ASA DataFest at UF draws together students from across campus for data science competition

Group of students holding DataFest trophy
Best Overall: Team Blue JAYS. Photos by Jesse S. Jones and Louis Brems.

By Jill Pease

Nearly 50 University of Florida bachelor’s and master’s students worked around the clock last weekend to find and share meaning in a large, rich and complex dataset as part of UF’s first American Statistical Association DataFest.

Hosted by the department of biostatistics at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions and the department of statistics at the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, ASA DataFest at UF joins a rich tradition of bringing together the data science community. The event was founded at UCLA in 2011 and is now held at universities around the U.S., including the University of Southern California, Purdue University, Duke University, University of North Carolina, Emory and Dartmouth.

The students competing in this year’s UF event represented 21 different academic programs from PHHP, CLAS, the Warrington College of Business and the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. Teams worked on a data analysis challenge throughout the weekend and presented their findings at the event’s close. Other activities included a workshop on the statistical software JMP, including guidance for using JMP’s graph builder tool and other data analysis processes.

A panel of judges determined the winners for Best Visualizations, Best Use of External Data and Best Overall.

“Judging was very difficult in the end because so many teams did such a great job overall,” said event organizer Steven Foti, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor in the PHHP department of biostatistics. “It was hard to name winners when everyone had so much to offer. Some teams had great insights, some teams implemented really creative analytic methods, and others were very professional in their role as ‘consultants’ for this data challenge. Ultimately, DataFest is about the experience, the networking and the collaboration, and less about winning.”

Awards were presented to the following teams:

  • Best Overall: Blue JAYS (John Crawford, Aaron Shumer, Yang Zheng and Shane Gladson, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences)
  • Best Visualizations: DataBesties (Zirui Cao, Diego Viteri, Scarlet Wessin and Xiaomei Hai, Warrington College of Business, and Shihao Wang, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences)
  • Best Use of External Data: Serial Data-rs (Alisha Jithesh, Marium Abdulhussein and Christina Kallidukil, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences)