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Training ‘ninja’ analysts

WVU alumni donate $25,000 to support student research

Karen and Mike Carver, West Virginia University sociology and anthropology alumni and owners of Ninja Analytics, gave $25,000 to the Department of Sociology and Anthropology to support student research.

“We are excited about the energetic new leadership in Department and the College and the Department’s new Ph.D. program,” Karen Carver said. “We hope that this gift will support the Department’s goals and allow students to pursue better data and more rigorous methods to understand the research questions they are examining.”  

Karen Carver
Karen Carver

The cash gift will be used to support pilot data collection, software purchases and student travel to professional meetings.

“We are becoming such an information society and from my perspective, coming from West Virginia, I would love to see our alumni reach back to the University to pull students into career tracks they might not have easily seen while studying. I really see a place for machine learning, behavioral science and big data,” Karen Carver said. “They think of the social sciences as being soft, not having the hard science background, and I think there are places for both. This past election is solid proof that these techniques are highly effective and yield incredible efficiencies.”

In 2014, the Carvers opened a technical consultancy called Ninja Analytics, which is focused on the development of data-driven analytical solutions for commercial and government clients.

“The new term these days is called ‘data science,’” Karen Carver said. “At the end of the day, the company is engaged in supporting clients by analyzing very large sources of data to locate illicit activity and illicit actors.”

Mike Carver
Mike Carver

Karen and Mike Carver met prior to their time at WVU through a local radio station where Karen Carver worked as a DJ during high school. They connected when they found out they would both be attending WVU as engineering majors. It wasn’t long after they started at WVU that they both fell in love with sociology courses.

Prior to starting Ninja Analytics, Karen Carver received a Ph.D. in 1995 from the University of Maryland before becoming an assistant professor at Washington State University and Pennsylvania State University, where she taught statistics and research methods courses. She received the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Sociology and Anthropology Alumni Award in 2017.

Karen and Mike Carver are active members of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology’s Visiting Committee, where they come back to campus twice a year to interact with the faculty and staff and examine the department’s future goals.  

“It has been a pleasure getting to know Karen and Mike. It is clear that they are passionate about WVU, the department and their work,” said Lynne Cossman, chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. “Our students will benefit from their generosity, as will the research and reputation of the department and, therefore, the College and University. What is particularly fantastic about this gift is that it will give students and faculty the opportunity to work together, strengthening our PhD program and research profile as a Carnegie R1 institution.”

The gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit corporation that generates and administers private support for the University.