Learning by Doing: About the Program
Our Data Science for the Public Good (DSPG) Young Scholars program is a summer immersive program for undergraduate and graduate students from across the country. The program brings together and engages students on research projects that address state, federal, and local government challenges around critical social issues relevant in the world today.
DSPG young scholars conduct research at the intersection of statistics, computation, and the social sciences to determine how information generated within every community can be leveraged to improve quality of life and inform public policy. Undergraduate interns and graduate fellows work in collaborative teams with postdoctoral associates and research faculty from the Social and Decision Analytics division, and project stakeholders.
Young scholar research teams come from diverse academic backgrounds. They combine disciplines including statistics, data science, and the social and behavioral sciences to address complex problems proposed by local, state, and federal agencies. Students work on multiple projects of their choice and interact with other young scholars, Institute faculty and staff, and sponsors.
I’ve had many class discussions about how algorithms themselves can generate bias through improper design or use of unrepresentative data. Discussing the potential for bias and actually mitigating it in practice are two very different tasks. Working on this project helped me understand the ways that technology perpetuates injustice and gave me some tools for creating equitable tech in the future.
The program runs for 10 weeks for undergraduate interns and 11 weeks for graduate fellows in the summer, typically May to August.
Fellows and interns are selected through a competitive national search, and are paid a stipend for participation in the program. Graduate fellows possess high quantitative, statistical, computational and programming skills. They lead, support, and guide undergraduate students together with SDAD faculty and postdocs. Undergraduate students acquire the skills for programming and statistical analysis through the trainings necessary for their research projects.
The DSPG program equips new generations of scientists with the skills they need to inform intelligent governmental policy and decision-making. To view projects from last year's program, click here.
- Horizontally and vertically integrated team research with dedicated graduate students, postdocs, and faculty in collaboration with sponsors from local, state, and federal governments
- Expert training in essential tools for statistical computing, including R, Python, GIS, and databases
- Professional training through workshops, seminars, and career talks
- Individualized mentors working closely with students
- Technical report and publication opportunities
- Opportunity to interact with decision-makers in industry and government agencies, and to attend policy events on Capitol Hill and in Washington, D.C.
At the end of the summer program, scholars have an opportunity to present their research at the DSPG Annual Symposium, a signature event of the DSPG Forum that brings together a community of scientists, scholars, researchers, and policy-makers hoping to gain insight on using data science to positively transform the areas in which we live, work, and play. The Annual Symposium takes place in early August, and features several keynote speakers and poster presentations by the young scholars. Prior keynote speakers have included:
- Nancy Potok, Chief Statistician of the United States, Office of Management and Budget
- Catherine Woteki, former Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics and former Chief Scientist, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and currently, Distinguished Institute Professor at the Biocomplexity Institute
- Ron Jarmin, Deputy Director, U.S. Census Bureau
- Phil Bourne, Dean, University of Virginia School of Data Science
- Kenneth Prewitt, Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs at Columbia University and Special Advisor to the President
The 2019 and 2020 symposium keynote speakers and the young scholar poster speed session are available on YouTube.