National Big Data Challenge calls for students’ research into implications of recreational drug use

TORONTO, April 08, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Big Data Challenge on Recreational Drugs is mobilizing undergraduate students from across Canada to discover implications of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use and patterns of addiction through the analysis of open data. Organized by STEM Fellowship, in partnership with Roche Canada, SAS Canada, Canadian Science Publishing, Digital Science, and Health Canada, the challenge will allow students to utilize a computational methods approach to examine federal, provincial, and other open datasets to quantify the impact exerted by recreational drugs on human health and society.

In the Challenge, students form teams of up to four participants and are provided with data sets, learning resources and tools for data analysis, as well as an interdisciplinary theme. Teams then undertake exploratory data analysis or test a hypothesis about their data, with the guidance of mentors from industry and academia. STEM Fellowship’s Big Data Challenges have been recognized by the Federal Government of Canada and received the patronage of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. “Our Challenge encourages youth to strengthen their analytical and problem-solving skills while familiarizing themselves with the fundamentals of data science,” said Jaweria Qaiser, Data Science Education Director of STEM Fellowship. Dr. Sacha Noukhovitch, Executive Director of STEM Fellowship, stated, “I believe that this program is a true opportunity for a data-native generation to use their own methods to research one of the most important factors of public health and present their findings to the attention of the government, academic and industry experts.”

All Challenge participants will have their research paper abstracts published in the Open Access, peer-reviewed STEM Fellowship Journal, published by Canadian Science Publishing. Full manuscripts of winning teams will be published. Challenge winners will be recognized with monetary prizes and may have the opportunity to intern with corporate sponsors of the Challenge, including Roche. “By enabling students of diverse backgrounds to collaboratively explore the relationships between recreational drug use, society, the economy, and human health, our challenge will spark novel discussion and prompt consideration of relevant strategies and solutions at both the individual and population level,” said Hannah Rahim, Managing Director of STEM Fellowship.

Students interested in this exciting opportunity are encouraged to register at: Registration closes May 12 and the challenge will take place between May 13 and 23 online, with finale events held in Calgary and Toronto. No previous data science experience is necessary to participate!

About STEM Fellowship

STEM Fellowship is a youth-led, federal, not-for-profit organization that engages future STEM leaders and innovators in data analytics and scholarly communication through mentorship and experiential learning programs. With a network of over 250 students on 21 campuses and 41 high schools across Canada and a range of local and national partners, SF has created programs for thousands of youth over the past four years. For further information, please visit:


Jaweria Qaiser
STEM Fellowship

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