People to Watch 2016: Jennifer Priestley Professor of Statistics and Data Science Kennesaw State University

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SAN DIEGO, CA (Oct 24, 2016) —  

Jennifer Priestley is a Professor of Statistics and Data Science at Kennesaw State University. She is the Director of the Ph.D. in Analytics and Data Science and is credited with developing the country’s first Ph.D. program for Data Science. Priestley seeks to help close the data science skills gap through a multi-disciplinary approach that combines teaching of data science theory with getting practical hands-on experience. Prior to her teaching career, Jennifer worked for 11 years in the private industry. She received her B.S. in Economics from Georgia Institute of Technology, her MBA from Penn State University, and her Ph.D. in Decision Sciences from Georgia State University.

Datanami: Hi Jennifer. Congratulations on being selected as a Datanami 2016 Person to Watch. You created the country’s first Ph.D. program for data science. Why is it important that we have this program?

Jennifer Priestley: When we first proposed a Ph.D. in Analytics and Data Science in 2012, we were the only university in the country talking about the degree. Today, there are several universities with Ph.D. programs in Data Science including University of Tennessee, University of Southern California, University of Maryland, Bentley University. I expect that over the next few years, we will see increasingly more Ph.D. programs in this space.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit