Goodnight Scholars Program to Host National Geographic Fellow and Data Artist Jer Thorp for Lecture Series

Press Release: RALEIGH, January 9, 2018 – The Goodnight Scholars Program at NC State welcomes the most-respected data artist in America, Jer Thorp, as its featured speaker for the “Goodnight Scholars Program Presents Speaker Series.”

The event will take place on Tuesday, January 30th, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. in the Talley Student Union Stewart Theatre on NC State’s Main Campus. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

Residing in Brooklyn, New York by way of Vancouver, British Columbia, Thorp received international acclaim for telling stories of humanity by creating multi-dimensional and visually-striking artwork and graphics using billions of pieces of data. Thorp’s effort to humanize data garnered the attention of the Library of Congress, where Thorp now serves as the Innovator-in-Residence, along with earning praise from major multimedia organizations including National Geographic and The New York Times.

“Jer Thorp’s innovative and multidisciplinary approach to data science is inspiring,” said Allison Medlin, director of the Goodnight Scholars Program. “He conceptualizes big data in a way that is both beautiful and profound. We are excited to welcome him to campus for this not-to-be-missed event!”

For the “Goodnight Scholars Program Presents Speaker Series,” Thorp’s lecture “Living in Data” will delve into a collection of projects by The Office for Creative Research that identify the characteristics of the evolving relationship between data and culture. Thorp’s presentation promises to inspire awe and creativity through illuminating imagery that cannot be seen anywhere else.

After the presentation, Thorp will engage the audience in a candid Q&A session.

About Jer Thorp

As a data artist, Jer Thorp shows us the human stories within endless scrolls of information, expressing trends, movements, and economics through vibrant graphics (and public art) seen by hundreds of millions of people. The new Innovator-in-Residence at the Library of Congress, a National Geographic Fellow, former Data Artist-in-Residence at The New York Times, and Artist-in-Residence at the Museum of Modern Art, Thorp is also a brilliant marketing speaker. He tracks consumers in ways few digital experts can—contextualizing their behavior, personalizing the anonymous, and frequently validating the work of digital marketers. A mesmerizing, funny, and socially engaged activist—often working at the juncture of social justice, technology, marketing, and art—Thorp reveals what we normally, and understandably, could never see in big data. And he’s got the coolest graphics you’re going to see on stage.

From 2010-2012, Thorp was the Data Artist-in-Residence at The New York Times, where he brought information to life by combining data science with a love of colorful design. His tremendously popular “Cascade” tool visualizes the sharing of content through social media, offering insight into the way we use digital networks to share, influence, and connect with others. “Cascade” was featured in Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, Fast Company, Mashable, and Adweek.

Native to Vancouver, Thorp now lives in New York City, where he teaches in NYU’s Interactive Telecommunication Program. He has been a vocal advocate around data, ethics, and privacy, spearheading a project with The OCR called Floodwatch, a collective ad monitoring tool that empowered individuals to see how advertisers were profiling them (often inaccurately, and unfairly). The aim was to help combat discriminatory practices, such as targeting specific demographics to fill a housing development over others. His award-winning work has been exhibited, read, and implemented in Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, and South America. He has over a decade of teaching experience, and has presented at The Ford Foundation in New York City, the National Academies, and the Library of Congress.

About the Goodnight Scholars Program

The Goodnight Scholars Program was established in 2008 out of the philanthropic generosity from North Carolina natives and NC State alumni Dr. Jim Goodnight, co-founder of global business analytic software leader, SAS Institute, and Mrs. Ann Goodnight, director of community relations at SAS Institute.

The Goodnight Scholars Program is targeted at North Carolina residents from low- and middle-income families who aspire to major in a science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) or STEM education discipline at NC State. First-year students accepted into the Program receive an annual scholarship valued at $19,500 per year for up to four years ($78,000 total) while transfer students receive the scholarship for three years ($58,500 total).

Since its humble beginnings, the Goodnight Scholars Program has evolved into a comprehensive student development program focused on cultivating professional and personal skills for 210+ current Goodnight Scholars through a series of programming initiatives. Goodnight Scholars receive insight and support from local and national STEM industry leaders and entrepreneurs; participate in professional development workshops; and engage in local, national, and international outreach efforts including STEM education outreach to North Carolina schools and service trips to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Per the Program’s website, each programming initiative sponsored by the Goodnight Scholars Program strives to “…develop critical skills and habits necessary for academic achievement; expose and educate students to current trends and advancement in the STEM and education industries; and establish strong personal and/or professional relationships with fellow Goodnight Scholars, NC State faculty/staff, NC State alumni, and STEM/education professionals.”