About Us

The Population Informatics Research Group applies informatics, data science, and computational methods to the increasingly large digital traces available to advance public health, social science, and population research. This research group is a joint effort between UNC-CH and Texas A&M (TAMU). We currently collaborate with the Renaissance Computing Institute, Carolina Population Center, The Odum Institute, the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the School of Social Work at UNC and the School of Public Health and the Department of Computer Science at Texas A&M. We specialize in data science, KDD (Knowledge Discovery and Datamining), data integration, visualization, decision support systems, health informatics, computational social science, and privacy.

Our research is an emerging research area at the intersection of domain science (social, behavioral, economic, and health sciences), computer science, and statistics in which quantitative methods and computational tools are applied to big data about people to answer social science questions. Health informatics is a major subarea focusing on big data about health. We generally consider all research using large data sets where the unit of analysis is a person or groups of people (family, organizations, etc) as being relevant. Some examples are health informatics using hospital records, decision support systems based on administrative data for government agencies, public computational journalism using government data, and behavioral research using purchasing data.

Our primary home is the department of computer science with most of our students recruited from the department. We collaborate with many different organizations who work with big data about people. Dr. Hye-Chung Kum has a ph.D. in computer science as well as an MSW and holds an appointment in both the computer science department (UNC-CH) and the school of public health (TAMU). Dr. Stanley Ahalt is the director of RENCI (Renaissance Computing Institute), director of the Biomedical Informatics Core at NC-TraCS, and a full professor in the computer science department. We also work with the school of social work as well as other groups within and outside the school. We welcome collaborations with other researchers interested in population informatics, computational social science, computational journalism, and health informatics. Please contact Hye-Chung Kum (kum at tamhsc dot edu) if you have any questions.



Texas A&M

School of Public Health

College of Engineering




Public Health Students

      • Yong Choi (ychoi at tamhsc dot edu)
      • Yuxian Du (ydu at tamhsc dot edu)

CS Students

      • Jain Prannay
      • Vishwas Siravara
      • Johnny Yoon
      • Haiwei Chen

UNC-CH RENCI (Renaissance Computing Institute) Collaborators

  • Arcot Rajasekar, chief scientist at RENCI & professor at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS)
  • Ketan Mane
  • Sharlini Sankaran, executive director, REACH NC/RENCI
  • Howard Lander, senior research software developer

Texas A&M School Health Science Center, School of Public Health Collaborators

Texas A&M Center for Remote Healthcare Technology Collaborators

Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute (DHWI) Collaborators

  • Charles E. Bell, M.D., M.S.

UNC-CH Population Center Collaborators: Faculty/Staff

  • Barry Popkin (UNC Food Research Group)
  • Shu Wen Ng (UNC Food Research Group)

UNC-CH Odum Institute Collaborators: Faculty/Staff

  • Thomas W. Carsey
  • Jon Crabtree

UNC-CH School of Social Work Collaborators: Faculty/Staff

  • Dean Duncan
  • Kim Flair
  • Joy Stewart
  • Jennie Vaughn
  • Harlene Gogan
  • Cyrette Cotten-Fleming

UNC-CH School of Public Health Collaborators: Faculty/Staff

  • Dorthy Cilenti
  • Marisa Domino
  • Shirley Richards
  • Marianne Hillemeier (Pennsylvania State University)
  • Tim Whitmire (Center for Health Statistics, NC-DHHS)

Previous Students

CS Students

        • Darshana Pathak (dpathak at cs dot unc dot edu): SAS, Cary
        • Ren Bauer (rabauer at email dot unc dot edu): Automated Insights, Durham
        • Ian Sang-June Kim (iankim at unc dot edu)
        • Gautam Sanka (gausanka at gmail dot com)
        • Dennis Given(dgiven at live dot unc dot edu)
        • Jordan Reese (jsreese at live dot unc dot edu)
  • Zhaoyu Zhang
  • Wei Cheng
  • Shunping Huang
  • Nirup Reddy
  • Loreli Evans
  • Wilson Lian
  • David Brandl

SW students

  • Chung-Kwon Lee
  • Elizabeth Caplick Weigensberg
  • Rachel Buchanan
  • Paul Lanier
  • Ryan Morgan
  • Cheryl Noble
  • Jilan Li
  • Yeong-Hun Yeo
  • Jung-Won Huh

Research Group History

  • Fall 2013: Dr. Kum also joined Texas A&M Health Science Center and more connections were made with Texas A&M.  But UNC-CH also have seen more participation as the group matured.
  • Spring 2013: Became an inter organization group with Dr. Wells Joining Texas A&M Health Science Center
  • Fall 2012: Population Informatics Research Group
  • Fall 2010: Social Welfare and Health Informatics Group (SWHIG)