Jackson Filosa Introduction: Big Ideas for Big Data

Hi everyone! My name is Jackson Filosa, and I am a rising junior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Statistics and English Writing. Whether it is calculating the perfect combination of words to use in a sentence or devising a model to predict book publishing trends, I love using an interdisciplinary approach of critical and creative thinking to solve problems. My ultimate goal is to be able to draw meaningful conclusions from big data and communicate them in a coherent way, especially to audiences without a background in statistics. I am extremely grateful and excited to be able to work on all of these skills (and learn some new ones), during my Community Research Fellowship this summer.

This summer I will be working remotely from my hometown of Ipswich, Massachusetts, which is about 30 minutes north of Boston. Although it is great to be home, I am already missing the city of Pittsburgh and all the incredible things it has to offer. I chose to come to Pitt because of the wide array of opportunities it has in terms of academics, extracurriculars, and campus life. Some of my current activities include working as a student ambassador for the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, serving as External Secretary for the national honors fraternity Phi Sigma Pi, and playing on the University of Pittsburgh Club Squash Team. Some of my other favorite activities in Pittsburgh include rock climbing at the Ascend gym in Southside and playing pickup soccer in Schenley Park. A fun fact about me is that I love to read!

Through the Community Research Fellowship, this summer I will be working with Pittsburgh DataWorks to design and produce a series of videos about data analysis. Every year, Pittsburgh DataWorks runs the Pittsburgh Data Jam, a competition where local high school teams use big data to solve problems in their communities with the help of Pitt student mentors. This past year I took a course about the Data Jam and worked as a mentor to see first hand the impressive projects put together by motivated high school teams covering issues from highway safety to redlining. This summer, the video series I am creating will chronicle my own process through a sample project and also provide insight into the importance of big data through interviews with local data science professionals and statistics professors. At the end, I will edit the footage I have collected throughout the summer into a short trailer for the Pittsburgh Data Jam that can be used by the organization when communicating with prospective schools and partners. Drawing inspiration from the educational Youtube channel Crash Course, which produces free content for over 12 million subscribers, I will utilize a fast-paced editing style that mixes high quality information with quick transitions to maintain audience attention. Ultimately, I hope to provide an entertaining and informative resource that can be used by Data Jam Teams for years to come.

Helping me along the way will be my faculty mentor Dr. Judy Cameron, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh who specializes in communicating science to the public and is very accomplished in video production. In addition, Dr. Cameron is the director of Pittsburgh DataWorks and teaches a course about the Data Jam. My community partner is Brian Macdonald, a prominent Data Scientist who has over 25 years experience at companies such as IQVIA and Oracle and serves on the Pittsburgh DataWorks advisory board. Additionally, I will be receiving support and feedback from past and present Data Jam mentors, high school students currently involved in Data Jam, and my research cohort within the Honors College. By utilizing constant feedback from my mentors and testing features such as video length and material on sample audiences within the Data Jam community, I will ultimately gain insight into how videos can most effectively be used for high school learning, and be able to share the findings for future use by Pittsburgh DataWorks or any other organization.

If you have any questions about the project or wish to be involved in any way, feel free to let me know in the comments down below! Here’s to a great summer!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. staciedow says:

    Great post, Jackson! I am really looking forward to seeing how your videos turn out. I also went and checked out Crash Course since it didn’t sound familiar, but remember viewing some of the videos prior! It’s a nice comparison.

    1. jacksonfilosa says:

      Thank you! John Green and the Crash Course team definitely helped me through a lot of tough courses in high school and set a high standard for video and production quality!

  2. Hi Jackson! I love how you tie together your interdisciplinary interests so seamlessly, looking forward to reading more about your project going forward!

    1. jacksonfilosa says:

      Thanks Aparna!

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