Student Fellows

(project description available here)

 

Rowana Ahmed, Fellow

Master’s Student, Health Data Science
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Project: Developing Ensemble Methods for Initial Districting Plan Evaluation

Rowana Ahmed is a Master’s student in the Health Data Science program at Harvard University. She earned her BSE and MSE in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to starting her graduate program at Harvard, Rowana worked as a Technology Consultant at Accenture and later as an Analytics Manager at Humanyze, a people analytics startup dedicated to improving organizational health using social network analysis.

Rowana’s research focus is in social determinants of health, and she is particularly interested in harnessing the power of data science to design public policy aimed at improving health equity. She is excited to work with the DSSG team this summer to help curb gerrymandering practices for more just and fairer elections.

DSSG Fellow Katherine Chang

Katherine Chang, Fellow

Ph.D. Student, Education Policy, Organizations, and Leadership
University of Washington

Website

Project: Developing Ensemble Methods for Initial Districting Plan Evaluation

Katherine Chang is a PhD student in Education Policy, Organizations, and Leadership at the College of Education, University of Washington and an MPA student in Social Policy at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance.

Katherine’s research agenda is composed of three strands of inquiry: the politics of education reform, the politics of race in education policymaking, and cross-systems interactions between social and education policy. Her dissertation examines the political institutions engaged in court-mandated school finance reform and interrogates the racialized geographies tied to educational funding gaps. Katherine primarily uses quantitative and computational social science methods in her research, with particular interest in social network analysis and text-as-data methods.

Katherine’s graduate studies are part of her continued journey to train in equitable data practices and responsible, justice-centered research. She is looking forward to participating in DSSG to realize data-driven solutions for mediating social inequities and to promote ambitions towards research rooted in social good.

James Lamar Foster, Fellow

Ph.D. Candidate, Education Policy, Organizations, & Leadership
University of Washington

Project: Geography, equity, and the Seattle $15 minimum wage ordinance

James Lamar Foster is a Ph.D. Candidate at The University of Washington’s Education Policy, Organizations, and Leadership program in the College of Education. His work investigates questions at the intersections of race, place, policy, and practice. His current research uses analytical approaches from critical and organizational theory in concert with computational methods to understand how school leaders create conditions to foster marginalized students’ social-emotional development. Lamar has been interested in the work of DSSG fellows since arriving at the University of Washington. Their focus on computational methods and social good piqued his interest, which prompted him to apply. He is particularly excited to work on the Geography, Equity, and the Seattle $15 minimum wage ordinance project, which explicitly focuses on equity, policy, and place. In his free time, Lamar enjoys spending time with friends and family and watching Manchester United F.C.

Delaney Glass, DSSG fellow

Delaney Glass, Fellow

Ph.D. Student, Biological Anthropology
University of Washington

Project: Geography, equity, and the Seattle $15 minimum wage ordinance

Delaney Glass is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in Biological Anthropology at UW. As a human biologist and anthropologist, her work probes the effects of and variation in biologically measured and perceived stress among children and adolescents. She utilizes mixed methods and interdisciplinary approaches from evolutionary biology, cultural anthropology, and social epidemiology. Her current research utilizes previously collected and archived biological samples from the Chaco Area Reproductive Ecology Program to understand neuroendocrine variation across early to mid-puberty among indigenous Qom girls living in Argentina. Additionally, her proposed research in Amman, Jordan will focus on how global-local dynamics, intraindividual variation in cultural consensus, and adolescent stress interact with the timing, tempo, and hormonal variation in early to mid-adolescence. She is passionate about transparent and reproducible research and utilizing qualitative and quantitative data. In her free time, she enjoys speaking Arabic, gardening, cooking, and reading.

