Two DoSS PhD Students Receive U of T COVID-19 Student Engagement Awards

August 17, 2020 by Negin Neghabat

The U of T COVID-19 Student Engagement Award provides financial support to U of T students working collaboratively on projects that contribute to developing a global community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Successful projects are supported by the Office of the Vice-President, International, University of Toronto Mississauga, University of Toronto Scarborough, Faculty of Arts & Science, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Rotman School of Management, OISE, and the Centre for International Experience.

Two projects by DoSS gradaute students, Michael Moon and Kamal Rai, were named recipients of the awards.

One project, titled, ‘Assessing the global effect of public health interventions on COVID-19 pandemic growth and unemployment,’ by Michael Moon, a 2nd-year DoSS PhD student (entering his 3rd year in the Fall) and his collaborators Kaviul Khan, Thai-Son Tang, and Jerry Lin, all graduate students of the biostatistics program, aims to provide a statistical assessment of different non-pharmaceutical interventions implemented by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. The considered measures may include physical distancing, lockdowns, public awareness campaigns, and mass testing. Currently, the team is collecting data on public intervention measures implemented by Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, and South Korea, planning to use the data to assess how specific interventions relate to the spread of the disease. Another aspect of these interventions they are interested in is their effect on the respective economies of these countries; for example, the development of unemployment rates over time. Michael Moon's geenral research interests lie in applied statistics, statistics education and statistics communication. 

The other award-receiving project by undergraduate students Maggie Ma and Zarif Mahmud and 3rd-year DoSS PhD student Kamal Rai examines the nature of the COVID-19 outbreak in Ontario among different sections of the population, such as seniors and various socio-economic groups. The goal is to develop visualizations that facilitate comparisons about how these differences evolve over time. The overall project goal is to gain a better understanding of the nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, and how certain population groups have been disproportionately impacted by it. The two undergraduate students involved in the project are Statistics students Maggie Ma and Zarif Mahmud. Maggie is a 4th year student with a double major in Human Geography and Statistics, and Zarif Mahmud is Computer Science Specialist with a Statistics major. Kamal Rai is a 3rd-year DoSS PhD student with research interests in applied statistics; currently he is investigating the effects of air pollution on population health.

The Department of Statistical Sciences congratulates Michael and Kamal and their respective teammates and wishes them success in their important research quest; and congratulations to all the biostatistics students of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health on receiving their COVID-19 Student Engagement Awards!

Michael Moon
Kamal Rai