NJIT Launches PhD Program in Data Science

Written by: Michael Giorgio

Today’s world is driven by data – and data science is what powers the engine in this rapidly expanding global ecosystem. To address the need for talent and knowledge in this emerging field, NJIT’s Departments of Data Science and Mathematical Sciences have launched a new Ph.D. in Data Science program, dedicated to growing the field and generating top-notch data scientists.

The program offers a computing option and statistics option to accommodate different interest profiles, with some overlap between the two. The computing option, offered by the data science department, deals with the core algorithmic and software technologies. The statistics option, offered by the mathematics department, deals with the fundamental mathematical and statistical underpinnings of the field.

Professor Jim Geller, interim chair of the Department of Data Science in the Ying Wu College of Computing, notes how the data science and artificial intelligence (AI) revolutions are profoundly changing the way people will live in the near future: how we work, communicate, entertain ourselves, manage money, maintain our health and, perhaps sooner than later, how self-driving cars will move us.

Geller predicts that data science will rival computer science in its impact on society, and is soon poised to become the most important and impactful branch of computing.

In defining data science, Assistant Professor Aritra Dasgupta, director of NJIT’s Intelligible Information Visualization Lab, abides by what he calls the 3Cs of data science: computation, comprehension and communication. This implies that as a discipline, practitioners combine ideas from multiple areas, such as mathematics and statistics, big data, machine learning, visualization and human-data interaction.

He believes that “while the strength of the industry is in scaling innovative solutions, academia will continue to be at the forefront of harnessing these innovations to address socio-economic problems, such as inequity, climate change, transparent automation, ethical AI and diversifying STEM education.”

”In God we trust. All others must bring data.” -W. Edwards Deming

As in other doctoral programs, NJIT’s Ph.D. in Data Science provides candidates one-to-one mentorship by faculty to pursue their passion in research areas of their choice. The results of this research are shared with the community by publication in professional and peer-reviewed journals, and presentation at leading scientific conferences. More enterprising students can commercialize their research at a later stage, resulting in real-world impact.

Oliver Alvarado Rodriguez, a Ph.D. candidate, states that he is having the time of his life, thanks to the guidance of his supervisor, Distinguished Professor David Bader, who encouraged him to “take a deeper dive” and go beyond his comfort zone. With Bader’s support, Rodriguez delivered the student keynote presentation at the spring 2022 Academic Data Science Alliance Annual Meeting in Irvine, California. “I never thought I would ever do something like this and was quite nervous, but Dr. Bader convinced me that it was within my grasp,” he said.

Alvarado Rodriguez completed his undergraduate degree in computer science with a concentration in security at another university. He was surprised and honored when Bader, a prominent national figure in the field of data science who is also credited with building the first Linux-based supercomputer, approached him about joining his research team with no significant data science background. He now realizes that this is where his true passion lies and is glad he decided to “dive in.”

NJIT’s Institute for Data Science, of which Bader is founder and director, provided the research opportunities for Rodriguez and other Ph.D. candidates.

“I’m collaborating on research, co-authoring papers, and writing grant funding proposals. NJIT and the College of Computing have really empowered me to be a leader through this program in so many ways,” Alvarado Rodriguez added.

Learn more about the Ph.D. in Data Science at https://ds.njit.edu/phd-data-science


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.