The OU is part of one of eight new centres based at UK universities to receive a share of £10 million to train the next generation of data science experts.
The UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is supporting the DISCnet consortium, which is one of eight new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) in data intensive science to equip PhD students with the skills needed.
Together these eight centres are directly funding 98 PhD students and will support for industrial placements outside their PhD research in private, public (including national or international facilities, but excluding universities) or third sector organisations engaged in the development and/or use of data intensive science techniques. These 98 students are a huge pulse of new doctoral studentships at the national level, comparable in size to the total number of STFC Astronomy PhD studentships nationwide.
The DISCnet lead for the OU, Stephen Serjeant, Professor of Astronomy, said: “Astronomy and space science (including remote sensing) are facing huge challenges in data volume, data complexity and/or data throughput, as well as making demanding use of high performance computing. These are challenges also faced in many industries. These data-intensive CDTs with their industry-academia partnerships are ideal for a cost-effective and immediate impact outside academia.”
Data-intensive science uses sophisticated computational, statistical and programming techniques, including artificial intelligence and machine learning to extract insights from huge datasets to make new discoveries. The OU's contributions and expertise in DISCnet include the European Data Science Academy portal for data science training, an EU-funded project led by the Knowledge Media Institute.
The DISCnet consortium is a collaboration between the universities of Southampton, Sussex, Portsmouth, Queen Mary University of London, and the OU. Together, the eight centres for doctoral training in data-intensive science span 19 UK universities.