Since its inception in 2021, Data Driven Discovery Initiative (DDDI) has served as a hub for data science education and research in Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences (SAS). As a central pillar of the SAS Strategic plan, 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. DDDI works to advance scholarship and research at SAS and Penn by increasing data science training and awareness through initiation of new programs and providing a forum for interactions aimed at sparking discoveries by Penn faculty and students working across disciplinary boundaries.
The School of Arts & Sciences 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.
Penn undergraduates are at the frontiers of data science. DDDI 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. Undergraduates can also participate in and can lead some of the Data Science for Social Good programs.
Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are trained in the new and rapidly evolving methodologies of data analysis. DDDI funds postdocs who are driving the research and working in multiple disciplines. A core group of students, postdocs and faculty interact regularly in a shared space and bring together visitors and Penn researchers to advance data driven discovery!
DDDI has launched a number of initiatives to foster data science in SAS and beyond. For the 2022-23 academic year, it includes the following programs:
- A data science postdoctoral fellow program
- Data science for social good: a collection of grants to Penn faculty and students in partnership with city or global agencies
- Summer undergraduate data science hangout: 2019, 2020, 2022, 2023
- Sponsoring various data-related events
We also maintain a catalogue of additional resources for data science at Penn, available here.