DSI hosts Women in Data Science (WiDS) conference for data scientists and aspiring data scientists to learn from other women in the field

The Data Science Institute welcomed women who are leading the way in data science at our annual Women in Data Science (WiDS) conference on March 7. The conference was an opportunity for women in data science to connect, network and learn from other women in the field.

The conference featured a variety of sessions with speakers giving talks on difference applications of data science throughout the day.

Jess Boyle, a Vanderbilt graduate student pursing her Ph.D. in the Department of Special Education at Peabody College, gave a talk entitled Using NLP to Provide Teachers Automated Feedback on their Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Practices. Jess is focused on utilizing natural language processing to aid in evaluating Tier 1 behavioral and instructional practices of teachers. Her goal is to enhance the professional development of teachers through the use of NLP tools and classroom audio, enabling frequent and automated feedback.

Eva Lu is a Vanderbilt student pursuing her Ph.D working with Dr. Soheil Kolouri at Machine Intelligence and Neural Technologies Lab. In her talk, Optimal Transport in Learning Set-structured Data, Eva described how her research is at the intersection between optimal transport and deep learning.

Postdoc Tyne Miller-Flemming’s talk, Leveraging Medical Record Data to Disentangle Psychiatric Disorders, focused on using data extracted from medical records combined with genetic information to better understand how complex phenotypes relate to tic disorders, like Tourette syndrome. Tyne is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

In her talk, Applying Data Science Methods to Artifact and Particle Classification, Vanderbilt University senior, Amy Reith, spoke about the application of classification methods to soil samples collected from the ancient Maya site of Tzikin Tzakan, located in modern-day Guatemala. Amy used these samples, collected last summer, as she wrote her honors thesis.

Shiyu Wang, a PhD in Biomedical Engineering, spoke about her work in Dr. Catie Chang’s Neuroimaging and Brain Dynamics Lab. Dr. Chang’s lab studies brain dynamics by analyzing neuroimaging data, including functional MRI and electroencephalogram (EEG). They are interested in how physiological factors like respiration and heart rate affect functional MRI signals, and how that relationship changes with aging. Shiyu’s talk was titled fMRI and Physiological Data Analysis.

Dr. Hiba Baroud, Associate Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, spoke about her research at the intersection of data analytics and risk and resilience modeling in her talk Data Science for Disaster Resilience. Her group develops and applies methods founded in statistical learning, network models, and decision analysis to evaluate infrastructure performance during disasters.

Dr. Allison Walker is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biological Sciences in the Department of Chemistry. The Walker Lab uses machine learning and statistics to solve difficult problems in chemical biology. One area of focus is developing machine learning tools to facilitate engineering and discovery of natural products, which can be an excellent source of bioactive molecules that can be used as therapeutics. Her talk was titled Machine Learning Guided Antibiotic Discovery.

Annabelle Abbott is a junior majoring in Public Policy Studies and minoring in Data Science at Vanderbilt University. During the summer of 2022, she participated in the Data Science Institute’s Data Science for Social Good program and she shared team’s process and accomplishments with the conference attendees. Annabelle continues to take coursework in data science and currently serves as a code contributor for the DSI’s legal transformers project.

Roza Bayrak is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Computer Science at Vanderbilt University. Her PhD focuses on developing computational methods to advance neuroimaging data analysis using large-scale data sets. In her talk at WiDS, Tracing peripheral physiology in fMRI dynamics, she spoke about her recent work on tracing peripheral physiological signals in the brain data.

Junmin Hua is a second year graduate student at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. Her talk, Prediction of cell extrusion harnessing the power of transformer model, focused on her work as a member of the Page-McCaw Lab, where her research aims to reveal the fundamental mechanisms of wound healing.

Undergraduate Adaline Leong, a Computer Science major and a Data Science minor, is the President of Vanderbilt University’s first and only Data Science Club. Adaline’s research interests lie in cloud computing, website development, and natural language processing. She spoke about some of the projects undergraduates are working on in the Vanderbilt Data Science club.

The day concluded with a Career Panel for aspiring data scientists to hear from women working in the field. The career panel featured four women excelling in data science (from left): Dr. Shruti Sharma, Enterprise Data Warehouse Manager at Ingram Content Group; Dr. Christi French, Chief Data Scientist for Azra Al; Dr. Sam Terker, Senior Data Scientist at Asurion; and Anjali Dalwadil, Technical Product Manager at Asurion. They shared what their day to day work life looks like, as well as advice for women aspiring to work in data science.