Identifying Disinformation Risk on News Websites

(project description available here)


A photo of George Hope Chidziwisano

George Hope Chidziwisano, Fellow

Doctoral Student, Department of Media and Information
Michigan State University


George Hope Chidziwisano is a PhD student in Information and Media at Michigan State University (MSU). Hope’s research focuses on Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD). Specifically, Hope is interested in investigating the role of sensor-based technologies for domestic activities in sub-Saharan Africa. He has conducted multiple design-oriented projects in Kenya. He has worked with local technicians to develop sensor-based systems for monitoring power-blackouts and domestic security in Kenyan households. He has also developed collaborative digital financial systems for promoting financial transparency and accountability in micro-savings groups.

Hope is excited to learn new data science techniques through the Data Science for Social Good internship program this summer. He is interested in collaborating with other fellows to gain practical experience about implementing risk models to combat disinformation. Further, he looks forward to contributing to the program by sharing his personal and research experiences. Hope has a master’s degree in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) from MSU. He did his undergraduate studies in Computer Science and Physics at the University of Malawi, Chancellor College and graduated in 2015. 

A photo of Richa Gupta

Richa Gupta, Fellow

Master’s student, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Columbia University

Richa Gupta is a master’s student at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She is studying Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences with Data Science Focus. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Engineering from Malaviya National Institute of Technology, India. After her undergraduate studies, Richa worked for a technology consulting firm and worked as an analyst for American healthcare companies. She then joined the prestigious Teach for India fellowship and taught primary grades for two years.

Before starting graduate school, she was working as an Assistant School Leader with a low-income school in India. Her interests lie in exploring use of technology and research to develop solutions for social problems. She has strived to integrate her strong technical background with her love for impactful work through her masters and looks forward to continuing it with the DSSG program.

A photo of Kseniya Husak

Kseniya Husak, Fellow

Master’s Student, School of Information/School of Public Policy
University of Michigan

Kseniya’s curiosity in social policy and environmental justice movement led her to a career in solar in 2015. For over three years, she helped administer state-funded solar programs that serve disadvantaged communities across California. Wanting to fully master her policy analysis skills, she moved across the country to pursue master’s degrees in Public Policy and Information Science at the University of Michigan. In the course of her studies, Kseniya was exposed to the magic of data science, in particular the extent to which it allows for a much deeper and nuanced analysis of social problems and promotes creative solutions for addressing them. She is incredibly excited to serve as a DSSG fellow this summer precisely because of the opportunity it offers to use data science to address one of the biggest social problems of our time – online disinformation. Given that the ability of citizens to make informed decisions is the cornerstone of a functioning democracy, she finds the problem of online disinformation to be especially pressing. And as someone who aspires to a career in public service, Kseniya is very motivated to contribute to this project over the course of the fellowship.
A photo of Maya Luetke

Maya Luetke, Fellow

Ph.D. Candidate in Epidemiology, School of Public Health
Indiana University, Bloomington


Maya Luetke, MSPH, is a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Indiana University School of Public Health Bloomington. Her research focuses on the intersection of economics, infectious disease, sexual health, and gender-based violence. She is particularly interested in global health and has worked in several countries in Africa and Latin America. She is passionate about social justice and hopes to use data science methods to develop interventions that address structural inequities in the United States and abroad as well as conduct innovative and rigorous social epidemiologic research.
A photo of Maggie Engler

Maggie Engler, Project Lead

Lead Data Scientist
Global Disinformation Index


Maggie Engler is a technologist and researcher focused on applying statistics and machine learning to mitigate abuses in the online ecosystem, including disinformation, harassment, and fraud. She is currently the lead data scientist at Global Disinformation Index (GDI), a nonprofit that aims to disrupt the business model of disinformation through detection and demonetization. Prior to GDI, she spent several years in cybersecurity, working on a range of problems including malware classification and risk assessment in both the private and public sectors. Maggie holds a B.S. and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, with a concentration in signal processing and a Notation in Science Communication with distinction. She is excited to work with students in the DSSG program to amplify GDI’s impact in the disinformation space through open-source contributions and reporting.
A photo of Lucas Wright

Lucas Wright, Project Lead

Senior Researcher
Global Disinformation Index

Lucas Wright is an interdisciplinary social scientist whose research spans platform design, the effects of automated content removal on user participation, and the harms of hateful and disinforming speech. His work with the GDI is primarily focused on developing a theoretical framework and methodology for manually reviewing high traffic news websites to determine their risk of publishing disinformation. He has a BA in political science from American University and an MSc in social science of the Internet from the University of Oxford, and he is trained in both qualitative and quantitative research methods. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.
A photo of Noah Benson

Noah Benson, Data Scientist

Senior Data Scientist, eScience Institute
University of Washington


Noah Benson is a senior data scientist at the University of Washington’s eScience Institute. He received his B.S. from Purdue University where triple-majored in computer science, math, and biology (2001-2005) and his Ph.D. in biomedical and health informatics from the University of Washington where he studied the analysis and representation of molecular dynamics simulations (2005-2010). Since graduating, Noah has worked primarily in the domain of human neuroscience and vision with an emphasis on understanding the relationship between the anatomical structure of the brain and its function. He has worked as a post-doctoral associate at the University of Pennsylvania (2010-2014) and a research scientist at New York University (2014-2020).

