BLOOMINGTON - The National Science Foundation has awarded a nearly $3 million grant to Indiana University to create a dual doctoral program aimed at training graduate students to be proficient in a specific discipline, as well as network and data science. IU says the program will "train future research leaders in the skills needed to tackle society's most urgent subjects."

Students participating in the Ph.D. program, beginning in the fall 2018 semester, will train in a "domain-specific" discipline, such as psychology or political science, as well as the complex networks and systems track of the informatics doctoral program in the IU School of Informatics and Computing. A total of 34 two-year Ph.D. fellowships will be supported through both the federal funding and the university.

IU says the first students will come from informatics, psychology and brain sciences, cognitive science, sociology, political science, physics, and economics. The first year of the dual Ph.D. program will be limited to graduate students currently enrolled at the university, however IU says the next class will include students outside of the university.

"The biggest challenges currently faced by society require large teams of people who are 'fluent' in more than one scientific discipline," said Luis Rocha, professor in the IU School of Informatics and Computing. "But the current education model in academia is still largely focused on training researchers who know how to set up independent labs with agendas driven by a single person. If we want to take on the really big problems, we've got to create more scientists with deep expertise in multiple areas."

The grant is part of the NSF's Research Traineeship Award. Only 17 institutions have received funding as part of the award this year.