We are pleased to announce that work from our ZIKA virus and the Olympics research project being conducted at the SMART Lab has been accepted for presentation at the 2017 International Communication Association (ICA) convention in San Diego.

The study unearths emerging patterns and trends surrounding perceptions and the impact of the ZIKA virus on the Rio Olympics. “The Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil were marred by negativity especially the widespread scare from Zika virus. This research examines the various concerns surrounding the Rio 2016 Olympics through an analysis of a large Twitter dataset. Results revealed that the overall sentiment surrounding the Rio Olympic event was mostly neutral and positive. Sport enthusiasts, media organizations, and journalists were the most avid tweeters. While health-related concerns were dominant, Zika-related concerns comprised a minor portion.” The project has been instrumental in providing deeper insights about the spread of information in online networks and the impact it has on public health preparedness.

Dr. Laeeq Khan has led the project with his team, which comprises Zulfia Zaher who is a graduate student, and Dr. Greg Newton, Associate Professor in the Media Arts & Studies program in Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University.

The accepted paper at ICA 2017 by Dr. M. Laeeq Khan, Zulfia Zaher, and Dr. Gregory D. Newton is titled: “How social media defined Rio Olympics: A text analytics approach towards understanding the impact of Zika Virus”.

The 67th annual ICA conference is being held in San Diego, California, USA between May 25th to May 29th, 2017.