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Spelman Part of Alliance Receiving $200K NSF Grant to Develop Data Science Units Share a Spelman College Press Release

For Immediate Release 

Mashaun D. Simon 
Spelman College 

ATLANTA (September 19, 2018) -- Spelman College is part of an alliance that has received a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop undergraduate data-science-focused units. These units will be foundational in preparing students to enter a data-driven workforce by being able to address the emerging challenges in data science.

Agnes Scott College, Morehouse College and the Georgia Institute of Technology are partners in the collaborative project, TRIPODS+X: EDU Collaborative Education: Data-driven Discovery and Alliance, that aims to train a diverse workforce for the inevitable data-driven future. The project will also engage faculty to help them teach data science and develop related curricula.

The partnerships build upon the NSF HBCU-UP Data Science eXtension grant (funded in 2016) and its expansion to the social sciences and humanities as part of our UNCF Career Pathways Initiative grant (funded in 2017), said Brandeis Marshall, Ph.D., Spelman’s principal investigator of the project, and associate professor and chair of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences.

“The Data-Driven Discovery and Alliance offers an opportunity for our faculty and students to engage as learners, innovators and disseminators in the data science ecosystem,” said Dr. Marshall. “It has the potential to provide us with critical support structures, namely access to community, curricula content and resources, and increases our ability to sustain a robust data science environment.”

The current massive demand for data scientists urgently requires training in analyzing real-world datasets and a solid understanding of the mathematics and statistics behind the methods and computational tools used in data science.

Through boot camps, workshops, and other joint activities, the project will prepare data science modules to integrate into science curricula at the partner institutions. These curricula and co-curricular initiatives also broaden the participation of women and underrepresented minorities (who have been traditionally underrepresented across all STEM disciplines) in data science.

The NSF awarded $8.5 million overall via the Transdisciplinary Research in Principles of Data Science awards to 19 collaborative projects at 23 universities. The goal of the TRIPODS+X grants is to expand the scope of the cross-disciplinary TRIPODS institutes into broader areas of science, engineering and mathematics.

"The multidisciplinary approach for addressing the increasing volume and complexity of data enabled through the TRIPODS+X projects will have a profound impact on the field of data science and its use," said Jim Kurose, NSF assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). "This impact will be sure to grow as data continues to drive scientific discovery and innovation."

Visit the NSF awards database for a complete list of TRIPODS+X grants.

About the National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

About Spelman College 
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 51 among all liberal arts colleges and No. 1 among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and author Pearl Cleage. For more information, visit



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