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The Spotlight introduces a different Data Science Centre Affiliate Member every month. This month: Dr. Paula Helm, Assistant Professor in Data & Ethics at the Faculty of Humanities.

How do you apply data science to your projects?

'I mostly collaborate with Computational Linguists, Digital Anthropologists and Civil Society Actors. We use data science methods to make power asymmetries and their consequences for marginalized speaker communities visible.'

Is there a project from this past year that you are most proud of? 

'There are two projects that I like a lot.

Project #1: We collaborate with indigenous people in the Amazon to investigate how language digitization can be a means to (re)vitalize indigenous knowledge among younger generations.

Here is some community material covering relations between digital technology, data and indigenous knowledge for water preservation. This was jointly produced with local scientists, indigenous leaders and research from the UvA. 

Project #2: We collaborate with Respond Crisis Translation, an NGO working to provide high-quality translation in the refugee context, to analyze how Language Modeling Bias can lead to flawed results in popular machine translation applications and how this, then again, can lead to legitimate asylum requests being denied.

Aspects of this work have been published already, which you can read here. It has also been covered by The Guardian and other popular news outlets.'

What do you like most about being a DSC member?

'I like to learn about the range of possible research questions that can be approached with data science methods. In the DSC Data Ethics workshop that I gave in February, I found it interesting to hear the issues that people brought up from their own work with data.'

What is your favourite data science method?

'It really depends on the task!'

Are you camp Python/R/or something else?


Contact Paula Helm about her work

Dr. P.M. (Paula) Helm

Faculty of Humanities

Capaciteitsgroep Media & Cultuur