Noah has spent much of his research career writing and supporting software tools that enable other researchers to duplicate and extend his work. He supports and has contributed to a number of open-source libraries on Github and is the author of the Python library neuropythy, a general utility library built around understanding neuroscience data formats, anatomical analysis, and visualization. Among other things, neuropythy is a powerful tool for organizing, obtaining, and understanding the data from the Human Connectome Project.

In addition to his research activities, Noah has a keen interest in community engagement, political activism, and human rights advocacy, and he is excited about the opportunity to leverage his data-science expertise to approach such topics through the DSSG program this summer. In particular, he is eager to work on the identification of disinformation, as the problem represents both a clear and critical societal crisis as well as a unique opportunity for data-science to point the way forward.

A photo of Vaughn Iverson

Vaughn Iverson, Data Scientist

Research Scientist, eScience Institute
University of Washington


Vaughn Iverson is a Senior Research Scientist with the Center for Environmental Genomics in the UW School of Oceanography, where his research involves developing biological sensing methods capable of inferring the behaviors and interactions within natural microbial communities by identifying and quantifying genes and proteins used by specific members of the community (metagenomics and metatranscriptomics).

Vaughn joined the eScience Institute in January of 2016 and contributes expertise in development of high performance parallel software, web technologies, noSQL databases, and data compression and visualization techniques. Vaughn is the author and maintainer of several popular open source packages and is an active contributor to many others.

Vaughn earned his PhD in Biological Oceanography from the University of Washington in 2015, and also holds a MS in Computer Science from the University of Washington, Seattle and a BS in Computer Science and Chemistry from Washington State University, Pullman. Prior to commencing his PhD work, Vaughn spent over a decade in the computer industry working for Intel Corp as a Staff Research Scientist developing video compression, internet media streaming and content distribution technologies, for which he was awarded twenty US patents.



Detection of Vote Dilution: New tools and methods for protecting voting rights

(project description available here)


A photo of Juandalyn Burke

Juandalyn Burke, Fellow

Ph.D. Candidate, Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education Department
University of Washington

Juandalyn Burke is a doctoral student in the Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education department at the University of Washington. Her interests include using informatics methods and technologies to better understand and build predictive models that identify strategies for solving societal and economic issues surrounding health, education, the environment, and human rights. Prior to joining her Ph.D. program, Juandalyn worked as a data analyst/data manager, earned her Master of Public Health (MPH) in Environmental Epidemiology at the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Spelman College. Her current dissertation uses mathematical modelling to predict HIV Drug Resistance in individuals and in the population for people of African descent and specifically in the areas of sub-Saharan Africa. When she is not working, you can find her checking out local artists, plays and musicians for the latest scenes and sounds!
A photo of Ari Decter-Frain

Ari Decter-Frain, Fellow

Ph.D. Student, Policy Analysis and Management
Cornell University


Ari Decter-Frain is a first-year doctoral student in Cornell University’s Department of Policy Analysis and Management. He holds an MSc in Inequalities and Social Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Winnipeg. Before joining Cornell, Ari worked for two years in data science and product management at MHS, a Toronto-based human capital analytics company.

Ari is interested in social policies targeting unemployed and precarious workers. He also works on quantifying political polarization in online marketplaces, and on using digital trace data for demographic estimation. His projects employ social network analysis, Bayesian statistics, and machine learning methods.

A photo of Hikari Murayama

Hikari Murayama, Fellow

Masters Student, Energy and Resources Group
University of California, Berkeley


Hikari Murayama is a master’s student in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California – Berkeley. She earned her B.A. in Chemical Physics from Wellesley College while simultaneously co-founding a women’s empowerment program in Japan for high school girls called Leadership and Action for Determined Youth (LADY). Hikari then began her professional career doing economic consulting for Bates White in Washington D.C. While her interest in data and analytics never subsided, Hikari’s passion for socially-focused, impact-driven work led her to join NASA DEVELOP. She worked on land cover and water remote sensing to inform jaguar and coral reef habitat restoration efforts in Costa Rica. For her graduate work, Hikari is interested in utilizing data science and geospatial techniques to understand human-climate interactions. Hikari also likes boxing, hiking, baking, and hanging out with her dog Momo in her free time.
A photo of Pratik Sachdeva

Pratik Sachdeva, Fellow

Doctoral Student, Physics Department
University of California, Berkeley


Pratik Sachdeva (he/his/him) is a PhD student in the Physics department at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to Berkeley, he earned his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis in Physics and Computer Science.

