Big Data Innovation Hubs Mark


Meet the National Coordinating Committee of the Big Data Hubs. Learn more about these members below, and visit the regional Hub websites for more information about our full team.



Florence Hudson is Executive Director of the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub at Columbia University, Founder & CEO of FDHint, LLC, a global advanced technology and diversity & inclusion consulting firm, and Special Advisor for the NSF Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.

She is a former IBM Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Internet2 Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, and aerospace engineer at Grumman and NASA. She Chairs the global IEEE/UL P2933 Working Group on Clinical IoT Data and Device Interoperability with TIPPSS – Trust, Identity, Privacy, Protection, Safety and Security, and has published books on TIPPSS. She serves on Boards for Princeton University, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Stony Brook University, Blockchain in Healthcare Today, and the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. She has a BSE in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University, and executive business education from Harvard and Columbia Universities.


Dr. Vasant Honavar is the National Coordination Committee Representative for the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub. He received his Ph.D.  in 1990 from the University of Wisconsin Madison, specializing in Artificial Intelligence. Honavar is currently a Professor of Information Sciences and Technology (IST),  Computer Science and Engineering, Bioinformatics and Genomics, Neuroscience and Operations Research at Pennsylvania State University.

He currently holds the  Edward Frymoyer Endowed Chair of IST. He is also the founding Director of the Center for Big Data Analytics and Discovery Informatics, Associate Director of the Institute for Cyberscience, Co-Director of the NIH-funded Biomedical Data Sciences PhD program, and Informatics lead (research) for the NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

 In 2016, Honavar was appointed as the Sudha Murty Distinguished Visiting Chair of Neurocomputing and Data Science at the Indian Institute of Science. Prior to joining Pennsylvania State University, Honavar served on the faculties of Computer Science, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Neuroscience, and Human-Computer Interaction at Iowa State University (1990-2013) and as a program director in the Information and Intelligent Systems Division of the National Science Foundation (NSF) (2010-2013) where he led the Big Data Science and Engineering Program and contributed to multiple other programs. 


Ashley Atkins

Ashley Atkins is the Executive Director of the West Big Data Innovation Hub. The West Hub is led by UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, and the University of Washington. Before joining the West Hub, she was a Research Scientist at the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute. Her research has focused on analyzing the complex interconnections between hydrologic and social systems. She is a Co-PI on the Transboundary Groundwater Resiliency Research Network, an NSF-funded AccelNet project that aims to connect and leverage the strengths of hydrology, social science, data science, and systems science to set the foundation for a more resilient future for transboundary groundwater resources. Ashley is also an alumna of Fulbright Bulgaria and Fulbright Greece. She has an M.S. in Water Science and Management from New Mexico State University and a B.A. from Davidson College, where she was a William Holt Terry Scholar. 

Vani Mandava

Vani Mandava is the National Coordination Committee Representative for the West Big Data Innovation Hub. She is the Director of Data Science at Microsoft Research at Redmond with over a decade of experience in engineering teams designing and shipping software that in use by millions of users across the world. She is passionate about enabling academic researchers and institutions develop technologies that fuel data-intensive scientific research using advanced techniques in data management, data mining, especially leveraging Microsoft cloud and AI platform.

She has enabled the adoption of data mining best practices in various v1 products across Microsoft client, server and services in MS-Office, Sharepoint, Online Services (Bing Ads) organizations and in the Academic Search service. She co-authored a book ‘Developing Solutions with Infopath’ and holds patents in service engineering. She leads Microsoft Research Outreach efforts at Data Science Institutions in US universities. She co-chaired KDD Cup 2013 and partners with many academic and government agencies including NSF supported Big Data Innovation hub effort, a consortia coordinated by top US data scientists and expected to advance data-driven innovation nationally in the US. She is currently leads project, a cloud based open data repository.



Dr. Renata Rawlings-Goss is currently the founding Executive Director of the South Big Data Innovation Hub, whose mission is to catalyze partnerships among universities, industry, and government around Big Data, Data Science and the “Internet of Things”. 

She also serves as the Director of Industry Partnerships for the Georgia Tech Institute for Data Engineering and Science (IDEaS). She is a biophysicist by training and pursues continuing efforts to increase the participation of women and under-represented minorities in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design, and Math). To that end, she serves as the President/ CEO of Good with Data, LLC which runs The Data Career Academy. Dr. Rawlings-Goss worked with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, under the Obama administration, to define national Big Data policies and priority goals within the NITRD inter-agency Big Data Senior Steering group. She co-led the writing team for the National Big Data Strategic Plan with partners from (NSF, NIH, DARPA, DOE, NSA, NIST, NOOA, NASA, USGS, NRO, DHS, DOD, EPA, HHS, AHRQ, NARA etc).

Michela Taufer


Michela Taufer is the National Coordination Committee Representative for the South Big Data Innovation Hub. She is an ACM Distinguished Scientist and holds the Jack Dongarra Professorship in High Performance Computing in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK). Before joining UTK, she was Professor in Computer and Information Sciences and a J.P. Morgan Case Scholar at the University of Delaware where she also had a joint appointment in the Biomedical Department and the Bioinformatics Program. 

She earned her undergraduate degrees in Computer Engineering from the University of Padova (Italy) and her doctoral degree in Computer Science from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology or ETH (Switzerland). From 2003 to 2004 she was a La Jolla Interfaces in Science Training Program (LJIS) Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), where she worked on interdisciplinary projects in computer systems and computational chemistry.

John MacMullen, M.B.D.H. E.D.


John MacMullen is the Executive Director of the Midwest Big Data Innovation Hub, based at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining the MBDH in 2017, John was a faculty member in the School of Information Sciences at UIUC, where his research and teaching focused on biomedical information problems and science data curation. John has also worked in the data communications equipment industry on acquisitions, alliances, and marketing, and as a consultant. His M.S. and Ph.D are from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Shefali Headshot The Big Data Innovation Hubs


Shefali Mehta is the National Coordination Committee Representative for the Midwest Big Data Innovation Hub. She is an environmental and agricultural economist and statistician who has spent the past 10+ years working with organizations to tackle problems holistically. Dr. Mehta founded Open Rivers to tailor the support to the individual needs of clients.  

Throughout her career, she has focused on collaborating across disciplines, industries and sectors to identify innovative and pragmatic solutions to complex issues. She has worked with clients across the ag and food value chain. She received her PhD in Agricultural and Applied Economics and MS in Statistics from the University of Minnesota, MPhil in Economics from Cambridge University and a BA in Economics from New York University. Shefali serves or has served on various Boards including  Pheasants Forever, the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Pests and Plant Center, the School of Statistics at the University of Minnesota and Bountifield. You can read more about Shefali’s background and path to founding Open Rivers.

Metro/Urban Data Science

Precision Medicine

Natural Resources & Hazards 

Big Data Technology


Advanced Materials and Manufacturing

Digital Agriculture

Smart, Connected, and Resilient Communities

Water Quality

Big Data in Health

Health and Disparities

Smart Cities and Communities

Advanced Materials and Manufacturing

Environment and Coastal Hazards

Social Cybersecurity


Education + Data Literacy

Urban to Rural Communities

Responsible Data Science: Security + Privacy Ethics

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