An Institute is Born

On Tuesday, February 7, the Brown faculty voted in favor of creating a Brown Data Science Institute, building on the Data Science Initiative that was created here in 2016. On Friday, DSI Director Sohini Ramachandran presented the proposal to the Corporation, who approved the faculty’s recommendation.

What does this mean, for DSI and for Brown? For an in-depth picture, you can read the DSI’s proposal for the new Institute here, which lists our strategic priorities. DSI has a mission: to stimulate innovation and support people aspiring to improve lives in our data-driven world. Data science encompasses ethical, moral and political questions, as well as the technical and scientific ones: the Data Science Institute will seek to address these questions across the full range of disciplines at Brown.

The Institute now hosts two interdisciplinary centers: the Center for Computational Molecular Biology (CCMB, founded in 2003), which brings together tools from computer science, evolutionary biology, mathematics, and molecular and cellular biology to address fundamental questions in medical and biological science; and a new Center for Technological Responsibility, Reimagination and Redesign (CNTR), which seeks to reimagine how we “do” technology to speak to the needs and aspirations of all—and especially those whom technology has left behind.

The Institute will continue the work of the Initiative, which in its six years hosted 13 postdocs in six disciplines, made grants to researchers at Brown, established a  master’s program and doctoral certificate, developed an undergraduate Certificate in Data Fluency, started up a Data Science DUG, hosted public events, research seminars, and training workshops, and partnered with faculty across campus to enhance data science in the curriculum (see examples here and here).

Transitioning to a Data Science Institute at Brown cements the initiative’s work so far and gives us a mandate to expand our work supporting data science research and education across campus and in all disciplines. We look forward to working with all who share our vision!