The constant advancement of computer technology has had a profound impact on science and industry, making possible some of the most important discoveries in recent years.
Thanks to increasingly powerful technology, researchers can gather, store and utilise vast amounts of data – but to help to make sense of this data, many more expert data scientists are needed.
The UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is supporting eight new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) in data intensive science to address this skills requirement.
The centres include industrial partners – including household names like Aviva, EDF Energy and Hewlett Packard – and will offer comprehensive training in data intensive science through cutting edge research projects and a targeted academic training programme. This will be complemented by secondments to national and international partners.
STFC's Scientific Computing Department (SCD) will be working with the CDTs, offering placements to students to work on projects at both the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the Daresbury Laboratory.
Dr Brian Matthews, leader of SCD's Data Science and Technology group, said," SCD will be working with these CDTs, giving students the opportunity to work with us on challenging scientific problems. These are real-life projects so the students could find themselves working on anything from a structural biology problem for the Diamond Light Source, or investigating the properties of magnetic materials for the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, to working with the data from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN."
He added, “This is a really exciting opportunity to work closely with our university partners in helping students to develop vitally-important data-scientist skills. SCD aims to let students try out their ideas on benchmark challenges from STFC's science which can then provide a springboard for new research."
Modern observational and experimental facilities produce mountains of data and sifting through that data manually would take years. This is where the data scientists come in.
Data-intensive science utilises sophisticated computational, statistical and programming techniques, including artificial intelligence and machine learning to extract insights from huge datasets to make new discoveries.
STFC’s Executive Director of Programmes Professor Grahame Blair said: “This investment will not only bring on the next generation of much-needed data scientists with the skills and knowledge to become leaders in the field, it will be crucial in ensuring the UK research sector and the UK economy remains competitive on the world stage.”
The eight new centres will be based at 19 universities – the Universities of Cambridge, Cardiff/Bristol/Swansea, Durham, Edinburgh/Glasgow/St Andrews, Liverpool/Liverpool John Moores, Manchester /Lancaster/Sheffield, Southampton/Sussex/Portsmouth/Queen Mary/Open and UCL.