Faculty Can Submit Proposals for Summer 2023 Data+ Student Research Projects

August 31, 2022

Data+ proposals due November 1.

Data+ is a ten-week summer research experience for undergraduates interested in exploring data-driven approaches to interdisciplinary challenges.

Students join small teams and work alongside other teams in a communal environment learning how to marshal, analyze and visualize data, while gaining broad exposure to the field of data science. There are typically around 25-30 Data+ teams. All teams will have dedicated workspace in Gross Hall, provided by the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke (iiD), the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) and the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability (NIESS). 

Data+ is part of the Bass Connections Information, Society & Culture theme. Data+ 2023 will run from May 30–August 4. During this time, students are required to contribute to the team full-time and may not take classes or have other employment.

Request for Proposals 

Rhodes iiD invites proposals for faculty-sponsored Data+ projects in Summer 2023. The deadline for submitting an application is November 1 by end of day.

We are especially interested in proposals that involve a partner from outside the academy or a faculty member from a different discipline. We also encourage proposals that involve previously untested ideas or unanalyzed datasets, and we hope that the Data+ team can make a contribution with important proof-of-principle work that may lead to more substantial faculty work and/or connections in the future. We also welcome proposals that will lead to the undergraduates creating tools that might be used in the classroom or facilitate community engagement with data and data-driven questions. Finally, we are including a special segment within Data+ 2023 called Climate+ for projects connecting data science to issues around climate change.

Faculty may propose a Data+ project linked to a year-long Bass Connections project through the Bass Connections proposal process. Your proposal should articulate how you will connect the summer research experience with the year-long project. Please note that funding decisions will be made by each program individually, so it is possible that your proposal may be accepted for only Data+ or only Bass Connections. Please contact Laura Howes if you want to discuss how other faculty have linked these experiences in the past. Specific questions about Data+ should be directed to Paul Bendich.

Data+ Application Format

To apply, please prepare a document (three pages maximum) that responds to the following prompts, ideally in this order:

Name of project: Please use a short name that succinctly describes the nature of the project and is not overly technical. If your project is selected for Data+, this title will be used for the project web page and project listings, and we may ask you to shorten it later for that purpose.

Summary: Please write a project summary, including the basic ideas behind the proposal.

Faculty leads: Data+ is especially interested in projects that connect faculty from different disciplines, as well as projects that enable faculty to branch out in new directions. Please describe the intended faculty leads and the expected benefits from their participation.

Mentoring: Day-to-day faculty involvement in Data+ is not expected. Instead, each Data+ project has a mentor, usually a graduate student or postdoc, who is on hand to give the student team more focused guidance. The time commitment tends to be five to seven hours per week, and funding is generally available to cover the mentor’s time. (Typically, we are able to compensate doctoral students with a check and postdocs via a research fund.)

If you have a mentor in mind, please indicate who this is and why they are well-suited for the role. If you do not have a mentor in mind, please describe the skills you would like this person to have (we are generally able to find faculty-mentor matches).

Goals: Describe the intended goals and products of the project, in the following manner:

  • Describe entirely reachable goals that you fully expect the students to achieve: these could be answers to a question, explorations of a hypothesis or other things of that nature.
  • Describe a tangible product the students will create in the course of their research, which ideally will be of use both to future researchers at the university and to the students as something they can show off to future employers or graduate schools. This could be, for example, a good piece of well-commented software, a visualization device or a detailed curation of previously raw data.
  • Describe a more outrageous goal that you would be quite (pleasantly!) surprised to see the students achieve, along with a plan for them to build a potential roadmap toward that goal. For example, this goal might only be reachable if you had data that you currently do not have, and the students might build a speculative roadmap toward acquiring that data.

Data: Most Data+ projects involve analysis of datasets. Some of these are publicly available, and some are not. As it is essential that students be able to analyze the needed data for the project, we are very interested in plans to ensure that this will happen. Please address this in the following manner:

  • For each dataset that will be analyzed by the student team, please give a high-level description of the dataset (what’s in it, how was it collected and for which purpose, how large is it, etc.).
  • For each dataset, indicate whether you anticipate IRB approval will be needed for student access, and if not, why not. If IRB approval will be needed, indicate whether a protocol already exists and describe your plan for incorporating the student involvement. If it does not already exist, please describe your plan (including a timeline) for obtaining one.
  • For each dataset, indicate whether it is owned and/or is being provided by an outside party. If so, please describe the intended path toward ensuring that students will be granted the ability to access the dataset (we are often able to assist in crafting Data Use Agreements with outside parties, for example).

Outside partners: Some of the best Data+ projects have had a partner from outside the university. This might be someone who is invested in the data or the questions, and to whom the students will deliver analysis and insight. Ideally, this partner will be able to come to Gross Hall two or three times during the summer to hear updates from the students and provide feedback.

For each such partner, please describe their expected interest in the project, how much they would interact with the team, whether or not they’d be able to contribute funds towards student stipends, and also identify a point of contact for this partner.

Funding: Please indicate if you or some other entity, including an outside partner, would be able to contribute funds toward the student stipends on your team.

Special Call for Climate+ Projects

This year, we are seeking to host four to five Data+ projects that are thematically focused on climate change. These projects will form “Climate+”.

Climate+ is aligned with Duke University’s commitment to advancing interdisciplinary understanding of the causes and societal impacts of climate change as well as potential solutions for long-term sustainability including climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Climate+ takes a wide-angle view of relevant topics that extends well-beyond climate science stretching across disciplinary boundaries including (but not limited to) such areas as:

  • Climate and inequality (jobs, justice and economy)
  • Climate and health (lungs, heat and pollution)
  • Climate and oceans (fisheries, hurricanes and coasts)
  • Climate and biodiversity (forests, species and ecosystems)
  • Climate and energy (systems, resources and policy)

All projects must meet all Data+ requirements to be considered.

Project fit: Not sure if your project fits the Climate+ theme? If your project is thematically close, but you are not quite sure if it’s an exact fit, don’t hesitate to submit it as a potential Climate+ project. Projects that are submitted as prospective Climate+ projects but are not deemed to be thematically aligned during the review process will receive consideration as a prospective Data+ project.

Benefits to proposers: Compelling projects focused in this thematic area will receive preferential consideration.

Benefits to students: Climate+ students will be part of a cohort of thematically related projects that will engage with climate, environment and energy researchers, and will have opportunities for professional development in addition to those associated with the larger Data+ program.

How to be considered for Climate+: Projects proposing in this thematic area should note this on the top of their proposal. Data+ projects that fit topically as Climate+ may be considered for either program.

Deadline and Contact

The deadline for submitting this application is November 1 by end of day. Please email your completed application to Ariel Dawn. If you would like help developing your proposal, please contact Paul Bendich.

Please note that you may propose a Data+ summer project linked to a year-long Bass Connections project through the Bass Connections RFP (due November 7 by 5:00 p.m.). If you are proposing joint Data+ and Bass Connections projects, you only need to complete the Bass Connections RFP; you do not need to complete a separate application for Data+. 

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