Data Science Ambassadors Program

Call for Nominations from all UA Colleges

We are seeking enthusiastic UA graduate and professional students to support data science literacy at the University of Arizona. Selected applicants will assist researchers, including students and faculty, through consults, training, and referrals to address their data science needs within their respective colleges.


The Data Science Ambassadors (DSA) program capitalizes on domain knowledge and data science expertise in the UA graduate/professional student population. DSAs serve as a resource within their college to help researchers and educators with (1) data science related questions through consults, training, and/or referrals to the right resource and experts on-campus or online and (2) developing training or other data literacy programs that are specific to needs to you and your discipline/college. In short, DSAs are champions for data science literacy in their college!

Each ambassador will develop a program of support and engagement that reflects and advances the data science needs of their college. All ambassadors will receive training and support in order to foster data science literacy in their respective college and compensation of a $1000 stipend for an academic year commitment.


Priority will be given to UArizona graduate and professional students who have:

  • Completed at least one year of their program

  • Demonstrated an interest in data science literacy

  • Support from the nominating college

Application process

Each college will coordinate nominations and submit a single PDF containing the three items listed below to Nominations are due May 1, 2021. The Data Science Institute will provide one half of the $1000 stipend, while the second half ($500) is expected from the nominating college. There is no limit to the number of students a college can nominate.

  1. A letter of endorsement from the nominating unit stating college-level support for the ambassador(s), a list of nominees (their full name, e-mail address, major and department, year in the program), and contact information of a point person who can provide an account number for supporting funds. See FAQ section for more information.

  2. Current resume or CV of each nominee (3 page limit)

  3. A statement from each nominee (1 page limit) describing (a) their motivation behind and interest in data science and the data science ambassadorship (b) their background and prior relevant experiences such as applications of data science and activities promoting data science literacy, and (c) preliminary ideas on how they would like engage with and/or serve their college or UArizona in the context of data science training and literacy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Who can nominate data science ambassadors?

Each college at the University of Arizona is eligible to nominate ambassadors. This would mean that colleges should coordinate nominations with their constituent departments or divisions.

  1. Can departments or divisions or interdisciplinary programs nominate ambassadors?

If a department or division is housed within a college, we request that they work with their college administration to coordinate nominations. Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs (GIDPs) are the academic unit for the Graduate College and have a nomination process between the GIDP units.  In cases where there is no support from the college, but a department or division would still like to nominate candidates, they are welcome to do so. Programs that are not housed within colleges are eligible to nominate ambassadors for their program. In general, the nominating unit will have undergraduate and/or graduate academic program(s) that they administer. Units that do not administer an academic program (e.g., centers or institutes) are not eligible to apply. We encourage such units to work with a college or program with which they are associated.

  1. How many candidates can each college nominate?

Each college or program can nominate any number of qualified candidates. Priority will be given to UA graduate/professional students who have (a) completed at least one year of their program, (b) demonstrated an interest in data science literacy, (c) support from the nominating unit.

  1. Can graduate students self-nominate?

No, only the college or program that graduate students are part of can nominate. Interested students should talk to their department head or dean or program chair and express their interest in being an ambassador for the college or program.

  1. How many ambassadors will be selected?

A minimum of 10 data science ambassadors will be selected. Additional slots may be added based on funding availability.

  1. What is the guarantee that a college will have at least one ambassador selected?

We would like to have at least one ambassador in every college. While we are able to support up to 10 ambassadors across various colleges, the nominating college may choose to contribute additional funds (e.g., a total of $1000 per ambassador) to ensure that at least one ambassador selected from the college. We will provide complete programmatic support for all selected ambassadors.   

  1. What are general expectations for Data Science Ambassadors?

Selected candidates will be expected to support data science literacy efforts in their respective colleges. In addition to a two-day training curriculum and meeting with program co-directors once a semester, ambassadors will be expected to support researchers in navigating campus resources and develop an engagement plan for the fall and spring semesters. An ambassador’s plan for supporting data science literacy could include:

  • Identifying data science needs within their college

  • Leading data science workshops or training sessions; either as stand-alone events or within current programs such as the UA Library R workshops or Tucson Python Meetups

  • Serving as an Instructor for UA Software Carpentry / Data Carpentry workshop(s)

  • Holding regular drop-in sessions (office hours) for support in data management and broadly applicable data science tools such as Python and R.

  • Providing individual data science consults and guidance to researchers

  • Developing learning resources such as video tutorials or Carpentries-style lessons

  • Participating in RezBaz events such as PhTea, Hacky Hour, and the annual Research Bazaar

  • Developing and engaging in research studies related to sociocultural and organizational processes around the practice of data science.

  1. This seems like an additional workload for the DSAs. Can this be a graduate assistantship instead of a stipend?

The program is designed such that ambassadors have the flexibility to align their engagement plans to activities that closely align with what they are already doing or would like pursue within their college/program. For example, in the past, ambassadors have developed for-credit data science related courses for their department; they have developed a workshop or process to help researchers/students develop skills in a discipline-specific technique (e.g., agent-based modeling) or technology (e.g., geospatial analysis in R) because it aligns with their expertise/interests. In terms of funding, the ambassadorship stipend is meant to supplement any full-time funding that students may already have. That said, if the college (or program) feels that their ambassador(s) need more financial support, it is best to work with the college leadership to propose a 0.25 GA (or something similar) as a form of support and endorsement.

Ambassador Program Co-directors

Jeff Oliver, PhD

Vignesh Subbian, PhD  


Data Science Institute (Data7)

Collaborative for Engineering Education Research and Outreach (CEERO)