Karun Rajesh: 2021 Public Service Graduate Fellow

Updated: Jan 18

The Harvard Data Science (HDSI) Public Service Graduate Fellowship


Karun Rajesh (MSHDS ‘22, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) worked at Cambridge Health Alliance as a data scientist intern for the Health Improvement Team (HIT) where he applied data science to strengthen HIT’s approach to facilitating collaborative community health needs assessments, monitoring health indicators of importance to the community, and evaluating outcomes of implementation strategies.


The Harvard Data Science Initiative (HDSI) Public Service Data Science Graduate Fellowship supports Master’s students in Harvard’s data science programs (Biomedical Informatics, Health Data Science, Data Science) who want to explore career paths at not-for-profit and public sector organizations through a summer internship.

The primary objective of his work was to produce a data pipeline that would seamlessly pull data from multiple sources and allow users to visualize and manipulate this data for their needs. Rajesh developed an end-to-end process, from data collection to visualization, to be performed in one place, rather than in separate documents as was done in the former system.


In order to accomplish this, Rajesh collected the various data sources used by HIT into one source (ACS’ Census Data, Massachusetts state data, DESE data, etc.) and created generalized functions that manipulated these data sources, such as trend over time analyses, stratification levels, and comparison of statistics. These functions take in the data source and the manipulation of interest to output a cleaned file with the results.


Rajesh also designed a basic visualization of the manipulations so that the user could interact with the data graphically, if needed. This allows for users to have the manipulated dataset and an easy way to navigate the visualizations. Some users of the system may want the dataset for obtaining concrete numbers to go in grant applications, while others may want to show the visualization to community members during talks. The infrastructure Rajesh established will allow leverage between these two options, and for CHA to build on top of this pipeline if modifications or additions are required in the future.


The HDSI Public Service Data Science Fellowship


The HDSI (Harvard Data Science Initiative) Public Service Data Science Graduate Fellowship supports Master’s students in Harvard’s data science programs (Biomedical Informatics (HMS), Health Data Science (HSPH), Data Science (SEAS)) who want to explore career paths at not-for-profit and public sector organizations through a summer internship.


The #fellowship includes a $10,000 stipend to support an unpaid #summer 2022 #internship at a not-for-profit or public sector organization that either (a) applies data science to solve social challenges, or (b) advocates for responsible data science. The stipend is intended to support living expenses during the summer and may not be used for tuition.


Fellows are also expected to promote public service #data science at #Harvard, which will include documenting their experience in the fellowship through a blog post or short report to the HDSI (previous winners Rachel Moon and Pradeep Mangalath); and may include community-building activities such as:

  • Facilitating a public service data science reading group

  • Participating on panels and in discussions/talks

  • Serving as a resource to other students interested in public service and data science

Learn how to apply
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