Berkeley Institute for Data Science FAQ

The deadline for applications to the Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS) spring 2014 programs was Friday, February 28. The application process for this spring 2014 round is now closed. The Institute will announce new opportunities later in 2014.

In spring 2014 the Institute sought participation in the following programs: 

Call for Participation (should accompany all submissions)

To support preparation of proposals by the campus community, BIDS held supplemental information sessions and office hours before February 28, 2014. The scheduled BIDS events that supported proposal preparation can be reviewed here.

Frequently Asked Questions

 


 

What is the Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS)?

The Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS) was established in December 2013 to enable university researchers to capitalize on the data-rich world that today characterizes many fields of science and discovery. BIDS is supported by a multi-million dollar effort initiated by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation with the goal to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery, with implications for our understanding of the universe, climate and biodiversity research, seismology, neuroscience, human behavior and many other areas. Learn more about the Moore-Sloan effort here.

The mission of BIDS is interdisciplinary, and involves efforts beyond individual faculty or single areas of research. The current grant from the Moore and Sloan Foundations provides support for activities in the physical, biological and social sciences (however, not in engineering, the humanities, or for projects that are specifically targeting disease-related research) for shared data science fellows; co-location of personnel with the newly designated BIDS space (190 Doe Library); boot camps, courses, teaching, hack-a-thons, seminar series; and other public events; development of tools for open collaborative research; outreach efforts; and data science ethnography and evaluation. We intend to capitalize on this support, and expand on it to fund additional future activities.

 

What are the benefits for faculty and researchers who participate in BIDS?

BIDS programs will support and expand the existing community of researchers engaged in data-driven research and discovery so that together they can more readily

  • take advantage of more flexible career paths and contribute to articulating alternative metrics for evaluation;
  • build on current academic and industry efforts to advance software and analytical tools that are easy to translate across research areas, and enable researchers to spend more time focusing on their science;
  • contribute to practices and platforms that sustain open, reproducible, collaborative research and management of data and code;
  • expand existing and create new training opportunities for faculty, staff, researchers and students;
  • share best practices across different scientific domains;
  • benefit from an ethnographic approach to help understand existing challenges to data-driven research approaches; and
  • come together to learn from each other across the UC Berkeley campus ­ and beyond.

The initial programs aimed at getting researchers involved in BIDS activities and providing them with funding support from BIDS are summarized here and here.

 

 How can I get involved with BIDS?

There are multiple ways of getting involved. BIDS will roll out its programs gradually during the course of 2014.

If you are a member of the Berkeley community, broadly defined to include UC Berkeley faculty, staff or students, as well as LBNL and MSRI staff and researchers please consider submitting information about your data science research in the general call for participation.  This will help us to build a portfolio of data science activities at Berkeley. In addition, we welcome applications for one of the initial programs launched by BIDS in January 2014. These are the Data Science Fellows Program, the Data Science Senior Fellows, and the Data Science Curriculum Innovation Award.

Additional opportunities – including access to work and collaboration space in the future BIDS home in 190 Doe Library -- will become available in spring and summer 2014. Graduate student fellowships will also be announced in spring 2014 with the first full fellowships available for 2014/15.

BIDS also offers a Data Science Lecture Series. More information about the program is available here. Additional public programs, seminars and lectures will be launched in the coming months.

If you have general questions and/or suggestions, please write to bidsfaq@berkeley.edu.

If you are an industry representative and would like to engage with BIDS researchers, please send a brief note to datascience@berkeley.edu, so that we can follow-up with you, as appropriate.

 

What are the main BIDS programs?

The initial programs offered by the Berkeley Institute for Data Science in January 2014 include the

Applications for either the Data Science Fellows Program, the Data Science Senior Fellows, and/or the Data Science Curriculum Innovation Award should be accompanied by the Data Science Call for Participation.

Additional programs will be launched in the coming months.

 

How do I participate in the winter 2013/14 call for participation?

This is an introductory call with multiple goals:

  1. To understand the wide landscape of data science efforts at Berkeley, widely defined to include LBNL, MSRI, all campus departments and research centers/institutes, including the humanities, sciences, engineering, and professional schools;
  2. To help frame and grow the mission of BIDS; and
  3. To expand our funding base and partner to reach new funding sources.

