Friday, December 10, 2021

Dhruv Participates in the 2021 COVID-19 Human Behavior Research Project

My name is Dhruv Gandhi, I am a Senior at George Mason University working on a research project titled, “Data-Driven Analysis of Human Behavior in COVID-19 Simulation Models.” I had no idea what this internship would be like, not only because of the coronavirus, but also because this is my first summer being part of a research project. Surprisingly, COVID didn’t affect the internship too much as we always had our scheduled meetings and interacted with all the other team members fairly frequently. At the beginning of the internship, a typical day would start with an hour-long meeting in the morning with each group updating the professors and the other groups about their progress. Then we would have our goals set for the day, which we would work on with our other group members. Most exciting part was the weekly hybrid meeting on Fridays because there was always a stock of donuts and coffee. Working with people with varying background working towards the same goal and learning every week about something you had never heard of before made this internship incredibly exciting. I was able to learn and implement techniques that I had thought to be too complex previously because I had professors and other group members to help me through the process. This internship was able to give me not only confidence about my abilities to contribute in a professional setting, but also taught me how to work in a professional setting and network with others. I believe this internship has done a great job of giving me a taste of what’s to come after I graduate from George Mason.

For the research, my group is developing a location predication algorithm using data from SafeGraph. The data contains 650 different geographical subsections of Fairfax County called census block groups (Tysons, West Springfield, etc.) and over 15,000 POIs which are places of interests such as malls, barber shops, and restaurants. Our goal is to create an algorithm that accurately predicts the number of visitors to a POI from a CBG for the next few weeks. This project is incredibly interesting to me because it applies a lot of the techniques I have learned in classes throughout my time at George Mason.