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Christopher Seeger

Author: Heather Sauer | Image: Heather Sauer

The Data Science for the Public Good initiative will receive the inaugural Interdisciplinary Team Research Award at Iowa State’s annual university awards ceremony this fall. The award recognizes a team of two or more faculty researchers with outstanding achievements who have made a significant contribution to the university’s research and scholarship mission through successful interdisciplinary collaborations.

The team includes Todd Abraham, assistant director of data and analytics for the Iowa Integrated Data System housed in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies; Cassandra Dorius, associate professor of human development and family studies; Shawn Dorius, associate professor of sociology; Heike Hofmann, professor of statistics and professor in charge of data science; Jim Reecy, associate vice president for research; Chris Seeger, professor of landscape architecture and extension landscape architect; and Adisak Sukul, associate teaching professor in computer science.

Building upon the Community Learning through Data-Driven Discovery (CLD3) framework, the interdisciplinary team of extension professionals, faculty and research staff identified new approaches to working with local and state government to infuse data insights into decision-making to promote resiliency, support health and wellbeing and strengthen economic mobility.

Together with colleagues at the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University and Oregon State University, the team received funding from the USDA to create a three-state Coordinated Innovation Network to develop their respective state DSPG programs. The teams worked together to develop curriculum and materials to further advance the networks DSPG programs and as part of the inaugural year received a Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation grant to investigate projects focused on economic mobility.

Locally, the teams partner with state, county and local governments and university leadership to identify pressing needs, uncover and process underutilized data and share insights that can be used to develop strategies that support resilience among Iowa’s 99 counties. Workforce development is critical to the team’s efforts, providing training to students, community extension specialists and other professionals around data science, public outreach and public good.