His research lies in the realm of theoretical/computational neuroscience, which aims to use mathematical and computational tools to better understand how neural systems operate and process information. His projects include using information theoretic techniques to study how neural variability impacts information processing in neural circuits and investigating the statistical issues that impede the interpretation of parametric models of neural activity.

Beyond research, Pratik is committed to advancing racial and gender equity through community building and improving local governance. These interests, along with his technical background, led to his desire to participate in DSSG. He has previously worked with Respect is Part of Research (a peer-led sexual harassment/violence prevention workshop), OpenOakland, DataKind, and Delta Analytics.

A photo of Matt A. Barreto

Matt A. Barreto, Project Lead

Professor of Political Science and Chicana/o Studies; Faculty Director, Voting Rights Project
University of California, Los Angeles


Matt A. Barreto is Professor of Political Science and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA and the co-founder of the research and polling firm Latino Decisions. Time Magazine called Latino Decisions the “gold-standard in Latino American polling” and The Guardian wrote that Latino Decisions is “the leading Latino political opinion research group” in the United States. Barreto’s research was recognized in the 30 Latinos key to the 2012 election by Politic365, listed in the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2012 by the European Politics Magazine LSDP, and was named one of the top 15 leading Latino pundits by Huffington Post which said Barreto was “the pollster that has his finger on the pulse of the Latino electorate.” In 2015, Barreto was hired by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign to direct polling and focus group research for Latino voters. In the 2016 cycle Barreto also directed Latino outreach research for the U.S. Senate campaigns of Catherine Cortez-Masto (NV) and Michael Bennet (CO).

In 2010 Barreto implemented the first ever weekly tracking poll of Latino voters during the 2010 election, which LD continued in 2012. Working closely with Gary Segura, he has also overseen large multi-state election eve polls, battleground tracking polls, extensive message testing research and countless focus groups. He has been invited to brief the U.S. Senate, the White House, Congressional Committees, and has been a keynote speaker at many of the major Hispanic association conferences including NALEO, LULAC, CHCI, NCLR and others. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Irvine in 2005, and had been on the faculty at the University of Washington for 10 years before joining UCLA in 2015.

A photo of Loren Collingwood

Loren Collingwood, Project Lead

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
University of California, Riverside


Loren Collingwood is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at University of California, Riverside. His research interests include American politics, political behavior, race and ethnic politics, immigration, and political methodology. He is the author of “Sanctuary Cities: The Politics of Refuge” (2019), “Campaigning in a Racially Diversifying America: When and How Cross-Racial Electoral Mobilization Works” (2020) both with Oxford University Press and has published numerous articles in leading academic outlets. He maintains RTextTools and eiCompare — two widely used R packages and consults on voting rights cases as an expert witness.

A photo of Scott Henderson

Scott Henderson, Data Scientist

Research Scientist, Department of Earth and Space Sciences; Data Science Fellow, eScience Institute
University of Washington


My research strives to understand active tectonic processes including earthquakes and volcanism through geodetic measurements and numerical modeling. I use a variety of satellite systems such as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) to detect and monitor displacements of the Earth’s surface. These measurements then constrain models of physical processes occurring at depth.

Space-based geodesy is entering a new era in which measurements are routine and global. SAR is one type of satellite geodetic system that permits high-resolution mapping of sub-centimeter elevation changes. This systematic observation of the Earth permits studies of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and slow-moving landslides with unprecedented detail.

At the eScience Institute, I am working towards an automated regional InSAR processing system with an emphasis on the detection of transient surface deformation in the Pacific Northwest. Such a system will provide valuable maps of changes to the Earth’s surface through time which will help inform assessments of regional natural hazards.

A photo of Spencer Wood

Spencer Wood, Data Scientist

Research Scientist, eScience Institute; Senior Research Scientist with EarthLab
University of Washington


Spencer is a Senior Research Scientist in the UW College of the Environment, where he studies the ways that people interact with and benefit from nature. Much of his research focuses on outdoor recreation, using empirical and mathematical approaches to model the distributions, behaviors, and preferences of park visitors. As another ongoing line of research, Spencer uses ecological networks as tools for modeling humans’ changing roles in ecosystems over thousands of years. Spencer frequently partners with governments, practitioners, and corporations, to develop software and tools that make information accessible to decision-makers. He contributes to open-source software for mapping and modeling ecosystem services, and leads development of software for analyzing and visualizing geolocated social media and crowd-sourced data from parks and green-spaces. Spencer is excited for the opportunity that DSSG provides to learn about voting rights, develop new skills, and collaborate with fellows on projects that will provide lasting benefits to society.