Using science to engage with our communities
Since our launch in 2007, the Weitz Group has aimed to extend the impact of our work to our communities.
Our main goals are to leverage our analytic skill sets to serve the public good and to advocate for expanding opportunities in science as broadly as possible. We prioritize collaborative work spanning distinct groups and professional status levels through public engagement, program development, and ‘bottom-up’ initiatives. With this work, we aim to transform institutional norms to enable more opportunities for those who want to pursue a career in research and improve our collective well-being.
Prof. Weitz and team continue to work on data-driven projects focusing on societal problems (e.g., pandemic response) and the development of data-driven approaches with non-profit organizations.
Fighting for Institutional Change
Breaking down barriers to scientific research.
In 2019-20, Prof. Weitz led a bottom-up faculty effort in parallel to critical student-led efforts to reduce the financial impact of fees on graduate students at Georgia Tech.
“As a professor and graduate studies director, I am deeply worried this practice of ever-increasing fees has been allowed to continue for far too long within the University System of Georgia without recognition of the pernicious effect fees have on recruitment, retention, and overall satisfaction — these issues won’t be fixed with a week of appreciation.” – Joshua Weitz, Atlanta Journal Constitution
Data Sciences for Social Good
Leveraging our analytical skills to ensure that science serves the public.
Since 2014, we have led a series of initiatives centered on data sciences and modeling for social good. These efforts reflect our team’s particular scientific expertise, and more generally reflect our interest in providing pro bono services to nonprofits and organizations that could benefit from quantitative expertise.
Mapping Rights, 2019-Present
Prof. Weitz is collaborating with Prof. Andris on an ongoing ‘Mapping Rights’ project in collaboration with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (headquartered in Atlanta, GA). The aim of the project is to visualize and analyze a spectrum of rights data (civil, health, social, etc.).
Tahirih Justice Center, 2018-2019
Ashley Coenen and former undergraduate Ellen Cottingham, along with Prof. Weitz, provided analytic support to Taihirih to analyze historical Georgia marriage data in support of grassroots efforts to end child marriage in the state of Georgia. The marriage bill was signed into law on May 6, 2019. Our role in this effort was highlighted by Tahirih, including the work of one undergraduate and graduate student in our team.
Center for Access to Justice, 2016-2017
Dr. Chad Wigington and Prof. Weitz worked in collaboration with the Georgia State University Center for Access to Justice (Director: Lauren Lucas, Associate Director: Darcy Meals) to develop an interactive visualization map of Georgia’s “legal deserts” to highlight disparities in county-level accessibility to legal representation and services, particularly in majority-minority districts. This map was featured at the GSU Center website, Salon, amongst many outlets (2016-2017).
Public Outreach In Support of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in Science
Ensuring science is accessible to everyone.
Prof. Weitz and team members have been active in grassroots efforts to support diversity, inclusion, and belonging in science.
Advocacy through Op-Eds
Prof. Weitz has written multiple Op-Eds in response to Trump administration policies. Written for Georgia Tech’s student newspaper the techNique, ‘Strangers in a Strange Land’ condemed President Trump’s travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries. Prof. Weitz’s piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education, ‘Should Scientists Compromise,’ addressed the troubling views that the Trump Administration held about scientific research. More of Prof. Weitz’s op-ed topics include high fees for Georgia Tech graduate students, the Trump administration’s border policy, and university responses to the Parkland shooting in 2018.
Student Solidarity Rally
In 2017, multiple group members contributed to the organization of a rally in solidarity with students from predominantly Muslim countries affected by the travel ban put forth by President Trump, known as the ‘Muslim ban.’ Prof. Weitz spoke at the rally that amassed over 1,000 attendees.
Civic Engagement at Georgia Tech
Giving a voice to the students.
Multiple members of the Weitz Group are active participants in student government at Georgia Tech.
Andreea Magalie has deep ties to the Georgia Tech community, serving as a member of the student government association between 2018 and 2020. Magalie also founded the Quantitative Biosciences student association, serving as president between Fall2019 – Spring 2021. Magalie was awarded the “QBioS Service Award” for her work building community and institutions within QBioS.
King Nguyen is also involved in student government, volunteering for the Student Government Association. He also serves on the Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Student Advisory Board and mentors students for the Transfer Student Association.
Connecting Science and Art
Using art to engage with science.
Since 2017, Stephen Beckett, a research scientist in the Weitz Group, has worked with Science.Art.Wonder to promote engaging with science through art. In 2019, Beckett collaborated with Georgia Tech student Emily Madsen to depict his research through an artistic lens. Dr. Beckett has showcased these collaborations at the Atlanta Science Festival since 2017.
In 2021, group members Dr. David Demory, Marian Dominguez-Mirazo, and Conan Zhao joined Dr. Beckett in representing their science with art. Find information about the artists and scientists in the gallery below.
More News in Community Engagement