Rob Mitchum

This year, we’ve expanded our fellow slots by a dozen, from 36 to 48. The fellows come from universities throughout North America, from McGill University in Montreal to Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México in Mexico City, and from schools in Australia, Denmark, and England as well. They study computer science, statistics, psychiatry, engineering, public policy, and social sciences.

We received over 300 applications from over nearly 150 universities in 24 countries, including schools in India, Hungary, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Russia, China, Brazil, and Iraq. The distribution of applications by country is shown below.

[Click on countries to see number of applications]

From that rich pool of candidates, we chose our 2014 class, again representing a mix of computer science, statistics/mathematics, and policy/social science. Compared to 2013, this year’s fellows bring extra expertise in engineering, psychiatry, and economics, as well as previously unrepresented fields such as public health, visual analytics, geography, and architecture.


In school and outside of school, the fellows apply data science to an extraordinarily broad range of subjects.

They study junk food & childhood obesity, deep brain stimulation, the use of social media in emergencies and disasters, deceptive text messages, unstable financial behavior, the college learning experience, public transportation, homelessness and housing policy, dark energy, gun violence in Chicago, the behavior of insect swarms, Congress members’ use of Twitter, media censorship in Turkey, the decision-making of the US judiciary, communities in massively multiplayer online games, religious and scientific values in Mexico, discrimination and harassment based on gender and sexuality, domestic migration, the design of new STEM curricula, avalanche prediction, “reverse dictionaries,” the role of social media in the Egyptian Revolution, air quality in Chicago neighborhoods, corruption in Mexico, the popularity of New Yorks Times articles, partisanship in the US Senate, tipping patterns in New York taxis, whether social issue documentaries affect viewer behavior, using classifers to identify authors of poetry, charitable giving in the United States, the history of mathematics, the value of hockey players, the trustworthiness of couch-surfing hosts, the progression and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease, and online rhino horn trafficking. Phew.

The 2014 class also brings to Chicago a wealth of non-profit experience beyond their academic studies. They’ve worked with organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières, the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, youth empowerment programs in Nigeria, Habitat for Humanity, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Physicians for Haiti, the Sierra Service Project, the World Bank, Lumity, the US-Mexico Forum for Cooperation Understanding and Solidarity, the National Marrow Donor Program, the Democratic National Committee, the 61st Street Farmers Market in Chicago, Solidarity Bridge, the United Nations, and Moneythink.

Internationally, they’ve provided clean water and education to children in Honduras, taught in rural Guatemala, helped educators teach computer science in Colombia, worked with the Colombian government, taught computer programming in Iran, worked as an analyst for the Australian Treasury, brought medical services to Bolivia, established a health kiosk program in Kenya, and dissected insects on a Pacific Ocean atoll.

They’ve launched and worked with startups, developed mobile applications, worked with business analytics and technology companies such as Microsoft, Adobe, IBM Research, Wolfram Research, and consulted for energy companies and think tanks.

In what free time they have left, some write blogs, three have written a book, and one edits a literary magazine. One was a cabinet maker for several years, one founded a sustainable cooperative in Palo Alto. One makes documentaries, one does improv comedy, one co-founded a coffee shop. They’re into photography, furniture design, music, and performance art.

We can’t wait to unleash this impressive roster upon challenging problems in education, health care, the environment, energy, housing, and social services. Join us next week here on the blog and on twitter (@datascifellows) as we post dispatches from the first week of Data Science for Social Good 2014.