David Hunter

Professor of Statistics
Eberly College of Science
2018 TLT Faculty Fellow
Focus Area: Data-empowered learning

Back in 2012, Harvard Business Review called data science the “Sexiest Job of the 21st Century.” As that article creeps toward its 10-year anniversary, data science has developed into a discipline that influences nearly all modern academic fields. Despite its pervasive reach throughout Penn State, there lacks a cohesive data science presence at the University. That void prevents the exploitation of synergies and communication among those working toward similar goals.

David Hunter headed up the department of statistics at University Park from 2012 to 2018 and currently teaches statistics in the Eberly College of Science. His fellowship project aims to mobilize a Data Science community that will bring together data science-related efforts of faculty, students, and organizations throughout the University. The community would also support and advance the pedagogical initiatives, formal academic degree programs, and various research among data scientists at Penn State.

The first step for the Data Science community is creating web presence that achieves several aims. First, all the data science activities throughout the University must be identified, described, and aggregated. This process should include efforts that may not yet be available but are in development, such as new minors or majors related to data science. The web presence will publicize programs that are ready to accept students; developing programs can connect with resources, through the site, for support as they advance. The former effort will help attract prospective students through exploration of data science options, while the latter will help burnish Penn State’s reputation as a leader in data science integration across the curriculum.

Along with the web site, the Data Science community will intend to deliver a database of faculty members that would enable students to locate scholars within their disciplines who are interested in data science. The database also holds the potential to create a virtual community of data science scholars that promotes collaboration. The community also presents the opportunity for corporate collaboration, which would open the door for students to explore career and internship opportunities. Additionally, co-curricular groups, like Nittany Data Labs, will be able to network and share ideas on how to expand their reach.

The Team

Kyle Bowen (lead)
Bart Pursel
Drew Wham
Hannah Williams