Your response to the “call for participation” should be a 2-3 page document that describes your efforts in data science, including your challenges and opportunities. We are not asking for a budget or a formal proposal. Instead, please provide an overview of the scientific goals and vision and how working within a lager data science context will further that vision. Our intent is two-fold:  To build a community of data science, and help us steer and evolve the mission of BIDS; and to help attract funding from other sources, including new grants, support from private donors, and corporate sponsorships.

Please upload your response to the call for participation here


 

What is the Data Science Fellows Program?

The BIDS Data Science Fellows are researchers, staff or faculty with excellent credentials in their field as well as strong interests in advancing data science approaches with a community of like-minded individuals from across the campus.

In order to ensure that the Data Science Fellows remain engaged in their respective disciplines the positions will be funded jointly (50%) between the Berkeley Institute for Data Science and the department or research center/institute in the individual’s technical or domain science field. The Data Science Fellows will be expected to spend 50% of their effort on advancing science in their respective field(s) and 50% on research and practice advancing relevant data science in conjunction with other Data Science Fellows.

BIDS will employ these positions in a flexible fashion with positions available to professional researchers, post-doctoral fellows, staff and faculty, depending on merit and available funds. We expect a gradual ramp-up over time to build a strong cohort of colleagues over the course of the coming years.

 

What are the benefits of becoming a Data Science Fellow?

Each Data Science Fellow will become part of and contribute to an ecosystem that brings together faculty, post-docs, students, staff and alumni to form a strong network that assists researchers in advancing data science methods and inquiry, expanding and building new software and analytics tools, in sharing best practices, etc.

At the staff, professional researcher and postdoctoral fellow level each Data Science Fellow position will be funded by BIDS at 50% of existing salary for an initial period of up to two years with the possibility of renewal. The 50% funding provided by BIDS will be administered in a flexible fashion and averaged over the entire two-year period (i.e. could translate inti one year of salary provided by BIDS and one by the matching source, or a 50/50 split arrangement over the course of the two years.)

Faculty interested in becoming Data Science Fellows may propose projects of exceptional value to the research community that will build on and expand BIDS activities, and ideally hold great promise for generating significant follow-on funding. Faculty appointed to Data Science Fellows positions are eligible for support of up to $50,000. Funds may be used for research funding, occasional teaching relief, and/or summer salary, in accordance with established university policies and procedures.

Initial appointment terms are expected to last for up to two years with the possibility of renewal with the expectation that Fellows will be able to raise additional grant resources to support their activities in the medium and long term.

Data Science Fellows will receive staff support with the development of extramural grant and funding proposals. 

 

What are the expectations of a Data Science Fellow?

Data Science Fellows should be highly qualified individuals suited to work in teams to develop productive research collaborations amongst each other and with other researchers across the campus, including those at existing centers of excellence, such as the AMP Lab, the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, D-Lab and the Computing Division of the Lawrence Berkeley Lab. Data Science Fellows will be expected to participate in regularly scheduled BIDS activities.

We expect that Data Science Fellows will use their 50% BIDS-funded time to work on problems that connect their research to the larger goal of building data science at Berkeley. This work will be done in part within BIDS working groups including software tools and environments, open science and reproducibility, education and training, and ethnography and evaluation. We expect that Data Science Fellows will work in the BIDS space at least two days a week

The Data Science Fellows will also be able to take advantage of UC Berkeley’s alumni and industry networks to help facilitate connections to the relevant industry communities in their specific area of interest.

 

Who is eligible to apply?

Applications to the program are welcome from current PIs who have identified appropriate needs/opportunities that could share 50% funding as well as researchers at all levels who are either already involved in or currently applying to become part of UC Berkeley research activities. Applications from LBNL researchers with matching funds from the LDRD and other programs are welcome.  

In its initial phase applications are limited to individuals with background and research interests in the social, physical and life sciences as well as statistics, applied math and computer science. The topic of the proposed research determines eligibility, not the home department of the applicant.

 

How do post-docs, researchers, staff and faculty apply for the Data Science Fellows Program?

Faculty may apply on behalf of their research team(s) describing either the need for a specific position that is not yet filled, or identify a specific team member they intend to nominate for a Data Science Fellow position. Please use this online form.

