Predicting Food Deserts via Social Media

Access to nutritious food is imperative to physical well-being and quality of life. Failing to consume healthful food on a regular basis can lead to a series of adverse health outcomes, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Food deserts are areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet (CDC, 2016). The definition of food deserts is that areas where at least 500 people and/or at least 33 percent of the census tract’s population reside more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (for rural census tracts, the distance is more than 10 miles) (ANA, 2011). The distribution of food deserts (green) is shown in Figure 1.  Read More

Happy Postcrossing

In this world, people collect many types of things, such as movie posters, toys, or magnets, for many reasons. This blog focuses on using web scraping and data visualization to understand a special group of collectors: Postcrossers, who love exchanging postcards all over the world (Amazing! Right? I am a postcrosser!).

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How to Help Shelter Animals


Each year, approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide (ASPCA). Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.  About 2.7 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.4 million dogs and 1.3 million cats). Meanwhile, about 649,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners (542,000 dogs and 100,000 cats). Compared to these lucky cats and dogs finding their families to take them home, many shelter animals face an uncertain future. It is estimated that 2.7 million cats and dogs are euthanized in the US every year. Given the differences in outcomes for shelter animals, we can analyze the factors that make some cats and dogs more likely to get adopted.

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