OSPO UC Santa Cruz

Case Study by Stephanie Lieggi and Ciara Flanagan

In 2021, the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) was awarded funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to transcend its Center for Research in Open Source Software (CROSS) and to create a new university-wide OSPO. The OSPO UC Santa Cruz is the first OSPO in the UC system and also one of the first public university OSPOs in the United States.

Once established, it is anticipated that the OSPO will become part of the Office of Research and be situated alongside research development and the technology transfer departments.

Similar to OSPOs in industry, the OSPO UC Santa Cruz’s mission is to help develop and execute the university’s open source strategy, with a focus on amplifying research impact by leveraging open source communities.

Its remit includes the creation of partnerships with internal and external stakeholders to promote open source literacy and best practices; helping students learn from open source communities; empowering scientists to accelerate research efforts with the use of open source; and connecting students and scientists with sponsors from industry, government, and foundations. Core activities include:

  • Promoting open source literacy and best practice.
  • Provision of information, advice, and mentoring to students.
  • Developing a “marketplace” of open source software projects across the UC system and associated national labs that bring mentors, students, sponsors, and open source stakeholders together.
  • Establishing a postdoctoral “incubator fellowship” which will enable fellows to grow communities around their research prototypes.
  • Organizing a yearly undergraduate “Open Source Research Experience”, a UC-wide mentor organization that works with Google Summer of Code and other global outreach efforts and engages with industry, government, and foundation sponsorships.
  • Creating partnerships with innovative open source teaching initiatives inside and outside the UC system.
  • Promoting industry engagement with academic research and open source ecosystems.
  • Establishing programs and infrastructure to track open source research activities throughout the UC system, including open source research funding, to estimate the value of open source projects and communities to the university.

The OSPO plans to link in with the wider University of California and serve as a blueprint for other public universities seeking to set up OSPOs.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0)