Beyond These Towers: Data Science and AI in Our Lives

Thursday, November 30, 2023
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

@Ease 605
605 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10158
United States


Data science and artificial intelligence have so much potential for profound impact on the challenges of today and tomorrow, and WPI is at the forefront. WPI researchers and alumni are harnessing these critical tools to revolutionize fire behavior analysis, disrupt human and wildlife trafficking, detect wound infections, investigate declines in middle school math achievement, and so much more.  

We invite you to join President Grace Wang, WPI faculty, alumni, and industry leaders for a reception and panel discussion on this important topic. 

November 30, 2023 at 6:00 PM
@Ease 605
605 Third Avenue
New York, New York

Advanced registration is required.

This Event Features:

  • Grace Wang, WPI President
  • Jean King, Peterson Family Dean of Arts & Sciences
  • Andreea Bodnari '10, Vice President of AI Products in Strategy & Innovation @UnitedHealth Group
  • John Manning '80, Chief Operating Officer and Corporate Chief of Staff, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Elke Rundensteiner, Professor, Computer Science & Program Head, Data Science
  • Fatemeh Ganji, Assistant Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Andrew Trapp, Associate Professor, The Business School

More information on our speakers can be found below.

This is an in-person only event - it will not be livestreamed or recorded.

This event is part of our Beyond These Towers presidential event series. For more information on the series, including other event locations, please click here.

Some Highlights of WPI's Impact Using Data Science and Artificial Intelligence

About Our Speakers


Andreea Bodnari ’10, Vice President of AI Products in Strategy & Innovation, @UnitedHealth Group

With over 10 years of experience in building and leading AI products and solutions, Andreea Bodnari is the VP of AI Products in Strategy & Innovation @UnitedHealth Group, where she leads applied artificial intelligence and machine learning teams focused on healthcare workforce augmentation. She is passionate about AI applications to improve healthcare outcomes, quality, and affordability.

Prior to joining UnitedHealth Group, Andreea was the Head of Healthcare AI Products for Google Cloud, where she launched the first Healthcare AI solutions for Google Cloud, including Healthcare Natural Language API, AutoML Healthcare, and risk adjustment automation solutions. Andreea also has an entrepreneurial background, having founded and scaled several enterprise AI companies that integrated analytics, ML and AI algorithms into traditional healthcare, life sciences, and financial services organizations. Andreea holds a BS in computer science from WPI and a PhD and an MSc in computer science and artificial intelligence from MIT. She is an active member of the product and ML community, frequently speaking at academic and industry conferences.



Fatemeh Ganji, Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Fatemeh's research focuses on interdisciplinary approaches covering two main angles of hardware security, namely machine learning, and cryptography, for design and evaluation of security-critical hardware. Her research has been funded by European Union, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Fatemeh has served as a reviewer for IEEE and ACM journals as well as a technical program committee member of Conference on Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems (CHES, 2020-2021), Field Programmable Logic and Applications (FPL, 2020), Design, Automation, and Test in Europe Conference (DATE 2021), and Conference on Security, Privacy and Applied Cryptography (SPACE 2020), to name a few.

Before joining the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at WPI, Fatemeh was a Post Doctoral Associate at the University of Florida (from 2018-2020) and at the Telecom Innovation Laboratories/Technical University of Berlin (from 2017-2018). She defended her dissertation with the title "On the Learnability of Physically Unclonable Functions" at the Technical University of Berlin. She was awarded the BIMoS Ph.D. Award in 2018 and nominated by the Technical University of Berlin for ACM Dissertation Award. More about Fatemeh



Jean King, Peterson Family Dean of Arts and Sciences

Jean King is the Peterson family Dean in the School of Arts and Sciences at WPI. She also serves as a professor of Biology and Biotechnology, affiliate professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department, professor in the Neuroscience Program and director of the NeuroTech Suite at WPI. Prior to joining WPI, she was vice provost for biomedical research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School; a tenured professor of psychiatry, radiology, and neurology; and director of the university’s Center for Comparative Neuroimaging.

Jean’s research uses multi-modal approaches to identify and characterize neuronal plasticity and behavioral modifications associated with stress and resilience – with emphasis on focus areas like mindfulness, addiction, ADHD, depression, fearfulness, anxiety, neurological disorders, aging, cognition, pain and sex differences in model systems and humans with the hope of finding clues to help us better understand these conditions and disorders. Her lab utilizes a translational approach which incorporates both clinical research and pre-clinical studies. In 2018, she helped launched the Neuroscience Initiative at WPI, fostering the establishment of a graduate program and an interdisciplinary Neurotechnology Suite at PracticePoint. The long-term goal of Jean’s research is to provide an understanding of the unique features of central mechanisms that regulate neurobehavioral health and wellbeing.

