Driven by the goal of encouraging and supporting women who pursue careers in data science, the annual Women in Data Science (WiDS) Blacksburg event will take place April 20-21.

The free event, which is designed for anyone with an interest in data science, will be held in-person at New Classroom Building on Virginia Tech’s Blacskburg campus, as well as virtually via Zoom.

WiDS Blacksburg is an independent event organized by Virginia Tech as part of the annual WiDS Worldwide conference, the WiDS Datathon, and an estimated 200 WiDS regional events worldwide. All genders are invited and encouraged to attend WiDS conference events which feature outstanding women doing outstanding work.

“With this event, we want to show women that they can build successful careers in data science,” said Angie Patterson, a WiDS ambassador and professor of practice in the Department of Statistics. “By highlighting the amazing work that is being done by women here at Virginia Tech and beyond, hopefully we can build a community of data scientists – of all genders – that understand how data science can be used to tackle the world’s problems across all domains.”

This year’s two-day event will kick off with a pair of tutorial options on Thursday evening: a workshop on explaining complex data science using the ADEPT framework and a tutorial on using Git and GitHub with RStudio.

Meanwhile, the main event of WiDS Blacksburg 2023 is a half-day conference on Friday. Headlining this year’s conference is current American Statistical Association President Dionne Price, who works for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as the deputy director of the Office of Biostatistics, Office of Translational Sciences at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The first African American to serve as American Statistical Association president, Price will present the opening keynote address, titled “Our Impact in the Evolving Data Landscape.” Her talk will explore not only challenges and opportunities for data scientists and statisticians as the data landscape continues to grow and change, but their contributions and impact as well.

Providing the closing keynote address is Ruoxi Jia, assistant professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Jia, who was recently honored with a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award, will focus her discussion on trustworthy machine learning.

Another conference highlight will be a panel discussion focusing on the varied careers available in the realm of data science. Titled “Data Science is a Multidisciplinary Sport,” the discussion will feature a slate of women who have forged successful careers in data science across a variety of domains.

Other activities on Friday include a session for student poster presentations, as well as roundtable discussions over dinner.

“The beauty of this event is the chance it gives to students to meet and interact with women who have careers to which they aspire,” said Monica Ahrens, a research scientist at the Center for Biostatistics and Health Data Science and co-chair of WiDS Blacksburg 2023. “I'm looking forward to two nights of networking, learning about the vast work done by women in data science, and having some fun along the way.”

For more details on WiDS Blacksburg, including registration information and full agenda, visit the event website.