January 16, 2023

Professor Vonu Thakuriah to lead new initiatives at the RUCI Lab!

The RUCI Lab welcomes Dr. Vonu Thakuriah, who will resume her role as the Director of the Rutgers Urban and Civic Informatics (RUCI) Lab! Vonu Thakuriah is a Distinguished Professor at Bloustein, Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Her research interests are in transportation planning and operations; big data, urban informatics, smart cities and social and economic cyberinfrastructure; and the social equity and data justice aspects of information technology, AI and automation. She has a wide range of experience in helping government agencies and private companies find data-intensive and technology-based solutions to complex urban and mobility challenges, particularly strategies that are centered on social justice, environmental sustainability, health and wellbeing, and ethics and responsible innovation in data and technology.

December 7, 2022

Smart OCR: Advancing the use of Artificial Intelligence with open data

In their research driven blog post for the New Jersey State Policy Lab, RUCI Lab research assistants Parth Jain, Abhinay Mannepalli, and Raj Parikh, under the guidance of Professor Jim Samuel, conceptualized the need for intelligent character recognition systems for public service, especially with open data initiatives. They described their work on an artificially Intelligent adaptive ‘Optical character recognition’ (OCR) mechanism. Their smart OCR mechanism works as a digit recognition system that can “read” the written digits with improved accuracy.

December 2022

Rutgers researchers develop a beta version of the Garden State Open Data Index (GSODI)

In their open data research project for the New Jersey State Policy Lab, researchers from the RUCI Lab and other organizations worked under the guidance of Professor Jim Samuel to develop a beta version of the Garden State Open Data Index (GSODI) – this is a feature-rich repository of information about the open data ecosystem in the state of New Jersey and is supported by the GSODI-2023 report. The GSODI-2023 report is anticipated to be released by the New Jersey State Policy Lab by February, 2023.

November 11, 2022

PISG informatics forum on “Knowledge Graphs in Natural Language Processing”

The Public Informatics Students Group (PISG) conducted a hands-on virtual workshop “Knowledge Graphs in Natural Language Processing: Overcome Domain Adaptation Challenges in Language Models,” led by Vivek Kumar, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Scholar, University of Cagliari, Italy, and organized by the MPI program, RUCI Lab, Bloustein Student Services, BGSA and external collaborators.

October 24, 2022

Artificial Intelligence and open data for public good: Implications for public policy

RUCI Lab Research Assistants Nishitha Chidipothu, Snigdha Mishra, and Shiya John wrote an article for the New Jersey State Policy Lab titled “Artificial Intelligence and Open Data for Public Good: Implications for Public Policy” under the guidance of Professor Jim Samuel. This research article explores the range and potential for value creation with AI and open data.

October 19, 2022

Virtual workshop with Microsoft’s AI for Good Lab: Open Data for Society: Accelerating Solutions for Society’s Most Pressing Challenges

This virtual workshop was conducted by distinguished speakers Anthony Cintron Roman and Lucas A Meyer from the AI for Good Lab at Microsoft, and facilitated by Professor Jim Samuel. This event was hosted by the Rutgers Urban & Civic Informatics (RUCI) Lab, in collaboration with the New Jersey State Policy Lab, OARC – Rutgers University, the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub – NSDC, and the New Jersey Big Data Alliance (NJBDA). For additional details, visit:

September 29, 2022

Intelligent Help for The Opioid Crisis Lifecycle – RUCI Lab research

RUCI Lab Research Assistants Shiya John, Sri Krishna Kaashyap M, and Nishitha Chidipothu published an article title “Intelligent help for the opioid crisis lifecycle: the need for an artificial intelligence and informatics” under the guidance of Professor Jim Samuel for the New Jersey state policy lab. This study conceptualized the “opioid crisis lifestyle” and articulated the need for artificial intelligence and informatics to better identify factors involved in the current opioid crisis.

September 2022

Professor Jim Samuel warns AI Needs to balance utility and privacy in opioid overdose tracking n “How Bots Can Prevent Opioid Overdoses Before They Happen” in The Daily Beast. Read Article

August 2022

RUCI Lab Director, and Distinguished Professor Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah was honored with the National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS) Distinguished Alumni Award at the Joint Statistical Meetings-American Statistical Association annual conference in Washington, D.C. for her contributions to cross-disciplinary research that helped government organizations and private businesses find data-intensive and technological solutions to complex urban and mobility challenges by putting a focus on social justice, ethics in data and technology, environmental sustainability, and health and well-being.

July 2022

The Rutgers MPI program is now offering a 1-credit course in data visualization called 34:816:656, Seminar in Public Informatics – Intro to Python & Data Visualization from 7/25/2022 to 8/17/2022 that introduces students to Python for data visualization using Jupyter notebooks and focuses on hands-on development of visual representations of various types of data with applications in informatics, data science, analytics, and AI. Read More

June 30, 2022

For the NJ Policy Lab, Gavin Rozzi explores the overdose hotspots in New Jersey

June 9, 2022

Dean Shapiro & Professor Samuel present at Microsoft, Redmond, WA.