Postdoctoral researchers, research scientists and staff should complete this online form and request a brief letter of support from the relevant PI who will supervise their research (or department chair or Center/Institute director) supporting the application and the 50% salary commitment.  The letter of support can be uploaded here.

Faculty interested in becoming Data Science Fellows themselves may propose projects of exceptional value to the research community that will build on and expand BIDS activities, and ideally hold great promise for generating significant follow-on funding.  Budget justifications should demonstrate how research funding and/or release time -- either in the form of a course buy-out and/or summer salary -- will be used to reach the stated goal(s). Faculty members are eligible to request up to $50,000/year to facilitate the specific activities described in their proposal.

Please note that all applicants are required to submit a response to the Data Science Call for Participation.

 

When is the application deadline?

The application deadline for the first round of Data Science Fellows to be appointed in 2014 was Friday, February 28, 2014. A second round is expected to be announced in fall 2014.

 

How are the Data Science Fellows selected?

An interdisciplinary faculty committee comprised of faculty with background in the biological, physical and social sciences as well as in math, statistics and computer science, will select the initial cohort of Data Science Fellows. Along with scientific merit, a key criterion is the capacity of the Data Science Fellow's project to add to the shared strength of data science across campus. This includes potential synergy with other research domains and the multiplier effect of accelerating progress and creating connections across fields.

 

When does support start?

It is expected that support for the initial spring 2014 cohort of Data Science Fellows will begin in March 2014.

 


What are the Data Science Senior Fellows?

BIDS is also seeking to appoint Data Science Senior Fellows with exemplary scholarship, experience and engagement in data science approaches in one or more disciplines who are interested in becoming active and foundational members of the BIDS community. Note that while these positions are not associated with any specific BIDS funding, this does not preclude candidates for these positions from applying for funding through other BIDS programs. If you are interested in being considered, please upload your CV here in addition to completing the call for participation

These positions may be useful for faculty and staff (including senior staff at associated institutions such as LBNL) who are applying for grants that would appropriately be placed in BIDS.

 


 

How does the Berkeley Institute for Data Science encourage curriculum innovations, short courses, or boot camps

UC Berkeley and the Berkeley Lab have comprehensive and cutting-edge research programs that take advantage of the data-rich world that today characterizes all fields of science and discovery. BIDS seeks to provide support for curriculum innovations, short courses and boot camps to bring the data science methods, tools and techniques that support these research programs to the classroom. The goal of the BIDS support for curriculum innovations, short courses and boot camps is to provide insights and inspiration to graduate and undergraduate students, researchers, and faculty across the disciplines.

What support can BIDS provide if I develop a new university course, short course, or boot camp?

Faculty interested in developing a new semester-long courses can apply for support of up to $30,000/per course. Short courses and boot camps will be supported with up to $20,000.

 

Who is eligible to apply?



UC Berkeley faculty and staff are eligible to receive support. Students and postdoctoral fellows should work with a faculty or staff sponsor to put in a proposal on their behalf.

 

How do researchers apply for BIDS support for curriculum innovations and short courses/boot camps?

Please use this online form to apply. Please note that all applicants are also required to submit a response to the Data Science Call for Participation.

 

When is the application deadline?



The application deadline for the first round of Data Science curriculum innovations, short courses and boot camps to be chosen in 2014 was February 28, 2014. A second round is expected to be announced in fall 2014.

 

How are the recipients of the curriculum innovations and short courses/boot camps selected?

An interdisciplinary faculty committee comprised of faculty with background in the biological, physical and social sciences  as well as in math, statistics and computer science, will select the initial set of curriculum innovations, short courses and boot camps.

 

When does support start?

It is expected that support for an initial small number of boot-camps, short courses can begin as early as March 2014 with additional awards expected in fall 2014.

 


  

Who directs BIDS?

Saul Perlmutter is the Director of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science. Professor Perlmutter is a faculty member in the Department of Physics and the Director of the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics. He heads the Supernova Cosmology Project at Berkeley Lab. He is the 2011 Nobel Laureate in Physics.

 

Who are the initial core members of the BIDS team?

