STEM Fellowship Announces 2021 Big Data Challenge Winners and JMIR Publications’ First Interns!

Two finalists to join JMIR team in taking on data-driven projects

(TORONTO, August 3, 2021): On Saturday, July 17th, STEM Fellowship named Benjamin Fedoruk, Harrison Nelson, Kai Fucille Ladouceur, and Russel Frost as the “JMIR Infodemic Innovation Award” winners of this year’s Big Data Challenge. JMIR Publications is thrilled to announce that finalists Stephanie Quon and Nirupama Tamvada will be joining the JMIR team as our first ever STEM Fellowship interns!

We caught up with one of the Infodemic Innovation Award winners, Benjamin Fedoruk, who says: “The Undergraduate Big Data Challenge provided me an opportunity to apply skills I’ve learnt in my studies, towards solving real-world problems. With help from mentors Anish R. Verma and Vinayak Nair, I was able to hone my research and writing skills. I’ve developed an ability to view the world’s problems from a solution-mindset—the problems of the world feel approachable and solvable. The Undergraduate Big Data Challenge is a great opportunity for young people to make an impact on society.” The video presentation of his team’s project – The Plebian Algorithm – can be viewed here.

This year, the teams of undergraduate students competed to explore applications of and insights on infodemiology to discover connections in digital and public health, using openly available data. The final projects were submitted in the form of research papers and video presentations, which were judged by a panel of expert judges from academia and industry. Stephanie’s team developed a machine learning program to predict COVID-19 vaccine uptake at the country level using demographic data. Nirupama’s team used natural language processing and sentiment analysis in building a tool to determine the veracity of COVID-19 information on Reddit and Twitter, collecting their own datasets along the way.

We are thrilled to have such driven young people engaging with the digital health movement. In this paid internship, we look forward to combining their technical skills and desire to learn with our publishing expertise in developing innovative solutions to some common challenges in scholarly communications.

As Chief Innovation and Development Officer at JMIR, Adrian Stanley points out that the scope and style of this year’s Big Data Challenge could not have been a better fit for JMIR Publications:

“I am delighted to combine my role as a member of the STEM Fellowship Board Chair and my position at JMIR Publications to invite Stephanie and Nirupama into the wider world of scholarly communications. Their research projects showcase all the best parts of an open science landscape: innovation, collaboration, and accessibility. I would like to thank all of the contestants for their hard work and look forward to the continued success of this competition.”

You can view all the finalists’ manuscripts as well as a welcome note from our own Dr. Gunther Eysenbach here on the STEM Fellowship website. You can watch Dr. Eysenbach’s full keynote on the history of infodemiology here.

We are immensely proud to support this initiative that does so much to engage young people in open science; we hope you spread the word about this competition to the curious people in your life!

The awards were judged by a panel of Canadian data science experts across industries and were presented by Anish R. Verma, Chief Data Officer of STEM Fellowship, at the organization’s headquarters in Toronto.

About JMIR Publications

JMIR Publications is a leading, born-digital open-access publisher of academic journals and other innovative scientific communication products that focus on medicine, health, and technology. Its flagship journal, the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is the leading digital health journal globally in terms of quality/visibility in the medical informatics category and is the largest journal in the field. 

About STEM Fellowship

Founded in 2015, STEM Fellowship is a Canadian registered charity that uses mentorship and experiential learning to equip the next generation of change–makers with skills in data science and scholarly writing. STEM Fellowship presents a new philosophy for student-driven experiential learning, creating an equitable and equal virtual space to connect the ideas students across Canada with world-class experts.

STEM Fellowship Big Data Challenge finalists, and 2021 JMIR interns, Stephanie Quon and Nirupama Tamvada. Stephanie is entering her third year at the University of British Columbia where she studies electrical engineering. Nirupama recently graduated from the University of British Columbia and is continuing her education at McMaster University, pursuing a Master’s in statistics.