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Data Science

Data science refers to methodology for performing five universal tasks associated with handling research data: collection, cleaning, storage, analysis, and communication. In the past, researchers gained data science skills largely through an apprenticeship model. They learned whatever techniques their mentors knew. While this learning model may work well for some kinds of methods, the fast-paced evolving nature of study designs and technologies capable of generating vast amounts of data guarantees that all future researchers—both academic and industry-based—must receive specific and thorough training in the proper and efficient processes for handling data.

Why We Are So Passionate About Data Science
If you value efficiency, credibility, accountability, and transparency, then data science is for you. Data science techniques train researchers how to proceed efficiently from research question to publication while maintaining rigorous standards for transparent data collection, handling, analysis, and visualization. These skills also promote research collaborations by facilitating independent investigators to review and verify the quality and correctness of data handling procedures. Additionally, producing transparent research allows everyone regardless of university affiliation status to audit the data and analysis code, which increases public confidence in taxpayer-funded work.

How We Support Reproducibility and Replicability Initiatives
The Data Science Lab pledges to support rigorous, transparent, and reproducible research at VCU through the promotion and development of methods, tools, and training programs consistent with best practices in generating robust research findings. The DSL provides training in data science methodology through coursework, workshops, direct consultations, and its graduate ambassador program.

VCU Degree and Certificate Programs

Doctoral Programs

Masters Programs

Certificate Programs


In addition to supporting degree programs, VCU’s DSL also contributes to VCU’s educational, training, and research missions by developing new courses, guest lecturing in seminars, supporting grant applications, providing multiple workshops each year. Additionally, VCU’s DSL has engaged in the wider scientific community through software development.

Contributions to VCU Educational, Training, and Research Missions


    • HGEN611 - Data Science I
    • HGEN612 - Data Science II
    • HGEN691 - Methods in Data Science
    • HGEN603 - Mathematical and Statistical Genetics
    • OVPR601/602/603 - Responsible Conduct of Research

Academic Outreach

Contributions to Scientific Community

  • Software
    • OSFR. The Open Science Framework is an open source platform for organizing and sharing research. VCU’s DSL co-founders Timothy P. York and Aaron Wolen have made essential contributions to the development of the R package osfr, which allows users to interact with the OSF through the R environment and to ensure that the project organization part of their workflow is reproducible (https://centerforopenscience.github.io/osfr).

Interested in Becoming More Involved?

Join us every month on the second Tuesday at 2pm for our monthly ReproducibiliTea Journal Club meeting. Everyone is welcome to join the discussion about the open science movement—novices, advocates, and skeptics alike.

Graduate students who are passionate about data science, reproducibility, and/or open science should consider applying to join our Ambassador Program. The purpose of VCU’s Data Science Lab Ambassador Program is to build an interdisciplinary network of researchers committed to open and transparent data science practices. Ambassadors support DSL initiatives through serving as teaching assistants in DSL courses, presenting their work at open science conferences, participating in DSL training events as facilitators or trainers, and engaging the research community in discussion by organizing and presenting at university journal clubs. In turn, the DSL provides ambassadors with training and travel support so that they can share their research with the research communities beyond VCU.

We are proud of the impact that our current and past ambassadors have had on the VCU research community, and we are excited to welcome new ambassadors into the program. Graduate students interested in joining the DSL Ambassador team or learning more about the program should email datascience@vcu.edu with the subject line “DSL Ambassador” and a description about why you are excited to become an integral part of the VCU data science community.

Mailing List

Want to learn more about data science and upcoming events? Subscribe to the Data Science Lab mailing list to receive our quarterly newsletter and announcements of upcoming events like our Spring Data Science Seminar Series.

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