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Arnold School of Public Health

Big Data Health Science Center engages students through diversity, equity and inclusion efforts

January 10, 2023 | Erin Bluvas,

Committed to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), USC’s Big Data Health Science Center is living by its values. Comprised of a diverse group of researchers from an array of backgrounds and disciplines, the team focuses much of their research on improving health for vulnerable and underserved populations, such as LGBTQ+, rural, and minority groups who experience disproportionate rates of health challenges/adverse outcomes and face stigma and discrimination when attempting to gain health literacy and access to health care services.

This year, the Center will expand their DEI efforts even further with a special focus on students. During their fourth annual National Big Data Health Science Conference (February 10-11), the Center will celebrate the return to in-person participation (after two-years online) with an Academic Career Development Luncheon on February 10 for underrepresented minority students.

We are excited to have been awarded this grant, as it will enable us to provide increased support and mentorship opportunities for underrepresented minority students wishing to embark on academic career paths.

-Miranda Nixon managing director for the Big Data Health Science Center

The luncheon will include discussions about opportunities in data science and the institutional value of diversity and underrepresented minority involvement in academia. Attendees will also network and connect with potential mentors as well as learn about resources and gain insight into the challenges and opportunities minoritized individuals may encounter throughout academic-related career paths.

Members of the Center will expand upon the connections forged during the luncheon to continue their relationships with attendees beyond the conference. Based on student interest, future collaborations could include research and mentorship opportunities as well as participation in one of the Center’s prestigious training programs.

The Big Data Health Science Center is also working to increase the overall attendance of underrepresented minority students at this year’s conference. They are reaching out to faculty and staff at historically black colleges and universities as well as relevant USC offices and other underrepresented minority-serving communities.

These efforts are supported by USC’s Office of DEI’s Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Grant Fund. This fund was established to encourage new inclusive initiatives and strengthen existing ones. The grant supports creative programs, events and academic multicultural initiatives for students that foster collaborative partnerships and DEI. In addition to using the funds to make the luncheon possible, the Center will use it to wave registration fees for 30 conference attendees from underrepresented minority groups and provide scholarships to six of these individuals so they can present their abstracts in the oral/poster competition.

“We are excited to have been awarded this grant, as it will enable us to provide increased support and mentorship opportunities for underrepresented minority students wishing to embark on academic career paths,” says Miranda Nixon, managing director for the Big Data Health Science Center. “It will also help us strengthen partnerships and collaboration with local HBCUs and other USC campuses who are home to a large population of minority students but are often left out of the dialogue.”

The Center’s long-term plans include creating a training pipeline program for underrepresented minority students in South Carolina. The increased participation of minority students at the conference and the relationships sparked through the academic luncheon will be important milestones in nurturing those future collaborations. 

For more information or to attend the luncheon, contact Miranda Nixon at or 803-777-5027.


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