CDO Magazine publishes everything outstanding that is happening in the world of data and analytics. We introduce you to remarkable data organizations and great leaders through our special lists and nominations. We work throughout the year to bring you the latest in what is breaking down barriers and setting trends in the world of data. Our lists recognize the tremendous work performed to advance the cause of data and analytics worldwide, and we showcase the thought leaders' accomplishments in their specific lines of work.
Our Leading Data Academic Leaders List 2022 honors these great academic leaders, introducing them on a global platform where they share their insights and work, highlighting their significant successes in the previous year, the challenges they faced, and their aspirations and goals for 2022.
Introducing: Cecilia Aragon, Professor, Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at University of Washington (Seattle, Wash., USA)
1. What were your most significant achievements in 2021, specifically in the last two years, and why?
Among my most significant data science research achievements are multiple publications, keynotes, and a TED talk that address the need to bring a human-centered, ethical approach to data science and artificial intelligence. My new book, Human-Centered Data Science: An Introduction, from MIT Press, with co-authors Shion Guha, Marina Kogan, Michael Muller, and Gina Neff, discusses best practices for addressing the bias and inequality that may result from the automated collection, analysis, and distribution of large data sets.
2. What challenges are you facing in the academic data field?
Helping data scientists and AI researchers develop more awareness of societal impacts of their technology. There are still some who believe that "data is scrubbed of human bias" or that "algorithms are impartial." Substantial recent work in the field has shown that these mental models are incorrect.
3. What traits and qualities are required to be a successful academic data leader?
It's important to understand the societal and human impact of algorithmic processing of vast data sets, and to lead by example by applying human-centered techniques at the beginning of the development of statistical or data science algorithms.
4. Tell us about your priorities in 2022. What are your key targets?
My priorities are to continue my research on human-centered data science at the University of Washington, and to develop new ways to incorporate human-centered approaches to novel mathematical and computational algorithms for the analysis of large datasets.
5. What advice would you offer aspiring academic leaders to help them prepare for the role?
Remember that data science and artificial intelligence are incredibly powerful forces for either good or ill in our society today. Use your power wisely.
Cecilia Aragon is Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, Director of the Human Centered Data Science Lab, Founding Co-Director of the Data Science Master's Program, and Senior Data Science Fellow at the eScience Institute at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. In 2016, Prof. Aragon became the first Latina to be named to the rank of Full Professor in the College of Engineering at UW in its hundred-year history. She won the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists in their early careers.