A new gift to support the HDSI Postdoctoral Fellows

October 15, 2020

The Harvard Data Science Initiative (HDSI) has received a generous $2 million gift from Susan Wojcicki AB ’90 and Dennis Troper to support the Harvard Data Science Initiative Postdoctoral Fellows program.

“The HDSI Postdoctoral Fellows are critical members of our data science ecosystem,” says David Parkes, George F. Colony Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and HDSI Faculty Co-Director. “They bring an important interdisciplinary lens to challenges across the data science landscape, from fundamental roadblocks to issues of application across the many diverse fields they represent. Since our launch, it has been one of our primary objectives to nurture this incredible young talent.”

The HDSI Postdoctoral Fellows were created as a cornerstone program of the Harvard Data Science Initiative when it launched in 2017. To date, the HDSI has appointed 20 Fellows, each of whom conduct independent interdisciplinary work across a vast range of fields, including health informatics, astrophysics, and music. Fellows are admitted each year through an open application process, to which hundreds of candidates from around the world apply. Alumni have gone on to take positions at storied research and academic institutions, including the Max Planck Institute, University of Michigan, and Harvard Medical School.

“Welcoming a new group of Fellows to campus each year is a highlight for us,” shares Francesca Dominici, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Biostatistics, Population, and Data Science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and HDSI Faculty Co-Director. “Beyond their contributions to the science of data, Fellows become embedded in the fabric of our community, being mentored and serving as mentors in turn. It’s our hope that the bonds they forge here will follow them onto their future roles as leaders for academia and industry.”

In acknowledgment of this generous gift, two incoming Fellows each year will be identified as the Wojcicki Troper HDSI Postdoctoral Fellows. For 2020, Carolina Nobre, a computer scientist specializing in network visualization, and Matthew Cooper, an environmental geographer, are the first of these named Fellows.

Dominici reflects on the impact of Wojcicki and Troper’s gift. “The ripple effect is enormous,” she explains. “From the research they engage in to the relationships they build, the Fellows are a true success story for the HDSI. We are enduringly grateful that Susan and Dennis share our commitment to these young scientists and emerging leaders.”

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