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Mav Roundup

Fake News and Public Health

Student researcher explores vaccine misinformation

Illustration by Michael Austin

Illustration by Michael Austin

Ana Aleksandric, a graduate research assistant and doctoral student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is lending her expertise to the fight against misinformation and the role it plays in prolonging the spread of COVID-19. For her work, she was one of two in the world in 2021-22 to receive a competitive one-year Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform Scholars Informatics Internship from the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society.

“Health informatics is becoming even more important now because of the pandemic,” Aleksandric says. “Collecting data only from hospitals is not enough to understand what is happening at the community level.”

In her research, Aleksandric is analyzing Twitter activity to investigate where COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and disinformation are likely to occur, how social media enhances misinformation, and the impact it has on public health. Her work is supervised by Shirin Nilizadeh, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, and Gabriela Wilson, professor of kinesiology and co-director of the Multi-Interprofessional Center for Health Informatics at UTA.

“When we put the data together, it allows public health advocates to gain the knowledge needed to intervene against misinformation and assist the public in making fully informed health care decisions,” Aleksandric says.

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