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The UvA Data Science Centre looks back on the achievements of 2023: from the appointment of data scientists across the UvA through our Accelerate Programme, to the launch of the HAVA-Lab and the scientific research outputs from the DSC community, as well as workshops and events organized for the community.

The Data Science Centre Community

Since its inception in 2021, the mission of the DSC, part of the UvA Library, has been to enhance the university’s research and education by developing, sharing, and promoting data science methods and technologies across faculties. This is done through a series of support and innovation programmes that connect and stimulate data scientists, data engineers, faculty members, and PhDs throughout the University of Amsterdam.

In 2023, we celebrated the Data Science Centre’s third birthday. This report outlines the DSC’s track record of fulfilling our mission over this past year, as well as our plans over the coming years. I am pleased to announce that at the end of 2023, we already boast over 70 affiliate members from every faculty in the university. The DSC’s initiatives are enthusiastically received and widely covered throughout the UvA, spotlighting the significance of data science. Prof. dr. Paul Groth Professor of Algorithmic Data Science, Faculty of Science Informatics Institute, & Scientific director of the Data Science Centre

Affiliate members

As of 2023, the Data Science Centre has more than 70 affiliate members from every faculty in the university, surpassing the goal of 36 FTE by 2025. Affiliate members, and the larger research community at the UvA, continue to be supported by the DSC through a variety of activities including training sessions, seminars, and Away Days. In addition, members are also provided public platforms and opportunities to showcase their research, as well as receive support to attend external training and events.

Scientific impact of the DSC community

With the financial support of the DSC, our Accelerate and Interdisciplinary PhD Affiliate members co-authored 16 scientific publications in 2023, some of which have been featured in the media:

  • Schadelijke stoffen zoals PFAS zijn topje van de ijsberg: ‘Slechts 2% van chemicaliën is bekend’ [English translation: Harmful substances such as PFAS are the tip of the iceberg: ‘Only 2% of chemicals are known’].  - Saer Samanipour (Assistant Professor at the Van’t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences) was interviewed in this article about the dangers posed by unknown synthetic substances. 17 October 2023 - Folia [Dutch]
  • Lost in AI translation: Growing reliance on language apps jeopardizes some asylum applications. - Paula Helm (Assistant Professor in Data Science and Ethics) was interviewed in this article about the real-life implications of AI translation tools. 7 September 2023 - The Guardian
  • Data-gedreven reclame: is big brother watching me? - Joanna Strycharz (Assistant Professor in Persuasive Communication) discusses ‘dataveillance’ in advertising. 7 March 2023 - SWOCC [Dutch]
  • Should computers be in charge? - Shuai Yuan (Assistant Professor in People Analytics) was interviewed in this article about the application of AI to employment practices. 5 January 2023 - Science Business 

In addition, Affiliate Members have also produced conference presentations and posters, taught data science workshops at UvA, participated as speakers or moderators at key data science events, and supervised master’s students. All community scientific outputs can be found on the Outputs page of our website.

Highlights of 2023

Event on the Societal Impact of AI and Data Science

Are we prepared to move from an information society to a data society? And how can we do data science that makes a positive impact on the world? The DSC invited world-leading researchers in data science prof. Francesca Dominici, prof. Eva Méndez and dr. Micaela Parker to speak about these pressing questions at our event on the Societal Impact of AI and Data Science on the 24th of March. The event was moderated by DSC Affiliate member dr. Tessa Blanken and more than 120 participants joined in the lively discussions.

Video interview: Data science is now key for all disciplines

In the context of UvA’s Digital Agenda, Rector Magnificus prof. dr. ir. Peter-Paul Verbeek and behavioral scientist and DSC member dr. Tessa Blanken were interviewed about the outcomes of the Societal Impact of AI and Data Science event in March. Reflecting on the outcomes of the event, Peter-Paul Verbeek said: ‘We can’t do science anymore without using data. Therefore, we need data science as something that everyone is doing within our university’. Blanken added: ‘You can collaborate across disciplines by using this common language of data science’. The video interview was widely circulated across UvA faculties and also featured in an article on UvA’s independent news platform Folia.

