Story of RDSS (The Rochester Data Science Society)
News Article by Shiyang Ma, Adan Z. Becerra, Huiwen Xu, and Zhengyuan Yang
The digital revolution, coupled with the availability of vast data systems, has helped human beings recognize the importance of using data to make informed decisions. This has stimulated the development of data science, an interdisciplinary field that seeks to create tools and systems to collect, process, and analyze modern data warehouses in order to solve real-world problems. That’s why we (Shiyang Ma, 3rd Year PhD Student in Statistics, Huiwen Xu, 3rd Year PhD Student in Health Services Research, Adan Z. Becerra, 5th Year PhD Student in Epidemiology, and Zhengyuan Yang, 1st Year PhD Student in Computer Science) decided to establish the Rochester Data Science Society (RDSS), the first ever student organization at the University of Rochester that serves all students interested in data science, statistics, computer science, engineering, health analytics, economics, or other related fields. Our varying interests and fields of study attest to the multidisciplinary nature of data science as well as its potential to impact the world.
The mission of the RDSS is to enrich student understanding of how to use and manage data to solve complex problems while building bridges between students, alumni, industry, and Data Science Societies of neighboring universities. In other words, RDSS wishes to provide its members with a platform that facilitates a team-based learning environment and gives them access to networking opportunities that will help them develop professionally. This will involve spanning the entirety of the University and bringing together multiple departments and institutes such as URBEST, CTSI, CIRC, and Goergen Institute for Data Science among others.
RDSS proposes that they will achieve this by organizing several types of events. First, the RDSS will form a Data Science Colloquia Series, which will involve inviting renowned speakers from varying fields of data science to disseminate modern topics and methods. The inaugural colloquium talk will be held on April 28th at 11:00 AM in 2-7536 & 2-7544 and given by Dr. Aiyi Liu, Senior Investigator from the NIH and alumni of the PhD program in Statistics at URMC. Second, RDSS will work to promote collaborative relationships and networks with neighboring Data Science Societies (such as at RIT, University of Buffalo, Cornell etc.) and university organizations. For example, RDSS is already helping the RIT Data Science Group to organize the Sixth Annual Conference of the Upstate Chapters of the American Statistical Association (UP-STAT 2017), which will be held on April 21-22 at Canisius College in Buffalo. This will be a friendly forum for statisticians, applied mathematicians, computer scientists, engineers and data scientists from upstate New York to disseminate their work related to data science. Third, RDSS will collaborate with CTSI, Miner Library, CIRC, CEL, and other relevant entities to provide students with workshops on varying topics such as programming (R, SAS, Stata) as well as professional development (tips on CVs, applying to internships/jobs etc.). Finally, RDSS will hold fun events where students will be able to socialize and discuss the exciting developments of the data science world.
We successfully held the inaugural RDSS meeting on March 4th and students from all over campus came together to discuss the future of the organization. So far, about 40 students at the University of Rochester have signed up as members and the list is growing quickly. We (Shiyang, Huiwen, Adan, and Zhengyuan) serve as Committee Members of RDSS and are responsible for representing the leadership of the group as we move forward. The initial success of RDSS could not have been achieved without the valuable help from Helen McMurray, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Genetics, who provided a lot of support and guidance during the preparation phase, and Tracey Baas, director of URBEST, who is helping us establish RDSS as a URBEST sponsored organization at the University of Rochester.
We believe that the founding of RDSS comes at a perfect time since data science has become the centerpiece of the University of Rochester’s 5-year strategic plan. Furthermore, the newly established degree programs in data science and the creation of the Goergen Institute for Data Science will provide students with important educational opportunities. As founders of the RDSS, we are committed to helping University of Rochester students become the future leaders of data science.
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