DSSG Call for Proposals

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DSSG 2023 Project Proposal Submission Information

Program Overview

The UW eScience Institute is now accepting project proposals from prospective Project Leads for the UW Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) summer program, which will run from June 12 to August 18, 2023. The deadline to apply is February 17, 2023.

To tackle complex societal challenges, UW DSSG teams take a multi-dimensional approach that integrates data science techniques, ethical thinking, and stakeholder engagement to generate real-world benefits. Student Fellows work on interdisciplinary teams led by project leads from academia, nonprofits, and government, along with data scientists at the eScience Institute who offer technical expertise and guidance. Throughout the 10-week program, students also participate in tutorials, workshops, mentoring, and career development talks with panelists who work in a variety of sectors. This hands-on program emphasizes learning opportunities for all participants as they collaboratively navigate exciting and challenging teamwork in pursuit of Data Science for Social Good.

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 data visualization. The program supports compelling, timely, publicly-relevant projects that are poised to take advantage of tremendous student and professional technical talent and computation resources. If you have an idea for a project that could benefit from access to a team of talented and motivated students, exposure to new data-intensive methods, and guidance in best practices for software development, reproducible science, and human-centered design, then we would love to hear from you.  

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.  This year, two projects will be selected. 

Authors of accepted proposals will become Project Leads in the UW DSSG program, and will closely collaborate with a Data Scientist from the eScience Institute and an interdisciplinary team of 4 student fellows supported by eScience (see sections on Project Team Composition, Location, Time Commitment, and Financial Support below).

This is an opportunity to work closely with data science professionals and students to make better use of data. The Data Science for Social Good summer program at the University of Washington eScience Institute brings together data scientists and domain researchers to work on focused, collaborative projects for societal benefit. 

In reviewing the proposals, we will be looking for projects with well-defined deliverables that clearly articulate how the UW DSSG program can help advance your project. Projects from our previous DSSG programs may serve as useful inspiration. Click here for summaries of projects from 2015-2022. To learn more about last year’s program, read our blogs about final project presentations.

Important Dates for UW DSSG 2023

  • Tuesday, January 3, 2023: Proposal submission form opens.
  • Thursday, January 19, 2023: 12pm-1pm: Information Session via Zoom. View the presentation slides and video.
  • Friday, February 17, 2023 Midnight PT: Deadline for submitting project proposals.
  • Wednesday, March 1, 2023: Project proposal short-list notification.
  • Friday, March 24, 2023: Target for notification of project selection.
  • April – June 2022: Project scoping meetings with data scientists (2-3 meetings).
  • Monday, June 12  – Friday, Aug 18, 2023: DSSG Program.

Project Team Composition

DSSG projects will be executed by a team consisting of one or two external Project Leads (typically the authors of the proposal), a Data Scientist from the eScience Institute, and four students (graduate students and seniors who will be entering graduate school in Fall 2023) who will be selected and paid by the eScience Institute.

The Project Lead is expected to submit the project proposal. Together with the Data Scientist, the Project Lead will co-manage the student team. The Project Lead will bear primary responsibility for project design and execution throughout the summer. The Data Scientist will provide guidance on methods, technologies, and best practices for producing 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, producing visualizations, 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, discussion-based workshops, and subject matter talks.


Location

In the last several years, the DSSG program has been run through a variation of remote, in-person and hybrid formats. The program format is determined each year based on public health guidelines and other factors. This year, we anticipate that DSSG Student Fellows will be working on campus and will be required to be present during most regular business hours (though teams will have some flexibility to incorporate a certain amount of remote hours into their team’s schedule.). However, Project Leads will have even greater flexibility and may be able to participate remotely for most or all of the program if desired. If a project proposal advances to our shortlist, we will have a conversation with prospective Project Leads about what format would work best for them. 


