2020 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 focussed, 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 mentors from Aeroinfo Boeing. DSSG Fellows will receive a minimum stipend of $7,000 for 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 2020 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 March 6, 2020. Short-listed applicants will be invited for interviews in early March 2020 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.

Continue to the application form

Application deadline: March 6, 2020 at 11:59PM PST

For details about 2019 projects and bios of fellows: read here.



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

In the summer of 2017, I participated in UBC’s Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) Program. The experience gave me the opportunity to apply concepts that I learnt in my machine learning class to a real life problem. I believe this gave me a deeper understanding of what I had learnt. In addition, I was required to discuss about data science concepts to people both with and without a background in data science. Showing your knowledge this way is different from assignments or exams. However, it is an essential skill to have in the real world. I also improved my technical skills, in particular using Python for data analysis. Finally, it was a unique opportunity to work with students from different backgrounds. I believe DSSG was a unique experience that would not be possible to get from school or work, and hope other students have the opportunity to participate in the future. - Natasha Mattson, 2017 DSSG Fellow

Being part of the inaugural Data Science for Social Good program was one of the best decisions in my life! Throughout the program, I got the wonderful opportunity to work with talented individuals on solving real-world problems with tools and knowledge that I learned from classrooms. This has not only enriched my professional and interpersonal skills, but also boosted my interest and insight into data science, and eventually led me to pursue academic excellence in graduate studies. It is worthwhile to mention that this program has offered me good financial funding, helpful workshops and consulting services, strong leadership and support by senior faculty member, and interactive networking opportunities so I could improve my personal skills and deliver timely results at the same time. No word can express how grateful I am to the people who supported me in DSSG. I sincerely hope that this program will continue its great success! - Gary Zhu, 2017 DSSG Fellow