About Us



From local neighborhoods and schools to courtrooms, hospitals, fields, and forests, data are everywhere, providing us the power to solve problems like never before. Communities large and small now have access to a wealth of data they can use to assess conditions, develop strategies and policies, evaluate impact, and make critical decisions. However, not all communities – particularly those that are small or rural – have the expertise or resources necessary to access and leverage complex data for real-world benefits.

With the support of a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, five partner universities—University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, Iowa State University, and Oregon State University—and the universities’ respective Cooperative Extension Systems (CES), will pilot a three-state initiative, “Towards A National Community Learning Network,” and utilize data science to solve complex, community challenges and advance economic mobility across Virginia, Iowa, and Oregon. This collaboration will test the viability of CES as a dissemination network to discover opportunities and build data-driven governance at local levels where relevant expertise may be lacking.

Through UVA’s Biocomplexity Institute’s established Community Learning through Data Driven-Discovery process and each of the universities’ Data Science for the Public Good Young Scholars programs, the initiative will build partnerships with CES professionals and equip them with the skills and knowledge to partner with local stakeholders and their associated land-grant universities in Virginia, Iowa, and Oregon to bring data-driven solutions to rural communities.

Key Contacts:

Sallie Keller

Principal Investigator, University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute, Division Director, Social and Decision Analytics
Distinguished Professor in Biocomplexity
Professor of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine

Email: [email protected]

Stephanie Shipp

Co-Principal Investigator, University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute Division Deputy Director, Social and Decision Analytics
Research Professor

Email: [email protected]

Cassandra Dorius

Co-Principal Investigator, Iowa State University, Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Studies
Email: [email protected]

National Advisory Panel

Catherine E. Woteki, Ph.D.

Professor, Iowa State University
Distinguished Institute Professor, Biocomplexity Institute, University of Virginia

Richard M. Klemme, Ph.D.

Former Executive Director for Extension, Association of Public and Land Grant Universities
Former Dean and Director, University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension

Roger Rennekamp

Extension Health Director, Association of Public and Land Grant Universities

Sarah Nusser, Ph.D.

Vice President for Research, Iowa State University

John Lawrence, Ph.D.

Vice President for Extension and Outreach, Iowa State University

Alan Kemp

Executive Director, Iowa League of Cities

Scott Reed, Ph.D.

Emeritus Vice-Provost for University Outreach and Engagement, Emeritus Director of Extension, Oregon State University

Edwin Jones, Ph.D.

Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension

Ray M. McKinnie, Ph.D.

Dean and 1890 Administrator, College of Agriculture, Virginia State University

Arthur Scott

Associate Legislative Director, National Association of Counties

Charlotte Baer, Ph.D.

Former National Program Leader, USDA/NIFA
Managing Director, Food and Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists