The UCI Data Science Certificate Program gives graduate students the competitive advantage as a job candidate and also enables more efficient and productive research. Photo Credit: UCI
In 2015, the Data Science Initiative, in collaboration with the UCI Graduate Division, launched the Data Science Certificate Program to give a multi-disciplinary cohort of students a basic foundation in modern data science tools and techniques.
To date, 90 UCI graduate students have enrolled in this program. What makes this program unique, is that students develop practical data science skills that typically are outside the scope of academic courses.
Below is a Q&A with Susan Duncan, the first graduate student to complete the Data Science Certificate Program.
Q&A with Susan Duncan
What is your background — where are you from? How did you hear about the program?
I come from a background as a medical speech pathologist and became interested in the brain through my clinical work with stroke patients in New York City. I decided to return to graduate school in order to pursue a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience in order to better understand how the brain recovers following stroke and how we can influence this with therapy.
I became aware of the Data Science Initiative Workshops workshops through Hernando Ombao’s Space-Time Modeling Group. I signed up for an Intro to R workshop and was hooked!
Tell me about your current research. What are you passionate about?
My research tracks changes in the brain in patients with aphasia, a language disorder resulting from brain damage. I use structural and functional neuroimaging to find predictors and correlates of behavioral improvement, with the vision that in the future we will use these to select the most appropriate interventions on an individual basis.
What have you gotten out of the Data Science Initiative Workshops?
I love what the Data Science Initiative has brought to this campus. The workshops are engaging and practically applicable. My first workshop, Intro to R, was a hands-on and painless introduction to a new programming language that I now use regularly in my analyses. The Data Science Initiative also connected me with Software Carpentry, which is another fantastic organization dedicated to helping researchers efficiently organize and access their data.
What are your future plans?
I have accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position at the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Louisiana State University. I think that the skills I learned in the DSI workshops made me a more competitive candidate on the job market in general.