Deanna Needell is the new Executive Director of IDRE. She is a professor of Mathematics and the Dunn Family Endowed Chair in Data Theory at UCLA. Since she recently assumed office, we reached out to her about her plans and vision for the organization. She shared her plans with us to steer IDRE forward in terms of research and interdisciplinary collaborations.
Engagement is one of the main focus areas for Deanna. Since there are many gaps in areas like data science and machine mearning in engineering, math, and humanities, she would like to improve engagement amongst researchers from all across campus to collaborate on these areas. Moreover, Deanna would like to improve engagement across diverse communities on campus. She describes our relationship with our community as:
“We’re helping the community and the community is driving us.”
She is also hoping to create a program to bring together non-profits, faculty, and students to fuel scientific discoveries. Her focus is on the availability of resources for research. She plans to build a sandbox for researchers to experiment using emerging technologies.
“We’re making sure we’re on the cutting edge of technological advancement.”
Giving A Voice to The Faculty
In Deanna’s view, IDRE’s faculty needs to be heard. She wants to make sure that the campus faculty has a voice and that there is a tight conduit between policy makers and their constituents.
“I’d like to see IDRE serve as a means to make sure that faculty voice is being heard.”
The Importance of Collaboration in IDRE
Deanna claims that collaboration is the future for IDRE. She believes that many mechanisms of research and technical advancement have become interdisciplinary. The most challenging problems today require collaboration, and a siloed world will not be able to solve them. In order to improve interdepartmental collaborations, she has piloted “Call For Workshops”, a program where people from different areas can work together on real world problems.
IDRE’s Early Career Scholars program is another venue which may catalyze interdisciplinary research.
“We are also hoping to create a project matching mechanism that allows better interdepartmental collaboration.”
Deanna’s Data Science Focus Areas
Deanna would like IDRE to pursue are social justice, bias adjustment, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
Deanna’s Leadership Goals
“I want to listen and make sure everyone’s needs are met.”
Deanna likes to lead by having “bigger ears than mouth.” She has her own ideas that she wants to be carried out, but she thinks it is very important to listen to faculty and researchers.
We are excited and look forward to seeing Deanna take us to a new level of technological advancement, collaborative work and social justice