Gear Up for StatFest 2018 with Testimonials from StatFest 2017 Student Attendees

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StatFest 2018 Flyer

StatFest is a great opportunity for undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups (African American, Hispanic, Native Americans) to network and consider careers and graduate studies in the statistical sciences.  StatFest 2018 will be taking place on Saturday, September 22nd at Amherst College. Be sure to save the date!

The South Big Data Innovation Hub sponsored five graduate students for a panel at the undergraduate conference “StatFest”, which is a one day conference aimed at encouraging undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups (African American, Hispanic, Native Americans) to consider careers and graduate studies in the statistical and data sciences. These graduate students from various southern institutions were awarded travel fellowships through the South Hub SNAP-DS program, “Stimulating New Activities and Projects in Data Science”.  The South Hub developed the SNAP-DS program to provide travel support and student stipends to students to attend workshops and assist with data collection, tools or collection development, data synthesis, or exposure of ongoing siloed activities that could be made available to the larger Hub community. This SNAP-DS model will catalyze Hub members to develop, collect, and expose data and resources for the benefit of the entire national Big Data Hub network.  The pictured students utilized their SNAP-DS award to participate as panelists for the 2017 StatFest held at Emory University to share their experiences of being a statistics major, and as a minority or persons of color in the field, to encourage undergraduate students to enter the statistics field.

In preparation for StatFest 2018, here are a few student testimonials describing this unique opportunity.  Travel awards are available this year.

Renee Dale, Ph.D. candidate in Biology and MS candidate in Statistics at LSU:


‘StatFest showed me the value of encouraging undergraduates who are interested in math and statistics to consider an interdisciplinary field such as biostatistics. Students may not be aware of these opportunities, or what kind of degrees allow them to get good jobs down the line. I was particularly inspired by the fantastic mentorship demonstrated by the speakers, and I hope to follow in their steps in the future.’

Jemar Bather, M.S. candidate in Statistics at NYU:

Jemar Bather

‘This was the second StatFest conference I attended. It has given me the opportunity to network with other minority professionals in statistics and learn how they overcame the hurdles I am currently encountering. I am looking forward to attending my third StatFest in 2018 at Amherst!’

Brittney Bailey, Ph.D. candidate in Biostatistics at The Ohio State University:


‘StatFest as a graduate student panelist. I expected that I would just be there to provide some advice and perspective for prospective graduate students, but I walked away with much more. I took notes during each presentation, in part to try to capture the passion that was expressed by the different speakers and panelists. I was able to network with potential employers, collaborators, and colleagues. I learned how other institutions are investing in their undergraduate students and it gave me ideas for how I want to engage students in the future. I also received advice on tailoring job application materials, what to look for in a career, and how to balance work and life in different career settings.’

Ishmael Ohene Asamoah, M.S. candidate in Applied Statistics at the University of Akron:AOIshmael picture

‘Meeting corporate professionals, Professors and my likes (students) who have a common burning desire to acquire all the relevant skills necessary for a successful career in the world of statistics and data science during the StatFest 2017 was truly an eye opener and an opportunity to grow and network. This September event held at Emory University ran me through a good number of areas that I can consider in applying my skills to as a Data Scientist. Bright light was thrown on some modern and advanced statistical techniques that are useful in this modern-day business and research with my individual discussions with the Professors who attended. I was left with a very strong quest to research more into these areas and the result of my researches, so far into these advance methods, has been impressively value adding. I can’t wait to get together again under this umbrella of knowledge next year. The richness in the networks will forever stick with me in the years to come.’

Brittany Green, Ph.D. candidate in Business Analytics and Statistics at the University of Cincinnati:

Brittany Green Photo for JSM

I really enjoyed participating in StatFest both in terms of giving tips to undergraduates on my current experience in a graduate program, and receiving advice and building connections with those in industry and academia.”

Excited to attend this event?  Click Here for more information about StatFest 2018!


#SDSC18: 2018 Southern Data Science Conference Recap

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Speakers and Board Members from the Southern Data Conference which featured over 300 attendees. Images Left to Right: South Hub Co-Executive Directors; Renata Rawlings-Goss and conference chair Khalifeh AlJadda Lead Data Scientist for CareerBuilder; Lea Shanley speaking on panel; Renata Rawlings-Goss and conference Hack-a-thon chair Beverly Wright, CAO  at Aspirent; SDSC Advisory Board

Acting as a member of the advisory committee, the South Big Data Regional Innovation Hub in conjunction with the Southern Data Science Conference welcomed data enthusiasts to Atlanta.  On April 13-14, the second Southern Data Science Conference was held at the beautiful Marriott hotel in downtown Atlanta. To no surprise, the sold-out conference included 350+ data science enthusiasts, and top speakers from top companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Uber,… etc. and top research institutions like Georgia-Tech, UGA, UNC,…etc.  From responsible AI to ‘fake news’ to emoticons to team management, the Southern Data Science Conference did not disappoint!

The event provided numerous takeaways, including:

  • AI should not be thought of as an artificial entity that is here to replace but to ‘augment’ and ‘amplify’ a human’s ability to innovate
  • Transparency does not automatically equate to understanding.  Understanding requires explaining data in terms stakeholders can comprehend
  • True successful collaboration begins at the very beginning; utilize goal sharing to facilitate collaboration

The event also centered around cutting-edge technologies and best practices in data science addressing topics like:

  • AI and Ethics
  • Machine Learning
  • AI in Social Media
  • Cybersecurity
  • AI and Human Collaboration
  • Practices to Identify Actionable Values of Data Science
  • Data Silos
  • Team and Project Collaboration
  • Sentiment of Emojis

In addition to the two full days of speakers, the event featured a full day of pre-conference workshops, research tracks, and an ATLytiCS Hackathon for Good, sponsored by 3Sage, targeting homelessness.  Attendees also enjoyed networking opportunities where old industry friends reconnected, and new partnerships were made.

According to attendees and speakers, this is a must-attend event!  During the event, the SDSC announced the next conference will be held in Orlando, FL on Oct 18, 2018.  Continually follow the Southern Data Science Conference on twitter @Southerndsc or visit their website for up to date conference information.

Did you attend the conference?  What were a few memorable takeaways from the event?

Want to view more conference content?  Visit the twitter hashtag – #sdsc18, for a catalog of pictures and the most quotable moments.

“We are missing collaboration. Put knowledge in our people’s hands to move forward with data for true innovation.” – Joshua Sutton, President, and CEO of Pandera Systems.

BREAKING: DataUp – Keeping Data Science Broad Recipients Announced

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Last week, The South Big Data Innovation Hub announced the recipients of the 2018 DataUp: Keeping Data Science Broad Series. The recipients represent Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs), community colleges, and primarily teaching-focused institutions.   Each of the recipients will receive a 2-day data science workshop on their respective campuses and travel funding for an in-person ‘train-the-trainers’ workshop in Atlanta, GA to prepare teams to teach regional data science workshops.

Join us in congratulating the 2018 DataUp: Keeping Data Science Broad Series recipients:

Texas A&M University-Kingsville from Kingsville, TX

Frederick Community College from Frederick, MD

Johnson C. Smith University from Charlotte, NC

Florida A&M University from Tallahassee, FL

Old Dominion University from Norfolk, VA

Spelman College from Atlanta, GA

The University of Virgin Islands from St. Thomas, USVI

University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras from San Juan, PR

For more program information see ‘2018 Program Announcement‘ and our ‘Keeping Data Science Broad‘ public webinar series.