What is Matrix?

Matrix is short for “Social Science Matrix,” a new research center established to seed and incubate cutting-edge interdisciplinary social science across the UC Berkeley campus. Through our sponsored research teams and events, Matrix brings together researchers around shared questions that demand diverse perspectives and methods. Our aim is to ensure that UC Berkeley remains a leader at a time of unprecedented opportunity for social scientists, by bridging ideas, insights, and methodologies from across disciplines to tackle globally significant issues.

What services does Matrix provide?

  • Research Teams: We sponsor three types of research teams. Matrix Research Teams are two-semester trans-disciplinary collaborations meant to spur a tangible outcome, such as a conference or co-publication. Research teams typically have between 4-10 faculty members and graduate students (and in some cases undergrads) from multiple disciplines. Prospecting Teams are one-semester programs, and are primarily intended for faculty to define a research program. Theme Teams last for a year and are dedicated to a specific theme or area of interest related to the social sciences.
  • Grant Services: Matrix wants to remove the administrative burdens that often prevent faculty from pursuing cross-discplinary research initiatives. We provide help with facilitating research for principal investigators (PIs), including identifying funding opportunities; contacting program officers; assisting with proposal writing and research team building; acting as a liaison with Campus Shared Services, the central Sponsored Projects Office at Berkeley, and sponsoring agencies; and serving as an organizational home for research projects, including helping to provide administrative review as necessary but also helping to promote and disseminate findings.
  • Projects: Social Science Matrix funds projects to support our understanding of the rapidly evolving social science landscape. For example, Matrix is leading the development of the Berkeley Research Network Graph, a navigable tool for identifying and visualizing the patterns of interdisciplinary research collaborations taking place among social-science researchers at UC Berkeley. When completed, this interactive visual network map will illuminate which researchers and institutions are working together and on which subjects. We are also spearheading the development of the Bay Area Social Science Research Archipelago (BASRA), a resource to help us understand where, how, and for what purposes social science is currently practiced in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Communications: Through our website and other media channels, we are helping get the word out about the exciting, groundbreaking social-science research emerging from across the UC Berkeley campus.

I’m interested in organizing a Matrix Research Team. What do I do?

If you are a faculty member or graduate student interested in coordinating a Matrix research team, click here. Or you can visit this page to learn about our past and present seminars.

Does Matrix have any jobs available?

We frequently have positions available, including for undergraduate and graduate students at UC Berkeley. Please see our jobs page for updates.

What are some examples of past Matrix initiatives?

Since our inception in 2013, we have sponsored a variety of seminars, focused on important topics such as the the human right to water; the intersection of race and biology; behavior change and measurement; the neuroscience of decision-making; and many other topics. We have also sponsored our own research, including the creation of a network graph detailing collaboration among social scientists at UC Berkeley.

How can I stay informed about what Matrix is up to?

If you have any questions, please free to contact us at socialsciencematrix@berkeley.edu. You can stay connected with us through Twitter and Facebook, and you can sign up to receive e-mails. In the coming months, we will be launching an e-mail newsletter to keep you informed about some of what’s happening in social sciences at Berkeley. We’ll also keep you posted on upcoming events. Sign up to receive our newsletter!

Who directs Matrix?

Our Director is Bill Hanks, who brings extensive experience in theoretical engagement in the question of interdisciplinarity and translation of ideas between contexts. He holds a double PhD in Linguistics and in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, and has spent his career operating in the spaces between and across disciplines, both studying the processes and challenges of translation, and in facilitating the process. He has directed more than 25 dissertations. Matrix is a signature initiative on the part of Carla Hesse, Executive Dean of the College of Letters & Science, and represents part of her effort to advance a broader institutional re-imagination of the social sciences for the 21st century. To learn more about our team, see our staff page.

How can I support Matrix?

Matrix is a research unit within the UC Berkeley College of Letters and Science. Individuals and foundations can donate to Matrix directly. Please e-mail Eva Seto for more information.

Where is Matrix located?

Matrix is located on the eighth floor of Barrows Hall, on the southern edge of the UC Berkeley campus. The elevator to our entrance is located on the east end of the building. You can alternately take an elevator to the seventh floor and come up the stairs.