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The Innovators podcast, a product of Harris Search Associates, features interesting conversations with global thought leaders in the areas of higher education and research, engineering, technology, and the health sciences and provides our listeners an opportunity to benefit from lessons learned from the national leaders changing the landscape of innovation and discovery. Visit the Harris Search Associates website here.

Oct 4, 2022

Dr. Talitha Washington is Professor of Mathematics and the Director of the Atlanta University Center Data Science Initiative.
On leave to the National Science Foundation, she received the NSF Director’s Award for Superior Accomplishment in 2020 “for exceptional stewardship in establishing the first NSF Hispanic-serving Institution program.” She is a graduate of Spelman College and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut, then completed a research post-doctorate at Duke University.
The Atlanta University Center Data Science Initiative is a unique collaboration among four historically black colleges and universities (Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College) aiming to infuse data science within and across each institution, and led by its Director, Dr. Washington, who responded to these questions:
  1. How did the four institutions of the consortium come together to seek to establish a data science initiative and why?
  1. What is the scope of the AUC Data Science Initiative and what outcomes are being pursued?
  1. You and your staff are tasked with integrating data science into and across the curricula of four separate institutions and therefore have to know how courses and curricula are made. How do you go about making change take place? Moreover, aren’t you also changing faculty?
  1. As a mathematician and data scientist yourself, it seems likely that you have looked at data on the relative success of cross-institutional, multi- and inter-disciplinary curricular and instruction initiatives such as you are directing. What do the data tell you?
  1. A final question is prompted by good news for you and your colleagues. The National Science Foundation announced that Clark Atlanta University will be awarded a $10 million grant to establish the National Data Science Alliance. The new Alliance will extend the University’s efforts to expand participation in data science to the nation’s HBCU institutions and increase the numbers of credentialed Black data scientists. 
As the new Alliance’s principal investigator, tell us what is the scale of this effort? How many more institutions will be involved and what do you aim to accomplish in terms of additional student data scientists?
Innovators is a podcast production of Harris Search Associates. 

*The views and opinions shared by the guests on Innovators do not necessarily reflect the views of the interviewee's institution or organization.*

For additional insights on data science, see previous INNOVATORS podcasts: 
Digital Health – Technological and Scientific Invention and Innovation in Healthcare; 
The Burgeoning and Expanding Field of Data Science; and Artificial Intelligence and Precision Medicine.