Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences (SAS) hosts over 25 departments spanning the physical sciences, biological sciences, social sciences, and humanities. New data sources and new machine learning techniques, including ones labeled as artificial intelligence, have enriched the empirical work in these disciplines. We have much to learn from each other, both in the tools of the trade and in ways of understanding the world. 

The Data Driven Discovery Initiative (DDD), a central pillar of the SAS Strategic plan, serves as a hub for data science education and research in SAS. We believe that data science is a powerful avenue for researchers in disciplines as diverse as sociology, neuroscience, and astrophysics to exchange ideas and work together on cutting edge research. DDD will initiate new programs and provide a forum for interactions aimed at sparking discoveries by Penn faculty and students working across disciplinary boundaries.

Penn undergraduates are at the frontiers of data science. DDD provides avenues for them to learn core data science skills, generating a new kind of expertise and world-view in students. They are exposed to questions in different areas and, via data science techniques, are making progress in research topics previously inaccessible to them. They will also participate in and lead some of the Data Science for Social Good programs.

Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will be trained in the new and rapidly evolving methodologies of data analysis. DDD will fund postdocs who are driving the research and working in multiple disciplines. A core group of students, postdocs and faculty will interact regularly in a shared space and bring together visitors and Penn researchers to advance data driven discovery!

 DDD will launch a number of initiatives to foster data science in SAS and beyond. For the 2021-22 academic year, it will include the following programs: