NSF Funds Big Data Hubs At Universities


The National Science Foundation is establishing what it calls a “national brain trust for big data,” at universities across the country. Four awards totaling $5 million were announced yesterday for university-based big data programs.

The consortia are coordinated by top data scientists at Columbia University (Northeast Hub), Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina (South Hub), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Midwest Hub) and the University of California, San Diego, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Washington (West Hub).

Jim Kurose, NSF’s assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, which funds the hubs says the program “enables teams of data science researchers to come together with domain experts, with cities and municipalities, and with anchor institutions to establish and grow collaborations that will accelerate progress in a wide range of science and education domains with the potential for great societal benefit.”

The projects from this first phase of the program will help establish the governance structure of the consortia, support the recruitment of executive directors and administrative staff for each hub and begin developing approaches for inter­ hub collaborations.

NSF anticipates awarding $10 million in grants for the next phase of the project, called the Big Data Spokes (BD Spokes), contingent upon the availability of funds. The BD Spokes program solicitation aims to help initiate research in specific priority areas identified by the hubs.

“The BD Spokes aims to advance the goals and regional priorities of each BD Hub, fusing the strengths of the individual institutions and investigators and applying them to problems that affect communities, populations and groups within the region,” Kurose said.