New Jersey Big Data Alliance 2021 Research Forum highlights a wealth of advanced research collaborations and funding opportunities in New Jersey

NJBDA’s half day Research Forum convenes diverse resources and opportunities for all interested in shaping the Big Data research collaboration landscape.

At its December 10, 2021 Research Forum, the New Jersey Big Data Alliance presented a wide range of resources, collaborations, and funding opportunities available at the state and federal levels to the over 100 attendees who assembled virtually.

The Research Forum was organized by the NJBDA Research Collaboration Committee, and facilitated by Forough Ghahramani (Edge), Committee Vice President. Speakers included NJBDA President Matt Hale (Seton Hall), David Bader (NJIT), who announced the 2022 NJBDA Symposium; JD Jayaraman (New Jersey City University), who introduced the Journal of Big Data: Theory and Practice ( and made a call for proposals (due March 15, 2022) and Barr von Olsen (Rutgers) provided information on The Eastern Regional Network (ERN) which focuses on multi-institutional collaborations and providing access to resources and instruments for advancing research.

Melissa Handa (IEEE) discussed the IEEE DataPort; a platform of 1.6 million users to store, share, access and manage research data and access a competition platform. “IEEE DataPort is a valuable data platform designed to foster innovation and collaboration for data-centric researchers. All members of any NJBDA institution can use IEEE DataPort to enable their members to publish and store research datasets, make datasets accessible to others, search and access valuable research datasets, and manage data over time,” said Handa.

Judith Sheft (NJEDA Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology) described the Research with NJ database. “The Research with New Jersey initiative ( supports Governor Murphy’s vision for a vibrant innovation economy by facilitating collaboration between the State’s vast technology and life sciences sectors and the thousands of researchers within our state’s world-class universities as they continue to advance new discoveries,” said Sheft. “This portal complements the work being done by NJBDA members and is a unique tool that showcases the breadth of innovation happening within our state.”

NJBDA Founder Margaret Brennan-Tonetta (Rutgers) introduced the session focused on multi-institutional collaborations, highlighting the New Jersey applicants to the US-Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better program. The panel was moderated by Pallavi Madakasira, Director, Clean Energy, New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), and included:

  • Clean Energy Resource, Training and Innovation (CERTI) Cluster (Tabbetha Dobbins, Rowan)
  • Biopharma Manufacturing (Vincent Smeraglia, Rutgers)
  • Greater Newark Smart Port Regional Growth Cluster (Atam Dhawan, City of Newark/NJIT)
  • Smart Aviation Growth Cluster (Carole M. Mattessich, Esq, Atlantic County Economic Alliance)
  • Communications, Data, and Intelligent Technologies (CoDIT) Regional Growth Cluster (Victor Lawrence, Stevens)
  • Building Inclusive Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in American Opportunity Zones (Anne-Marie Maman, Princeton)

“The NJBDA presented a unique opportunity to bring together key stakeholders from academia, industry and government to have a robust conversation and exchange ideas that will further collaboration opportunities within the state,” said Madakasira. “The symposium took place against the backdrop of the Build Back Better challenge and enabled us to showcase the innovation happening throughout the state and especially the four clusters that the NJEDA and the State of New Jersey supported.”

Attendees also heard a presentation from Rick McMullen (the Research Advisors Group) on National Science Foundation cyberinfrastructure funding opportunities.

New Jersey Big Data Alliance President Matt Hale commented, “The NJBDA Alliance showcases the exciting ways NJ academics are doing research in the big data space. This includes the way we look at data, use it, collect it and present it.”

“The 2021 NJBDA Research Forum successfully accomplished its objectives of bringing together a set of highly accomplished speakers to engage with the research community to highlight the amazing research collaborations that have been formed across New Jersey and beyond, including the Build Back Better Regional Challenge opportunity; and to raise awareness of funding opportunities, resources, and communities available to New Jersey researchers. In addition to researchers, participants included students, and professionals from government, industry and academia.” – Forough Ghahramani (Edge), Vice President, NJBDA Research Collaboration Committee.

To learn more about the opportunities presented at the Research Forum, interested parties can contact Forough Ghahramani, EdD, Associate Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Sponsored Programs, Edge; and Vice President, Research Collaborations Committee, NJBDA at


The New Jersey Big Data Alliance (NJBDA) was established in 2013 by Rutgers University, along with eight higher education partners, to catalyze collaboration among New Jersey academia, industry and government in building advanced computing and data analytics capabilities and expertise. Today, the NJBDA is a consortium of 18 higher education institutions and Edge, as well as industry and government members, that builds and leverages collaborations to increase competitiveness, generate a highly skilled workforce, drive innovation and catalyze data-driven economic growth for New Jersey.

To learn more about the NJBDA, visit

David A. Bader
David A. Bader
Distinguished Professor and Director of the Institute for Data Science

David A. Bader is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science at New Jersey Institute of Technology.