2021 Data Fellows

The 2021 class of Data Fellows included Julia Janicki, Kasia Chmielinski, Murray Garrard and Roberta Rocca. The Fellows each had a unique focus on one of the following areas: data journalism, strategic communications and predictive analytics. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the 2021 Fellowship programme was conducted remotely, with Fellows working from home in June and July 2021. Watch the showcase of their final projects here.


Julia Janicki, Data Journalism Fellow

Julia is a freelance data journalist, data visualization designer/developer and cartographer with a focus on environmental issues, biodiversity conservation, democracy and human rights. She has worked for clients such as Global Fishing Watch, Climate Policy Initiative, Reuters Graphics, Environmental Investigation Agency, as well as UN agencies such as UNESCO and UN Volunteers. Previously, Julia worked at a biodiversity/biocomplexity lab at the Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology as a computing technician, where she was on a team that developed antmaps.org. Julia holds dual citizenship from the U.S. and Taiwan, and currently lives in Paris, France. She received two M.S. degrees from UW-Madison in Environmental Observation and Informatics as well as Entomology. Read Julia’s blog to learn more about how she developed a data story about the climate crisis in the Sahel.


Kasia Chmielinski, Strategic Communications Fellow

Kasia is the Co-Founder and Project Lead of The Data Nutrition Project, an initiative that builds dataset quality standards and tools to mitigate bias in artificial intelligence. They are also a technologist at McKinsey & Company, and an Affiliate at The Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University. Previously, Kasia was a digital expert at The U.S. Digital Service (Executive Office of the President) and product lead of Scratch, a project of the MIT Media Lab. Kasia is a U.S. national and received their bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard University. Read Kasia’s blog to see the role trust plays in managing a growing platform like HDX.


Murray Garrard, Strategic Communications Fellow

Murray is a journalist and communications strategist who has been working in the humanitarian sector since 2012. He worked as a journalist in the UK, Australia, Asia and the Middle East before moving to Geneva to help develop and launch the Core Humanitarian Standard. Murray has also headed communications teams at the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership, CHS Alliance, CDAC Network and the UK Mission to the UN. Murray is a U.K. national, a US permanent resident, an occasional writer of fiction, and lives in Southern California. He holds graduate degrees in journalism, creative writing, development management and Buddhist studies. To learn more about developing a communications strategy for adoption of the OCHA Data Responsibility Guidelines read Murray’s blog.


Roberta Rocca, Predictive Analytics Fellow

Roberta is a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin and Interacting Minds Centre in Aarhus, Denmark, where she conducts research in cognitive and social science using computational methods. Roberta contributes to developing open-source tools for data-driven research, and she is interested in contributing to optimizing data sharing practices and developing predictive models for social good. Roberta is an Italian national currently living between Aarhus and Austin, Texas. She received her PhD in Cognitive Science from Aarhus University, and has studied and worked in Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. To see how complex systems monitoring can inform humanitarian action read Roberta’s blog.

2020 Data Fellows

The 2020 class of Data Fellows included Nicholas Bodanac, Corina Demottaz and Carol McInerney. The Fellows each had a unique focus on one of the following areas: data storytelling, predictive analytics and statistics (mosaic effect). Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the 2020 Fellowship programme was conducted remotely, with Fellows working from home in June and July 2020. Watch the fellows’ showcase here.





Nicholas Bodanac, Predictive Analytics Fellow

Nicholas is an economist and analyst who has worked in the development and humanitarian sector since 2012. Nicholas is currently Director of Mercy Corps Humanitarian Access Team (HAT) for Syria, and has previously worked in other humanitarian and conflict settings in Colombia, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Iraq. Nicholas’ research employs both quantitative and qualitative techniques (including primary data collection and design, econometric and statistical analysis), and has thematically focussed on issues of narcotic cultivation, forced displacement and migration, conflict and terrorism. Nicholas is an Australian national, with a Master of Philosophy (economics) and a Masters of Economics. Read about Nicholas’ research on the use of predictive analytics in anticipatory action.





Corina Demottaz, Data Storytelling Fellow

Corina is a Communications and Advocacy Officer at the Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS) and as such, has been working to leverage the use and impact of the data and analysis resulting from the Service’s field support, through exploring visual techniques to communicate complex technical terms to partners in the field, including governments, humanitarian and development partners, and communities. This has included designing specific guidance and tools, and developing tailored digital products. Holding a Master’s degree in political science and business communication, Corina has 15 years of professional experience working in communications in diverse sectors, including driving corporate responsibility in the private sector and enhancing public and stakeholder relationships for non-profit actors in the humanitarian and development field. Corina is a Swiss national. Read Corina’s blog about her work to develop a data story for Yemen.


Carol McInerney, Statistics Fellow (Mosaic Effect)

Carol works as a research officer with the International Women’s Development Agency in Melbourne, Australia. She is involved in the collection, analysis and interpretation of survey data to explore poverty at the individual level, and is working towards the development of a new index of deprivation. Previously Carol worked as a biostatistical trainee gaining extensive experience in public health programmes and research through her time with the Kolling Institute of Medical Research, the Prevention Research Collaboration and New South Wales Ministry of Health. She has an honours Degree in Mathematics from the University of Queensland and a Masters of Biostatistics from the University of Sydney, and is an Australian national. Read about Carol’s research exploring the mosaic effect in the context of humanitarian data

2019 Data Fellows

The 2019 class of Data Fellows included Ghadeer Abuoda, Gagan Narula, Blair Palmer and Dani Poole. The Fellows each had a unique focus on one of the following areas: data science (education), statistics (disability), business strategy and predictive analytics. They were based at the Centre in The Hague in June and July 2019.

