Brown heads to Davos

January 24, 2012  |  By Richard Lewis |  401-863-2476
Shaping global, regional and industry agendas The World Economic Forum in Davos encourages the big thinking and analysis that will help global society confront its challenges. Four Brown faculty members are presenting at the forum this year. Credit: Casey Dunn/Brown University
Four Brown faculty members are in Davos, Switzerland, speaking about the challenges and potential of “Big Data” for solving persistent global human problems.

Four Brown faculty will speak about the challenges and immense potential of “big data” during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The World Economic Forum bills itself as an organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas. For more than 40 years, the annual meeting in Davos has been the epicenter of that global thinking and planning.

This year, Brown University will be well represented in the tiny Swiss village that hosts the meeting. On Wednesday, four Brown faculty will present an “IdeasLab” on the challenges of working with large datasets. The faculty who will speak are Jan Hesthaven, professor of applied mathematics; John Donoghue, professor of neuroscience; Susan Alcock, professor of classics; and Casey Dunn, assistant professor of biology.

In a blog post previewing the group’s presentation, Hesthaven said successfully sifting through massive data can enable the global society to overcome major challenges, such as climate change, seeking new sources of energy and security, curing cancer, or lifting billions of our fellow humans out of poverty.

“We find ourselves at a juncture where we have so much data that it’s created a bottleneck. We’re faced with a classic needle in a haystack problem — finding the data that are most useful,” Hesthaven wrote. “This is our bold, new world — a world on the cusp of data-driven research, innovation and discovery.”