Claudia von Vacano

Job title: 
Executive Director, D-Lab
Bio/CV: 

Dr. Claudia von Vacano is the Executive Director of the D-Lab and the Digital Humanities at Berkeley (a minor and certificate program), and is on the boards of the Social Science Matrix and Berkeley Center for New Media. She has worked in policy and educational administration since 2000, and at the UC Office of the President and UC Berkeley since 2008.

Dr. von Vacano’s methodological expertise areas include program evaluation, qualitative methods, research design, text analysis, digital humanities and data science. 

“One of the things I bring to my role at the D-Lab is a really diverse background. I came to the United States as a political refugee when I was eight years old. So I had to learn English from scratch from television, in fact. I also am Queer identified. And so all of these different identities really helped me create a very inclusive space at the D-Lab.”

Dr. von Vacano is deeply committed to supporting the success of underserved students including women, racial/ethnic marginalized communities, immigrants, first-generation college-going, and speakers of English as a second, and she has worked extensively with these groups at various stages of the educational pipeline. She has created outreach and intervention strategies through the UC Office of the President and she is currently the program director of a $3 million NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) initiative under the leadership of Faculty Director David J. Harding and with cross-university governance including the Associate Provost Jennifer Chayes. 

She is also co-PI with Karen Chapple, City Planning Chair, College of Environmental Design of a Chan Zuckerburg Initiative grant to provide professional development for housing professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area and PI of a new partnership with the State of California and the Coleridge Initiative with Julia Lane. Each year through the D-Lab and Digital Humanities at Berkeley, Dr. von Vacano oversees programs including 300 computational and data-intensive workshops, 1,400 consultations, and half a dozen courses. She co-developed the core curriculum for the revenue-generating Digital Humanities Summer-only Minor and Certificate program at UC Berkeley. She is the lead online course developer of the SAGE Campus, “Introduction to Applied Data Science Methods for Social Scientists.” She is the PI of an online hate speech researchproject with the financial support of Google Jigsaw and BIDS—that employs IRT and Deep Learning. Most importantly, this project reduces bias and increases transparency in machine learning methods.  

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