Data Science Institute

Welcome “Back”!

Though we are not really all back on campus, we are starting the new academic year, and DSI is beginning 2020-2021 with important changes.

DSI LogoA Change in Leadership

DSI welcomes a new interim Director, Sohini Ramachandran, who is also Director of the Center for Computational Molecular Biology (CCMB). CCMB and DSI are located together on the 3rd floor of 164 Angell, and Sohini has been a member of DSI’s executive committee since DSI was founded in 2016. She has already been instrumental in building the DSI, and DSI staff are happy to be working more closely with her.

At the same time, we are sad to say good bye to Björn Sandstede as DSI Director. Björn has been director for two years: he has seen the DSI through its move to 164 Angell, overseen the growth of DSI’s master’s program and the hiring of two new data science faculty members, developed an undergraduate Certificate in Data Fluency and helped create the undergraduate Data Science Fellows program (see below). He has also reached out to other units and departments across campus, fostering the sort of interdisciplinary collaboration that is DSI’s primary mission. He is now Chair of his home department, the Division of Applied Mathematics.

New Data Science Faculty

We are also excited to have two new DSI faculty members—one is starting her first full academic year at Brown and one will be starting on January 1, 2021.

DSI faculty have an appointment in DSI as well as in a home department. DSI shares Roberta De Vito with Biostatistics. Roberta started at Brown in January 2020, so she got a couple of months on campus before the pandemic took hold. She comes to Brown from a postdoc at Princeton in the Department of Computer Science. Her research focuses on statistical methods for analyzing big and high-throughput data, such as genomic and epidemiological data.

Karianne Bergen will start at DSI and the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences on January 1, 2021, but is already at Brown with a visiting appointment. She is also finishing up a postdoctoral position at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She works in scientific machine learning and has developed new machine learning methods in earthquake seismology. DSI is very excited to have both these scholars as part of our growing faculty!

Data Science for Undergraduates

As mentioned above, there is a new certificate option for undergraduates. It includes a new course, Data Science Fluency (DATA 0200), which is required for the certificate, and is targeted at students not concentrating in the core data science disciplines (Applied Mathematics, Computational Biology, Computer Science, Mathematics, and Statistics are excluded concentrations). For students in those concentrations, the Data Science Fellows program provides an opportunity to work directly with a professor on adding data science to the curriculum.