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Data Science for the Public Good

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Professional Growth ▪ Research Training ▪ Policy Impact

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*** This program has been modified in response to the COVID-19 crisis and will now be administered online

Program Overview

The Data Science for the Public Good (DSPG) young scholars program is a summer program offered by Virginia Tech's Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics and the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service in collaboration with partners at the University of Virginia's Biocomplexity Institute's Social and Decision Analytics division, along with partners at Virginia State University, Iowa State University, and Oregon State University.

The program allows DSPG young scholars to collaborate on addressing current social issues at the local, state, and federal levels by conducting research at the intersection of statistics, computation, and the social sciences to determine how information generated within every community can be leveraged to improve quality of life and inform public policy. 

During the summer of 2020, undergraduate interns and graduate student fellows from Virginia and elsewhere will remotely collaborate on projects that address state, federal, and local government challenges around critical social issues relevant in the world today. 

Interns and fellows apply through a web-based portal and are selected based on their skillset and unique fit for the program. Graduate student fellows use their existing quantitative, statistical, computational and programming skills to help each other and the DSPG undergraduate interns navigate projects with guidance from Virginia Tech faculty. Undergraduate interns develop computational skills further as they work on specific DSPG projects.

For more information, please email

Program details:

  • Location: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, all work for the summer 2020 cohort will be conducted at individual residences with collaboration occurring on virtual platforms including Zoom. Thus, all participants must have ongoing access to reliable internet services to connect to Virginia Tech servers.
  • Open to five VT undergraduates + 2 VT graduate students
  • Dates: 
    • Graduate fellows: May 26 - August 7, 2020
    • Undergraduate interns: June 1 - August 7, 2020
  • Professional training through virtual development workshops and seminars
  • Individualized mentors working with students
  • Technical report and publication opportunities
  • Potential opportunity to remotely interact with decision-makers in industry and government agencies at state, local, and regional levels
  • Horizontally and vertically integrated team research with dedicated graduate students, postdocs, and faculty in collaboration with sponsors from local, state, and federal governments via Zoom
  • Expert training in essential tools for statistical computing, including Hadoop, R, Python, and GIS
  • Collaborative project with DSPG UVA
  • Additional program information
  • DSPG projects and young scholars

Interested in applying? Submit an application here or learn more about the application process on our application page.

Meet our program directors!

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Susan Chen
Associate Professor
Virginia Tech Agricultural and Applied Economics

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Ford Ramsey
Assistant Professor
Virginia Tech Agricultural and Applied Economics