In 2013, the Foundation partnered with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to launch a five-year, $37.8 million initiative that aspired to advance data-intensive scientific discovery, empowering researchers to be vastly more effective by utilizing new methods, new tools, new partnerships, and new career paths. The initiative led to the funding of three university partnerships, one with New York University, one with the University of California, Berkeley, and one with the University of Washington, to create Data Science Environments (DSEs) that would innovate new models for advancing data science at American universities. The centers would focus on three core goals: crafting meaningful interactions between data scientists and disciplinary scientists, experimenting with long-term, sustainable career paths for data scientists in the university system, and developing new analytical tools and research practices that will empower scholars to work effectively with data.
Funds from this grant support a team at Abt Associates to document and evaluate the individual and joint progress of the three Moore-Sloan Data Science Environments. Combining qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, the Abt team will document DSE goals and activities, provide annual reports to each DSE on its progress, and produce three major reports: a landscape survey of data science efforts in top U.S. research universities broadly (to contextualize the DSE activities); an implementation study of the actual execution of the DSE activities at the three universities; and an impact study that aims to understand the consequences of the unique DSE interventions on individual career paths and research outcomes as well as on institutional structures.