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PRIISM Opportunity Fellowship

MS in Applied Statistics for Social Science Research

The highly-selective PRIISM Opportunity Fellowship supports the growth and development of two promising students in their first year of the Applied Statistics for Social Science Research MS program.  Fellows will gain experience and skills by engaging with data-driven research teams led by PRIISM faculty who are using data to address societal issues.

Fellows will engage in activities that will provide them with critical training in many aspects of statistical research consulting.  In particular they will have the opportunity to engage in the following research-related activities.

  • Participate on research teams according to their interests.  Read background materials, help to formulate hypotheses, review and discuss research techniques, strategies, dilemmas, data, and findings. Potential projects might focus on topics such as detection of discrimination in the criminal justice system, evaluation of homeless services, or understanding the impact of secondary education in conflict-affected countries.
  • Learn outside the classroom through structured research activities and supplemental workshops and learning events.
  • Engage in professional development activities to improve the quality of resumes, cover letters, and interview skills.
  • Attend PRIISM research seminars to learn about a diversity of research strategies and gain exposure to applications of statistical approaches across a range of disciplines and policy arenas.


This fellowship will provide the student with several supports and benefits.  In the fall semester, the student will receive a $5,000 fellowship stipend.  In the spring semester, contingent on reaching fall milestones, the student will be hired onto a PRIISM-affiliated research team to gain valuable work experience (with salary starting at $3,500). Throughout, the fellow will be supported through regular check-ins with their faculty mentor.

Eligibility and Application Process

All applicants to the program will be considered for this fellowship.  No separate application process is required. Preference will be given to students who identify as belonging to groups underrepresented in STEM fields. Preference will also be given to students who explicitly express interest in pursuing research or work that will benefit society.

Contact for additional information.

2023-2024 Fellows

Valentina Litang

Valentina Litang

Valentina Litang was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and lived in Florida during high school and college. She did her undergrad at the University of Florida, and she graduated with degrees in economics and advertising. Upon graduating she moved to NYC and has been working in market research ever since. Valentina is pursuing an MS in Applied Statistics for Social Change and aims to graduate in the Spring of 2025. She hopes to work in the realm of data analysis with a focus on social change and policy. She is most passionate about education policy and making sure all children have access to equitable education.

Valentina enjoys working in data science because it allows for a concrete and quantifiable way of seeing the world and measuring change over time. She cares about social impact because she cares about humanity. It is her belief that, through small actions and decisions, we have the power to steer society in a positive, equitable direction. She also believes we are responsible for making the most of the time between now and the future.

Valentina’s fellowship is at the Cash Transfer Lab (CTL), a center whose mission is to build an evidence base regarding cash transfer policies, with Dr. Sarah Cowan, founder and executive director of CTL, social demographer, and Assistant Professor of Sociology at NYU. Valentina is excited to learn from Dr. Cowan about cash transfers and to see how this experience will help her work toward her career goals.

Jayce Helpley

Jayce Helpley

Jayce Helpley is from the Hudson Valley region of upstate New York. They graduated from NYU in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in mathematics. During their undergraduate career, they interned at multiple policy research institutes, supporting projects related to workforce development programming and reducing people’s involvement in the criminal legal system. Since September 2022, Jayce has worked as a research assistant at MDRC, where they have engaged in research related to child support programs, reconnecting young people to education and employment, and participatory research methods.

Jayce is astonished by the sheer amount of information that is available and what data scientists are able to do with it. They enjoy being able to find data that relates to a given research question, wrangling it into a more analyzable format, and presenting findings in a way that’s understandable to non-researchers. They look forward to honing these skills during their graduate education.

Many government policies and private institutions produce serious inequities between groups — and it doesn’t have to be that way. Ultimately, Jayce is interested in social science research because of its ability to investigate whether disparities exist, and when they do, what we can do to reduce or even eliminate them. Long term, Jayce plans to continue to do research with the goal of harnessing data to investigate processes that contribute to social stratification and identify policies that may increase upward social mobility within and across generations. 

Jayce’s fellowship is with the Litmus program at the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management, which partners with public agencies in an effort to improve their performance. So far, Jayce has especially enjoyed how collaborative the team has been; it’s an amazing reminder that complex social issues can’t be solved by one person and that we think best when we work with others. 

Jayce is currently a master’s student in the Applied Statistics for Social Science Research program and expects to graduate in December 2025. 

