Getting to Know My Internship

The Smithsonian OCIO Data Science Lab is under the umbrella of the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) within the institution. It’s role is to make collections, research, and educational resources available online to the world. (see the OCIO website)

This in turn impacts how the OCIO Data Science Lab conducts their work. They provide services using big data, like machine learning, on various subjects in order to understand the topic in a new and exciting way. The Data Science Lab works with other Smithsonian Institutions on projects in order to achieve this goal. (see the OCIO Data Science Lab website)

The OCIO Data Science Lab is a collaborative unit that again works with various Smithsonian institutions as well as in academia, federal, and the respective industry. By the Data Science Lab having the ability to work in concert with other people/units/projects it is a perfect place to obtain opinions and projects from a variety of sources.

Overall, I’m still understanding my role in the department in terms of how I fit as an intern in the grand scheme of the projects. However, I’ve been given some great tasks to work on as I figure that out. I’ve been given the opportunity to learn more of the Smithsonian Institution by researching their Annual reports. I’m using a tool that I’ve used in my previous GMU class, Voyant, to input the data and analyze the output.

After that step I need to identify any interesting stories in the data that are related to women. This is part of the Women’s History Project within the Smithsonian. I am excited to dive deep into reading the annual reports as well as seeing what the Voyant tool can or can’t tell me. I was given the annual reports from around the 1850s up until the early 2000s. I think as I go along, I will find some other tools that will help but this seems like a good start.

I’m glad that I matched with a place that combines both my history and computer science skills and particularly working on a project about highlighting women in the STEM field. My mentor has been understanding about my schedule and is able to provide valuable feedback when I need it. With her help, I want to learn more deeply about what is big data, machine learning, what technologies are out there, and how I can conduct research more intuitively. I still have a lot of work to do in the meantime but I’m excited to continue on.