Guest speaker invites KSU women into world of computer science

Guest speaker invites KSU women into world of computer science

Women in Data Science at Kennesaw State welcomed its first guest lecturer of the semester to the Marietta campus on Jan. 24 to speak about her efforts to broaden participation in data science.

As the principal investigator of the Data Science Extension program, Dr. Brandeis Marshall works alongside the National Science Foundation for one of several Targeted Infusion Projects to strengthen undergraduate STEM education at historically black universities. Marshall specializes in the areas of information retrieval, social media and data science.

As an instructor at a small scale HBCU in the Atlanta area, Marshall expressed her aim to integrate data science into the curriculum at both Spelman and Morehouse College in hopes of encouraging more students to get involved in the field.

During her lecture, Marshall gave attendees a snapshot of a census done by late social scientist W.E.B. Du Bois in 1900 during America’s segregation era. Linking Du Bois’ research with her own, Marshall later raised concern for current issues of social injustice. While she gave her support for community outreach programs such as Black Girls Code, Marshall emphasized that she would like to see legitimate certification as part of the process.

Using five pillars of study listed as acquisition, storage, analysis, visualization and storytelling, Marshall brings her 15 years of experience in computer science and her own philosophy of ethics-based research that does not exclude segments of the overall population to the table.

“I am here as myself, and as a black woman, I bring all of my blackness and womanness into everything that I do, unapologetically,” Marshall said before the event officially began.

Marshall is one of just 100 black women in the United States holding a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s and Ph.D. in computer science, according to Black Women in Computing.

Marshall has been an associate professor of computer science in the computer and information sciences department at Spelman College since 2014, following a residency at Purdue University in Indiana.

As the spearhead of her own Black Twitter Project, Marshall and two of her students asked the important questions surrounding topics of controversy on social media in years past. They analyzed the 2016 hashtag #OscarsSoWhite and algorithmic bias in commonly used generic facial recognition technology against minority ethnicities and women.

Dr. Jennifer Lewis Priestley, director of the Analytics and Data Science Institute, has big plans for the remainder of the year. First, the university will host an Analytics Day on the Kennesaw campus in April where students will have the opportunity to hear Marshall speak again. Priestley also mentioned that by the fall 2019 semester, KSU intends to offer free online certification programs and a free programming boot camp accessible to all KSU students looking to participate.

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