UR investing big in 'Big Data'

By NATE DOUGHERTY - 10/18/2013 4:41:58 PM

The University of Rochester is committing another $50 million toward its work in the growing field of data science, officials announced Friday. The move brings the university’s total commitment within the burgeoning field to $100 million.

President Joel Seligman announced the commitment Friday at the Rochester Big Data Forum 2013, saying the money will fund the creation of an Institute for Data Science and the construction of a building to house it. The university also plans to hire as many as 20 faculty members with expertise in the field.

Seligman said the project is the top priority in the university’s five-year strategic plan, which was adopted by the board of trustees last week.

“Data science is a defining discipline of the 21st century,” Seligman said. “By combining sophisticated analytic techniques with rapidly improving computational capabilities, data science can help extract useful information from the quintillions of bytes of data that are created every day.

“It is the foundation, for example, of data-informed, personalized medicine, is central to national security and defense, and has already changed online commerce.”

Robert Clark, senior vice president for research and dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said the institute will have an impact on the entire region through collaborations with local companies and through new companies emerging.

“The field of data science is taking off and we’re jumping in with both feet,” Clark said. “We want to make the most of the opportunities that data science offers and, by hiring a significant number of experts in this field in the next few years, we can ensure that the applications of data science advance research across campus.”

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