The Centre’s 2019 Class of Data Fellows was supported through a partnership with, inter alia, the Education Above All Foundation that is a global foundation working to improve access to quality education for​ disadvantaged people.


Ghadeer Abuoda, Data Science Fellow (Education)

Ghadeer is a PhD candidate at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) in Qatar. The focus of her research is graph analytics and machine learning. She is also an intern at the Data Analytics group at Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) working on research projects in machine learning and graph databases. Before this, she was a teaching assistant at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), Palestine, where she earned her Master’s degree in the domain of text mining and topic modeling. She worked as a software engineer for three years after completing her B.S. degree in Information Technology. Ghadeer is a Palestinian national. As part of her fellowship, she wrote a blog on “Using Data Science To Improve Dataset Tagging On HDX.”


Gagan Narula, Statistics Fellow (Disability)

Gagan is a post-doctoral researcher working at the Neurocritical Care Unit at the University Hospital Zurich. His current research focus is on time series forecasting and unsupervised learning in physiological signals. Gagan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering and a PhD in Neuroscience from the Institute of Neuroinformatics, ETH Zurich. He has over five years of experience in statistical analysis, cognitive science and machine learning. Gagan is an Indian national. Read about Gagan’s advanced statistical analysis on disability data.


Blair Palmer, Business Strategy Fellow

For over 17 years, Blair Palmer has leveraged her knowledge of technological innovations, project implementation, corporate responsibility, stakeholder engagement, and social enterprises to empower global health programs. She currently helps facilitate partnerships and programs for UNICEF’s Office of Innovation, and is tasked with identifying, prototyping, and scaling technologies and practices that strengthen UNICEF’s work.  She is responsible for sourcing new projects and ideas to connect Silicon Valley with the international development and humanitarian landscape. Blair holds a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Vanderbilt University and a Master’s in Public Health from Yale University with a concentration in epidemiology and infectious diseases where she was nominated for a Fulbright Scholarship to Zimbabwe. Blair is an American national. For the fellowship, Blair produced a framework for assessing prospective partners.


Dani Poole, Predictive Analytics Fellow

Dani is a Researcher with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, where she applies quantitative methods with a social justice approach to measure and address health disparities among forced migrant populations. She has over a decade of experience leading research programs in Greece, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, South Africa, and Turkey, as well as the United States. Dani has a Doctor of Science degree from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a Master of Public Health degree from Brown University. Dani is an American national. Read Dani’s blog, “From Analytics To Action: The Need For Peer Review.”


2018 Data Fellows

The Centre’s inaugural class of Data Fellows included Abdulaziz Al-Homaid, Haoyun Su, Laith Ulaby, and Manu Singh. The Fellows each had a unique focus on one of the following areas: data storytelling, data science, predictive analytics and user experience research. They were based at the Centre in The Hague in June and July 2018.

Support for the first class of Fellows was provided as part of the OCHA partnership with, inter alia, the Education Above All Foundation, that works to improve access to quality education for vulnerable and marginalized people in the developing world.



Abdulaziz Al-Homaid, Data Science Fellow

Abdulaziz was most recently a researcher with the Qatar Computing Research Institute in Doha, where he worked on analysis and prediction of city-wide vehicle traffic. He has eight years of programming experience. Abdulaziz has a Master of Science in Data Science and Engineering from Hamad Bin Khalifa University, and a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. As part of his fellowship, Abdulaziz focused on tracking education data to create a star schema for a meta-dataset. Read his blog post here.


Haoyun Su, Data Storytelling Fellow

Haoyun is a data reporter and designer based in Shanghai, China. For the past five years, she has been wrangling with data in newsrooms, including The Paper, Indianapolis Star and USA Today. Haoyun earned her Master’ s degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia , where she also worked as a research assistant for Investigative Reporters and Editors, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the quality of investigative reporting. See how Haoyun used her journalism expertise to humanize data points and tell important stories about displaced people here.


Laith Ulaby, User Experience Research Fellow

Laith most recently worked for Uber in San Francisco where he led research teams for several product areas. He has six years of experience in user research working for a startup, Google, and at a consultancy. Prior to this, he led projects for a policy institute, non-profits, and US government agencies. Laith received his PhD from UCLA in Ethnomusicology (ethnographic research of music and popular culture) and completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan. During Laith’s fellowship, he focused on improving HDX onboarding. See his findings and a list of strategic opportunities in his blog post here.


Manu Singh, Predictive Analytics Fellow

Manu is a Research Specialist at Princeton University at the Empirical Studies of Conflict Lab. She has over four years of experience with advanced statistical and quantitative analysis. She holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University in Applied Statistics with a Data Science concentration (Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences). In her blog post following her fellowship, Manu explored ways machine learning and statistical modeling can make crisis response faster, cheaper and better.

Programme Leadership

From 2018-2021, the Fellows were guided in their work by Stuart Campo, who led the overall programme; Professor Kirsten Gelsdorf, who provided mentorship and instruction to the Fellows at the outset of the programme; and Katelyn Rogers, who supported the Data Fellows’ learning agenda.