Presidential Fellowships in Data Science

Presidential Fellows in Data Science 2018-2019 Program Announcement


The Office of the President, the Data Science Institute and the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs are working together to offer fellowships for teams of graduate students to undertake collaborative research projects that leverage large data sets to advance knowledge in areas of high social impact.


This year we are pleased to welcome joint applications from students and projects in all topical areas.  Applications for the 2018-2019 academic year are due Monday, March 19, 2018.


Program Description 

The Presidential Fellowships in Data Science are designed to facilitate deep collaborations between students from diverse areas who have defined a problem, or problem area that is related to Big Data, and/or Data Science, and that requires the application of their collective, diverse knowledge and expertise.  Ideally, projects supported through the program address large, complex problems with significant social impact, while advancing the individual research work of each fellow in a significant way.  Examples of current and past projects supported through the program can be seen here:


Prospective Presidential Fellows are ideally students in the research phase, whose dissertation work or final projects will benefit from deep collaboration with a student and faculty advisor from another discipline (e.g., science and humanities; engineering and education; social science and nursing; etc.).  Prospective fellows should work closely with one another in the development of a project proposal that draws upon and enhances the research of each individual student, while also contributing to the larger project. 


In addition to the funding provided by the fellowship (details below), each cohort of fellows will be expected to participate in a series of workshops, presentations, and training experiences related to collaboration, presenting research to diverse audiences, and interdisciplinary publishing.  Learning how to collaborate across broad disciplinary boundaries is a primary goal of the program, and students should be committed to engaging in activities that support this goal.  


Fellowship Details



Students must be enrolled full time in a graduate or professional program during the 2018-2019 academic year.  All students may apply, but preference will be given to students who are advanced enough in their programs to focus on a specific research project.  Fellowship recipients are expected to refrain from all other teaching/research appointments over the course of the fellowship period. 


Each fellowship provides the following:

  • 12-month stipend of $30,000.  Fellowships may begin in June 2018 (stipend distributed over 12 months) or September 2018 (stipend distributed over 9 months)
  • Tuition and fees of up to $11,000 total (summer tuition not included)
  • Graduate student health insurance subsidy (single coverage)


Proposal Details and Submission Process

Proposal submission will occur through the InfoReady internal proposal system


Each team of applicants should submit a single project proposal containing the following elements:

  • One research plan, no longer than three pages, single spaced (Times New Roman 12-point font, standard 1" margins), that includes a description of the overarching problem and its significance, and the methods and approach(es) that will be used to address it.
  • A two-page C.V. or bio-sketch for each graduate student and for each graduate student's advisor.
  • UVA transcripts for each graduate student (transcripts may be unofficial, printed from SIS).
  • A half-page, single-spaced statement (Times New Roman 12-point font, standard 1" margins) from each student on how the project will enhance her/his research and career objectives.
  • A one-page (maximum) statement from each student's adviser that addresses her/his student's fit for the project, including the student's research qualifications, and evidence of her/his professionalism, and collaborative spirit.
  • A one-page (maximum) statement from each of the student's adviser that details how the advisor will support the project, especially with his/her own time and attention, attendance at student presentations, etc.


Review Criteria:

All projects are reviewed by an interdisciplinary panel of faculty and judged on the following primary criteria: 

  • Clarity:  Is the project understandable to a general academic audience?  Is the statement of the problem, the rationale for addressing it, the methods to be employed, and expected results clearly articulated?  
  • Relevance:  Does the proposal identify a significant problem, with high social relevance or implications, that demands or uses significant amounts of data, or new approaches to data, to resolve? 
  • Impact potential:  Does the project have the potential to shed significant new light on an area of inquiry, or to change the way research and scholarship in an area or field is approached? Does the project have the potential to make a significant contribution to society?
  • Innovation and novelty:  Is the approach to the research novel, and innovative?  Does it address a problem in new ways?  Why/how is it different than research that has already been/is already being conducted in this topical area?
  • Team composition:  Are the members of the team sufficiently prepared to engage in the project?  Does the proposed research necessitate the expertise of each member of the group in a significant way?  Are the students’ advisors sufficiently invested in the work and prepared to support all of the students on the project team?




Final proposals must be submitted to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs no later than Monday, March 19 with awards announced no later than April 1.