About the Data Science Initiative

Across domains, we are at a threshold of an era in which hypothesis-driven science is being complemented and enabled by data-driven discovery. Advances in technology have led to an exponential growth in the size, dimensionality and heterogeneity of data. This ‘Big Data’ and its application through Data Science and the process of Data-Driven Discovery (the "Fourth Paradigm") has become prevalent, adding value to theoretical and applied research questions from health to the humanities, engineering to the environment. This rapidly evolving landscape of data-enabled research proposes challenges and opportunities to combine and leverage existing knowledge to tackle complex theoretical and applied problems, to generate new tools to do so more effectively, and to teach their implementation and development. The UC Davis Data Science Initiative (DSI ) provides services, collaborations, and training to foster a Data Science community that complements and strengthens the research groups, academic units, and other related efforts across the university. The DSI partners with researchers across UC Davis to push the envelope both within and across disciplines to perform qualitatively novel, interdisciplinary research that is driven and enabled by data.

What is Data Science?

Data Science is an interdisciplinary field focused on generating data-enabled knowledge. This includes the development and study of novel computational methods and processes, and their research applications. Data Science encompasses the research lifecycle of data including 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 requires novel, broad, multi-disciplinary responses to promote sustained education, training and research.


The mission of the DSI is to foster, promote and facilitate the rigorous application of Data Science to enable and accelerate qualitatively new discovery at the frontiers of all disciplines at UC Davis. Through this process we aim to help meet the growing industry and academic need for graduates with rigorous problem solving and Data Science skills.


The DSI is an interdisciplinary resource for the entire university, providing cutting-edge training and collaboration to enable transformative data-intensive research. 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 disciplines.


  • Research: Promote and enable excellence in interdisciplinary, data-driven research.
  • Training: Promote academic and research excellence through quality programs, engaged researchers, and an innovative research and learning environment.
  • Community: Foster and support a diverse, multi-disciplinary Data Science community.

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.