Away Day on Generative AI

The DSC Away Day is an annual get together organised for our Affiliate members. To celebrate the start of summer, this year’s Away Day took place on the 25th of May at Castricum Beach under blue skies and sunshine. DSC members from 6 faculties worked together to apply their interdisciplinary knowledge towards developing different outputs, including blog posts, infographics and presentations around the theme of Generative AI.


Data Science Day

More than 100 participants from across the Netherlands attended our third Data Science Day event on 13 October. The theme for this year was ‘Interdisciplinary data science collaboration’. After 2 morning workshops led by Data Science Centre Affiliate members, we heard pitches from leading experts and researchers on the latest developments in the field of data science and artificial intelligence. This provided a big picture impression of what interdisciplinary data science collaboration looks like at the UvA, in connection with the UvA’s four research collaboration themes. The day concluded with a keynote address on the topic of studying AI in public safety from Gabriele Jacobs, Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Culture at Erasmus University and Principal Investigator of the AI-MAPS project (Artificial Intelligence in Multi-Agency Public Safety).

Coffee and Data Meetups

This year we provided workshops on JASP & Machine Learning, Science and Storytelling, Deep Learning Coding Bootcamp, Computer Vision, and Shiny (with a total of 90 attendees). In collaboration with the Vrije Universiteit, the DSC and the Library also offered 5 introductions to programming with Python and R through Software Carpentry workshops (with a total of 88 attendees).

5 seminar sessions were organised (with a total of 51 attendees), where DSC members had the opportunity to share their research and exchange ideas with like-minded peers. Topics ranged from AI application in human resource management to building automated pipelines and user-friendly tools for biodiversity sensors. In addition, the DSC collaborated with the Computational Social Science team to deliver 4 seminar sessions (with a total of 27 attendees) on various computational social science topics

Our programmes


Accelerate Programme

The Accelerate call co-finances the hiring of data science and engineering talent across UvA faculties. In 2023, the call supported the hiring of an additional 8.5 FTE positions in Faculty of Social and Behavioral Science, Faculty of Humanities, Faculty of Dentistry, and Faculty of Science. Since its launch in 2021, the call has facilitated the hiring of 41 staff members across all 7 faculties of the UvA.

Launch of the HAVA-Lab under the Interdisciplinary PhD Programme

In January, the DSC released a second Interdisciplinary PhD call for a large multi-faculty project to tackle a major societal issue aligned with the UvA’s interdisciplinary collaboration themes. The selected project was announced in July. The Human Aligned Video-AI Laboratory (DSC HAVA-Lab) aims to define human-aligned video-AI, develop computable models, and examine the factors influencing its societal acceptance. Co-PI’s Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard and Tobias Blanke were interviewed for UvA’s Digital Agenda on the importance and ambitions of the lab.

Second IAS-DSC Fellowship Call

Professor Anne Beaulieu, Aletta Jacobs Chair of Knowledge Infrastructures at the University of Groningen, was selected as the second fellow in the joint fellowship programme set up by the DSC and Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). The fellowship is aimed at researchers interested in exploring the intersection of data science and other disciplines. Anne’s fellowship, which started in October 2023 and ended in February 2024, focused on epistemic diversity and disruptions in knowledge infrastructures. The fellowship also culminated in the organisation of a Lorentz Centre workshop in 2024 on the topic, ‘How to Evaluate Emerging Knowledge Infrastructures’.

Research Software Engineering Support Call

The DSC and the Library piloted a new call to provide software and data engineering expertise for researchers. The call was open to all DSC Affiliate members, and three projects led by the DSC community were selected. Software engineers from the Library assisted researchers with: an open-source tool that aimed to allow linguists to analyse, annotate and validate texts (Faculty of Humanities); translation of a theoretical model on insomnia treatment to a computational model (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences); and metadata from World War II radio recordings (Faculty of Humanities). The final results from each of the selected projects will be shared in 2024.

Looking to the future: the DSC in 2024

Opening and start of the HAVA-Lab

Under the Interdisciplinary PhD call, the DSC will finance 7 PhD positions across all 7 UvA faculties. The lab will officially open in September 2024, and will be based at the University Library Singel.

Data Science Day 2024

Our biggest annual event will take place again in October 2024. Save the date for 18 October 2024!

Continued software engineering support for researchers

Following the success of the pilot call and positive feedback from participants, the Library will continue to collaborate with the DSC via a second Research Software Engineering Support call. The new call will be released in 2024.