  • Joshua Bloom is a Professor of Astronomy and serves as the Director of the Center for Time-Domain Informatics. His research focuses understanding the nature of explosive transient phenomena.
  • Henry Brady is Dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy. He has worked with very large administrative and survey datasets to evaluate voting systems and welfare programs. He is co-author of the NSF sponsored report, "Workshop on Cyberinfrastructure for the Social and Behavioral Sciences," 2005.
  • Cathryn Carson is the Associate Dean of Social Sciences in the College of Letters and Sciences. She serves as the Acting Director of the Social Sciences Data Laboratory “D-Lab.” She works in science and technology studies.
  • David Culler is the Chair of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and Faculty Director of i4energy. He has led several projects developing open source technology to enable a research community, including NOW, TinyOS and PlanetLab.
  • Michael Franklin is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the AMPLab, which develops new methods and open source systems for data management and machine learning at scale.
  • Erik Mitchell is the Associate University Librarian; Digital Initiatives and Collaborative Services and the Associate CIO for the Berkeley Libraries. His research focuses on the role of information design, technology and literacy in empowering and shaping information communities. He is co-author of the IMLS funded project "Curate Cloud: Building Digital Curation Excellence through Professional Education."
  • Fernando Perez is a researcher affiliated at the Henry H. Wheeler Jr. Brain Imaging Center. He created the IPython project and has led for the last decade the development of open source tools for scientific computing in Python. He is a founding member of the NumFOCUS foundation and the recipient of the 2012 FSF Award for the Advancement of Free Software.
  • Jasjeet Sekhon is a Professor of Political Science and Statistics. He directs the Center for Causal Inference and Program Evaluation at the Institute of Governmental Studies. He works on developing statistical and computational methods for new social science data sources.
  • James Sethian is Professor of Mathematics, and Head of the Mathematics Group at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His research focuses on computational physics, fluids, and materials, as well as inverse problems in imaging and signal processing.
  • Kimmen Sjölander is a Professor of Bioengineering as well as Plant and Microbial Biology. Her research focuses on machine learning and statistical modeling methods for problems in biology.
  • Philip Stark is Chair of the Department of Statistics, Director of the Statistical Computing Facility, member of the Theoretical Astrophysics Center, and faculty in the Designated Emphasis in Computational Science and Engineering. His research focuses on uncertainty quantification with applications in the physical, social, and life sciences.
  • Ion Stoica is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He serves as the Co-Director of the AMP Lab.

 

What is the BIDS partnership with the Moore and Sloan Foundations?

The Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS) is part of a multi-million dollar effort supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The new 5-year, $37.8 million initiative was announced on November 12, 2013 at a meeting sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) focused on developing innovative partnerships to advance technologies that support advanced data management and data analytic techniques.

The ambitious Moore/Sloan partnership, which also includes New York University and the University of Washington, will spur collaborations within and across the three campuses and other partners pursuing similar data-intensive science goals. The three PIs who lead the respective campus efforts – Saul Perlmutter at UC Berkeley, Ed Lazowska at the University of Washington, and Yann Le Cunn at NYU – will promote common approaches to form the basis for ongoing collaboration between the three campuses.

Cross-university teams will organize their efforts around six primary areas: strengthening an ecosystem of tools and software environments, establishing academic careers for data scientists, championing education and training in data science at all levels, promoting and facilitating efforts that are accessible and reproducible, creating physical and intellectual hubs for data science activities, and identifying the scientists’ data- science bottlenecks and needs by engaging ethnographers to study the challenges they most commonly encounter.

 

Who are the members of the BIDS Deans Advisory Council?

  • Tony Cascardi, Humanities, College of Letters and Science
  • Chris Edley, Boalt School of Law
  • Keith Gilless, College of Natural Resources
  • Carla Hesse, Social Sciences Division, College of Letters and Science
  • Steve Martin, Biological Sciences Division, College of Letters and Science
  • Mark Richards, Physical Sciences Division, College of Letters and Science
  • Shankar Sastry, College of Engineering
  • AnnaLee Saxenian, School of Information
  • Horst Simon, Associate Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

 

Who are the members of the BIDS Industry Advisory Committee?

BIDS is looking to establish an Industry Advisory Committee in the course of 2014.

 

Which campus unit administers the Berkeley Institute for Data Science?

The Berkeley Institute for Data Science is administered under the umbrella of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

Who do I contact if I have additional questions?

Please write to bidsfaq@berkeley.edu with additional questions you might have.