Massive Data Institute

As part of the McCourt School of Public Policy’s founding in October of 2013, we are building a Massive Data Institute devoted to the study of high-dimensional data for public policy. The Institute will use Big Data sets to increase understanding of society and human behavior and thus improve public policy decision-making.

Incredible advances in public policy may be possible by bringing together the scientists who can analyze these data and the policy practitioners in the government and nonprofit sectors that can design and implement policies. While we work to build and staff our Institute, we are pleased to announce the following initiatives:


The Massive Data Institute is pleased to offer seed grants to aid Georgetown faculty and graduate students conducting research at the intersection of big data and public policy. Two types of grants will be available:

  • Mini travel grants: Up to 5 grants of up to $2,000 will be awarded to faculty or graduate students who wish to attend conferences or establish collaborations with external faculty on projects using big data.

  • Research seed grants: 4 grants of up to $40,000 will be awarded to Georgetown faculty working on early-stage projects with high potential to generate external funding. These projects must make use of large data sets and involve collaboration between data science and public policy. Special consideration will be given to those proposals involving faculty collaborations between computer scientists, mathematicians, statisticians, and bioinformatics faculty, on one hand, and social science and humanities faculty, on the other. Allowable expenses are up to $10,000 in summer salary support per PI as well as funds for a research assistant, and data acquisition or travel expenses.

To Apply:

To apply for mini grants, applicants must submit an explanation of the conference they wish to attend and the program’s relevance to their future research, as well as a proposed budget. Those who plan to use the funds for research design or data collection, must submit an explanation of the planned project, a project trajectory, and a budget. The conference or research must occur during the 2014-15 Academic Year and a summary report of no more than two pages must be submitted to the Massive Data Institute by May 31, 2015. Applications must be submitted by July 15, 2014 and applicants will be notified by August 15, 2014.

Applicants for research seed grants must provide a project description of no more than 5 pages which includes: an abstract, project goals and objectives, research methods, potential future external funding sources, and a proposed budget of no more than $40,000. Grants will be awarded for the 2014-15 academic year. At the end of the year, a progress report of no more than three pages must be submitted to the Massive Data Institute. Applications must be submitted by July 15, 2014 and applicants will be notified by August 15, 2014.

Applications should be submitted via email to: with the name of the grant in the subject line.


The McCourt School of Public Policy seeks two (2) postdoctoral fellows with research interests at the intersection of public policy and big data to join the new Massive Data Institute. Fellows may hold a Ph.D. in any discipline but they must conduct policy-relevant research that involves large data sets.

Fellows will be expected to actively engage in research leading to publications in top journals. They will also be expected to be active participants in the Massive Data Seminar Series and to give at least one seminar presentation based on their work while a fellow. Fellows will also teach one course on a big data topic during the spring semester and be expected to contribute to the intellectual life of the school by interacting with students and faculty. Fellows will work on faculty-led teams addressing key public policy and analytic issues involving high-dimensional data.

To Apply:

Please submit the following via Academic Jobs Online, position # 4009:

  • CV
  • One illustrative publication
  • A 1-2 page description of current research and work that will be carried out during the fellowship
  • Two confidential letters of recommendationApplications must be received by June 1, 2014. Please contact Laura Masters, with any questions.

The McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University is pleased to present a Massive Data Institute seminar series. The goal of the series is to establish a cross-disciplinary research institute to further the innovative uses of data for policy and social science. The 2013-2014 seminar series focused on the applications of "novel and high dimensional data" in the social sciences.

Our 2013-2014 series has come to a close. Please visit the MDI Seminar page in the fall to view 2014-2015 events.