Following on our announcement of the IDSS Initiative on Combatting Systemic Racism (ICSR), here's a snapshot of some student involvement in the initiative. In addition to contributions from IDSS graduate students in SES, TPP, and IDPS, we have undergraduate UROP and SuperUROP students, and we are looking for more!

There are many ways to engage with this new initiative, so please email us at if you’d like to get involved.
SES student Hammaad Adam uses machine learning to create more equitable healthcare systems as an SES student and researcher with the IDSS Initiative on Combatting Systemic Racism.
ChemE undergrad Mingying Yang researches bias in clinical notes as a SuperUROP Scholar working with the ICSR healthcare team.
The ICSR social media team is focused on understanding how ordinary users on various platforms might be served harmful, extreme, or conspiratorial content, and the roles played by the platforms' algorithms in facilitating that exposure.

"We're particularly interested in how a representative user who joins a platform like Twitter to engage with a mundane topic might be funneled toward seeing content and following users who promote more harmful or controversial views," says IDSS researcher and Hammer Fellow Zach Schutzman. "For example, how might a young person interested in feminism be pushed toward racist, xenophobic, or transphobic parts of the network?"

Answering this question and many others involves several different avenues of work including computational infrastructure and machine learning tools to collect and analyze enormous amounts of data, as well as qualitative analysis of the kinds of interests users in various communities have and the ways those users engage with the platform.

The social media team includes SES students Erin Walk and Chris Hays (pictured above), with contributions from UROP students. The undergraduate UROP students are also involved at all levels, from using machine learning tools to process and interpret social media content to figuring out how to access and collect the data that underpins those models. "These students' insight and input has been valuable in steering the project and understanding which topics and questions to analyze and investigate," says Zach. 
Know a student who might be a good fit for ICSR? There are other UROP opportunities researching bias in healthcare, distinguishing cleft palate speech from healthy speech with machine learning, and extremism and social media.
  • Beyond Fairness: Big Data, Racial Justice & Housing – Wed, April 27
The IDSS/SSRC Combatting Systemic Racism Seed Fund Program supports innovative, early-stage cross-disciplinary research projects with a focus on combatting systemic racism. Through these grants, IDSS and SSRC seek to encourage faculty PIs from across MIT to collaborate in bringing together new ideas from information and decision systems; data sciences and statistics; and the social sciences to identify and overcome racially discriminatory processes and outcomes across a range of U.S. institutions and policy domains.

Deadline to apply is April 15.