Archives Talk 3/3/17: The History of Higher Education in California: A Big Data Approach

UCSF School of Medicine class of 1964

Date: Friday, March 3rd, 2017
Time: 12 pm – 1:15 pm
Lecturer: Zach Bleemer (UCB)
Location: Lange Room, 5th Floor, UCSF Library – Parnassus
530 Parnassus Ave, SF, CA 94143

This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided.
REGISTRATION REQUIRED: http://calendars.library.ucsf.edu/event/2941746

In his talk at the UCSF Archives & Special Collections, Zach Bleemer will discuss how he has used data science – thousands of computer-processed versions of annual registers, directories, and catalogs –  to reconstruct a near-complete database of all students, faculty, and courses at four-year universities in California in the first half of the 20th century, including UC San Francisco (which taught both undergraduates and graduate students at the time). Visualizations of this database display the expansion of higher education into rural California communities, the rise and fall of various academic departments and disciplines, and the slow (and still-incomplete) transition towards egalitarian major selection.

Zach will also discuss his recent CSHE Working Paper, in which he uses additional digitized records to analyze the social impact of the early 20th century’s expansion of female high school science teachers and female doctors across rural California communities. He finds that newly-arrived female STEM professionals serve as important role models for young women in these rural communities, causing substantial increases in female college-going. However, these young women are no more likely to study STEM fields or become doctors themselves.

Zach Bleemer

Zach Bleemer

Zach Bleemer is a PhD student in Economics and Digital Humanities Fellow at UC Berkeley, where his research examines the educational and occupational decisions of young Americans. He has previously held senior research analyst positions at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Mathematica Policy Research, and has published working papers on student debt, parental coresidence, and university attendance. He is also currently a Research Associate at UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education and a Visiting Scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

UCSF Archives & Special Collections launched this lecture series to introduce a wider community to treasures and collections from its holdings, to provide an opportunity for researchers to discuss how they use this material, and to celebrate clinicians, scientists, and health care professionals who donated their papers to the archives.

In Process: Harold S. Luft papers

It’s Valentines Day, thus we bring you an update on progress in processing the professional papers of Harold S. Luft. (This one’s a bit abstract.)

Harold S. Luft. Photo: UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies

Photo: UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies

Luft is an esteemed health economist, serving the UCSF Philip R. Lee Health Policy Institute from 1978-2007, including a term as director from 1993-2007. His career encompasses extensive research in the realm of health care “big data”, analyzing health care markets, the functionalities of Health Maintenance Organizations and Preferred Provider Organizations, retail medicine and dentistry, risk pools, the relationships between volume and outcome of specific procedures, and many other subjects. His public service, including serving as a member of the Institute of Medicine, is vast and includes advising the UC System on structuring employee benefits. He has taken a crack at envisioning a national health care system that balances competition and judicious use of services to achieve stability and provide quality care in his book Total Cure

Archives & Special Collections received donations of Luft’s papers in 2000 and 2004, and processing is underway for this circa 100 linear foot collection. Look for it under call number MSS 2000-13. The collection includes extensive documentation (computer printouts, correspondence, drafts, project administration) of Luft’s research and data analysis for most of his published output. The material reflects earlier days of big data analysis, when Luft and his colleagues visited computer centers, wrote programs and queries, and carried it all home on long dot-matrix printouts or borrowed/rented open reel tapes for data storage. Often analysis was performed painstakingly by hand, as in the creation of the chart below.

Hospital resource allocation chart

Hospital resource allocation chart

Amongst the piles of journal article manuscripts, data and research angles are a number of analyses of various surgical procedures including – you guessed it – vascular surgeries, i.e. HEART ORIENTED PROCEDURES . Luft used data relating to vascular surgeries and especially Coronary Artery Bypass Graft surgery to analyze a number of health care delivery dynamics. One example is his analysis of the relationship between the volume of CABG surgeries performed in a given hospital and the likelihood of a favorable outcome. This led to the question “does practice make perfect?”

Figures for actual and expected death rates after vascular surgeries

 

Fighting the Plague: A Story of HIV/AIDS

As we prepare for our upcoming NHPRC grant project, Evolution of San Francisco’s Response to a Public Health Crisis: Providing Access to New AIDS History Collections, we wanted to highlight some of the work researchers have created using our AIDS History Project collections.

Fighting the Plague: A Story of HIV/AIDS

Thomas Packard, PhD, postdoctoral scholar and HIV researcher with Gladstone Institutes, recently visited us and dug into the collections. Read his complete article, “Fighting the Plague: A Story of HIV/AIDS” on his blog.

Bobbi Campbell, Person With AIDS, Activist. Photo Credit: Roger Ressmeyer.

Excerpt from Thomas Packard’s “Fighting the Plague: A Story of HIV/AIDS”:

In the beginning of the twentieth century, a plague was born. A new retrovirus started infecting humans that would later be named Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Though it wasn’t the first retrovirus to infect humans, it became the most feared, deadly, studied, and written about….Though this a story about a plague, which means it’s about fear and death, it’s more about fighting for life, the extraordinary strength of humanity, and crafting new weapons against the virus using research and medicine.

Following a jump from monkeys to humans over a hundred years ago, HIV lurked in Africa near the Congo River. It was unknown to medicine until an outbreak in the gay populations of San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles in 1980. We may never understand the full implications of the unlucky fact that HIV exploded into popular awareness as a disease associated with homosexuality. Entrenched intolerance caused a cross-pollination of stigma: this was a disease of the other.

Naming a disease “Gay Cancer” or “Gay-related immune deficiency (GRID),” as it was called in the early eighties, sounds ridiculous today. Of course, HIV doesn’t care if you’re gay or straight. The cancer component came from associations with KS (Kaposi’s Sarcoma), a type of skin cancer caused by a virus that can attack when your immune system is not functioning. This type of sickness is called an “opportunistic infection”, which means that the germ exploits an opportunity — the crack in immune defense — to infect a person. These opportunistic infections (commonly Pneumocystis pneumonia and KS, but also many others) are the executioners of the HIV/AIDS death sentence. It was the sudden appearance of these diseases among young gay men that were the harbingers of a plague.

Though popular opinion in the early eighties was largely ignorant or unsupportive, a group of heroes in the gay community, healthcare workers, and scientists became our first fighters in the new war. As an HIV researcher today, living in San Francisco and talking with the pioneers that are still alive, I feel very lucky to do my part as a new group of scientists on the front lines of HIV research. The early chapter of HIV history is incredible, and my brief exposure to it has changed my perspective, fundamentally shifted my reasons for research, and given me a deep love for the humans involved…Read the complete article.