DSSG Fellow Ryan Goehrung

Ryan Goehrung, Fellow

Ph.D. Candidate, Political Science Department
University of Washington

Website

Project: Developing Ensemble Methods for Initial Districting Plan Evaluation

Ryan Goehrung is originally from Montana, but his work in the international development sector has taken him to the Philippines, India, Honduras, Taiwan and Rwanda where he has worked on coastal environmental conservation, economic empowerment, global health, and anti-human trafficking initiatives. He is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Washington in Political Science. His dissertation focuses on women’s political representation in Southeast Asia, but he maintains a passion for research that bridges the gap between academia and development. These interests immediately drew him to the DSSG program, which he views as a perfect combination of social science work with a social justice impact. When not reading or writing about politics, he loves exploring the Pacific Northwest outdoors whenever possible with his fiancé, Emily, and his dog, Mooshie, including hiking, camping, rock climbing, and snowboarding.
DSSG Fellow Christopher Salazar

Christopher Salazar, Fellow

Incoming Ph.D. Student, Industrial and Systems Engineering
University of Washington

Website

Project: Geography, equity, and the Seattle $15 minimum wage ordinance

Chris is an incoming PhD student in Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Washington. Prior to returning to academia, Chris worked as a structural engineer where he primarily worked on disaster response work upon the aftermath of catastrophic events such as Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Maria, earthquakes in Mexico/Alaska, and other similar events. This type of work has carried into working in the Disaster Data Science Lab (UW) where he developed an algorithm to estimate distance in images between pedestrians for adjudicating social distance compliance. He is excited and humbled by the prospect of working with other DSSG fellows, data scientists and project leads on the “Geography, equity, and the Seattle $15 minimum wage ordinance” project. It will present an excellent opportunity to collaborate with other subject matter experts to provide a holistic evaluation of the research project. I expect the connections and lessons learned as a DSSG fellow will influence my future work in academia as well as community engagement opportunities.
Michael Souffrant, DSSG fellow

Michael Gregory Souffrant, Fellow

Ph.D. Candidate, Computational Biophysical Chemistry
Georgia State University

Website

Project: Developing Ensemble Methods for Initial Districting Plan Evaluation

Michael Gregory Souffrant is a Ph.D. candidate in Computational Biophysical Chemistry at Georgia State University. His research is based on molecular dynamics (MD) and analyzing computer simulations of biomolecular structures. He is currently probing the impact of mutations on HIV in resisting drug inhibition. Michael is interested in learning more data visualization and machine learning techniques at the Data Science for Social Good internship. He is excited about the program’s collaborative opportunities and his contribution in using computational approaches to resolve political issues. He was the president of the Chemistry Graduation Student Association and hosted/organized the Chemistry Research Symposium. He taught environmental and physical sciences to K-12 students as a fellow of the Bio-Bus program. He enjoys working out, social dancing and playing basketball. Michael currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Mahader Tamene, Fellow

Mahader Tamene Fellow

Ph.D. Student, Epidemiology
University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health

Project: Geography, equity, and the Seattle $15 minimum wage ordinance

Mahader Tamene (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in the Division of Epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. A public health scholar dedicated to advancing health and justice in underserved and historically marginalized communities globally, her research focuses on maternal and child mental health disparities, particularly community-based interventions that address the structural drivers of these disparities. She envisions research that translates beyond academia to change the world around us. She believes interdisciplinary, reflective, and transformative leadership is necessary for this change.

Mahader has worked in community health education, health research, program implementation and evaluation both domestically and abroad. She holds an MSc in global health and population from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a BA in public policy and African/African-American studies from the University of Chicago.

 

 

Project Leaders

(project description available here)

 

Noah Benson, Data Scientist

Noah C. 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. His research explores the domain of human neuroscience and vision with an emphasis on understanding the relationship between the anatomical structure of the brain and its function. Noah’s career has focused heavily on developing and teaching reproducible neuroscience computations for scientific insight, many of which are documented on his website (http://nben.net/) and GitHub pages (https://github.com/noahbenson/). At UW, Noah administers the Software Carpentry program for data science education, is a founding member of the eScience Equity Team, and co-administers the NeuroHackademy summer course (neurohackademy.org).

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.

