Data Science Research Support

Northwestern University currently hosts a significant number of faculty engaged and interested in data science. Some are in the methods disciplines (computer science, applied math, statistics) and many more are in domain disciplines across many schools. Many of these researchers are unaware of one another and there have not been opportunities for developing intellectual exchanges and focused discussions on data science research projects. The research of faculty here at Northwestern has demonstrated that strong interdisciplinary collaborations lead to increased scientific productivity and impact. Northwestern’s Office of the Provost and Office of Research have made a financial commitment in order to promote the strengthening of interdisciplinary collaborations around data science with the goal of moving Northwestern forward in this area. Importantly, we are defining data science (and "big data") not by the absolute size of the data, but by its increase relative to what has been typical in a discipline.

As a result of the University’s commitment, the Data Science Initiative has been granted funds to support faculty already involved or planning to get involved in Data Science. Funds have been allocated for the retaining and hiring of postdoctoral fellows and for the support of current graduate students. For the first year of funding, the two funding priorities are: seeding new collaborations, and help existing collaborations obtain results necessary for applying for funding. Additionally, engagement of supported fellows and students in data-science training activities is strongly encouraged.

Special allowances will be made to accommodate proposals by faculty that do not typically run labs with graduate students and postdocs.

Available Funding

We will support on the order of 15-20 data science projects per year at the level of $10K-$50K in direct costs. Funds may be used to support postdoctoral fellows or graduate students. All funded postdoctoral fellows and graduate students will be expected to actively engage in cross-campus research and training activities related to data science. Proposals should involve at least two investigators.

Application Process

  1. Applications will ideally be submitted by at least two faculty members from different disciplines at Northwestern University that bring complementary areas of expertise to the project for which funding is requested.

  2. Applicants submit their application materials at under Data Science Research Support through 3/31/2017.

  3. A complete application comprises:

    • Description of the goals of the proposed research and its alignment with the goals of the Data Science Initiative. (Word Template)
    • NIH style biosketch of the mentoring faculty members. (Word Template)
    • NIH style biosketch (for postdocs) or a resume (for graduate students) of the trainee.

Award Process

Submissions are open and the deadline is March 31, 2017. There will be typically two application deadlines each year. Proposal will be evaluated by a review panel representing many of the different units at the University. We will communicate the decisions of the review panel 2-4 weeks after the application deadline.

Data Science Scholars

Data Science Scholars will join a university-wide initiative advancing Data Science throughout Northwestern. Scholars will have joint-appointments with the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO)—which coordinates the program—and another Research Center (see below) matching their area of expertise. Scholars will be appointed to two-year terms (potentially renewable for a third year). Scholars will receive a competitive stipend and benefits package, and an individual research budget. Starting date is flexible.

We are looking to recruit 4 to 6 Scholars who will be appointed across a number of research areas spanning the physical, chemical, biomedical, behavioral, social, economic, information, and communication sciences. The aim of the program is to offer a unique opportunity to expand the Scholars’ domain-focused research portfolio, and simultaneously establish their reputation as leaders in the exploding field of Data Science and Analytics. To this end, Scholars will be offered opportunities to establish their independence and to develop their leadership skills.


Outstanding candidates interested in this program should submit applications electronically to Applications from women and minority candidates are especially encouraged. Applications must include:

  • a CV (including a list of publications with the most important 1 to 3 publications indicated with an asterisk),
  • a three-page statement of research accomplishments and plans, and
  • a list of 3 to 5 references.

Applications received by December 15th 2016 will receive full consideration. Later applications will be considered until all positions are filled. Applicants must complete their Ph.D. requirements prior to starting date of appointment.

Research Centers and Institutes associated with the Program include:

Information about benefits may be found at the Office of Human Resources.

Data Science Fellows Program

The Data Science Fellowship for incoming students supports graduate students dedicated to the exploration of fundamental and applied advancement in data science. Data Science Fellows will participate in a variety of activities, including lectures, symposia, and networking opportunities with domestic and international experts in data science.

The selection committee will decide how many Fellowships offers will be made each year with the goal of awarding up to 15 new Fellowships each year. The Fellowship offer consists of a $10,000 stipend award above the program’s standard stipend, and a $2,500 research allowance.

Nomination and evaluation process

Note that applicants cannot be nominated for both the Data Science Fellowship and the incoming Ryan Fellowship.

  1. Directors of Graduate Studies (DGSs) of the participating doctoral programs nominate applicants whose educational background and goals match those of the Data Science Fellowship. Specifically, the applicant’s statement of purpose and/or previous research experience should demonstrate their interest and potential for data science research.

  2. Nominations for the fellowship competitions are due by Friday, February 5th, 2016. DGSs must email a list of their program’s nominees to TGS ( no later than that date.

  3. Included in the email should be a PDF of each nominees’ entire application package (one PDF per nominee). This includes scanned copies of the nominees’ application, recommendations, transcripts and any other relevant materials such as writing samples and resumes.

  4. The subject line in the email must be: “Data Science Fellowship Nominees: YOUR PROGRAM”. If space limitations require sending more than one email, the subject line must also include “1 of 4”, “2 of 4”, etc. This will ensure that TGS receives all of your nominations.

  5. TGS will forward the applications to the Data Science Fellowship selection committee by the Wednesday, February 10th, 2016.

  6. The selection committee will email a list of Fellowship winners to TGS by Friday, February 19th, 2016.

  7. On Monday, February 22nd, 2016 TGS will inform programs of the winners. The programs should then send offer letters to the winners, including the Data Science Fellowship language that TGS supplies.

Questions? Contact: