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Harnessing the Power of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence

Dear members of the Northwestern community, 

Data science and artificial intelligence (DS/AI) have entered every sphere of modern life, and the power and impact of these transformative technologies will only continue to grow.  

At Northwestern, DS/AI research has sparked discovery and innovation across areas, from the STEM disciplines to the arts and humanities. Advances in DS/AI are challenging us to rethink how we prepare our students for a dramatically different future. With these limitless possibilities in mind, last fall, Northwestern leadership identified the need to advance foundational research and applications of emerging DS/AI tools as one of our institutional priorities. 

Today, we are excited to share some of the vital steps we are taking to integrate and elevate Northwestern’s many existing strengths in this area.

Creation of DS/AI Steering Committee

  • Achieving excellence and eminence in DS/AI across the University will require a clear vision and strategic prioritization. To provide this framework, the Office for Research has created a DS/AI Steering Committee composed of faculty and other leaders from across Northwestern’s 12 schools as well as other contributing units. Leaders from Northwestern Medicine and partner organizations are also among the dedicated committee members, all of whom have extensive experience in these fields. Together, they will inform a distinctive Northwestern vision to support the work of our faculty, staff and students.

Investment in infrastructure

  • Over the past year, Northwestern IT has greatly expanded its Research Computing and Data Services offerings, increasing the number of support staff and enhancing hardware. The team has made several updates to the information technology ecosystem to bolster capabilities in providing expertise in DS/AI methods and applications across various disciplines, supporting researchers to meet data management and security requirements, and providing hands-on support for computing. These enhancements are crucial to providing a resilient and scalable infrastructure to support our researchers and students. Northwestern also is creating a common space in Annenberg Hall where people can meet for DS/AI collaboration and support.  

In addition, we are pleased to bring the entire Northwestern community together for the new Computation and Data Exchange (CoDEx) symposium on Tuesday, April 2, in the Norris University Center on the Evanston campus. Hosted by the Office of the Provost and Northwestern IT, this all-day, campus-wide event will showcase the robust computational and data-enabled research at Northwestern. For more information and to register, visit the CoDEx website. 

We are energized by this important work, which has the potential to shape the future of knowledge, society and global well-being. We also are immensely grateful to the members of our DS/AI Steering Committee for taking on the critical challenge of mapping our path forward.  

This is an auspicious moment for Northwestern, and we look forward to working with our entire community to innovate, imagine and lead.