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Making STEM History with Revenue.io Fellow Hezekiah Branch

Revenue Blog  > Making STEM History with Revenue.io Fellow Hezekiah Branch
3 min readFebruary 27, 2023

As we continue to be mindful of the importance of Black History this month and all year round, we spent some time chatting with Hezekiah Branch, Revenue.io Fellow and Data Science M.S. Student at Tufts University.

Hezekiah is an inspiring individual, to say the least. These are some of his accomplishments:

  • Launching the BLASTOFF Industry Speaker Series at Tufts, which connected nearly 100 Black/Latinx students with recruiters from major corporations
  • Offering free classes (called Code with Hezekiah) in software engineering and data science for underrepresented students around Boston
  • Playing a key role in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) research project at the Tufts Machine Learning Group
  • Spearheading artificial intelligence research on COVID-19 at the COVID Command Center

Here are some of Hezekiah’s thoughts on the history (and future) of STEM.

Reflecting on the fact that Black individuals have made numerous contributions to STEM, what are some specific contributions that inspire you?

I’m constantly inspired by the innovations that Black scholars give to the world. As someone who is in the space of artificial intelligence and data mining, I immediately think of Dr. Timnit Gebru’s contributions to fairness in AI. Dr. Gebru has provided much-needed visibility and collaboration with researchers from the African continent, most notably in organizations like the Distributed AI Research Institute (DAIR). As someone who hopes to one day open my own lab (with very similar goals to DAIR), I’m amazed by the work of folks like Dr. Timnit Gebru.

I’m also inspired by the work of my former advisor and Dean of Research Dr. Ayanna Thomas who is pioneering the intersection of memory and aging in cognitive science. I’m especially fascinated by her work on the reliability of memory, particularly in the context of negative emotion. There’s so much to uncover in the space and I’m interested to see how the field takes shape as brain research continues to progress.

Are there some STEM-related challenges that remain that you’d like to highlight for Black History Month?

I’m always working to make open science and accessibility the default for how we “do science.” I hope to see the greater scientific community become adamant about open-sourcing code, sharing peer-reviewed datasets, and generally working toward an ecosystem of collaboration. I believe this approach opens the field to cross-collaboration, pushing progress forward. It also aids in the removal of structural barriers to STEM.

Historically, the path to STEM has been unnecessarily gatekept, making it nearly impossible for Black scholars to be a part of the community. While change is happening, we still have a long way to go to make inclusivity in STEM a reality. However, I’m optimistic that change will persist. And I’m excited to see the future face(s) of STEM.

About the Revenue.io Fellowship at Tufts University

The STEM Student Support Fund at the Africana Center at Tufts University is an initiative aimed at creating greater support
for students traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.

As part of this fund (established by our Founder & CEO Howard Brown), the Revenue.io Fellowship is awarded to one outstanding student recipient selected by the Director of the Africana Center. Hezekiah is the inaugural recipient of the Revenue.io Fellowship.

We’re proud to show our support to Hezekiah and the Africana Center at Tufts University. It’s inspiring to see more people from diverse backgrounds entering the tech space. Excited to continue learning from Hezekiah and others like him.