New data science project seeks to span disciplines and create community

The multi-institutional effort will provide faculty with professional development and facilitate collaborations across the field

portrait of Pedro Morales smiling in a forest
Pedro Morales-Almazan, professor of mathematics at UC Santa Cruz, leads new data science project. Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta
scenic image of the front of McHenry Library
UC Santa Cruz will host a data science lecture series, hold a professional development workshop, and facilitate faculty fellows programs that will explore the technical and the multidisciplinary aspects of data science.

Data science plays a critical role in today's academic landscape, with growing interest from students and professors outside of the traditionally associated fields of mathematics, computer science, and statistics. As such, data science brings together people with different skills and backgrounds, and a new grant for professional development in data science aims to facilitate this by creating communities to study and apply data science in California’s central coast region. 

“Building Data Science Communities for Improving Student Success” is a partnership between University of California, Santa Cruz and California State University Monterey Bay. The project will be led by Pedro Morales-Almazan, professor of mathematics at UC Santa Cruz, in collaboration with others. 

“This grant is a great opportunity for UC Santa Cruz and the local community to learn more about the different aspects of data science,” Morales-Almazan said. 

The project will promote the building of data science pathways and offerings to modernize majors, attract historically underrepresented students in STEM, deepen both civic and interdisciplinary learning, and make California the leader in data science education. 

The California Education Learning Lab will empower faculty to expand their knowledge and expertise in data science, fostering innovation and excellence in teaching and research. 

“One of our main goals is to improve the quality of data science and data science adjacent teaching,” Morales-Almazan said. “During these three years, we will facilitate the conversation between data science communities, incorporating the different perspectives coming from faculty and students that are already working with it, plus inviting people that would like to join the conversation.” 

Professional development activities–including workshops, seminars, discussion groups, and specialized training programs–will be organized to provide hands-on experience and equip faculty from different backgrounds with the latest tools, techniques, and methods in data science and data science education. UC Santa Cruz will host a lecture series featuring renowned experts in the field, hold a workshop to aid faculty in incorporating and improving the data science elements in their courses, and facilitate two faculty fellows programs to explore the technical and the multidisciplinary aspects of data science.

Additionally, the grant will facilitate collaborations between UC Santa Cruz, CSU Monterey Bay, experts in the field of data science, and the local community of community college and highschool professors. By leveraging these partnerships, this project aims to create a vibrant and dynamic learning environment that harnesses the power of data science to drive impactful research and enhance the educational experience for all students.

Pedro Morales-Almazan will lead the project in collaboration with Judith Canner, Statistics Program Coordinator & Professor of Statistics, CSU Monterey Bay; Marcella Gómez, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion & Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics, UC Santa Cruz; Leilani H. Gilpin, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and an affiliate of the Science & Justice Research Center at UC Santa Cruz; and Sangwon (Justin) Hyun, Assistant Professor of Statistics, UC Santa Cruz.