, and how one can optimize the event processes through proactive interventions," he said.

The project is titled "RII Track-4: Harnessing Big Event Data with Heterogeneous Feature: Intelligent Food-Borne Outbreak Investigations and Beyond."

Liu said the project addresses several critical national interests.  

"This award will advance the nation's food safety, cyber security and economic welfare by innovating new statistical learning methodologies that enhance the critical capabilities of harnessing big event data with heterogeneous feature information," he said.

And, Liu said, because the research will involve cross-disciplinary collaborators, the final product can be used to analyze events in a variety of sectors, including food safety, cyber security, reliability, online retail, transportation safety, disaster and extreme weather events

Liu was one of 34 fellows from 28 EPSCoR states chosen in 2019.

Contacts

Tamara Ellenbecker, website developer
Department of Industrial Engineering
479-575-3157, tellenb@uark.edu

Nick DeMoss, director of communications
College of Engineering
479-575-5697, ndemoss@uark.edu

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