Research in the physical sciences and engineering were the engines of human development in the 20th century. We conquered the atom, traveled to the moon, developed digital computation and the internal combustion air breathing jet engine, we discovered laser and fiber optic telephony, widespread electrification, and other important technical milestones. Conversely, the 21st century is shaping up to be dominated by the social and biomedical/health sciences. SPA will be a critical contributor to this ongoing revolution in human-centered research. Data access and data analysis will play an indispensable part in our progress in understanding social, psychological, and physiological characteristics of what it means to be human.
The future of Data Science is not going be strictly in rectangular data files, data dictionaries, and PDF codebooks. We have already seen a revolution in text analysis, biometric measurement, internet traffic, and large-scale social network data, just to name a few. Size is also a challenge for providers and analyzers of data since users will demand enhanced access to extremely large data collections such as genomics, Facebook, global satellite imagery collections, vector GIS, and Internet traffic.
The SPA Center for Data Science has established a formal relationship with the Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS) at Harvard University. IQSS builds cutting-edge scientific infrastructure, supports wide community of scientists, and helps students, faculty, and staff leverage communal advances to accelerate research and support. This partnership includes sharing data through hosting a "dataverse" site at SPA, hosting Harvard University graduate students who need to visit Washington, DC for research purposes, and reciprocally a visiting semester at Harvard University for American University graduate students.