Tune in to Focus Carolina during morning, noon and evening drive times and on the weekends to hear stories from faculty members at UNC and find out what ignites their passion for their work. Focus Carolina is an exclusive program on 97.9 The Hill WCHL, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. David Gotz with the UNC School of Information and Library Science helps physicians and researchers see which medications are working in specific patient populations, enabling them to make better treatment choices for patients.

“My research is in the area of what I call visual analytics and the basic idea is that we want to figure out ways to help people make better sense out of large, complex data sets and derive insights that help them make decisions about whatever it is that their expertise is about,” Dr. Gotz said.

“It could be a researcher who is trying to learn about some underlying process or a scientific fact or it could be something in economics, maybe where people are making a business decision.

“The idea behind visual analytics is that we want to combine interactive data visualization — basically ways to draw pictures of data on the screen that you can look at and see insights directly — together with underlying statistical analysis or machine learning, things that computers are good at to try and pair those two things together and in such a way that it helps people discover new insights from their data.”

Listen to part one of the interview with Dr. Gotz:

As a computer scientist, Dr. Gotz uses tools that other people can use.

“Patients, we can look at their health journey over time. Security logs, we can look at devices over time. Sports, we can look at teams over time or coaches over time and record data and do similar kinds of analysis.”

One aspect of Dr. Gotz’s work takes him to the field to collect data from mobile devices.

“We’re collaborating with some folks from outside UNC to look at a mobile health data. So things that come from fitbits or smart watches or other kinds of devices to try and understand data over time for patients who are suffering from Crohn’s and Colitis as the initial population that we’re focusing on.

“The goal of that project is to apply the same kinds of visual analytics technologies to understand patients over time using data that’s outside of the medical office.”

Listen to part two of the interview with Dr. Gotz: