Elke Rundensteiner, professor of computer science and director of data science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), has received a three-year $366,712 grant from the NSF to support a 10-week, all-expenses-paid Research Experience in Data Science for undergraduate students.

This grant funds an REU, or Research Experiences for Undergraduates, program that follows on the heels of another NSF-funded “highly successful” three-year REU program that just wrapped up at WPI. The previous project brought 30 student participants from 27 different U.S. academic institutions to develop their data science research skills.

“This new grant will again enable us to bring more than 10 top undergraduate students from around the country to WPI each summer to engage them in research in our data science program, working shoulder to shoulder with our faculty and data science graduate students,” said Rundensteiner, who last year received a $2.8 million award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a smartphone app to assess soldiers’ health. “We will leverage the lessons learned in the previous three years to ensure that a successful site experience can be had by the REU student participants, the WPI graduate student mentors and the WPI faculty who will be serving as research mentors.”

The program enables students, working in interdisciplinary teams, to get experience using advanced data mining tools, machine learning, natural language processing, statistical and visual analysis, and prediction and modeling tools.

They also have the opportunity to work on health community-related research projects, such as monitoring someone’s health with their smartphones; environment issues like chemical spills and water contamination, or transportation and energy problems.