In Focus: Learning Through Service: Alessandro Maria Selvitella
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In Focus: Learning Through Service: Alessandro Maria Selvitella

In Focus: Learning Through Service: Alessandro Maria Selvitella

Alessandro Maria Selvitella is an assistant professor of data science and applied statistics at Purdue University Fort Wayne (PFW). Selvitella was named a Service-Learning Fellow in spring 2021, directing his efforts to incorporate service-learning perspectives into his STAT 490 course, Data Science Methods in Epidemiology – COVID-19. He emphasizes the importance of ensuring that what we learn translates into tangible benefits for the communities in which we live.

Mathematical theorems can help people.

Alessandro Maria Selvitella

Selvitella noted a gap in the application of mathematical theories, noting that many mathematicians do not extend their research beyond theoretical frameworks to address real-world challenges in their communities. He advocates for data science to be both understandable and accessible to the general public, emphasizing the importance of ensuring that individuals remain well-informed.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, this became especially evident when statistical data intended to inform the public often led to confusion due to a lack of familiarity with graphical representations. Selvitella noticed that graphs presented by the media were often misinterpreted, leading to false beliefs about causality. In response, he developed service-learning courses and launched the Data Science and COVID-19 initiative. He was driven by a mission to learn, teach, and disseminate knowledge in order to make a positive contribution to the community and beyond.

In addition, Selvitella has established a Data Science Laboratory (DSL) at PFW, which is designed to provide expertise in big data in the Fort Wayne metropolitan area and increase opportunities to leverage data science to engage students and the local community in Northeast IndianaThis work led him to work on community programs and courses sponsored by local businesses.

LDS focuses on student learning opportunities, high-quality and innovative research, visiting programs, community programs, and engagement with the ultimate goal of contributing to social good and solving real-world problems through data science and fruitful interaction between academia, government, and industry.

Selvitella measures his success by the degree to which he can help others. He advises those involved in or interested in service learning to first observe and understand the problems in their communities before they begin to develop solutions. His approach prioritizes establishing ethical practices and addressing engaging topics with equitable and inclusive methodologies. Selvitella’s commitment to connecting mathematical theory with practical application exemplifies his commitment to using data science for the good of society. Through his service learning initiatives and ethical approach, he aims to provide individuals and communities with the tools and knowledge they need to effectively address pressing challenges.