2022-2023 Fellows

Headshot of Laurne Jone in undergrad graduation gown

Laurné Jones

Laurné Jones was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. She holds a Master's in Analytics from American University and a Bachelor's in Finance from Southern University and A&M College. While pursuing her first master's, she had the honor of serving as a Secondary Math Teacher in New Orleans, Houston, TX and Washington D.C. For the past four years, she has worked mainly in the government consulting space as a Data Scientist. She is currently a first-year master's student in the Applied Statistics for Social Science Research (A3SR) program, with a concentration in Data Science for Social Impact on track to graduate in the Spring of 2024.

After some years working as a Data Scientist, Laurné understands how much more impact she can have when applying data science and analytics to societal problems. Through the A3SR program, she will gain expertise in applying her analytical skills to more meaningful problems as well as exposure to research methodologies that will prepare her for potential doctoral research or private industry work.

Laurné enjoys solving puzzles, and looks at data science as a huge puzzle. Whether it's coming up with a data question, gathering and interpreting data, or deriving next steps, she thinks it's exciting to discover and validate assumptions and take those insights to solve a problem or create new opportunities.

Laurné’s fellowship is with Dr. Michael Kieffer at the Center for the Success of English Learners (CSEL), a multi-institution Institute of Education Sciences-funded Research & Development center engaged in identifying barriers that English learners face in accessing the core curriculum in middle and high school. Using administrative data from the Research Alliance for New York City Schools and original large-scale survey data, the project will explore inequities in course access, their predictors, and their consequences. Since joining the CSEL project, she’s been most interested in learning more about the perspective of English Language learners. She is particularly interested in learning more about the special education and gifted learners that fall within this population and how their outcomes are impacted by the lack of access to an expanded curriculum.

Headshot of Hailie Dono

Hailie Dono

Hailie Dono grew up on the south shore of Long Island in the village of Patchogue. In May of 2022, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Mathematics from Hofstra University in Nassau County. It was there that she had her first internship experience with CARECEN, a nonprofit based on Long Island, New York that provides legal services and education to the immigrant community -- an experience that solidified her passion for using data science for social impact. She is currently in the MS in Applied Statistics for Social Science Research program and is projected to graduate in May 2024. Her aspirations for a future career lie in research, specifically research that investigates disparities in data between different marginalized groups. Hailie also hopes to work alongside another nonprofit, where she can see the impact of her work in real time by providing these groups with findings that they can then utilize with an overarching goal of dismantling these systems in place that cause gaps in data.

Aside from the mathematics involved that she adores as a former math major, Hailie is particularly interested in data science as there is a story behind these data sets and different plottings. There is an underlying trend, hypothesis or story to be told and to her, data science acts as a translator of sorts to convey these hidden messages. She thinks there is something so exciting about the fact that there is plenty of data waiting in the world for someone in data science to transcribe it. It is also important to make sure we are telling the whole story, as statistics can be used to lie, an ethical approach to data science can help intercept harmful social impact.

Growing up on Long Island is a polarizing experience. There are extremes at every corner. For instance, Hailie received her undergraduate degree at a school neatly situated between one of the richest neighborhoods and one of the poorest. It's difficult to look around and not see these inequities, in health, economic resources and power, at every corner. She hopes to be able to shed light on these unequal systems in place and better the lives of specific groups through her work.

Hailie’s fellowship is at the Cash Transfer Lab (CTL), a center whose mission is to build an evidence base regarding cash transfer policies, with Dr. Robert Pickett who works on statistical approaches to identify the causal effects of the Alaskan Permanent Fund Dividend. She is excited to be a part of the CTL where there are researchers from many diverse backgrounds of study and a multitude of different topic projects all within one lab. She is so grateful to be exposed to so many different research projects in one place. She is also excited to be able to draw back on my undergraduate studies in economics as she dives deeper into Alaska's Permanent Fund Dividend and its implications on Universal Basic Income.

2021-2022 Fellows

Karen Britt

Karen D. Britt

Karen D. Britt is from the Bronx. She graduated in May 2021 from CUNY Lehman College with a BA in Sociology, minoring in data science. She has had multiple data analytic internships, including a data science five-week program with Microsoft. Karen is currently a first-year masters’ student in the applied statistics program and will graduate in May of 2023. Her career goals are to conduct meaningful research of health disparities in New York City that can assist policymakers in creating programs that will help improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers regardless of where they live. Karen enjoys how data science can be used to learn more about the world with a more logical lens. She thinks it’s amazing how we can use data to make more informed decisions that lead to a more impactful outcome. She cares about social impact because we are in a time where there are the means to give everyone the resources they need to thrive. Quality of life shouldn’t matter depending on what town or neighborhood you live in. It’s important that the social impact made is positive and improves the lives of those who are impacted. Karen is a fellow on the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) project with NYU’s Marron Institute of Urban Management. She enjoys working on the project thus far because she is able to conduct research that will help improve the prison system.

