Data Scientist Development Programme

Data Scientist Development Programme

Kylie Norman, LIDA DSDP Co-ordinator

LIDA’s award-winning Data Scientist Development Programme (DSDP) is a capacity-building programme responsible for producing novel research methods and proof-of-concept data products and papers. It offers early career data scientists the opportunity to work on real-world data challenges under the mentorship of leading academics and strategic partners. Academics and LIDA’s external partners benefit from access to talented data science resource who contribute innovative data science solutions and research to solve pressing real-world problems for the public good. Since its inception in 2016, the DSDP has provided 61 full-time data scientists with hands-on experience and ownership of projects drawn from 9 different schools, institutes and faculties. It has acted as a springboard into data science careers with 70% of alumni going on to data science roles in industry and the public sector, and 30% to further study.

2021-22 has been an award-winning year for LIDA’s DSDP, both in terms of its research culture and research projects. Three DSDP projects were put forward for the University’s Engaged for Impact awards, in the categories: ‘Building Partnerships and Networks’ and ‘Finding a Better Way’, winning in one and coming as runner-up in the other. The Programme won the University’s Research Culture: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion award in July for its work on diversity and inclusion in recruitment. Following this, the team has published the case study Strength in Diversity, which details how tools like positive action recruitment are a key part of a values-based research culture, by ensuring diversity for more representative data science.

9 data scientists completed the Programme in 2021-22, who have successfully gone on to complete projects drawn from the health, urban analytics, social policy and sustainability domains. Notable outputs include 13 data products (dashboards, open source code, algorithms, and models); 14 written reports published or in progress; 23 presentations across 7 conferences and other engagement events; delivery of 2 workshops; and the OpenInfra active travel project was awarded runner-up position at the Leeds Digital Festival Awards 2022.

This year also saw Assoc. Prof. Michelle Morris take over the leadership of the Programme’s Academic Advisory Group (LIPAG), which provides academic assurance for projects undertaken. Under her leadership, the Programme is developing its resilience-building component of capacity-building with a bespoke Alpha Skills training suite delivered during the data scientists’ induction week, designed to equip them for the world of work in: communications, failing well, working with partners, well-being, and working towards research impact.

The Programme continues to be a great way to partner with LIDA on short-term research projects, as well as to build data science capacity in line with the Government’s National Data Strategy and AI Roadmap. For the coming 2022-23 academic year, the Programme has recruited 12 data scientists from a wide range of disciplines and specialisms, who will be working on 20 different projects with new and existing LIDA partners. It also enters into collaboration with the newly-inaugurated ESRC-funded Vulnerability & Policing Futures Research Centre.


Find out more about the Data Scientist Development Programme

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