The UC San Diego Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI) is emerging as a world leader in data science research, and its mission is strongly focused on the training and education of the next generation of leaders in data science. One way in which the HDSI accomplishes this is by supporting students, scientists, and faculty in developing new data analytic methods and infrastructure, and to foster “data science thinking” in a variety of problems in science, technology, engineering, government, the arts, and humanities to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

HDSI Undergraduate Scholarship Presentations

Justin Yang


What cognitive mechanisms underlie the ability to draw objects at different levels of specificity? In this study, we explore the hypothesis that the ability to draw objects at different levels of specificity jointly depends on the abstract, conceptual knowledge we have about objects and our immediate visual experience of the world around us. To this end, we recruited a sample of adults to draw familiar objects at the specificity of a category, and of an instance. We found a difference in the recognizability of drawings that could not be explained by the amount of ink used in each drawing.

Justin Kang & Shone Patil


Using NFL rushing data we built pursuit vector based simulations with the goal of predicting how many yards a running back will gain on a given play. We utilized feature engineering to build out an accurate physics engine to simulate plays. Merged Madden game data with original rushing data to enhance realism of simulations. Compared outcomes of our prediction method to others such as histogram and K-Nearest Neighbors.

Advitya Gemawat


Scalable systems for Machine Learning are largely siloed into dataflow systems for structured data and deep learning (DL) systems for unstructured data. This gap has left workloads that jointly analyze both forms of data with poor systems support, leading to both low system efficiency and grunt work. Vista is a new data system that resolves systems issues by elevating entire transfer learning workloads to a declarative level on top of Parallel Dataflow and DL systems. Vista automatically optimizes configuration and execution of this workload to reduce computational redundancy and improve workload reliability.

About the HDSI Scholarship Program

The Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI) Undergraduate Scholarship Program supports multidisciplinary student-led projects. Unlike lab-directed projects, students will be able to choose their own research topics and lead the research process. Scholarships will provide opportunities for students to work closely with a mentor to develop analytical skills, develop data science portfolios, and foster novel data-driven approaches to problem solving.

Examples of data-driven projects include applications of methods, tools, and infrastructure for heterogeneous dataset integration, machine learning, geospatial analyses, scalable computing, data visualization, data ethics, and privacy. Priority will be given to applications that employ novel and creative data scientific approaches with specific potential impact to application areas.


Student Eligibility:

  • The program is open to all UC San Diego undergraduate students who are enrolled in classes.
  • Students must enroll in at least 12 units per quarter through the academic year (Fall, Winter, Spring) to be eligible.
  • Priority will be given to students in the Data Science major or minor. However, Data Science majors who will be enrolled in the Senior Capstone during the scholarship period are NOT eligible.
  • Students may participate in at most 1 application in a given application cycle.
  • Students may apply in a group provided that all group members meet eligibility requirements. Group size may not exceed 3 students.
  • Students must identify a project mentor at the time of application.

Mentor Eligibility:

  • Mentors can be faculty, research scientists, project scientists, Data Science and Engineering Master of Advanced Study students, alumni, or anyone else with the appropriate experience and expertise who is capable of meeting the mentorship commitments.
  • There are no restrictions on how many projects a mentor in a given cycle can advise as long as the mentor is able to provide high quality, one-on-one advice and guidance.

Note: Undergraduate students who have previously received HDSI scholarship funding are ineligible for future scholarship funding. Mentors may apply for HDSI scholarship funding more than once.

Award Information

In order to ensure that we are able to fund a large amount of projects, award totals differ for individual projects and group projects. Please see below:

Individual Projects:

  • Each award will consist of $2500 awarded to the student, distributed evenly per quarter. Mentors will receive $500 total in unrestricted research funds.

Group Projects:

  • Groups of 2 students will be awarded $2250 each, distributed evenly per quarter. Mentors will receive $500 total in unrestricted research funds.
  • Groups of 3 students will be awarded $2000 each, distributed evenly per quarter. Mentors will receive $500 total in unrestricted research funds.


There is no indirect cost associated with this program. Scholarship funds are intended to be maximally flexible for directly benefiting recipients. Funds may be spent for salary or stipends to augment existing pay for students, or to pay for conference travel, training costs outside UC San Diego, research allowances, supplies, small equipment or use of facilities, etc.

Application Process

  • Applicant Information
    • Name(s), PID(s), UCSD Email(s), Major(s)/Minor(s), Planned Graduation Month/Year(s)
  • Project Information
    • Project title
    • Project overview (1000 characters)
      • Overview of the proposed project and outcomes expected, emphasizing any unique aspects
    • Brief description of project and methods (1500 characters)
      • Explain your project in simple language, and describe how you will carry out the work as planned
      • Cite work related to your project that can be used as a starting point. Describe how and where you will acquire the data for this project. Identify the main challenges that you expect to face and how you might address them
    • Project coordination plan (1000 characters)
      • Describe how you will coordinate with your mentor (and team, if applicable) to ensure progress and success. Include a plan of how often you will meet, how and where you will store code/data, etc.
    • Expense budget
      • Provide a brief, general overview of your project expenses 
    • Applicant résumé (up to 2 pages)
  • Mentor Information
    • Name, title, department/organization, email
    • How long you have been working with your mentor

Award Conditions

Each mentor awardee agrees to:

  • Supervise, mentor, provide guidance, and direct the work of the scholarship student(s). Mentors should be available to meet awardees on a regular basis.
  • Follow all required UC San Diego policies and protocols (e.g., IRB, IACUC, Research Integrity, etc.).
  • Spend project funds in accordance with award guidelines.
  • Ensure that the student(s) presents the research at the HDSI Scholarship Showcase.
  • Submit a final report at the end of the award period that includes a list of publications, presentations, press releases, and follow-on grants that have resulted from the research. Lead mentors who fail to submit a final report may be disqualified for further HDSI funding.
  • Applicants agree and acknowledge their participation in the HDSI Scholarship Program may be recorded and used by HDSI to support its program and objectives, including but not limited to using such materials on digital websites and social media. To opt out, applicants must email by the application deadline herein. Applicants’ opt-out submission is independent of and will not affect their potential application selection.