Big data, in all its aspects including multi-scale modeling, is rapidly transforming life sciences research at all levels of scale from molecules to the ecosystems. This includes areas as diverse as protein chemistry, genomics, systems biology, medical informatics, bioengineering, ecology, and environmental sciences. As a result, there is an increasing need for researchers trained at the intersection of the life sciences and data sciences (mathematics, statistics and computer sciences), in industry and in government, as well as in academia. For example, a recent report from the Coalition of State Bioscience Institutes1 stated that there was exceptional demand for knowledge workers with “Advanced/specialization degrees, such as bioinformatics, biostatistics and computational biology”.

A key requirement for effective research and training at the intersection of life and data sciences is the ability of researchers to communicate across disciplinary boundaries. Thus a life scientist needs sufficient familiarity with the concepts and tools of computer science and statistics to communicate effectively with specialists in those areas.

The BLDS graduate minor provides graduate students in the life sciences with foundational training in quantitative sciences within a research context, and those in the quantitative sciences with foundational training in life sciences within a research context. Students will extend their ability to participate in cross-disciplinary collaborations, and provide a foundation for more advanced training in diverse areas of computational biology. The minor will strengthen the training of students in a wide variety of existing Ph.D. programs including Molecular and Cellular Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics, Bioengineering, Botany and Plant Pathology, Comparative Health Sciences, Computer Science, Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife, Integrative Biology, Mathematics, Microbiology, Public Health, and Statistics. The curriculum of the minor is designed flexibly to facilitate integration with the curricula of diverse Ph.D. programs.

[1] Booz & Company. Demand for Talent: Current & Projected Workforce Trends in the Life Science Industry.  (Coalition of State Bioscience Institutes, 2014).

The minor will familiarize M.S. and Ph.D. graduate students in the life sciences with research concepts and methodologies in quantitative sciences, and those in the quantitative sciences with research concepts and methodologies in life sciences. The disciplinary learning goals of the minor are by nature foundational. Thus, for example, students with advanced expertise in life sciences will receive foundational training in computer science, statistics and mathematics. Students with advanced expertise in computer science will receive foundational training in life science, statistics and, if needed, mathematics. A capstone collaborative problem-solving course is required by all students.

Students enrolled in the minor will be advised by a member of the Curriculum Committee of the minor. Furthermore, one member of their graduate committee must be an approved Graduate Faculty member in this minor.

For more information contact Brett Tyler