DSI Director To Discuss the Research Challenges Confronting Data Scientists and Ways to Engage With the Institute

DSI Annual Town Hall Meeting 2019

Data Science Institute Town Hall 2019 | Friday, November 15, 2019, 10AM to 11:30AM

Davis Auditorium. Fourth floor of the Schapiro Center for Engineering and Physical Science Research 

By Robert Florida

The Data Science Institute invites the Columbia community to attend its annual Town Hall, where Director Jeannette M. Wing will discuss the myriad growth initiatives at the institute as well as the ways in which professors, students and researchers can engage with DSI. She will also detail the exciting research challenges – both scientific and societal – that confront data scientists today and how those challenges can only be solved by multidisciplinary research approaches that include domain experts from all across the university. Her lecture will be followed by a Q&A session.  

“The Data Science Institute continues to promote our “Data for Good” mission,” says Wing, Avanessians Director of the Institute and professor of computer science. “We use our university-level and university-wide perch as a means to promote multidisciplinary collaborative research and education at Columbia.  As such, DSI has spread its wings across the university, partnering now with 17 schools, institutes, and colleges (including Barnard and Teachers College) through our 350+ faculty affiliates.”

Wing’s state-of-the-union-like talk will elaborate upon the institute’s three-pronged mission: to advance the state-of-the-art in data science; transform all fields through the application of data science; and to ensure the responsible use of data for the benefit of society. And she’ll also outline the specific programs through which Columbia members can participate and engage with DSI. Those programs include: 

DSI Seed Funds Program: to support new collaborations between data scientists and domain experts. New for this year is a partnership with the Irving Institute for Cancer Dynamics.

Columbia-IBM Center Seed Funds Program (in partnership with SEAS): to support new research and education projects campus-wide, as part of the Columbia-IBM Center on Blockchain and Data Transparency.  Last year DSI funded three research projects on these topics: economic incentives for blockchain, verifying blockchain implementations; and big data’s influence on firm profitability.

DSI Post-Doc Fellows Program: to support next-generation leaders in data science whose research will advance or apply data science.  New for this year is a DSI partnership with five centers and schools in seeking postdocs with domain interests.  

DSI Scholars Program: to provide undergraduate and master’s students with research opportunities across Columbia. New for this year are: (1) an expansion of the program to run through the academic year; and (2) a branch of the program called “Data for Good” (DFG) scholars that connects our undergraduate students to work on projects hosted by non-profits, community organizations, and government agencies. Since the launch of the DFG scholars program in March 2019, 13 Columbia and Barnard undergraduate students have been engaged in projects from non-profit organizations. 

DSI Faculty Recruitment Program: to support faculty hires in any field whose interests are in data science.

DSI Campus Connections:  to provide expertise in data science to the campus community through our cadre of data scientists, including: full-time Ph.D.-level Research (“Applied Data”) Scientists, full-time Post-Doc Research Scientists, Ph.D. students, DSI master’s students, and DSI Scholars.  DSI can provide assistance for your research, based on the complexity, scope, scale, and duration of your research project.

Obama Foundation Scholars: In collaboration with Columbia World Projects, the DSI is again organized a data science bootcamp for Columbia’s second class of Obama Scholars and will provide consulting support in data science through the “Data for Good” scholars program. Through these activities, the Obama scholars will acquire data literacy, develop an understanding of the state-of-the-art in data science, and learn to collaborate with data scientists in data-driven decision-making processes.

Collaboratory Program: The DSI and Columbia Entrepreneurship collaborate to support innovative curricular development in data science.  DSI will offer the fourth annual Collaboratory data science boot camp during the 2019-2020 winter break.

Faculty-Led  MS in Data Science Capstone Projects: DSI connects Columbia faculty with teams of talented MS in Data Science student to work on the most cutting-edge data science research projects, from environmental sciences, biological sciences, neuroscience, public health and social sciences.  In December, DSI will host a poster session where the students will present their research findings.

DSI “Data for Good” Seminar Series: New for this year, the 11 DSI centers and working groups will host speakers who will talk about ethical and societal concerns around data.  These talks will be held on Fridays, noon-1:00 pm, on a monthly basis.

DSI Seminar Series: New this year, data science postdocs will host external speakers in the foundations and applications of data science.  These talks will be held on Fridays, 3:00-5:00 pm, also on a monthly basis.

Wing is prominent in the tech field, with wide experience in academia, government and business. She came to DSI from Microsoft, where for four years she was Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Research, overseeing the company’s global network of research labs. She is renowned for her intellectual leadership, especially for helping to shape data science into a discipline essential to scholarly discovery and productive invention.


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