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The UCLA Library DataSquad is a team of undergraduate students who support data-related projects at UCLA. As part of the UCLA Library Data Science Center, the DataSquad works with students who need help with their data projects and highlights the work of researchers using data at UCLA.

The first DataSquad cohort is graduating together.

The team, led by co-directors Tim Dennis and Zhiyuan Yao, was composed of Project Manager Keona Mae Pablo, Student Data Science Consultants Julia Wood and Ethan Allavarpu, and hybrid Student Data Science Consultant/Technical Writer Will Foote for the 2021-2022 academic school year.

The student quartet only worked together for one full quarter, but their work set the stage for their successors to build off their collaborative model. In their time on the DataSquad, the four have helped clients from various backgrounds reach their research goals through data. They have worked tirelessly to ensure the model is sustainable beyond graduation.

The four members of the DataSquad have each played an essential role in this iterative process and collaborated to reach this mission, even though they started on the team at different times.

Julia Wood — Student Data Science Consultant

Senior statistics major and digital humanities minor Julia Wood was the first to join the team in 2021 before the DataSquad was officially established. During her time on the team, she consulted countless clients, taught multiple Tableau workshops(opens in a new tab) and trained Ethan after he joined the team in Winter 2022.

Throughout her time on the DataSquad, Julia helped research investigate topics from music fans on Twitter to gentrification in Los Angeles. Her final and most recent project involved Dr. Terrence of the UCLA Biocritical Studies Lab(opens in a new tab), wherein she exemplified the data cleaning and visualization skills that made her a valuable asset to the DataSquad and all the clients she helped.

Julia will take the skills she’s learned on the DataSquad to Meta, where she will begin her career as a data scientist in the fall of 2022.

Keona Mae Pablo — Project Manager

Keona Mae Pablo was the DataSquad project manager and a senior cognitive science major and digital humanities minor at UCLA. Since the fall of 2021, she has worked to establish and implement the DataSquad model at UCLA. She designed and implemented workflows, helped hire the DataSquad and managed their work. She also liaised between the DataSquad staff and squadron workers to create an organized, well-functioning data science consulting team.

After graduation, Keona will start work as a project manager at Plain Concepts.

Will Foote — Technical Writer/Student Data Science Consultant

Will Foote, a senior statistics major and public affairs minor at UCLA, has worked as the DataSquad’s technical writer and one of the team’s student data science consultants since fall 2021. He wrote and compiled the 2021 Recap and spring 2022 newsletters for the DSC. He has also published — and is writing more — blog posts to recap the team’s work.

Will has also completed numerous consulting projects as well. Notably, working with DataSquad International — the nascent global organizing group for the DataSquad — he has provided data analysis on survey results about student employment in data science support services at institutions worldwide. The DataSquad International team will present Will’s analysis on the DataSquad International website and at upcoming European and US conferences.

Will is seeking a data scientist or statistical consulting position to begin his career following graduation.

Ethan Allavarpu — Student Data Science Consultant

Ethan Allavarpu, a statistics major at UCLA, was hired in the winter quarter of 2022 and has hit the ground running in his first quarter with the DataSquad. Since joining the team, he has worked on three projects and looks to take on more in his last quarter at UCLA.

Ethan worked with Julia on Terrence Keel’s research project on fatal encounters with police, in which he helped in the data cleaning and processing phases. He also analyzed geolocation helicopter data and created a program to parse text from Microsoft Word and PDF files using Python in his other two projects.

After graduation, Ethan will pursue a master of science in statistics data science at Stanford University.

Moving Forward

The team hopes that through creating well-documented briefs on their well-organized procedures, the DataSquad can introduce a new way to think about student employment entirely: as one cohort handing the baton to the next rather than being replaced by a new, independent generation.

The team has already hired the next two student data science consultants, Tristan Dewing and Shail Mirpuri, both rising seniors. It is also currently in the hiring process for the next project manager and technical writer.

Regardless of who fills out the rest of the team’s roster, the first cohort is confident they’ve set the stage for sustained momentum of the DataSquad beyond themselves and excited to see where their successors take the model in the future.