Nav: Home

Rice wins interdisciplinary 'big data' grant

July 12, 2016

Rice University has received a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to bring together computer science and statistics for the greater benefit of data science.

The grant will fund a new research training group at Rice. The goal is to develop scientists with a combined education in statistics and computer science to work on problems that can be addressed only through interdisciplinary approaches.

The new age of "big data" demands the best of both worlds, said Marina Vannucci, chair of Rice's Department of Statistics and principal investigator for the new program.

"Data science is rapidly evolving as an essential interdisciplinary field where advances often result from combinations of ideas from various disciplines," she said. "Statistics and computer science are major players in this field, and several examples of successful integration, like machine learning, already exist."

The three-year program will serve as a point of contact for six graduate students, two postdoctoral researchers and several undergraduates as they pursue statistics and computer science projects in the Rice research groups to which they're assigned. Each undergraduate and graduate student will have mentors from both departments.

"The program will offer an integrated research experience," Vannucci said. "There will be seminar courses, where students will learn and present material on key topics, and active participation in research projects, where topics will be put into practice. The idea is to link this program to the bigger umbrella of Rice's Data Science Initiative." The university recently announced a $150 million commitment for strategic research initiatives for Rice's second century, including the establishment of a world-class program in data science.

The program builds upon the strengths and interactions of a dynamic group of faculty mentors with expertise in probabilistic models and in methods for computational inference, Vannucci said.

The grant will also fund the development of a course in data science. "It will be open to all students at Rice," she said. "We will invite mentors to teach short modules or give presentations on their research for the first semester. In the second semester, the students will team up and work on projects."

"Statistics students are trained at envisioning and formulating rigorous statistical models," said Luay Nakhleh, a professor of computer science and biosciences and co-principal investigator of the research training group. "These models often require efficient algorithms for inference and careful implementations, particularly with complex, large-scale data. Similarly, computer science is becoming increasingly statistical. That's where the two disciplines converge and benefit from each other."

Vannucci and Nakhleh said they hope computer science and statistics students will learn not only to formulate efficient algorithms and accurate models but also gain complementary expertise from each other's disciplines.

They expect students will address challenges in the medical, biological, genomic, energy, finance and systems biology realms. "All should learn and gain skills they currently don't have, but will need going forward," Vannucci said.
-end-
Read the grant abstract at http://as102.http.sasm3.net/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1547433

This news release can be found online at http://news.rice.edu/2016/07/12/rice-wins-interdisciplinary-big-data-grant/

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews

Related materials:

Marina Vannucci Research Group: http://www.stat.rice.edu/~marina/

Luay Nakhleh Research Group http://www.cs.rice.edu/~nakhleh/

Rice Department of Statistics: https://statistics.rice.edu

Rice Department of Computer Science: http://www.cs.rice.edu

George R. Brown School of Engineering: http://engr.rice.edu

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,910 undergraduates and 2,809 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for best quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.

Rice University

Related Rice Articles:

High-protein rice brings value, nutrition
A new advanced line of rice, with higher yield, is ready for final field testing prior to release.
Rice plants engineered to be better at photosynthesis make more rice
A new bioengineering approach for boosting photosynthesis in rice plants could increase grain yield by up to 27 percent, according to a study publishing January 10, 2019 in the journal Molecular Plant.
Can rice filter water from ag fields?
While it's an important part of our diets, new research shows that rice plants can be used in a different way, too: to clean runoff from farms before it gets into rivers, lakes, and streams.
Rice plants evolve to adapt to flooding
Although water is essential for plant growth, excessive amounts can waterlog and kill a plant.
Breeding better Brazilian rice
Rice production in Brazil is a multi-billion-dollar industry. It employs hundreds of thousands of people, directly and indirectly.
Breakthrough in battle against rice blast
Scientists have found a way to stop the spread of rice blast, a fungus that destroys up to 30% of the world's rice crop each year.
More rice, please: 13 rice genomes reveal ways to keep up with ever-growing population
Rice provides 20% of daily calories consumed globally. We will need more as population grows toward 9-10 billion by 2050.
Ancient rice heralds a new future for rice production
Growing in crocodile infested billabongs in the remote North of the country, Australia's wild rice has been confirmed as the most closely related to the ancient ancestor of all rices.
2-faced 2-D material is a first at Rice
Rice University materials scientists replace all the atoms on top of a three-layer, two-dimensional crystal to make a transition-metal dichalcogenide with sulfur, molybdenum and selenium.
Multi-nutrient rice against malnutrition
ETH researchers have developed a new rice variety that not only has increased levels of the micronutrients iron and zinc in the grains, but also produces beta-carotene as a precursor of vitamin A.
More Rice News and Rice Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.