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2024 Data Science for the Public Good Program Overview

The Data Science for the Public Good (DSPG) Young Scholars program is an immersive summer program that engages students from across Iowa to work together on projects that address local and state government challenges around critical social issues relevant in the world today. DSPG resident scholars conduct 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. This program provides an excellent opportunity to develop a professional portfolio, expand your networks, and learn about the application of data science.

The summer 2024 program runs from May 15th to July 26th. Working in teams, fellows and interns collaborate with project stakeholders and research faculty across the Iowa State University. Research teams combine disciplines including statistics, data science, and the social and behavioral sciences to address complex problems proposed by local, state, and non-profit agencies. Students work on multiple projects and interact with different scholars, faculty, and sponsors over the course of the training program.

To learn about previous projects, see the Past Projects. link above

Fellows and interns are selected through a competitive state-wide search. Graduate fellows should possess strong quantitative, statistical, computational, and programming skills. They lead, support, and guide undergraduate students together with ISU faculty and research associates. Undergraduate students acquire experience in programming and statistical analysis through a combination of both formal training and practical application to the real-world problems of our community and agency partners.

Program Highlights

The DSPG Young Scholars program equips a new generation of emerging scientists with the skills needed to inform intelligent governmental policy and decision-making.

  • Horizontally and vertically integrated team research with dedicated graduate students and faculty in collaboration with sponsors from local, state, and federal agencies.
  • Expert training in foundational tools for quantitative computing and data visualization, including work in AI, Python, R, GIS, Tableau, and Databases.
  • Professional training through workshops, seminars, and career talks.
  • Individualized mentors working closely with students.
  • Technical report and publication opportunities.
  • Opportunity to interact with decision-makers in local communities, non-profits, and state government agencies.

A Coalition for the Public Good

This program was initially (2020 - 2021) led by a coalition of five land-grant universities in three states: Oregon State University, Iowa State University, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, and Virginia State University. Funded in part by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the DSPG program addresses the USDA’s, Research, Education, and Economics Action Plan and NIFA’s research, education and extension goals for training, workforce development, and evidence-based decision-making. These efforts support our shared goal of promoting rural prosperity. Following COVID-19 restrictions from the summers of 2020 to 2022, Iowa State’s Data Science for the Public Good Young Scholars program was provided through virtual instruction. Starting in 2022, the program was managed by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and funding is sourced from the fees charged for each project. As of 2023, students must be in Ames to participate, but the program is hybrid with some days in person, in the field, or online.


students working on a whiteboardStudent Application

We are now accepting student applications for the 2024 summer program!




student presenting soloPrevious Student Projects

In the past few years, students have done some incredible work within the DSPG programs. Learn more about what projects students have worked on in Iowa and across the country!



Students presenting their projectsCase Studies

Learn more about the DSPG pilot projects! 



program director talking to participantsProgram Application

If you are interested in being part of a community project for the summer of 2024, please review our application form or email dspg@iastate.edu