Updates to the DataX Initiative and Launch of Faculty Searches

February 21, 2024

Dear Colleagues:

I write to share an update on UCLA’s DataX initiative, our institution’s effort to respond to the critical and growing role that data plays within the academy and across society.

DataX was launched in 2021 in recognition of the fact that the collection, analysis and application of data has completely transformed the way we live our lives, make decisions, engage with one another and conduct academic inquiry.

Over the last several months, DataX has launched its new website, presented and co-sponsored numerous programs, commissioned the development of new courses and hired several new staff members. Accordingly, we have grown and adjusted the structure of the DataX initiative to ensure that the effort has the capacity and infrastructure to support the entire campus community. Notably, the initiative has now shifted under the auspices of the EVCP Office from the Office of Research and Creative Activities. Additionally, we are beginning the process of working with the Academic Senate to develop it into an Organized Research Unit, emphasizing its focus on ensuring that UCLA scholars have the skills and knowledge to harness data effectively in their research across the disciplines. 

Aligned with these changes, we have implemented an expanded leadership model, with a faculty lead for each of DataX’s three pillars: 

In addition, the leadership team includes an interim executive faculty director — Eleazar Eskin, professor and chair of the Department of Computational Medicine; and professor of computer science and human genetics — who is helping to integrate the three pillars and promote the collective impact of DataX on and off campus. Continuing in their faculty appointments within the initiative are Associate Director for Faculty Engagement and Associate Professor Sarah T. Roberts; Associate Director for Curriculum and Associate Professor Ozan Jaquette; and Assistant Director for Community Engagement and Professor Ramesh Srinivasan. 

In the year ahead, the initiative will focus on hiring new faculty — which will include new appointments split between DataX and campus units — as well as hiring postdocs, launching a research pipeline in coordination with other units, supporting new courses in data science and the study of data in society, and establishing a physical presence on campus that will become a hub of interdisciplinary collaboration. DataX will continue to issue to the deans periodic calls for letters of interest for new faculty hires. The next call will be for hires starting July 1, 2025. As noted in UCLA Strategic Plan 2023-28, we endeavor to build a cohort of 60 faculty over the next decade.

Significant growth in the availability and application of data continues to alter so many aspects of our lives and work. The DataX initiative will be critical for allowing UCLA to maintain a leadership position in this academic discipline, empower our community with tools to advance data-related work, and promote greater understanding of the profound social and ethical implications of the data revolution. I encourage you to visit the DataX website or reach out to the faculty directors if you are interested in learning more about DataX collaborations, and hope you join me in wishing the leadership team the best as they advance this exciting initiative.


Darnell Hunt
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost