UCLA DataX is a strategic initiative focused on strengthening research and education in data science and critical data studies across more than 40 different schools, divisions, departments, programs, institutes, centers and initiatives. We aim to amplify civic engagement and transform education at UCLA by bringing together a robust and highly collaborative community of people working across data science and data studies, which include, but are not limited to: humanists, social scientists, artists, legal scholars, researchers in health and medicine, math, data theory, statistics, computer science and engineering. Many in our UCLA research community understand the limits and opportunities afforded by data science and are increasingly working together on complex data-driven problems, from aerospace and environmental science to the life sciences, to anthropology and sociology. DataX is designed to bring together scientists, humanists, engineers and scholars from each UCLA division in the College and the UCLA professional schools. At UCLA, we believe that data is transforming the world, and we are producing cutting-edge research and pedagogy that contends with and solves difficult data problems.
As a campus priority, DataX is establishing administrative structures that can enable resource sharing for the entire campus by helping people find collaborators, learn about new problems and techniques, and participate in a campus-wide educational effort to make data science accessible to all students. We endeavor to offer an interdisciplinary academic hub that makes it possible for individual faculty, departments, programs, divisions and schools to do things they otherwise would find difficult or impossible alone.
DataX also aspires to serve as a new entry point that will provide a broad range of undergraduate and graduate students a welcoming path to data fluency, including exposure to technical programming and statistical skills, as well as a variety of social, ethical, and critical considerations. The career landscape for our students has changed dramatically in recent years and continues to do so at a rapid pace, driven by the widespread availability and use of large quantities of data. This challenge is an interdisciplinary and campus-wide one which DataX is poised to address.
Our overriding principle is one of inclusion. DataX will provide pathways for interested faculty and students at all technical levels. Integral to this commitment is building a community of researchers and creators with diverse identities, experiences and backgrounds, with a particular focus on inclusion of historically underrepresented groups in data science and studies.
Among the issues we address are ownership, privacy, authenticity, validity, classification, equity and sustainability...Our faculty, students, and programs are renowned among peer schools for their critical, multi-disciplinary, community-driven research, teaching, creative work and professional practice.
The Three Pillars of DataX
We are committed to a broad understanding of data science. Therefore, DataX is conceptually organized around three foundational pillars: Fundamental Data Science, Innovative Applications and Creative Activities, and Data Justice and Critical Data Studies.
While these pillars provide a taxonomy for understanding the data science environment at UCLA, it would be a mistake to consider them discreet and rigid categories. On the contrary, a basic assumption of DataX is that data science is interdisciplinary with scholars moving between and/or straddling the areas encapsulated by the three pillars. Scholars in data justice research understand and care very much about how mathematical models in fundamental data science are structured; while scholars who are dedicated to creating and using powerful applications of data science have interests in the ethical and social impacts of the programs and software they mobilize in their research.
The emergence of materials informatics, i.e. materials data infrastructures combined with data-driven materials discovery techniques, holds the promise of revolutionizing the process of discovery and characterization of novel materials.
In the spring of 2023, DataX Strategy Task Force released its report for the future of the initiative.
“This report is a great start to laying the foundation for the initiative, notable for the breadth of its vision and the richness of its detail. I want to thank the faculty advisory committee who have been involved in furthering the vision for DataX, with support from the Office of the VC for Research and Creative Activities, the Academic Senate, UCLA Deans, the EVC/Provost’s Office, and the Chancellor’s Office (Professor Safiya Umoja Noble, Interim Director, UCLA DataX Initiative).”
Professor Safiya Umoja Noble appointed as Interim Director of DataX, effective July 1, 2022.
Professors Jacob G. Foster and Mark L. Green discussed how UCLA plans to leverage advances in data science and AI to transform research, creative activities, and education across disciplines. Both served as Special Assistants to VCR for Strategic Initiatives in Data Science.
Please refer to the UCLA DataX Strategy Town Hall slides for additional details.
The DataX initiative was commenced in the 2019-2020 Academic Year. See the initial announcement and call for white papers here.