Data Science at UC Davis

“Data Science is now recognized as a new discipline, distinct from statistics or computer science, encompassing learning from data, or ‘data analysis’, and scientific studies of data analysis across the spectrum of academic disciplines.” Donoho, 50 years of Data Science, 2015

Data Science is a broad, integrative, multidisciplinary and translational field that transforms data into knowledge and insights. At UC Davis we work across the entirety of the Data Science “pipeline,” moving beyond method and algorithm development and implementation, and into translational, high impact research across domains. It is both integrative and translational, and spans data technologies, statistical machine learning, high performance computing, and domain sciences.

This work includes the development and study of novel computational methods and processes, their research applications, and encompasses the research lifecycle of data including methods of data identification, acquisition, management, cleaning, exploration, modeling, and visualization as well as framing the relevant questions and interpreting the data-based results. Data governance, ethics, security and privacy are also important components of Data Science. Data Science touches all academic disciplines ranging from the traditionally quantitative and computationally heavy STEM fields to the social sciences and humanities. Therefore, developing a strategy for Data Science at UC Davis requires novel, broad, multidisciplinary responses to promote sustained education, training and research.

Today, all disciplines (and most careers) require significantly more Data Science literacy, requiring capabilities new to them. This poses challenges for both research and training at all levels and necessitates a centralized, multidisciplinary effort at UC Davis that complements and supports existing programs and provides expertise to enable and enhance research across the entire University.

UC Davis’ strategy for Data Science is focused on furthering qualitatively new research made possible by data. It examines the process, foundations and tools of data-driven research and their ultimate effectiveness. The Data Science Initiative was established in 2014 to address these challenges following the report of the Big Data Implementation committee (2013). Funded by the Provost through the Library and following the recommendations of the Data Science Academic Programs Committee Report (2016), the DSI is charged with identifying and supporting data-driven research and educational opportunities on campus. Our approach to Data Science is both integrative and translational, spanning data technologies, statistics, machine learning and other aspects of computer science, and domain sciences.


The mission of the DSI is to promote, facilitate and accelerate data-enabled research leading to qualitatively new insights within and across disciplines to improve UC Davis’ success for students and researchers.


The DSI is highly interdisciplinary venue for Data Science research, education, training, and practice at UC Davis, and fosters a broad community of Data Science practitioners across the entire university. Our vision of Data Science includes discovery-focused development, engineering, computing, modeling, visualization, and domain knowledge in addition to data governance, sharing, provenance and publication. We focus on the Data Science process, and on bringing novel multidisciplinary Data Science approaches to solve real problems in new ways. The interdisciplinarity of the Data Science Initiative is key to its success.


Our core values are excellence in learning, discovery and engagement to promote curiosity, diversity and innovation in the development and application of Data Science within and across domains.


  • Increase UC Davis’ Research Impact via Data-Driven Expertise
  • Train the Next Generation of Data-Capable Researchers & Students
  • Foster a Diverse Community of Data Science Practitioners and Provide an Umbrella for Data Science-related Units at UC Davis

The DSI will achieve these goals by complementing existing and developing research and education efforts at UC Davis to facilitate data-enabled research and provide a niche for students, faculty and professional researchers seeking to move beyond their individual programs to identify and develop new opportunities.


The DSI is a bottom-up organization adapting to UC Davis' needs and opportunities, rising to fill identified gaps and support institutional excellence. As a hub of emerging activity on campus related to statistical and machine learning, technology developments, and interdisciplinary data-related research and education, we:

  • Hold informal seminars and office hours to discuss new technologies and methods, and brainstorm about problems in different domains.
  • Run interdisciplinary seminar series on cutting-edge aspects of data science.
  • Offer practical workshops on data science, HPC and Big Data topics, methods and technologies.
  • House researchers from different disciplines in a shared space to foster interactions, ideas and solutions.
  • Enhance interdisciplinary research using Data Science as a common pillar.
  • Work with faculty from different departments and develop new courses covering Data Science skills, methods, and practice.
  • Facilitate new programs (minors, majors, designated emphases, degrees) in Data Science and link courses and resources across campus.
  • Connect students with internship opportunities.
  • Assist in other campus efforts to strengthen computing infrastructure for UC Davis and the UC system.