2021 Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) Fellowship Program

The Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) Program at the University of British Columbia is a summer program designed to provide an interdisciplinary data science research experience for undergraduate and graduate UBC students. This program—hosted by the Data Science Institute at UBC—brings together students from diverse backgrounds to work closely with data providers and domain experts on focused, collaborative projects that have the potential to benefit society.


In this 14-week full-time program (May to August), selected participants will have the opportunity to develop skills by experiencing the complete process of a data science research project: from data processing, to analysis and modelling, to communication. Selected UBC DSSG Fellows will be divided into teams that will work on research projects submitted by local governments or non-profit organizations. These projects will involve analyzing multiple data sets and have an applied social good component for urban-related topics.

Project teams will work independently with guidance from their project sponsors, and with support from the DSI Scientific Director, DSI data scientists/postdoctoral fellows, and industry mentors. DSSG Fellows will receive a stipend fo their 14 weeks of full-time work and are expected to participate and present at events involving public and industry stakeholders.

Application Process & Eligibility

This program is open to full-time UBC students who have successfully completed 75 undergraduate credits, or enrolled in a graduate program at UBC. While some experience with coding (e.g., Python, R) and/or statistical background is helpful to your application, we welcome applications from students from all backgrounds--including those from the social sciences and the arts. Prior to the start of the program, we will offer optional technical training to better prepare students who come from a non-technical background.

International UBC students are eligible to apply provided you are eligible to work during the summer term (i.e., you are returning to full-time study in September 2021 or have a valid Canadian work visa).

Graduate UBC students will require written consent from their thesis supervisor to participate in this program requires full-time participation.

To submit an application, please complete the online application form, provide unofficial transcripts, and include your latest CV. The last day to submit an application is February 28, 2021. Short-listed applicants will be invited for interviews in early March 2021 and offers will be made shortly thereafter.

For questions about this program, email dsi.admin@science.ubc.ca.

The DSSG program at UBC was established in 2017 in partnership with the eScience Institute, University of Washington as part of the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative.

Applications are closed for 2021.


Please visit this space in December 2021 when applications open for Summer 2022.



I applied for the Data Science for Social Good program wanting to improve my statistical modeling skills and to contribute to a project that can bring about positive social impacts, and I left the program with both goals achieved and much more—including the skills to develop a front end web app, a basic understanding in doing spatial analyses in R and ArcGIS, the techniques to communicate the results with the project lead, and a know-how on managing a data science project. A successful project depends as much on the analytical skills as on good teamwork, especially given the pandemic this year. The ability to work on a team with members from diverse backgrounds is therefore another aspect of the program that I treasure. I high recommend the program to anyone who is looking for challenges that go beyond just handling messy data and who wants to make an impact with data. - Roger Lo, 2020 DSSG Fellow

Learning of research purely through academic courses, feels inadequate when looking at the post university research world from undergraduate eyes. This is why the Data Science for Social Good program is such a valuable program to experience. It has been a substantially fulfilling opportunity to undergo the full process of a real research project, while simultaneously creating work that could potentially create some good in our society. Coming out of this program, I feel as though I have grown in all aspects that I could have. From the hours spent creating code and handling data, I have strengthened my core technical foundation greatly. From our project sponsor interactions and weekly team discussions, I have grown in my ability to navigate both team and project partner communication dynamics. Most importantly, from the ups and downs, the frustrations and triumphs of the project itself, I have gained a much better understanding of what it takes to do work like this, and have been even more so emboldened down the research path. This experience will undoubtedly be invaluable for my future, and I expect it will be as well for all the fellows to come. - Brandon Dos Remedios, 2020 DSSG Fellow

The program has provided valuable opportunities for students to develop interdisciplinary research abilities and make real impacts to various social science fields. Personally, I've sharpened my quantitative skills and more importantly, get involved in the systematical process of research design. The innovative project we work on was challenging but really helped me to understand how to narrow the gap between academic research and real word application in public service. Communication, with clients as well as teammates, plays a crucial role. It was also mind-opening to exchange ideas with fellows in different fields. The diversity and creativity of the program are what I like most about it. There is definitely great potential for future possibilities in DSSG, and I hope our project can be further explored in the program as well. - Huaiwen Dong, 2019 DSSG Fellow

Building machine learning models to solve large-scale problems has always been something I have looked forward to as a budding software engineer. But the entire process of creating clear objectives for a project, and communicating with multiple stakeholders and an interdisciplinary team just isn't available to many students. That's exactly why I value my experience with the Data Science for Social Good program so highly. I have grown considerably, not only as a data scientist, but also as a project manager and a leader. I think that's incredibly important when thinking about developing models for social good, since communication skills are vital. The program also offered fantastic mentors and speakers throughout the course of the summer that gave us new insights that we could use in our own work, and also gave us the flexibility to chart the course of our project in order to maximize our impact. Understanding the work flow of a data scientist from beginning to end was an experience I will treasure for a long time throughout my career, and I would recommend this program to anyone interested in making a difference with data. - Varoon Mathur, 2018 DSSG Fellow

The Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) program helped me build a strong technical foundation in data science. I gained valuable hands-on experience with various aspects such as data collection, data cleaning, deduplication, analysis and visualization. Implementing these processes enhanced my coding skills in Python and R, which will assist my future job search. In addition, working with an interdisciplinary team in close collaboration with industry, government and academic mentors provided me with a deeper understanding of some of the complex ethical and social issues of big data. As a DSSG fellow, I greatly enjoyed the unique opportunity to contribute to intelligent and equitable urban planning while acquiring relevant technical skills. - 2018 DSSG Fellow