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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

An abstract graphic of downtown Santa Barbara

An annual summit to build the environmental data science community

Environmental Data Science (EDS) is a rapidly expanding, interdisciplinary field. As our community grows, there is a need to bring together all types of environmental data scientists to build a foundation for cohesive and effective collaboration. 

Through the annual EDS summit, we bring 100 environmental data science community members to Santa Barbara, CA for a two day "un-conference" event. A new summit theme is voted on by members of the EDS community each year. Funding (including travel, fees, and lodging) is covered for up to 60 participants. Attendance is open to EDS practitioners from any sector, discipline, background, or career stage. If you use data to ask questions about our environment and how we interact with it, then the EDS summit is for you. See below for more details on the summit, including annual themes and applications to register.

Applications for the 2024 Environmental Data Science Summit are now closed.

Summit Themes

Broadening participation in Environmental Data Science


an illustration of the environmental data science community

Already, we are seeing impressive actions from sub groups in the 2023 EDS Summit. One such deliverable is the Santa Barbara Charter, a document created by a breakout group that wanted to address core values of the local data science community and recommendations for growing their network in an inclusive way. Since its publication, the SB Charter has been supported by over 125 individual signatures and adopted by organizations like ESIP (Federation of Earth Science Information Partners). Read more about their call to action in the full charter text and consider adding your name to the growing list of supporters. 

Scenes from the 2023 EDS Summit

  • Ben Halpern opening the EDS Summit 2023 conference

    Opening Remarks

    NCEAS Director Ben Halpern opened the first day, discussing the goals of the two-day un-conference in building community and fostering collaboration. One hundred participants gathered at downtown Santa Barbara's Cabrillo Pavilion, a newly renovated, open space overlooking the ocean.

  • Two scientists on the beachside patio at EDS 2023 in Santa Barbara

    Speed Mingling

    The first day of the 2023 EDS Summit kickstarted community-building by facilitating friendly data science conversations. Participants were asked to "speed mingle," switching between partners to discuss topics such as their journey to environmental data science and projects they were currently excited about.

  • A Career Panel  at EDS 2023

    Career Panels

    Dawn Wright, PhD, moderated a panel on the first day of the summit, which focused on the various entryways and individual journeys to environmental data science careers. “This is a thing, we are part of a thing! For this thing to flourish we must be inclusive. There is room for every single one of us in this field, in this experience.”

  • East beach landscape with walkway

    Individual Reflection

    As part of the un-conference, individuals were given time and space, including access to Santa Barbara's downtown beach boardwalk, to contemplate what they thought were the biggest challenges facing the environmental data science community around diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ).

  • A group of four data scientists chat on the beach terrace

    Ideation Sessions

    Following individual reflections and a paired sharing session, breakout groups gathered to further discuss their ideas for advancing DEIJ in environmental data science. This provided time for groups to narrow in on their most promising idea and determine actionable steps for achieving that goal.

  • Two scientists write on a sticky poster about DEIJ in Data Science

    Idea Feedback

    Each group's idea was outlined on a poster and presented to all attendees, with details on the problem, solution, and expected outcomes. Participants then wandered the room, providing feedback or coalescing ideas. Participants then voted, choosing ten ideas for collective focus on day two.

  • A happy hour from EDS 2023

    Kickstarting Community

    At the end of the first day, participants gathered for a happy hour overlooking East Beach in Santa Barbara. This community building was key for fostering continued work and collaboration outside of the summit – many participants are continuing work on summit topics, with most collaboration taking place online.

  • Elisha Yellow Thunder giving a talk at EDSS 2023

    Keynote Speakers

    On the morning of day two, before group work, Elisha Yellow Thunder presented on Lakota Data Sovereignty and Community-Based Research. She offered early examples of Lakota maps that showed points, lines, and areas. "Just because you don't look like me, you are no less connected to the Earth."

What struck me most, both in the two days we shared together and beyond, was how empowering it was to come together as a community.

Ruth Oliver, UCSB Bren School Assistant Professor and 2023 EDS Summit Participant