Outstanding Data Science Faculty Research Award

This new annual faculty research award is aimed to recognize significant achievements in data science research of a core or an affiliate faculty member in the School of Data Science in 2021. The winner of this award will receive a one-time $2,000 research stipend that can be used to cover any research-related expenses, such as conference travel, data and software purchase, and compensation for study participants.


An eligible candidate for this award is an individual who:

  • has been a core or an affiliate faculty of the School of Data Science at UNC Charlotte for at least a full year at the time of the application; and
  • has not received this award in the past 3 years


An eligible faculty who is interested in being considered as a candidate for this award should submit the following documents in a zipped file to the Director of Research for SDS (Dongsong Zhang, dzhang15@uncc.edu) by email no later than midnight of March 1, 2022:

  1. A 1~2 page narrative that summarizes the candidate’s achievements in data science research in 2021. The evidence of the candidate’s high-impact or significant research achievements can include, but is not limited to, the following:
  • Peer-reviewed publications of data science research published or accepted by peer-reviewed academic journals and conference proceedings, especially top-tier journals and conferences;
  • Books published and edited, including journal editorships;
  • Significant external data science research grants awarded, including the role of the candidate in the funded project (e.g., PI, co-PI), funding agency, project title and term, and the amount of the award;
  • External data science grant proposals submitted;
  • Patent(s) applied/obtained;
  • Internal and external research awards received;
  • Publicity of data science research in media; and
  • Other
  1. CV
  2. Digital copies of the highlighted publications and grant awarding letters in 2021. The applications will be processed and assessed by the research committee of SDS and the executive director of the School of Data Science.

Important dates

Deadline for application submission: Midnight of March 1, 2022, EST

Notification of the award: April 1, 2022 (Fund available for spending between July 1, 2022~June 30, 2023)

Winners of the Award

The research committee has identified Dr. Laura Gunn as the recipient of 2021 Outstanding Data Science Faculty Research Award. The following is a brief summary of her achievement:

Dr. Laura Gunn is Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences (PHS), Affiliate Faculty with the School of Data Science (SDS), and Director of Biostatistics Core within the College of Health & Human Services (CHHS). She is also an Honorary Research Fellow with Imperial College London's School of Public Health within the Faculty of Medicine. The scope of her research is highly interdisciplinary and collaborative, with a focus on solving complex public health, healthcare, and medical problems through biostatistical modeling, oftentimes with a focus on addressing health disparities. This includes population-based modeling of chronic diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease risk prediction modeling, prevention of diabetes-related adverse outcomes, etc.), healthcare expenditure and outcomes research, and (international) behavioral health interventions for at-risk populations (e.g., childhood obesity in Qatar, mental health among low-income and older UK populations, etc.), among others. During 2021, her research comprised 20 published/in-press peer-reviewed manuscripts. She was first, second, or last author in 18 of these publications, leading the data science/biostatistical design and modeling for these projects. Her publications span journals such as the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Journal of Public Health, BMC Medicine, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, and BMC Public Health, among others. A recognition of one of her publications came from BMC Medicine as one of only four publications last year qualifying as a “selection of key papers that highlight some of the best Diabetes research published in the journal in recent years” (Editor’s Choice: Diabetes Week 2021). Laura's grant efforts as co-PI and co-I/biostatistician were extensive, with 10 external grant submissions in 2021 totaling requested funds over $19.6 million and with several of these projects funded, under contract negotiations, and with NIH grants management specialists for anticipated funding.