Welcome to the Rhode Island Opioid Data Journalism Project

We are a multidisciplinary group of journalists and data scientists from Brown University, led by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tracy Breton. Over the past 18 months, we have worked together to investigate the opioid epidemic in Rhode Island and tell critical stories about a decades-long national crisis, producing dozens of stories along the way. Journalists have found compelling stories about opioids in RI, ranging from human interest to data-driven investigation. At the same time, we’ve utilized the expertise and technical know-how of data scientists to dig into daunting datasets and create evocative and informative graphics. We hope these pieces will be published in 2021.


We’ve broken up our project into multiple sections as follows:

How Rhode Island’s Criminal Justice System Has Responded to the Opioid Epidemic

Who is Overdosing and Where — A Micro Look at Opioid Deaths in Providence Over the Past Three Years

Pharmacies and Addiction

Rhodes Pharmaceuticals — Rhode Island’s Opioid Manufacturing Base

Doctors and the Opioid Epidemic

The Human Toll

Lives Lost Too Soon — 11 Portraits of Grief

Attacking the Problem

Our Team


Hal Triedman is a December 2020 graduate of Brown University, with degrees in computer science and history. This project was his first experience with data journalism and computer-aided reporting, and he hopes to pursue the intersection of CS and journalism further as he starts his career.

Olivia George is a senior at Brown University studying history and plans to pursue a career in investigative journalism. She has written for The Providence Journal and Teen Vogue, and in the summer of 2021 she interned at The Virginian-Pilot.

Ivy Scott is a 2021 Brown University graduate who studied international journalism and French. Her writing has appeared in The Providence Journal and The Boston Globe.

Colleen Cronin is a 2021 graduate from Brown University who concentrated in English on the non-fiction track. Colleen was previously the Editor-in-Chief of The Brown Daily Herald and is currently a freelance journalist working for The Daily Dot and The Boston Globe.

Greer Brigham is a 2020 graduate from Brown University where he studied political science and economics. The service of his father, Lt. Henry D. Brigham III, USS Fahrion (FFG-22), inspired Greer to cover the opioid epidemic’s effects on veterans. Greer is currently using his background in politics, economics, and journalism to investigate issues related to income inequality.

Li Goldstein is a senior at Brown University concentrating in English, Nonfiction Writing. She currently works as a managing editor at The Brown Daily Herald, and hopes to pursue a career in journalism after graduation.

Maia Rosenfeld is a television data reporter in Philadelphia, PA, and was a Scripps Howard Fellow at the Scripps Washington Bureau. She graduated from Brown in 2020, where she concentrated in Literary Arts and served as Metro News Editor for The Brown Daily Herald.

Gaya Gupta is a junior at Brown University concentrating in computer science and English. She writes for The College Hill Independent and hopes to pursue a career melding reporting and data science as a member of an investigative reporting team.

Lucas Fried is a 2021 Brown University graduate, who studied public policy and economics. He loves writing about people and politics and is using his words to work on issues of civic engagement after graduation.

Max Kozlov is a science journalist from Boston, MA who graduated Brown University in 2020 with a degree in cognitive neuroscience. He was a 2020 AAAS Mass Media Fellow and his work has appeared in Quanta Magazine, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Scientist, and The Public’s Radio.

Marina Hunt is a 2021 graduate from Brown University who concentrated in history. She worked in the summer of 2020 as a multimedia production intern for the Council on Foreign Relations, and plans to pursue a career in journalism.

Nell Salzman is a senior at Brown University concentrating in comparative literature and Latin American and Carribean studies. She has a passion for telling other people’s stories and has written for The Denver Westword and The College Hill Independent.

Data Scientists

Jane Yue Yang is a senior at Brown University concentrating in applied math-computer science and appreciates the work of fellow student journalists.

Gabriel Rizk is a 2021 Brown Unversity graduate, where he studied computer science. He has worked as a software engineer at Amazon since graduation.

Lena Renshaw graduated from Brown University in 2020 with a degree in computer science. She currently works at a healthcare technology company in New York City and is passionate about using technology to create meaningful social change.

Cece Xiao graduated from Brown University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science-economics. She currently works as a software engineer in New York City.

Iris Lee is a 2020 graduate of Brown University, where she studied computer science. She now works in New York City as a software engineer at an internet services company.

Editor / Project Leader

Tracy Breton was an investigative and legal affairs reporter for The Providence Journal for 40 years and in 1994, was part of a team of reporters that won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of stories uncovering corruption in Rhode Island’s court system. She has been teaching journalism classes in the Nonfiction Writing Program of Brown University’s Department of English since 1997. Students she has taught at Brown now work at some of the nation’s most prestigious news media outlets. She is passionate about finding and reporting untold stories and training the next generation of journalists to do the job right. This project was her brainchild and the first at Brown to formally integrate computer-assisted reporting from data science students with reporting by journalism students.

Datasets and Sources

We’ve looked at a rich variety of data sources to get a deep understanding of the opioid crisis in Rhode Island:


We’re using several different tools to store, process and visualize data:

The members of the data science and graphics team are Hal Triedman, Lena Renshaw, Cece Xiao, Gaby Rizk, Iris Lee and Jane Yue Yang. This project started as a part of the Brown University Computer Science Department’s CS for Social Change class.

Hal Triedman (github: htried), Gaby Rizk and Jane Yue Yang coded this site and Hal Triedman led the CS for Social Change student team.