Sruthi Vedantham: How cool is that, that we have the tools?


This summer I’ve spent my time assisting Professor Daniel Butler in the Department of Political Science with data collection in an effort to answer the question: If interest groups take a position on a legislative bill, is the bill more likely to go the way the group wants it to?

When I started doing research work with Professor Butler, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into because I didn’t really understand how data science (with all its programming and math) had any relation to politics. When I started getting into the web-scraping and data compilation, though, I realized that while our data science program is a lot of CS and math, it can be applied, on a broader level, to pretty much any discipline.
When people talk about the intersection between politics and data science, it’s usually Cambridge Analytica, or some derivative of that, that comes immediately to mind. I think the intersection transcends just data-driven campaigning, though, and can really be used to create a better tomorrow. I hope that by combining my Data Science major with Political Science, I can one day help to create data-driven policy that directly and positively impacts the community it was created for. I mean, how cool is it that we have the tools to look at the data that encompasses each and every one of us, and use it to solve the worlds most pressing issues?

The more I learn about data science and analytics, the more I’ve come to see exactly how powerful it is. People are using data science today to analyze police brutality rates by ethnicity, to track paths of homelessness in metropolitan areas, to improve access to education and healthcare, and so much more. It’s really so exciting that when I graduate from UCSD, I’ll be able to use my skills in data science to help with these things as well.

This year I’m a member of the Outreach committee on the Data Science Students Society (DS3)! If you’d like to chat about upcoming events, what you’d like to see from DS3, or anything else, you can reach out to me at srvedant@ucsd.edu.

Hope to DS SEE you all at our upcoming events 😉