BIDS Faculty Affiliate Fernando Pérez will co-lead the new Schmidt Center for Data Science and the Environment (DS4E) at UC Berkeley. The new research center will combine data science and environmental science to address environmental challenges such as climate change and biodiversity – e.g. developing models to predict wildfires and building tools that optimize carbon capture methods – with a focus on practical, replicable, open-access solutions scaled for society’s benefit.
Funded by a 5-year, $12.6M commitment from Eric and Wendy Schmidt, the new center is being developed through a partnership between UC Berkeley’s Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society and the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the Rausser College of Natural Resources.
Pérez, an associate professor of statistics at UC Berkeley and a faculty scientist in the Scientific Data (SciData) Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will co-lead the new center with Douglas McCauley, an associate adjunct professor of environmental science, policy, and management at UC Berkeley, and an associate professor of ecology, evolution, and marine biology at UC Santa Barbara. The center will be further advised by researchers spanning a diverse range of expertise areas, including BIDS Faculty/Research Affiliates Sandrine Dudoit (Statistics); Maggi Kelly and Carl Boettiger (Environmental Science, Policy, and Management), Charuleka Varadharajan (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory).
The center’s first case study projects will potentially focus on big data collection and synthesis, predicting and forecasting environmental outcomes, and environmental management and decision support tools. Postdoctoral scholars and research engineers with expertise in environmental science, applied data science and software engineering will be recruited to work closely with data and environmental scientists, and the center also will partner with local community organizations and a variety of other stakeholders to ensure that the research – and the solutions being developed – will have safe and effective impacts on local communities.
"Berkeley has long been at the forefront of research in the areas of climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental justice, and the tools of data science are essential as we work to address the impacts of these and other environmental challenges," said BIDS Faculty Affiliate David Ackerly, dean of the Rausser College of Natural Resources.
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