Isabelle A. Zaugg, PhD holds the role of Program Manager at DSI, overseeing several collaborative and interdisciplinary programs.

Dr. Zaugg is Program Director for the NIH-funded APHREA-DST project, a partnership between Columbia University, Addis Ababa University, and University of Nairobi.  APHREA-DST stands for Advancing Public Health Research in Eastern Africa through Data Science Training.  The project is focused on developing a slate of training programs in public health data science at AAU and UofN, including new MS programs, faculty development, and short-term trainings.  Dr. Zaugg’s role in this project draws on her years of experience in project development, research, and instruction in Ethiopia, including two Fulbright Fellowships at Addis Ababa University. 

Dr. Zaugg is also part of the Collaboratory at Columbia leadership team.  A partnership between DSI and Columbia Entrepreneurship, the Collaboratory supports the development of innovative, interdisciplinary curricula that embed data science into more traditional domains or the reverse, embed business, policy, cultural, and ethical topics into data science curricula.  Named a Collaboratory Fellow in 2018, Dr. Zaugg has developed cross-disciplinary coursework focused on developing improved digital supports for under-served languages.  Shifting into an administrative role in 2019 (at the time a Postdoctoral Research Scientist), Dr. Zaugg leads an ongoing assessment of the outcomes and impacts of the Collaboratory, and also develops programming to strengthen the community of Collaboratory Fellows. 

Dr. Zaugg has been a member of the DSI Data Science Education Working Group since 2020, where she helped to launch DSI’s Best Data Science Student Course Project Competition in 2021.

Dr. Zaugg is also a communication scholar and filmmaker who studies language and culture, media, and digital technologies in the public sphere.  Her research investigates the relationship between gaps in support for digitally-disadvantaged languages and patterns of mass extinction of language diversity.  A primary focus has been studying the digital history and online vitality of the East African languages that utilize the Ethiopic script.  Her research addresses the extent to which the script and its languages are supported in the digital sphere, including tracing the history of its inclusion in Unicode.  Dr. Zaugg has proposed policy, governance, and advocacy solutions to better support digitally-disadvantaged languages, in turn supporting their long-term survival.  She also addresses the risks of surveillance and the need for robust content moderation for digitally-disadvantaged languages as they move up the ladder of “full stack” digital support.  Additionally, she researches and innovates within transdisciplinary collaborative approaches to tech justice education.  Dr. Zaugg holds an Adjunct Lectureship at Columbia’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, where she was a Mellon-Sawyer Postdoctoral Fellow in Global Language Justice from 2017-2019.

Dr. Zaugg holds a PhD in Communication and MA in Film & Video from American University in Washington, D.C.  She holds a BA in Art Semiotics from Brown University, and is an alumna of the United World College of the Adriatic.  She hails from the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, and calls New York City and Addis Ababa home.