NRT-DESE: Training in Data-Driven Discovery - From the Earth and the Universe to the Successful Careers of the Future

Project: Research project

Project Details


Figuring out how to efficiently, effectively, and reliably extract new knowledge from big and/or complex datasets presents us with new algorithmic and practical challenges, but has also enabled us to ask new kinds of questions, previously intractable. We propose an innovative, flexible, interdisciplinary graduate program in DESE that uniquely prepares students to face these challenges, ask new questions, search for their answers, and pursue successful careers across disciplines and sectors (academic, government, private). Our research focus connects three major NSF projects at the discovery forefront of astronomy (Large Synoptic Survey Telescope), physics (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory), and geosciences (Earthscope). These projects pose a wide range of challenges in statistics, data analysis and mining, machine learning and classification, image processing and visualization, data management and parallelization; they are recognized for their potential to transform our understanding of the Earth and the Universe, provided we can leverage and analyze the datasets of unprecedented size and/or complexity (e.g., signals buried in non-Gaussian, non-stationary noise) using advanced cyberinfrastructure facilities. Our traineeship program includes a number of key elements, leading to a DESE Graduate Certificate: interdisciplinary courses and focused schools, integrating the domain disciplines with computer science, statistics, and applied mathematics; internships at committed external partners (NCSA, Adler Planetarium, national labs, industry) so they acquire “real-life” experience; workshops advancing transferable professional skills (communication, management, and entrepreneurship); mentorship and leadership opportunities through interdisciplinary research projects involving undergraduate and high-school students. Our goal is to provide the comprehensive training needed for students to pursue successfully 21st-century career opportunities, as the demand for such technical and professional skills is exploding. All our training activities will be made available broadly to graduate students, enabling hundreds of students to improve their competitiveness as they pursue their careers. We will collaborate with the Adler Planetarium, not just in science-communication internships, but also to leverage the public LSST and Earthscope databases and contribute to crowd-sourcing/citizen-science projects that will reach hundreds of thousands of people.
Effective start/end date4/1/158/31/21


  • National Science Foundation (DGE-1450006-004)


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