Jaylene Quito

Jaylene Quito

Jaylene Quito was born and raised in NYC, specifically in East Harlem. Growing up, she always had a passion for helping out people within her community. Due to this passion, she tried to pursue a degree in social work but realized her calling was in the research field. She received a BA in Sociology from CUNY Lehman College in the first graduating class of the pandemic, 2020! She has done several research projects and has traveled as far as Barcelona to conduct research. Analyzing data and data visualization are her favorite parts of the research process. She is currently in the Applied Statistics for Social Science Research program and will graduate in May 2023. Jaylene plans to continue being a researcher and has always wanted to find a way to use her skills to help the immigrant and/or mental health population. She has a strong connection with them and would do anything to help their voices be heard. In data science, she enjoys being able to make her research presentable and understandable to anyone. People may not understand the numbers or conclusions made, but being able to mediate that issue is such a rewarding job. People deserve to understand new information given to them and find out how it can benefit them. In terms of social impact, Jaylene has experienced both sides of the coin. Needing the help and being able to give the help. Being brought up by undocumented parents and having one taken away from you because of immigration laws, makes you realize that a lot has to be done in the system. She is just trying to be the change she wants to see. Jaylene is working with the Brito Lab on the COVID-19 & Perinatal Experiences (COPE) Study. From her experience thus far, she has absolutely loved seeing everyone's enthusiasm about the project. There are so many aspects to the project and everyone brings something to it. It's the fact that everything comes together perfectly that makes me excited to continue to work on this project.

2020-2021 Fellows

Adrian Harris

Adrian Harris 

Adrian Harris is currently a first-year master's student in the Applied Statistics program. Before coming to NYU, he received a Bachelor of Business Administration from CUNY- Baruch College in Spring 2020. He enjoys working with raw data and transforming it into knowledge that can better the lives of people around him. 

As a PRIISM Opportunity Fellow, Adrian has had the opportunity to learn from his mentor, Professor Marc Scott on a research project titled “Tale of Two Cities: London and New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The project includes compiling community characteristics from multiple sources and linking these to COVID-19 case rates over time. Comparability of data across the two cities and the technical challenges inherent in this are crucial to the project’s success. The project excites him every day and his favorite parts are working with an amazing advisor and working with untidy data. He has learned more about the research process and libraries like the lubridate package in R during his time as a fellow.

Adrian cares about social impact. He was born in Brooklyn but has lived in Elmont, New York the majority of his life. He has lost many friends to suicide and addiction and would like to bring more light to underrepresented groups and the issues that disproportionately affect them.

After he graduates in Spring 2022 from NYU, Adrian plans on joining the Peace Corps for two years and then pursuing a PhD. to pursue research in mental health, addiction, and other human behaviors.


PRIISM fellow Nicole Salani

Nicole Salani

Nicole Salani grew up in the village of Mahalapye, Botswana. She completed her bachelor's degree in Economics and Statistics at Williams College. Her interest in unearthing knowledge from data was sparked during a summer internship in Capetown during her sophomore year at Williams.

Nicole is currently studying for an MS in Applied Statistics and is planning to graduate in 2022. After this, she would like to continue to conduct research on human health and behavior. She is interested in the application of data science and statistics in policy implementation around public health, education, and other socio-economic issues that affect people's livelihoods.

With the right statistical and data science tools, she believes that one can uncover and help rectify inequities; or steadily guide the complicated process of recovering from a hurricane and other devastating natural disasters; as well as understand and map the impact of human activities on the environment. She enjoys the feeling of empowerment that comes with leveraging data science and statistics to face such challenges head-on.

As someone who cares about social impact, she would like to see a better world because she believes in Ubuntu (humanity). There is a saying in the region she comes from that is rooted in this humanist African philosophy of Ubuntu: "Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu" ; "motho ke motho ka batho.” This essentially translates to, “I am because we are and as such we owe it to one another to make the world a better place together, for all of us.” And (selfishly, she feels) it makes her feel good. She thinks that data science and statistics may be a way to achieve this type of impact.

As a PRIISM Opportunity Fellow on the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) project headed by Angela Hawkins at the Marron Institute at NYU, Nicole enjoys collaborating with the team and likes that the work they do might actually change the lives of those who are incarcerated and hence generally tucked away from society's compassionate eyes. There are glaring and cruel inequities within the prison system and there is a lot of work to do to fix that. She is humbled that the team’s work moves the needle on these inequities.