Time Commitment

The DSSG program takes place from mid June through late August. Project Leads commit to being available on average 16 hours per week for the duration of the 10-week program (June 12 – August 18). Some of this time will consist of team meetings and synchronous co-working, but it also includes time for being ambiently available to respond to asynchronous communications (e.g. through email and Slack) as questions arise during the student Fellows’ day-to-day work. This time commitment also encompasses participation in mandatory program-wide activities, including onboarding during the first week of the program and regularly scheduled check-ins throughout the summer.  

For the most part, Project Leads have the flexibility to establish a work schedule that makes sense for them and their teams. However, please note that Project Leads are expected to take part in certain program-wide activities, and so some flexibility in their availability is essential. The first week of the program consists of several mandatory orientation and teamwork sessions that require Project Lead participation, and Project Leads are also expected to participate in program-wide meetings that recur weekly or biweekly throughout the summer. 

Data Scientists from eScience also commit the equivalent of 16 hours per week to project support and mentorship, while student fellows will be employed full-time throughout the summer, and are expected to work on their assigned projects during regular business hours Monday-Friday.


Financial Support

We expect that in most cases, a Project Lead will be participating in the DSSG program in the capacity of an existing full-time position that covers their salary. Therefore we generally do not provide funds to support Project Lead participation in the program. However, we recognize that in some circumstances, a Project Lead may require financial support. This might include a university faculty member without summer grant funding, an employee of an under-resourced community organization with limited funds to support the proposed work, and other circumstances. In such cases, a prospective Project Lead may apply for supplemental funds to facilitate their participation. 

If you are submitting a project proposal to the DSSG program and are also interested in applying for Project Lead funding, you will be asked to describe the circumstances that warrant this request and state the amount of money you are requesting. The level of support we can provide will depend on the number of requests we receive and the availability of funds.

Click HERE to apply for Project Lead funding.


Proposal Submissions

Project proposals should be submitted through the online submission form by midnight (Pacific Time) on Friday, February 17th. The proposal form can be accessed HERE.


Inquiries

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for prospective Project Leads.

If you are considering submitting a project proposal to the UW DSSG, you can view the presentation slides and video from the information session listed above; but we also strongly 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 DSSG Program Director Anissa Tanweer (tanweer@uw.edu).


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 eScience Institute’s Data Science Incubator pairs data scientists 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 datasciencemasters@uw.edu.


Testimonials

“The best thing was the caliber of the students who I got to work with. We had a really talented, interested, eager group. Working with students who I don’t have a lot of substantive background overlap with, from different disciplines, and from other universities, was very different from my working in my own program. It was great having the support of data scientists; two members of the eScience Institute who were with us along for the ride and were able to help with the technical and substantive issues. The support and design of the whole program was very thoughtfully put together with attention to all parts of the scientific process, such as a lot of thinking through what we want from external stakeholders, communication, and documentation. It was a luxury to have professionals who think about that paired with the team all the way through.”

Jennie Romich, 2021 and 2022 project lead

“Working with the DSSG summer fellows and data scientists has transformed our software eiCompare from a basic package to a cutting edge, sophisticated software suite that can clean and process voting data, identify and detect patterns of vote dilution, map and layout districting solutions and much more. What is really exciting is that we engaged with stakeholders from leading national organizations that defend voting rights, and they were all eager to incorporate and adopt the updated software and programming that the fellows built with us. So we know that in the redistricting process next year, our work this summer will definitely be out there doing social good!”

Matt Barreto, 2020 DSSG project lead

“The fact that DSSG makes available or sets up learning opportunities in particular analytical tools and techniques has been really helpful.  I’ve  appreciated that if we need somebody to learn GIS, suddenly five or six other people in DSSG would be really interested too, and magically a class appears to bring them online. Also, the research scientists who support us do remarkably well in helping the students in technical areas where I know what their problems are, and I know how they need to be solved, but I don’t have the skill set to actually solve them. The fact that those resources are there and support is also a really wonderful thing.”

Mark Hallenbeck, 2016, 2017, and 2019 project lead