Honoring Black History Month with Data Scientists

It is Black History Month! This is an important time for our country to consciously reflect on our history with Black History including incredible (often unacknowledged) contributions but also deep traumas that have helped build our collective American History. These contributions and traumas also exist within data science and analytics!

I’d like to highlight a few excellent scientists in the field working with data -disseminating, visualizing, and advocating. I hope to get you interested in their work.

Snapshot from Jordan Harrod’s YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/jordanharrod

Jordan is a PhD student in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics at the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, and in her free time, she helps lead a peer-reviewed journal called the Science Policy Journal [1, 3]. Jordan is also an excellent disseminator of science, which can be seen in her YouTube channel introducing everyday AI [2].

Ysis Tarter pushed for efficiency through coding in the medical field when getting her start in data science. According to the interview by Caroline Mimms for UC Berkeley, she pursued research and analytics as a way of helping people on a larger scale than one on one in the doctor’s office. From her interview [4], she’s quoted saying, “There is a lack of data capture in the black community. It can’t be optimized if it is not captured. If the data is there, the lack of analysis restricts the data. People are starting to tell the story, but we can’t change the story until someone starts writing the story.”

Dr. Angela Baltes received her doctorate in Biomedical Informatics from Rutgers. Her portfolio dives into all things data with nods to machine learning and data wrangling. She is a strong disseminator of science, and has several talks on her website as well.

Her website is here: https://angelabaltes.com/ [5] and you can check out her visualizations here:https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/angela.baltes.

Lastly a data scientist from another century. DuBois was foundational in data science. His visualizations are innovative and display an important part of American History from the 1900s. The full set of images that were displayed at the 1900 Paris Exhibition can be viewed on the Library of Congress’s website. Some great follow-up articles on his work can be found at Tableau [6] and Smithsonian. There’s a compilation of his work in a book called W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America. Please try to buy the book from a local Black-owned bookstore.


  1. Adeleye, O., & Aderonmu, F. (2020, December 2). Nine black women that you should know in Data Science. Institute for Medical Engineering & Science. Retrieved February 4, 2022, from https://imes.mit.edu/nine-black-women-that-you-should-know-in-data-science/
  2. Harrod, J. Jordan Harrod [YouTube channel]. Retrieved Feb 1, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/jordanharrod.
  3. Harrod, J. (2021, September 18). Jordan Harrod. Retrieved February 1, 2022, from https://www.jordanharrod.com/
  4. Mimms, C. (2021, March 31). Black data scientists are starting to write the story. Voices. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://voices.berkeley.edu/technology-and-information-management/black-data-scientists-are-starting-write-story
  5. Angela Baltes. (n.d.). Data Scientist & Informaticist. Angela Baltes. Retrieved February 4, 2022, from https://angelabaltes.com/
  6. Forrest Data Visualization Designer, J. (2019, February 20). How W.E.B. Du Bois used data visualization to confront prejudice in the early 20th century. Tableau. Retrieved February 4, 2022, from https://www.tableau.com/about/blog/2019/2/how-web-du-bois-used-data-visualization-confront-prejudice-early-20th-century



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