The Human in the Data MnDRIVE Fellowship Program

Co-sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study
Digital Arts, Sciences, & Humanities Program, and Research Computing

Summer 2021 Fellowship applications are now closed.

We invite applications for University of Minnesota graduate student summer fellowships in the amount of $7,000 each to fund research on the humanistic implications of data and its use in one of five MnDRIVE areas of concentration: robotics, global food, environment, brain conditions, or cancer clinical trials. This fellowship is intended to fund non-traditional scholarship and engagement work that might not normally fit within standard disciplinary graduate research. Students in the humanities, arts, and humanistic social sciences are particularly encouraged to apply. Eight fellows will be selected. Fellowship applications are due by noon CST on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.

Data is ubiquitous in our world. Experts from different fields apply sophisticated algorithms to extract insights from data sets, and expectations are high that these insights will aid decision making in areas such as health, food, energy, education, environment and social policy. The use of quantitative data for decision-making has 19th-century roots, but in the 20th and 21st centuries, new technology has enabled more complex collection and application of large datasets. When represented by numbers and numerical proxies, individuals and social relationships are abstracted and obscured to both researchers and end users. Yet data is used to explain, predict, and direct human behavior and define research agendas. This shift has had, and will continue to have, significant humanistic dimensions.

Learn more about the Human in the Data partnership, and about past MnDRIVE Fellows.

We will invite eight graduate student fellows to critically explore the intersection of data and humanity this summer.

  • Projects should generate a tangible outcome in the course of the summer term. Acceptable products include but are not limited to: an original data set, art, a website, protocols for evaluating the ethics of data collection or analysis, software, or a community event.
  • Fellows are required to participate in a virtual, bi-weekly work group convened by the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), Digital Arts, Sciences, & Humanities (DASH), Research Computing, and related faculty members.
  • If the Sunrise Plan permits, fellows will be given office space at the IAS for summer 2021. They will have access to the computational resources of Research Computing including consultations with staff from the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute, the University of Minnesota Informatics Institute, and U-Spatial.
  • Fellows will be notified of their award status in early April. Fellows are expected to present the products of their fellowship at an IAS-hosted symposium in academic year 2021–2022.


The fellowship is open to doctoral students and students in another terminal degree program, such as an MFA, at the University of Minnesota.

Application Instructions

  1. Applications are due by noon CST on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.
  2. Click here to submit the application via Google Forms.
    PLEASE NOTE that you cannot save the form once you begin, and you cannot edit your application after you submit it. We strongly recommend you prepare your responses in advance.


The application asks you to provide a variety of information and we suggest that you prepare these details in advance and copy-paste them into the form when ready to submit.

  • Name of applicant, home department, and title of project.
  • Which MnDrive thematic area(s)—robotics, global food, environment, brain conditions, or cancer clinical trials—your proposed research will address.
  • You will be asked to provide a faculty reference (name and email contact). This person does not necessarily have to be your advisor, but should be someone who can discuss your preparation for this project and your ability to contribute to the Human in the Data work group.
    Be sure you share your proposal with this person and let them know that we may be contacting them.

You will then be asked to upload a separate document containing your proposal (.doc or .pdf files only). Please include, numbered:

  1. Your Name and Title of Project
  2. Description of the proposed research and how it engages with the intersection of data and humanistic questions. (500 words max)
  3. Discuss how the research will engage the aforementioned MnDRIVE thematic area(s). (200 words max)
  4. What the proposed research will produce. Discuss how that product relates to or stands apart from your graduate research. What resources (e.g., support staff, training, or technology) will you require to complete that product in the course of the summer? (300 words max)


Information Session

A recording of our February 19, 2021 information session is available below. The session addresses questions about the application timeline and proposal requirements.


Questions? Email [email protected].