August 8, 2023

Mount Mercy University welcomes new Associate Professor of Computer & Data Science

Dr. Ritu Shandilya has been appointed the new Associate Professor of Computer & Data Science at Mount Mercy University and will lead the data science program, beginning Fall 2023.

Last year, Mount Mercy received a generous donation of $1.25 million from CRST The Transportation Solution, Inc. for the new CRST Data Intelligence Lab in support of Mount Mercy’s computer science and data science programs. In addition to the lab, the funding supported a new faculty position that will be filled by Dr. Shandilya.

From her expertise, Dr. Shandilya co-founded eFeed-Hungers in 2014—a research-led, non-profit ICT where donors can list their excess food as available to the community, and consumers can look for available donations in real-time. eFeed-Hungers has gained global recognition for combating both food waste and food insecurity from channels such as KCCI TV News, Science Magazine, World Economic Forum, and more.

Before coming to Mount Mercy, Dr. Shandilya was a teaching assistant/instructor at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, educating graduate students on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Her undergraduate students took Python and MATLAB programming classes with her over the summers.

Within Mount Mercy’s baccalaureate computer and data science programs, Dr. Shandilya will start off instructing Programming Languages, Database Systems, Web Tools, Data Structures, and more. She will collaborate closely with a strong team of computer science and mathematics faculty, including Dr. Robert Todd and Dr. Jim Jacobs


Several factors contribute to shaping the future of data and computer science at Mount Mercy, Dr. Shandilya stated, including developments in data ethics and privacy policies, a focus on emerging technologies, interdisciplinary studies, tuning to meet increased demand in the job market, and more.

“Given the current trend where reliance on data is continuously data growing for informed decision-making, the demand for computer and data scientists expectedly continues to grow in the job market,” Dr. Shandilya said. “We should create opportunities for students to gain required hands-on experience, such as capstone projects aiming to fulfill both the academia and industrial needs.”

In today’s data-driven world, industries are heavily relying on comprehensive data analytics for informed decision-making to increase their efficiency and business growth. She hopes Mount Mercy’s programs will help meet the increased need for workers in these growing fields.

“This requires both strong data science and computer science skills, and current capacity building is not meeting the required strengthening of these experts,” Dr. Shandilya explained. “If our graduates prefer to join local and regional industries, through their skills they’ll contribute to the industries’ growth and help further expand businesses, which then generates new employment opportunities for others.”

 “I see the future graduates’ contributions to the local and regional data science and computer science community in numerous ways,” she said, including meeting industry needs, joining academia, contributing to research and innovation, and pursuing entrepreneurship.

“Being in academics, I believe in continuous learning, and I’m deeply convinced that hard work, supported by regularity, is the key to success.”