Dr. Padhraic Smyth is the Faculty Director of the Data Science Initiative and a professor in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences

Dr. Padhraic Smyth is the Director of the Data Science Initiative and a professor in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences.


The Data Science Initiative

Director: Dr. Padhraic Smyth
Initiative Funding Period:  June 2014 – June 2017
Website: http://datascience.uci.edu/

The Problem: People in fields from business to academic research increasingly confront an exciting but potentially overwhelming amount of data. Faculty and students continually tackle this issue, in both traditionally data-rich disciplines like astronomy and newer disciplines that depend on technology, such as the digital humanities or computational social science. Learning how to understand, analyze, and use complex data presents an enormous challenge to scholars and researchers—and the potential to benefit marketing, business analysis, and many other fields.

Data science explores how data can be used to gain greater understanding or draw larger conclusions. The UCI Data Science Initiative was designed to promote UCI’s work on this emerging field. Researchers treat data science as inherently interdisciplinary, helping to develop scholarship across a wide variety of fields, from STEM to the arts.

After three years of initial support from the Office of the Provost, the initiative has developed activities to benefit researchers and students, received generous funding, engaged enthusiastic graduate and undergraduate students, and received significant interest from the business community. 

Future Plans

Presently, the members of the initiative aim to create a permanent Center for Data Science on the UCI campus. The Center would:

  • Increase research and training grants to support projects that contribute to data science
  • Develop an industry program, building on the business community’s significant initial interest
  • Provide a collaborative environment for research in data science
  • Attract talented faculty and graduate students with compatible research interests


Visit the Data Science Website

Initiative Accomplishments

The UCI Academic Initiative program seeks to unravel some of the world’s most challenging problems through cross-discipline collaboration.

Twenty-six faculty from across campus have helped guide the Data Science Initiative. Below are some program highlights.

  • $4.2 million in funding from the National Science Foundation and NASA to train graduate students conducting data-intensive research
  • 40 short courses in data science, which attracted over 2000 registrants
  • A new undergraduate Data Science major with 250 freshman applicants for Fall 2017
  • Support for 32 PhD student Data Science Summer Fellows in 2015 and 2016
  • 11 research symposiums that attracted 1990 registrants