DSSG Project Lead Daryl DeFord

Daryl DeFord, Project Lead

Assistant Professor of Data Analytics
Washington State University, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Website

Project: Developing Ensemble Methods for Initial Districting Plan Evaluation

Dr. DeFord is an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Washington State University. His research program focuses on applying algebraic and combinatorial methods to the analysis of social data with an emphasis on applications of discrete sampling techniques to political redistricting and social network models. Prior to joining the faculty at WSU, he completed a postdoctoral position at MIT in the Geometric Data Processing Group while collaborating with the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group on mathematical modeling of political geography and developing open-source software for detecting and combating gerrymandering. Dr. DeFord completed his Ph.D. at Dartmouth College with a thesis evaluating dynamical models for complex networks. The Data Science for Social Good program provides an amazing opportunity to collaborate with a diverse and interdisciplinary team of researchers and he is looking forward to working with them on problems with immediate relevance to current redistricting efforts.
Bernease Herman, Data Scientist

Bernease Herman, Data Scientist

Data Scientist, eScience Institute
University of Washington

Project: Developing Ensemble Methods for Initial Districting Plan Evaluation

Bernease Herman is a data scientist at the University of Washington eScience Institute. Her research focuses on evaluation metrics and interpretable machine learning through the use of synthetic data and other generative techniques. She’s worked on various data science problems from data collection and analysis strategies in autonomous marine vehicles to predicting inequity in Seattle urban data. Bernease is also employed at WhyLabs, an AI observability and monitoring startup, building model and data monitoring tools using approximate statistics techniques. This summer will mark Bernease’s fifth UW Data Science for Social Good program. She is excited to apply her interests in model evaluation, data generation, and societal impact to the important issue of redistricting.
Data Scientist Jose Hernandez

Jose M. Hernandez, Data Scientist

Data Scientist, eScience Institute
University of Washington

Project: Geography, equity, and the Seattle $15 minimum wage ordinance

Jose Hernandez is a senior data scientist at the University of Washington’s eScience Institute. He received his BA from the University of California, Irvine in Social Ecology (2001-2006) and his Ph.D. in Educational Measurement and Statistics from the University of Washington where he studied the application of causal inference methodology in the absence of randomization on complex data structures (2010-2015).

Jose has worked most of his career in the social science/education data science research space. My current work focuses on applying machine learning methods to extract novel data sources from large administrative data sets that are used to inform policy making in education and housing.

Jose’s research and data science project interests are informed by his lived experiences as a first generation high school graduate raised in a Latinx immigrant community in South Central Los Angeles and Santa Ana, CA. Jose is excited for the opportunity to participate in DSSG and learn about the impacts of minimum wage policies locally, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with this year’s fellows.

Vaughn Iverson, Data Scientist

Vaughn Iverson, Data Scientist

Research Scientist, eScience Institute
University of Washington

Website

Project: Developing Ensemble Methods for Initial Districting Plan Evaluation

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.

Vaughn looks forward to participating in the DSSG program each summer. Collaborating with the fellows, project leads and UW colleagues on challenging and impactful projects, and having a lot of fun while doing it, is a uniquely enjoyable and rewarding benefit of being affiliated with the UW eScience community.

DSSG Project Lead Jennie Romich

Jennie Romich, Project Lead

Associate Professor, School of Social Work
University of Washington

Project: Geography, equity, and the Seattle $15 minimum wage ordinance

Jennie Romich is a Professor of Social Welfare at the UW School of Social Work and Faculty Director of the West Coast Poverty Center. Romich’s research focuses on poverty, low-paid workers, and families’ interactions with public policy. Her recent projects include mixed-method evaluations of the Seattle Paid Safe and Sick Time Ordinance and $15 minimum wage.  She co-leads the national effort on “Reducing Extreme Economic Inequality” for the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare’s Grand Challenges Initiative and co-chairs a national research network on “Poverty, Employment, and Self-Sufficiency” through the U.S. Collaborative of Poverty Centers.

As the principal investigator of the Washington Merged Longitudinal Administrative Data, Romich is excited to work with the DSSG summer project as a way of learning about data science techniques applicable to large-scale administrative data set. She looks forward to answering some heretofore unanswerable questions about residential mobility and poverty policy.

Valentina Staneva, Data Scientist

Valentina Staneva, Data Scientist

Senior Data Scientist, eScience Institute
University of Washington

Project: Geography, equity, and the Seattle $15 minimum wage ordinance

Valentina Staneva is a Senior Data Scientist at University of Washington’s eScience Institute. As part of her role she collaborates with researchers from a wide range of domains on extracting information from large datasets such as images and time series. She regularly teaches data science skills and best practices for reproducible research to diverse audiences. Valentina holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics & Statistics from Johns Hopkins University with a focus on computer vision, and previously worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory on problems in imaging, optimization and compressed sensing.