She has published over 100 original scientific publications including papers, book chapters and review articles in highly respected international scientific journals. She also served as an editor of New York Academy of Sciences Publication-Roots of Mental Illness in Children. She has been a scientific consultant for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, as well as the Veterans Administration. More about Jean



John Manning, Jr. ’80, Chief Operating Officer and Corporate Chief of Staff, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

John Manning holds a BS in Life Sciences from WPI. After receiving a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Notre Dame, John was a research fellow at Harvard University School of Public Health focused on bioremediation of hazardous waste.  He then joined the faculty of the University of Alabama at Birmingham as an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health where he led the development of a graduate program in Hazardous Waste Management and conducted laboratory research. 

In 1990, John moved to Argonne National Laboratory where for six years he led a group developing solutions to bioremediate sites of explosives and petroleum contamination. After completing his MBA in 1997, he moved to the Directors office at Argonne to focus on strategic planning and budgeting.  He joined the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) in 2000 to develop a centralized institutional approach to scientific core facility management. 

In his current role, he oversees administrative activities throughout VUMC and is responsible for the operations and business activities of the academic enterprise. He has direct responsibility for all Information Technology activities including infrastructure, software, and cybersecurity.  He is also responsible for all centralized analytics support for the enterprise, executive project management services, space and facilities planning, construction, and maintenance, environmental health and safety, pre-award grants activity, animal care, and community relations at the local, state and federal levels. 

Dr. Manning also provided day-to-day leadership in VUMC’s efforts to reduce expenses by $230 million (over a two-year period beginning in June 2013).   In 2015, Dr. Manning led the efforts in all administrative activities related to the reorganization of VUMC into a separate legal entity.



Elke Rundensteiner, The William Smith Dean's Professor in Computer Science & Founding Program Head, Data Science

Elke Rundensteiner is the founding program head of the interdisciplinary Data Science program at WPI.

Elke’s research focuses on how to make use of data and information effectively, towards achieving goals in business, scientific discovery, and digital health. With interconnectivity of the internet, the availability of computing power, and digital data everywhere, access to the right piece of information at the right moment, possibly fused together from numerous information sources, remains one of the most critical capabilities that can set you apart from others. Together with undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, and other faculty, I strive to develop intelligent systems solutions leveraging AI, machine learning, big data, and data visualization technologies to discover and explore important nuggets and patterns in massive data sets in near real-time in applications from fraud detection, digital health, emergency management, business intelligence, to event analytics. 

Elke holds a BS in Computer Science from J.W. Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany, an MS in Computer Science Computer Science from Florida State University, Tallahassee, and a PhD in Computer Science University of California, Irvine. More about Elke



Andrew Trapp, Associate Professor of Operations and Industrial Engineering, The Business School

Andrew “Andy” Trapp’s objective is to use science and technology to assist real human need by improving systems that serve vulnerable peoples, such as refugees and asylum seekers, survivors of human trafficking, and children in the foster care system. He believes that the convergence of novel analytical technologies and open-source software can create solutions that improve quality of life, increase fairness, restore dignity, and generate significant societal impact. His research focuses on using prescriptive (integer optimization) and predictive (machine learning) analytics, together with algorithms, to effectively allocate scarce resources. 

Under his mentorship, Andy’s team employs mathematical modeling and develops methods and tools to benefit vulnerable and marginalized individuals, groups, and populations. His research is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Ragnar Söderberg Foundation, and other organizations. More about Andy



Grace Wang, President, WPI

A materials scientist and highly accomplished and collaborative leader in higher education, government, and industry, Grace Wang, PhD, began her term as the 17th president of WPI in April of 2023. She is also a professor in the department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at WPI.

Grace comes to WPI from The Ohio State University (OSU) where she served as executive vice president for research, innovation, and knowledge, and as a professor in Materials Science and Engineering. Prior to her term at OSU, she served in a variety of leadership roles at the State University of New York (SUNY). Before SUNY, Grace was the deputy assistant director for engineering, and later acting assistant director for engineering, at the National Science Foundation (NSF). She began her career at IBM/Hitachi Global Storage Technologies where she focused on research and development of thin-film magnetic recording media and carbon overcoat for data storage. She holds seven U.S. patents.

In 2022, Grace was appointed by the White House to serve on the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee. She is a council member of the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. She is a member of the Board of Governors for the New York Academy of Sciences. She also serves on the Board of Massachusetts High Technology Council (MHTC).

Grace earned a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University. More about Grace

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