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LSSTC Data Science Fellowship Program FAQ

  • What is the LSSTC Data Science Fellowship Program (LSSTC DSFP)?
  • When are the LSSTC DSFP Sessions?
  • Where will the LSSTC DSFP take place?
  • What is the curriculum and format of the sessions?
  • What does the LSSTC DSFP cost?
  • Are there prerequisites for the LSSTC DSFP?
  • How many students do you anticipate admitting per class?
  • Why was the LSSTC DSFP created?
  • Who is the LSSTC DSFP leadership?
  • Who funds the LSSTC DSFP?
  • How do I apply for the LSSTC DSFP?
  • When is the application deadline?
  • Do I need to commit to the full two years of the program?
  • What year of graduate school should I be in in order to apply?
  • Will there be another round of applications?
  • I am unavailable during the first session, should I still apply?
  • Question not answered here?


    What is the LSSTC Data Science Fellowship Program?

      The LSSTC Data Science Fellowship program is a two year training program, designed to teach the skills required for LSST (Large Synoptic Survey Telescope) science that are not easily addressed by current astrophysics graduate programs. The program consists of three one-week schools per year over two years.


    When are the LSSTC DSFP Sessions?

      The first LSSTC DSFP session was August 1-5, 2016. The second session is January 23-27, 2017.
      Exact dates for future sessions are TBD, but sessions will take place roughly every few months.


    Where will the LSSTC DSFP take place?

      The first DSFP session was held in Chicago in the first week of August 2016. The second session will be held at the California Institute of Technology the last week of January 2017. Subsequently, we plan to open applications for LSST member institutions to host future sessions, so the program moves around over the course of the two year duration.


    What is the curriculum and format of the sessions?

      The LSSTC DSFP curriculum is being developed as an open source project, so classwork and related products (e.g. iPython notebooks for exercises) will be available to the community. Each session will focus on balancing informational talks with hands-on exercises.

      Here is a broad list of topics that will be covered by the DSFP:

    • Data Science Basics: an introduction to statistics, machine learning, and information theory including a brief introduction to common tools used in software engineering (e.g. code repositories, issue tracking, GitHub)
    • Image processing: an introduction to and hands-on experience with the LSST image processing tools including the analysis of existing data sets
    • Non-supervised machine learning: the application and use of density estimation and clustering techniques with astronomical data
    • Supervised machine learning and time series: classification of multispectral data and time series analysis of variable sources with incomplete and noisy sampling
    • Scalable programming and data management: use of databases and parallel programming that can enable analyses to scale to large data sets
    • Data visualization: visualization of LSST images and catalog data including interactive visualization Communication & Collaboration

    What does the LSSTC DSFP cost?

      Thanks to the generosity of the LSSTC, we can provide support for students to attend. The level of support will depend to a certain extent on demand, but we anticipate that the program will be free or nearly free (including travel and lodging) for students.


    Are there prerequisites for the LSSTC Data Science Fellowship Program?

      The only prerequisite is that students must be enrolled in an accredited graduate program. The program will be taught exclusively in the Python programming language, though prior knowledge of the language is not required. If you are not familiar with Python, don't worry-- an offline training course will be provided prior to the LSSTC DSFP sessions.


    How many students do you anticipate admitting per class?

      We are aiming for a class size of approximately 15-20 students.


    Why was the LSSTC DSFP created?

      With a new generation of ground and space-based surveys generating petabytes of data per year, together with the increasing complexity of data coming from these instruments, astrophysics is becoming ever more dependent on developments in computing. There is, however, a disconnect between the skills that are needed for an era rich in data and those that we teach to incoming graduate students and early-career postdocs. The DSFP was created to bridge this gap and provide a supplemental educational program to prepare early-career scientists for data-rich astronomy.


    Who is the LSSTC DSFP leadership?

    • Director: Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz (The Adler Planetarium)
    • Deputy Director: Dr. Vicky Kalogera (CIERA/Northwestern)
    • Director of Program Development and Communications: Dr. Adam Miller (CIERA/The Adler Planetarium)
    • DSFP Leadership Council: Dr. Chris Lintott (Oxford); Dr. Andrew Connoly (UW); Dr. Zeljko Ivezic (UW); Dr. Phil Marshall (SLAC/Stanford); Dr. Mario Juric (LSST); Dr. Robert Lupton (Princeton)
    • Administrative Assistant: Katherine Lamb
    • Website: Lisa Raymond (Created by Gretchen Oehlschlager)
    • Graphic Designer: Frank Okay

    Who funds the LSSTC DSFP?


    How do I apply for the LSSTC DSFP?

      You can apply using this form, or by clicking the "Apply Here" link at the top of this webpage.


    When is the application deadline?

      The LSST DSFP application period has closed for this cycle. Stay tuned for more information!


    Do I need to commit to the full two years of the program?

      Yes. While there are many single-serving schools that offer skill development in astronomy, the DSFP is intended as a true supplement to graduate education. Commitment to the full program allows students to not only study these topics in far greater depth, but to foster new collaborations and professional networks in the process.


    What year of graduate school should I be in in order to apply?

      Students are welcome to apply at any point in their graduate career.


    Will there be another round of applications?

      Yes! We will be accepting applications for the next student cohort in 2017.


    I am unavailable during the dates of the first session, should I still apply?

      Students must attend all sessions, so if you are unavailable during this first session, we recommend you wait and apply during the next round of admissions (which will be in 2017).


    Question not answered here?

      For additional questions about the program, please contact:

      Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz, LSSTC DSFP Director: LWalkowicz AT adlerplanetarium DOT org
      Dr. Adam Miller, LSSTC DSFP Director of Program Development and Communications: amiller AT northwestern DOT edu



    Data Science Initiative (DSI) at Northwestern
    Data Science Programming Boot Camps
    The LSSTC Data Science Fellowship is partly supported by the Data Science Seed Funding Program



    Members of the LSST team gather to celebrate the successful casting
    of the telescope's 27.5-foot-diameter mirror blank.