College launches Division of Data Science

The unit will consolidate all COS data science initiatives and serve as academic and research hub

Wednesday, Jan 17, 2024 • Greg Pederson :

Students work on an assignment in a Data Science class last fall.

 The College of Science is launching a new organizational structure for its thriving data science program.

The Division of Data Science (DDS) will serve as an umbrella to organize, provide infrastructure support, and facilitate growth in instructional and research programs involving data science.  

The DDS was formally introduced by College of Science Dean Morteza Khaledi to start the Spring 2024 semester. The main mission of the DDS is to promote, foster, and advance education and research programs in different disciplines in the COS through data driven approaches, he said. 

“This new platform will be built on the interdisciplinary foundation of data science that will catalyze cross-disciplinary and impactful collaborations among the faculty and students in the College of Science and other colleges at UTA,” Khaledi said.

The DDS aims to serve as the primary hub for research and intellectual endeavors in the field of data science, Khaledi said. It will promote and foster both basic research and cross-disciplinary collaborative research, especially those focused on artificial intelligence AI-driven approaches in various disciplines.

The DDS consolidates all the College’s instructional programs in data science. This includes the existing degree programs: the B.S. in Data Science, and the M.S. in Applied Statistics and Data Science. The existing Center for Data Science Research and Education (CDSRE), which was created last year, is being merged with the DDS.

The DDS will also manage future curriculum developments for new degrees, certificates, and micro-credential programs; offerings in different modalities; recruitment and enrollment management; and advising.

“In addition to the instructional programs, many of our faculty in the six COS departments are involved in the applications of data science to their research studies,” Khaledi said. “The explosive growth of data and rapid advances in Artificial Intelligence methods (machine learning and deep learning) have created enormous and exciting opportunities in the discovery of new knowledge and solving complex problems.”

Sherry Wang, professor of mathematics, will be DDS co-director for research and Shan Sun-Mitchell, professor of mathematics, will be co-director for academic programs. An executive committee will be comprised of one representative from each of the College’s six departments, along with an associate dean.

“Data science shapes everything we do,” Wang said. “The new Division of Data Science stands as a premier hub for innovation and collaboration, empowering students and faculty across diverse domains to thrive and collectively contribute their best to data-driven missions that bring about meaningful change in the world. Serving as a catalyst, DDS fosters interdisciplinary learning and research.”

It is hoped that the DDS will facilitate the creation of teams of faculty seeking external funding in foundational data science, applications of AI for solving complex problems, STEM education as impacted by AI, training grants, as well as opportunities for creation of centers and funding for MSI institutions. The COS and UTA’s Office of the Vice President of Research and Innovation will help to expedite this with resources for assisting in proposal development and preparation, especially for large, multi-investigator projects.

The College of Science has been offering Data Science courses since Fall 2018 and implemented its B.S. degree program in Fall 2021. The bachelor’s program is unique in that it allows students to earn a data science degree with an emphasis in their specific field of science.

The College began offering a minor in Data Science in Fall 2020. The minor program requires at least 19-20 semester hours of Data Science or related courses.

Khaledi created the College’s Data Science program in 2018 along with former Associate Deans James Grover and Minerva Cordero, and a steering committee of COS faculty and staff members led by Amir Farbin, professor of physics. Sun-Mitchell led the development of the ASDS degree program, which was first offered in Fall 2023.

“The ability to receive advanced training in statistics helps to set the M.S. in ASDS program apart from other master's degrees in data science,” Sun-Mitchell said during the program’s launch. “Our program trains students in statistical methodologies, data science, big data analytics, and machine learning to prepare work-ready students for statistics and data science positions in multiple disciplines and industries.”


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