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NASA Awards $11.7 Million to HBCUs for Data Science Research


Feb 4, 2023
Credits: NASA/Cory Huston

Eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will receive $11.7 million from NASA through the new Data Science Equity, Access, and Priority in Research and Education (DEAP) opportunity. The awards aim to empower HBCU students and faculty to conduct cutting-edge data science research that will contribute to NASA’s missions.

During Black History Month, NASA’s Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy stated, “It’s fitting that we make this tangible step to build on the talent pool at HBCUs in our ongoing work to bring to the table all the talents and perspectives we’ll need to send humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond, and do amazing science throughout the solar system.”

The Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) and the Science Mission Directorate collaborated on the DEAP opportunity. The awarded projects have up to three years to increase the number and research capacity of STEM students at HBCUs and prepare the future workforce for data-intensive space-based Earth sciences.

The following institutions and their proposed projects have been selected:

  • Bethune-Cookman University Inc., Daytona Beach, Florida will establish a DEAP Institute focusing on machine learning-based development of a virtual constellation of satellites that will capture changing water levels.
  • Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina will engage students and faculty in using data science to address scientific questions as one of the key factors to manage NASA’s Earth mission research.
  • Florida A & M University, Tallahassee, Florida will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to better understand the science of concentrated salt solutions and the formation of ring-like deposits called evaporites.
  • Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri will provide data science problem-solving, skill development, and professional development of minority and underserved students.
  • Morgan State University, Baltimore will produce a high-resolution, open-access, and user-friendly urban aerosol database focusing on the Baltimore-Washington area.
  • North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina will work on a project developed to harness data science for flood monitoring and management.
  • North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina will create training, data resources, and opportunities to use machine learning/artificial intelligence to identify and measure the impact of flood events and other natural hazards.
  • Prairie View A & M University, Prairie View, Texas will build an AI-based system that can share interactive, instantaneous, and user-relevant Earth science information, making NASA science more discoverable and accessible to a broad audience.

The increasing use of data science at NASA and beyond highlights the need for a future workforce with data science knowledge. NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement’s associate administrator, Mike Kincaid, said, “With our newest collaboration, NASA created an exciting pathway to find new talent at HBCUs.”