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:

3D camera earns its stripes at Rice
The Hyperspectral Stripe Projector captures spectroscopic and 3D imaging data for applications like machine vision, crop monitoring, self-driving cars and corrosion detection.
Climate change could increase rice yields
Research reveals how rice ratooning practices can help Japanese farmers increase rice yields.
Breeding new rice varieties will help farmers in Asia
New research shows enormous potential for developing improved short-duration rice varieties.
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.
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

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.