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Our research

Data for good. We use data science to improve our society
Our research centres around preserving our natural resources, building intelligent systems, improving digital health and exploring the human condition.

We cut across fields from health to geology and autonomous systems and host experts from across a diverse range of disciplines from within and outside the University.

Our team apply innovation and translation to foundational data science principles to develop ground-breaking solutions to real world problems which have a positive impact on science, society and the economy.

CTDS Logo Theta X

Launch of the ThetaX grand challenges

CTDS has launched an expression of interest for data science grand challenges. These data science challenges are to undertake innovative and transformational research that aims to achieve international standing in data science as well as address a significant Australian and global societal issue. The aim of the challenges is to leverage existing strengths within the University to build capacity for interdisciplinary and collaborative research, as well as build new networks with major national and international institutions to gain recognition for Sydney University’s research. 

More information: 

Judging criteria

Budget and faculty support 

ThetaX grand challenge timelines

  • 10/12/2019

    Shortlisted project presentations 2pm-5pm

    Shortlisted projects will give a 10 min presentation to the Director, Deputy Directors and research fellows of CTDS (location TBA).
  • 16/12/2019

    Finalists announced

    The final projects will be asked to submit a full application (of no more than 3 pages) by 17 January 2020 and prepare a 20 minute presentation to be given on 30 January 2020.
  • 30/01/2020

    Finalist presentations

    20 min presentation by each of the finalists, from which 3 projects will be chosen as our ThetaX grand challenges. Location TBA.
  • 03/02/2020

    Winners of the ThetaX grand challenges announced

    The final ThetaX grand challenge winners will be announced by email and on the CTDS website.

Criteria on which the challenges are to be judged:

1. Quality & innovation of the research (40%)

The challenge should address a major societal issue but also contribute substantially to new theory & methods in the emerging discipline of data science. It will build effective collaboration & critical mass across a group of researchers within the university & establish high quality national & international partnerships, exchanges & networks.

2. Quality & diversity of the investigators (20%)

Demonstration of appropriate capability, capacity, & commitment of the lead investigator & team to the proposed challenge. Investigators should be suitable for & relevant to the delivery of the proposed research. The team should also be diverse in terms of career stage, gender & domain.

3. Alignment with Faculty & University strategy (20%)

The proposed research should be aligned to the focus & strategic direction of the faculties to which the investigators belong & to the University as a whole. There must be a commitment from the faculty of the lead investigator to support that individual to become a ThetaX Challenge Leader for a 0.20 FTE role. The investigator will sit on the executive board of CTDS. In addition, the faculties of the investigators must agree to match funding from CTDS with a minimum of $75,000 & a maximum of $150,000 per year, for three years.

4. Feasibility (10%)

The proposal should demonstrate that the challenge has the capacity to be self-funding at the end of the three-year period & provide detail on the means by which this will be achieved. The proposal must demonstrate that the level of funding requested is sufficient, & the team of investigators is appropriate for the delivery of the research program.

5. Benefit (10%)

The proposal should describe the extent to which the challenge delivers a benefit to the University of Sydney & how the translation of outcomes arising from the challenge will impact the wider community, through knowledge transfer, development of a culture of collaboration & innovation.

Expectations of support from challenge leader faculties

  • Lead investigator will be a ThetaX Challenge Leader for 0.20 FTE of their role for three years. 
  • Lead investigator will sit on the executive board of CTDS. 
  • Match funding of minimum of $75,000  to a maximum of $150,000 per year, for three years.





Theta denotes the unknown; x is the data

Facts & figures

ThetaX grand challenges

  • Length 3 year projects
  • Challenge budget $150,000 - $300,000 per year (50% CTDS, 50% faculty)
  • Required support Matched faculty funding of $75,000-$150,000 per year. 0.2FTE of the challenge leader's time.