Natural Sciences and Data Sciences Interface Grant

Interface Grant Submission Winners

PI's and Collaborators:

First Name
Last Name
David Schiminovich Associate Professor Astronomy
Andrew Gelman Professor Statistics
Alvin Peizhe Li Graduate Student Physics

Title: The Birth of the Universe and the Fate of the Earth: One Trillion UV Photons Meet Stan

PI's and Collaborators:

First Name
Last Name
Joaquim Goes Lamont Research Professor Lamont Doherty
Rahul Mazumder Assistant Professor Statistics
Jan-Erik Tesdal Graduate Student - Sept. 2014 DEES

Title: Mining an ocean of data: Application of modern statistcal methods for addressing biological oceanographic

PI's and Collaborators:

First Name
Last Name
Abhay Narayan Assistant Professor Physics
John Wright Assistant Professor EE
Sky Cheung Graduate Research Assistant Physics
Ju Sun Graduate Research Assistant EE

Title: High Dimensional Data Analysis Of Microscopy Images

Research Opportunity

Interface of the Natural Sciences and Data Sciences

This call for proposals is funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through Grant GBMF3941 to Columbia University and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 

To find collaborators who may be interested in working with you on a proposal, please click here.

To post to our site to indicate that you are interested in working on a proposal and finding a collaborator, please click here.


Funding will be provided for three pairs of faculty and their doctoral students.  Each pair will consist of one doctoral student from the Natural Sciences* and one from Data Science** who will work collaboratively along with the two students’ faculty advisors.   Each of the three themed clusters will be funded for 16 months.  Funding includes a portion of faculty salary, doctoral student stipend, tuition and fees, plus up to $1500 per individual for travel expenses to present the cluster’s research results at a conference.  Funding also includes administrative support that will be managed centrally within the Institute for all three clusters to assist with meetings, workshops and presentations.  


It is clear that research efforts which incorporate both domain expertise in the natural sciences and sophisticated understanding of fields such as statistics and computer science can make dramatic advances – for example, this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded for “the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.”  Nevertheless, traditional doctoral programs do not always easily allow for such interchange.  This program is designed to enhance the ability of doctoral students in the Natural Sciences to learn how to use data science techniques in their research, and for doctoral students in data science fields to interact with domain specialists in order to learn how to apply their work within a domain. 

Funding Requirements:

In addition to the cross-fertilization of data science and the natural sciences within each themed cluster, participants will be expected to hold bi-weekly meetings of all the faculty and students to forge a larger academic cohort of researchers who can explore the intersection of data science and the natural sciences in the context of sharing research questions and results, as well as opportunities and challenges in the integration of data science and the natural sciences. The larger cohort will also produce a white paper that proposes the form of a new natural science focused center(s) for Columbia’s Data Science Institute, and pathways forward for firmly integrating data science with natural science at Columbia.  Grant requirements will also include quarterly in-person or telephone meetings with the Foundations, as well as participation in an annual site visit. Annual narrative and financial report is also required.  At the close of the 16 month fellowship, a final narrative and a financial report will be required.  

*Natural Sciences, may be defined as:

Natural Sciences include chemistry, astronomy, physics, non-human biology, non-human neuroscience, climate science, nano and material science.  Note that human health is not an area that will be supported by this solicitation.

**Data Science, may be defined as:

Data Sciences include expertise that can be found in Applied Math, Computer Science, the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (where there is expertise in data visualization), Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Journalism (also for data visualization), and Statistics.

Proposal Timeline:

  • Thursday, May 8th, 2014, 3:00 p.m. Information Session & Networking Event

Costa Engineering Commons – Room 750 Schapiro CEPSR – 530 West 120th Street –Morningside Campus Attend this session to learn more about this funding opportunity that is being provided in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through Grant GBMF3941 to Columbia University and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

  • Monday, June 9th, 2014, 4:00 p.m. Proposal Submission Deadline
  • Monday, June 30th, 2014, 5:00 p.m.  Anticipated Award Notifications

Proposal Format:

Submit the following materials via email, in .doc or .pdf format, to Jonathan Stark, Director of Operations for the Data Science Institute,, by the Monday, June 9th, 2014, 4:00 p.m. deadline:

Proposal Reviews:

The Data Science Institute's review committee for submitted proposals may consist of members of the Institute's Executive Board and Center Chairs. An external reviewer (domain expert) may be asked by the review committee to assist with review process. In an effort to mitigate conflicts of interest, members of the review committee who are included in others’ proposals, or who wish submit a proposal in their respective research area, will be excused from the review process and any decision regarding proposal funding.

About the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation:

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation believes in bold ideas that create enduring impact in the areas of science, environmental conservation and patient care.  Intel co-founder Gordon and his wife Betty established the foundation to create positive change around the world and at home in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Science looks for opportunities to transform–or even create–entire fields by investing in early-stage research, emerging fields and top research scientists.  Environmental conservation efforts promote sustainability, protect critical ecological systems and align conservation needs with human development.  Patient care focuses on eliminating preventable harms and unnecessary healthcare costs through meaningful engagement of patients and their families in a supportive, redesigned healthcare system.  Visit or follow @MooreScientific.

About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation:

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation believes that a carefully reasoned and systematic understanding of the forces of nature and society, when applied inventively and wisely, can lead to a better world for all.  The Foundation makes grants to support original research and broad-based education related to science, technology, and economic performance; and to improve the quality of American life.  Though founded in 1934 by Alfred P. Sloan Jr., then-President and CEO of General Motors, the Foundation is an independent entity and has no formal relationship with the General Motors Corporation. The Foundation is unique in its focus on science, technology, and economic institutions. It believes the scholars and practitioners who work in these fields are chief drivers of the nation’s health and prosperity.  In each grant program, the Foundation seeks proposals for original projects led by outstanding individuals or teams. 

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