DSSG 2020 Project Proposal Submission Information


Program Overview

The call for proposals has now closed for the sixth offering of the University of Washington Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) summer program, to be held during the summer of 2020.

We invite short proposals for 10-week data-intensive research projects requiring collaboration in data science approaches, such as scalable data management, statistical analysis, machine learning, open source software development, cloud and cluster computing, and/or data visualization.

We seek proposals that are methodologically rigorous and designed to address societal challenges in areas such as human services, public policy, health and safety, environmental impacts, transportation, accessibility, social justice, and urban informatics. We welcome proposals submitted by academic researchers, public agencies, non-profit entities, and industry.

Accepted proposals will need to designate a Project Lead (usually the author(s) of the proposal) who will closely collaborate with one or more Data Scientists from the eScience Institute and an interdisciplinary team of 4-5 student fellows supported by eScience (see Project Team Composition and Time Commitment below).

This program, which has been running since the summer of 2015, was inspired by similar endeavors such as the Data Science for Social Good program originally at the University of Chicago (now at CMU).

In reviewing the proposals, we will be looking for projects with well-defined deliverables that clearly articulate how the DSSG program can help advance your project. Projects from our previous DSSG programs may serve as useful inspiration.

This program is sponsored in part by an award from the Micron Foundation.

Important Dates for DSSG 2020

Monday, January 6, 2020: Call for proposals opens, find clickable form below.

Friday, January 17, 2020 11:00 am – 12:00 pm: Information Session, Data Science Studio Meeting Room, 6th floor Physics/Astronomy Tower, UW campus (Slides from the info session for prospective project leads can be found here)

Monday, February 24, 2020 11:59 pm PT: Deadline for submitting project proposals

Monday, March 2, 2020: Project proposal short-list notification

March – June 2020: Project scoping meetings with data scientists (2-3 meetings)

Monday, June 15  – Friday, Aug 21: DSSG Program

Project Team Composition

DSSG projects will be executed by a team consisting of an external Project Lead (typically the author of the proposal), one or more Data Scientists from the eScience Institute, and four or five students (graduate and advanced undergraduate) who will be selected and paid by the eScience Institute.

The Project Lead is expected to submit the project proposal. Together with the Data Scientists, the Project Leads will co-manage the student teams. The Project Lead will bear primary responsibility for project design and execution throughout the summer. The Data Scientists will provide guidance on methods, technologies, and best practices in extracting knowledge from large, noisy, and/or heterogeneous datasets, as well as general software engineering. Student responsibilities will vary from project to project, but their role may include developing code, selecting methods, conducting analyses, contributing to design, preparing documentation, and incorporating stakeholder perspectives into the project. The project team may also include external mentors and stakeholders as appropriate.

In addition to their direct contributions to projects, students and Project Leads will have the opportunity to participate in a number of technical tutorials and research talks.

Time Commitment

The DSSG takes place from mid June through late August. Project leads are expected to spend the equivalent of at least two days per week (16 hours) in the Data Science Studio (DSS) working face-to-face with their team members. For the most part, Project Leads have the flexibility to establish a schedule that works for them and their teams. However, please note that the first week of the program consists of several mandatory orientation and teamwork sessions led by eScience staff, and Project Leads are encouraged to participate in a regularly scheduled standup meeting and social hour each week. Data Science mentors from eScience also commit the equivalent of 16 hours per week to the project, while student fellows will be employed full-time throughout the summer, and are expected to work in the Data Science Studio during business hours Monday-Friday.

Proposal Submissions

Project proposals should be submitted through the online submission form by 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time) on February 24th. Proposal submissions for the summer 2020 DSSG program are now closed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please see our FAQ page for prospective Project Leads.


If you are considering submitting a project proposal to DSSG, we hope you’ll attend one of our information sessions listed above, but we also encourage you to reach out to us early on with any questions you may have about the program, selection process, or what makes a successful project. For general inquiries, please contact Anissa Tanweer (

Additional Opportunities

Projects that apply data science methods to social issues but do not meet all of the criteria for a DSSG proposal are encouraged to get in touch as well. Whether your project is early stage, short-term, or requires work beyond the summer, opportunities are available through the eScience Institute and its partners. Please see below.

The Urbanalytics group in the Information School is seeking interdisciplinary research projects that apply computational or data science methods to urban social issues; and the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative supports the development of regional and comparative data science projects between the University of Washington and the University of British Columbia. Email to learn more.

The eScience Institute’s Data Science Incubator pairs data and domain scientists to work on selected projects in the areas of large-scale data manipulation and analytics, cloud and cluster computing, statistics and machine learning, and visualization to help researchers extract knowledge from large, complex, and noisy datasets.

The Master of Science in Data Science program offers an opportunity to partner with students on a capstone project intended for students to complete all phases of a data science solution. Students will be responsible for querying and processing data, developing feature sets and applying appropriate algorithms, and creating a basic user interface for receiving data analysis. For more information contact

Statistics in the Community (StatCom) at UW is a student-run volunteer organization that provides pro bono statistical consulting to nonprofits, governmental, and community service organizations in the Seattle area. StatCom takes on short-term projects that tackle a concrete need, such as visualizing survey responses or estimating the effect of a program or intervention. StatCom students work in small teams and develop their applied data analysis skills under the guidance of graduate students from the Statistics and Biostatistics departments.