We support research collaborations between data scientists and domain experts.

DSI Seed Funds Program

Funding Opportunity for Faculty and Research Staff
Every field has data. We use data to discover new knowledge, to interpret the world, to make decisions, and even to predict the future. The recent convergence of big data, cloud computing, and novel machine learning algorithms and statistical method is causing an explosive interest in data science and its applicability to all fields. This convergence has already enabled the automation of some tasks that improve human performance. The novel capabilities we derive from data science will drive our cars, treat disease, and keep us safe. At the same time, such capabilities risk leading to biased, inappropriate, or unintended action. The design of data science solutions requires both excellence in the fundamentals of the field and expertise to develop applications which meet human challenges without creating even greater risk.

The Data Science Institute (DSI) at Columbia University is a world leader in the theory and practice of the emerging field of data science. We advance the state of the art in data science; transform all fields, professions, and sectors through the application of data science; and ensure the responsible use of data for the benefit of society. It is in this context that DSI promotes “Data for Good”: using data to address societal challenges and bringing humanistic perspectives as—not after—new science and technology is invented.

Program Goals
The DSI Seed Funds Program supports new collaborations that will lead to longer term and deeper relationships among faculty in different disciplines across campus. Aimed at advancing research that combines data science expertise with domain expertise, the program’s funded research should embody the spirit of the Institute’s mission. We are interested in the application of data science to all domains and bringing ideas from other domains to bear on data science. Aligned with these efforts, we are particularly interested in proposals that address one or more of DSI’s focus areas: Business and Finance, Climate, Foundations of Data Science, Health, and Social Justice.

DSI is pleased to announce a call for proposals from Columbia University faculty and research staff for its Seed Funds Program. We seek proposals that represent new collaborations, which will ideally lead to future proposal submissions to government, industry, or foundations.

As such, DSI Seed Funds may be viewed as planning grants for upcoming solicitations from DARPA, NIH, NSF, etc. We encourage proposals that address the technical challenges in the fair and ethical use of data.

Statement on Racial Equity
DSI is committed to racial equity and justice. Proposals should explicitly state that the project will uphold these values, e.g., stating that the methods used to collect and analyze project data, and the project outcomes reported are fair, just, and ethical.

This year, DSI will provide two levels of funding. We will accept proposals with budgets up to $25,000, as well as proposals with budgets up to $75,000, annually, for a maximum of two years. The $25,000 grants are intended for projects where significant salary support of Ph.D. students, postdoctoral researchers, or research scientists is not needed. As a condition of funding, awardees will be required to submit quarterly financial reviews and biannual progress reports. Eligibility for continued funding for a second year will also require a progress report. All reports must include progress on external funding proposal submission(s) and other related activities (presentations,publications, etc.).

Budgets are encouraged to request support for DSI research scientists and for the university’s Bridge to the Ph.D. Program in STEM program.

DSI research scientists and scholars represent a wide range of expertise, from the foundations of data science to domains where data
science is heavily used. Collaborating with a DSI research scientist or scholar may accelerate your research project.

The Bridge to the Ph.D. Program in STEM is a structured, post-baccalaureate opportunity aimed to diversify the STEM professoriate and workforce. By including one of their scholars as part of your DSI Seed Funds research proposal, you contribute towards increasing pathways for underrepresented students to advance in STEM disciplines. The Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement covers 70% of the scholar’s salary and fringe, with 30% (~$17K) expected from the sponsoring principal investigator (PI). Your DSI Seed Funds budget is eligible to cover the PI’s expected cost for sponsoring a scholar.

Proposal Process
The deadline for proposal submission is Tuesday, November 15, 2022. We will not accept incomplete or late submissions. Please submit the following materials via email in a single .doc or .pdf format to dsi-seed@columbia.edu:

We anticipate notifying award recipients by December 21, 2022.

September 2022 DSI Seed Funds Call for Proposals


Columbia-IBM Center Seed Funds Program

This partnership with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and supports new research and education projects campus-wide as part of the Columbia-IBM Center on Blockchain and Data Transparency.


DSI Postdoctoral Research Fellowships

We are actively seeking candidates who are recent Ph.D. graduates and have explicit interests in advancing and/or applying data science to other domains.


Data Science and Health Initiative (DASHI)

PI Eligibility Criteria: Any faculty member/research scientist across the campus at either Morningside or CUIMC. Postdocs can participate in a collaborative team.

DASHI Budget: DASHI expects to fund at least 2 projects, up to $75k each.

DASHI invites applications for pilot projects in the intersection of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Health Sciences. A Letter of Intent (LOI) by a single contact-PI without a complete project team is required. Please use this form to complete the LOIThe LOI needs to include:

  • Tentative project title 150-word summary, that can be shared with the Columbia community. Description of complementary fields from which co-PI(s) are to be recruited to complement the project team.

LOI Submission Deadline: Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Pre-Proposal Brainstorming Workshop: DASHI will encourage the formation of interdisciplinary project teams through a cross-campus brainstorming workshop on Friday, December 10, 2021 (9:00 AM – 12:00 PM ET – virtual). All who intend to submit an LOI should register for the workshop. Those who will not submit an LOI are also encouraged to register to meet others and potentially join an existing project team. Register for the workshop here.

Accepted LOI summaries will be presented at the brainstorming workshop. This event will include a plenary presentations session, followed by breakout groups dedicated to  refine the proposals and find others that may complement their team. The thus formed project team may then submit a full, 3-page application for seed funding of the pilot project. The final proposal should delineate a path towards external funding of the project beyond its pilot stage.

DASHI Timeline:
LOI Submission Deadline: Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Workshop acceptance notification: By Friday, December 3, 2021
Brainstorming workshop: Friday, December 10, 2021
Full pilot proposal deadline: Friday, January 7, 2022
Notification: Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Expected project start for selected proposals: Tuesday, February 1, 2022