Bloustein Dean Stuart Shapiro led a visit to Seattle and met with Rutgers alumni. He spoke at Microsoft, Redmond, WA, on the importance of data in policy making and the usefulness of the Master of Public Informatics program at Bloustein.

The visit was facilitated by Simon Liepold, Director & Deputy Chief of Staff at Microsoft, who presented the highlights of Microsoft’s strategic initiatives and technological advancements. Simon is a Rutgers alum from Bloustein, and he also facilitated a guided tour of Microsoft’s Cybercrime Center.

Lucas A. Meyer, Principal Data Scientist at the Microsoft AI for Good Research Lab, presented projects from Microsoft’s AI for Good Research Lab which revealed significant insights into ways in which Artificial Intelligence can be used for improving the quality of human life and for social good.

Professor Jim Samuel, Bloustein Informatics faculty, presented at Microsoft and spoke on “2050: Will Artificial Intelligence Dominate Humans?”. The ‘2050: Will AI Dominate Humans?’ presentation slides by Dr. Samuel, Executive Director of the Master of Public Informatics program at Bloustein, are available at this link:

The sessions at the historic Starbucks location with coffee tasting on the 8th of June and at Microsoft, Redmond, WA, on the 9th of June, 2022, were facilitated by Joquoya Murphy, Assistant Director, Regional Engagement – Western U.S., Rutgers University.


May 20, 2022

Elana Simon’s NLP-focused Spring 2022 Informatics Studio project, “Spatial Topic Modeling: Surfacing NJ’s Industrial Development Trends with Commercial Real Estate Blogs“, was selected for presentation at the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference 2022 in the Student Studio Section. 

May 17, 2022

Marc Pfeiffer to lead “Keeping Our Head in the Clouds” session at the New Jersey Digital Government Summit on 5/17/2022 and Jim Samuel is on the panel for the “Artificial Intelligence and Government” session at the same event! Information and registration.

May 9, 2022

Bloustein Distinguished Professor Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah was a featured speaker in the Good System, A UT Grand Challenge’s Good system speaker series ( Her topic was Ethics and Responsible Innovation in Data-Intensive Smart Cities and Urban Mobility Management. Watch Recording

May 2022

Professor Jim Samuel from the MPI Program publishes ACF in IJIM, a highly respected journal (Aug 2022, early release): “Adaptive cognitive fit: Artificial intelligence augmented management of information facets and representations”, along with co-authors Drs. Kashyap, Samuel and Pelaez. The article is available for open access download  and a brief summary is available.

May 2022

Shiya Johngraduate student at Bloustein and RA at the RUCI Lab, leads a blog post on drug addiction in NJ, informatics and AI for the NJ Policy Lab

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May 2022

Over the past year, Prof. Radha Jagannathan was nominated for the Alice Amsden Best Book Award by the Society for the Advancement of Socio-economics for Caught in the Safety Net: Cultural Prescriptions for Youth Unemployment and Economic Dependency. The Nurture thru Nature (NtN) program, of which Dr. Jagannathan co-directs, was the recipient of a 2021 Real Impact Awards 2021 – Mobilizing Research into Action offered by Emerald Publishing. Dr. Jagannathan was also appointed to the Board of Directors of the PASCAL International Observatory and to the Faculty Advisory Board, Center for Mathematics, Science, and Computer Education at Rutgers University and selected competitively to the Fulbright Specialist Roster. Visit Professor Jagannathan’s faculty page.

April 22, 2022

Professor Clinton Andrews explores robots design for social contexts in this latest article published in IEEE Technology and Society.

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April 4, 2022

New Public Informatics Student Group (PISG) leadership team to work closely with the RUCI lab on events and projects.

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March 28, 2022

Jim Samuel’s research, with a team of co-authors, on the Vulnerability Index (PVI) of cities in the United States was cited in was cited in News Medical.

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February 11, 2022

Gavin Rozzi Explores how Shooting Calls to NBPD Increased Sharply in 2021 in New Brunswick Today

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December 19, 2021

Jim Samuel published “A Call for Proactive Policies for Informatics and Artificial Intelligence Technologies” for Scholars Strategy Network

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July 2021

Gavin Rozzi published “zipcodeR: Advancing the analysis of spatial data at the ZIP code level in R” in ScienceDirect

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March 26, 2021

Vonu Thakuriah is named a 2021 Higher Education ROI Influencer by

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October 2020

Gavin Rozzi presents the OPRAmachine dataset: data containing detailed metadata on public records requests submitted to state & local public authorities in New Jersey since October 2017 in Data in Brief

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May 11, 2020

Gavin Rozzi featured on EJB Talks podcast to discuss RUCI lab research.

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Seeing Cities Through Big Data
Research, Methods and Applications in Urban Informatics

Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Rutgers Urban & Civic Informatics Lab, together with Nebiyou Tilahun and Moira Zellner edited “Seeing Cities Through Big Data Research, Methods, and Applications in Urban Informatics,” an excellent compilation of selected peer-reviewed papers presented at a two-day workshop on Big Data and Urban Informatics sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and held at the University of Illinois Chicago. This is a must-read for those interested in urban informatics, big data for urban applications and smart cities. For additional details, please visit: