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CCSS Data Science Fellows

Graduate Assistantship Appointments

  • CCSS Data Science Fellowship
  • Data Science Fellows

    • The Cornell Center for the Social Sciences at Cornell University has three Graduate Assistantships for the 2021-22 academic year, with the option to start with funding in summer 2021 and/or continue with funding in summer 2022. Fellows are fully funded and allocate an average of 15 hours/ week to CCSS activities. This is a year-long commitment with the possibility of renewal for a second year. 

      The CCSS Data Science Fellows program is designed to give outstanding Cornell graduate students the opportunity to advance their computational social science training within the CCSS’s diverse and intellectually vibrant community. We seek Ph.D. students with social science research interests or training related to computational social science, data, or statistics. We are also interested in speaking with students with a background in digital ethnography or qualitative data analysis software. Applicants should have a strong foundation in social scientific theoretical frameworks. It is preferred if the students have experience teaching or consulting, but that knowledge will be deepened in the role.

      We offer participants a supportive mentorship and peer-learning environment in which they can apply their expertise and knowledge, gain professional teaching and leadership skills, and connect with industry and public sector partners. The incumbents will be part of a design team to envision the future of social science research support at Cornell. 

      Application Process


      To apply, please fill out this Qualtrics application form, attaching a letter of intent, current CV, and a list of courses taken. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. The first application review will be June 14, 2021. Please contact socialsciences@cornell.edu with questions.

      Eligibility and Funding

      The CCSS invites Cornell graduate students to apply to the CCSS Data Science Fellows Program. Pre and post A-Exam doctoral candidates matriculated at Cornell University are eligible to apply. We welcome applicants from all academic disciplines and methodological approaches. Fellowships are for one year, including the summer, and include desk space, and access to computational resources. Moreover, we offer you a valuable co-working experience alongside campus experts in which you will gain access to professional experiences unparalleled on campus.

      Core Service Areas

      CCSS Data Science Fellowships are awarded to both facilitate and recognize significant contributions to one or more core areas in service to the CCSS community and constituencies.  Fellows will contribute to training activities, such as curriculum development, instruction, consulting and mentorship in computational social science-related topic areas, and the development of online learning resources, and/or research activities that require the application of computational social science tools and methods. For example, researchers may apply methods of survey design research, text analysis, and machine learning.

      Fellows Expectations and Deliverables

      • Meetings and Duration of Commitment
        • The Fellow will commit to participation in the program for at least a two-semester appointment, with the option to start with funding in summer 2021 and/or continue with funding in summer 2022. 

        • The Fellow will meet with their assigned CCSS Contact weekly.

        • The Fellow will attend the All Fellows Meetings weekly.

      • Contributions to the CCSS
        • The Fellow will contribute at least 3 substantive blog posts to the CCSS website per semester.

        • The Fellow will present at least 3 workshops or talks each semester. 

        • The Fellow will contribute to the CCSS community in one or more of the following areas:

          • Consulting
          • Instruction
          • Research
      • The specifics of these contributions will be determined with the CCSS Contact and Executive Director at the start of the Fellow appointment. However, all Fellows should be listed as consultants even if they take relatively few appointments.

      • The Fellow will submit an end of semester report detailing the Fellow’s work and accomplishments for each semester.

      CCSS will provide Fellows with:

      • In-depth work and collaboration with the CCSS Executive Director and another research support staff member, along with contact with the CCSS Director.

      • A clear set of expectations and deliverables at the start of each semester.Desk space in a CCSS Office 

      • “All Fellows Meetings” to develop community, report progress, and share best practices.

      Required Experience

      • Most importantly, a willingness to learn programming languages and software packages

      • Prior research experience using data

      • Passion and rigor for research, teaching, and consulting

      • Good interpersonal skills and independent problem-solving abilities

      • Good written and oral communication skills

      • Ability to plan and implement program activities

      Preferred Experience

      • Experience discussing research design and unpacking how to operationalize research implementation

      • Programming languages for computational social sciences, such as Python and R

      • Familiarity with Jupyter notebooks and Github repositories

      • Knowledge of a statistical package in R or other packages, such as STATA and SPSS

      • Prior experience working with digital data archives or repositories

      • Experience with Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, network analysis, and/or geospatial analysis

      • Any dissertation topic that employs computational social scientific methods or qualitative data analysis tools in unique and exciting ways

      • Dissertations that make use of innovative data sets and/or combine large scale datasets

      About the CCSS

      The Cornell Center for the Social Sciences accelerates, enhances, and amplifies social science research at Cornell. The CCSS accomplishes these goals by uniting programmatic and infrastructure resources within the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation (OVPRI). Programmatic resources include programs run by the former Institute for the Social Sciences (ISS) from 2004–2019 and new programs designed to foster systematic, evidence-based, and collaborative research studies addressing important disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and public policy concerns. Infrastructure resources support all aspects of social science research at Cornell. The CCSS either provides this research support directly or directs Cornell social scientists to the available services and support provided by other centers and units at Cornell.

      About the CCSS Leadership

      Peter Enns, is the Director of the Cornell Center for Social Sciences, the Executive Director of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, and a Professor of Government. His research focuses on public opinion and political representation, mass incarceration and the legal system, and time series analysis. Claudia von Vacano, CCSS Executive Director, leads the CCSS Data Science Fellows Program and oversees core research support services within CCSS. Her research focuses on computational social media research, hate speech, and diversity in data science, and in education policy more generally. These core services include CCSS's secure data infrastructure, data replication and reproducibility services, qualitative research support, and other research support services. Claudia also serves as Executive Director of the Cornell Federal Statistical Research Data Center (FSRDC). Claudia joined the CCSS in 2021 with 22 years of experience working for educational institutions, overseeing multi-million dollar budgets, managing staff, and implementing large-scale programs.

    • What are the requirements for the letter of intent?

      There are no formatting or length requirements for the letter of intent.

      What role will my advisor or references play in my application?

      We ask for your advisor’s name for the purposes of creating a complementary team. We will not be calling or requesting formal written references from your advisor or the references you provide. However, we will be touching base with your references briefly as HR requires 2 references for hiring.

      Will this program be offered again? Can I apply more than once?

      Yes, we plan to continue the program each year.

      Applicants may apply more than once.

      Can I be a fellow without receiving funding from the CCSS?

      Yes, should you already be fully funded, there is the option to be fellow on a non-funded basis

      Is deferment an option?

      Deferments will be considered on an individual basis

      Could I speak to a former fellow about their experience in the program?

      This is an exciting new program that Dr. von Vacano has started after joining us from UC Berkeley a few weeks ago, so the 2021-22 cohort is the first one.

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