KSU, Equifax Collaborative Lab home to groundbreaking research

KENNESAW, Ga. | Dec 7, 2020

Xiao Huang
Xiao Huang

Three years since its founding, Kennesaw State University’s Equifax Data Science Research Lab continues to serve as a launchpad for groundbreaking research, collecting patents, 20 peer-reviewed articles and two doctoral dissertations along the way.

Founded in March 2017 and supported by a grant from Atlanta-based Equifax, the lab’s mission is to investigate business challenges and opportunities created by non-traditional sources of consumer and commercial data. Currently, Equifax professionals and Kennesaw State students are collaborating to use data analytics and machine learning to make better decisions in determining creditworthiness.

The lab, led by economics professor Xiao Huang, is composed of two Ph.D. students and one master’s-level student who work to answer business questions posed by Equifax. Beyond the lab, undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in one of two Applied Binary Classification courses have the ability to work with real Equifax data in order to develop a stronger working knowledge of how to apply statistical concepts.

“Through each of these efforts, we are constantly generating new opportunities for our students to learn hands-on and directly contribute toward a solution that will directly impact so many others nationwide,” Huang said. “Our students take great pride in working alongside professionals, and many have gone on to start fruitful careers based on the work they have accomplished within the lab and in their coursework.”

Jeffrey Dugger, principal data scientist at Equifax, said the lab has been mutually beneficial to his company. Having earned a Ph.D. himself, he said he enjoys the open-endedness of conducting research alongside university students.

“We benefit because we now have access resources that are intelligent, motivated and bring a fresh perspective to some of our more pressing topics,” he said. “They also augment our resources and aren’t burdened by looking for ways to immediately generate new products. They are given more freedom to explore areas our team might otherwise see.”

Jonathan Boardman, who is studying for his Ph.D. in Analytics and Data Science, has been a part of the lab for more than two years aiding in the pursuit of solutions that could help generate a more comprehensive picture customers in order to ensure those who deserve credit are more likely to do so. While he enjoyed taking the Applied Binary Classification course while completing his master’s degree at KSU, he prefers the problem-solving nature of the research lab and the ability to work hands-on with real data. 

“Having real-world experience matters, and I believe that’s what ultimately separates our graduates from other schools,” he said. “It’s why I ultimately chose to return to complete my Ph.D.”

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.