Taking Data Science Mainstream

HDSI Director Rajesh Gupta appeared on Good Morning San Diego-KUSI this week, explaining the impact of UC San Diego in taking the lead nationally in building its far-reaching data science education and research program.

“What UC San Diego has done it has taken data science and it lifted it all the way as a campus-wide initiative, so that the students and faculty are drawn from all these departments, and trained by scientists in all these departments,“ Gupta explained to news anchor Lauren Phinney. Full interview: https://www.kusi.com/halicioglu-data-science-institute-celebrates-one-year/

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New Post-Doctoral Openings Announced

HDSI has just announced several postdoctoral positions. The institute is seeking postdocs working on a field related to Data Science. They will be 100% supported by HDSI. The Institute postdocs will be assigned an HDSI-affiliated mentor, and will be free to collaborate with any researchers at UC San Diego. Learn more: https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/13192. Review of applications begins Feb. 15, 2019.

HDSI Director Rajesh Gupta Named AAAS Fellow

HDSI Director Rajesh Gupta Named AAAS Fellow

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Rajesh K. Gupta, a distinguished professor of computer science and director of the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI), is recognized for “distinguished contributions in design of embedded systems and hardware-software co-design, and leadership in research administration.” Gupta’s research focuses on cyber-physical systems such as smart buildings. He leads the National Science Foundation-supported project MetroInsight on city-scale sensing data for improved services; and serves as co-principal investigator for DARPA’s Semiconductor Research Corporation on Computing on Network Infrastructure (CONIX). Methods and tools he developed for design of microelectronic chips are now used in standard practice for building semiconductor chips. Gupta was instrumental in the creation of HDSI as an academic unit.  He holds the Qualcomm Endowed Chair in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and the international chair for France’s National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (INRIA). He is an IEEE and ACM Fellow.

Read more about all seven UC San Diego professors named AAAS fellows here.

HDSI Appoints Bradley Voytek to Faculty Fellowship

HDSI Appoints Bradley Voytek to Faculty Fellowship

Neuroscientist Brings Leadership in Multidisciplinary Science Outreach

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The Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI) at UC-San Diego has announced the appointment of Bradley Voytek, a Cognitive Science associate professor in the UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences, as a Faculty Fellow of the pioneering institute.

Voytek works with students in Cognitive Science, Neuroscience and Data Science, has a strong following in science-related social media, and is a leader of the neuroscience graduate program as well as the HDSI undergraduate fellowship program. He assumes the HDSI post Nov. 1, 2018, to serve with Ilkay Altintas, chief data science officer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center.

“Having Brad leading programs and instructing students adds great strength to our interdisciplinary mission,” said Rajesh Gupta, Ph.D., co-founder and director of Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute. “Having his experience and his passion will make a help build our program.”

Voytek’s research focuses on what he calls “the human side of data science.” The promise of neuroscientific advancement, in his view, is the reduction of suffering. He specializes in automated science, aging, attention, working memory, oscillatory network communication, and the interactions between the brain, cognition and society. His research program is focused on combining large scale data-mining and machine-learning techniques with hypothesis-driven experimental research to understand the relationships between neural oscillations, cognition and disease.

His goal is to construct an understanding of cognition built on the first principles of neurophysiology: How can neural systems interact to give rise to cognitive phenomena normally equated with “attention” and “working memory,” and what are the behavioral and cognitive limitations and consequences of these biological constraints?

Voytek earned his bachelor’s in psychology from University of Southern California and his Ph.D. in neuroscience from UC Berkeley. He served as a Berkeley postdoctoral fellow in neuroscience, the recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship.

He is a longtime advocate for promoting stronger communications in science, and volunteers extensively to talk to students at all grade levels about science. He is active in popular media with his science-related writing and blogging. In addition to his academic publications, his work has been published and quoted in such well-known forums as WiredScientific American, San Diego Comic-Con and the New York Times. He’s been invited to give multiple TED-style talks on his scientific achievements, featured on YouTube. And his science-themed communications have attracted some 12,000 Twitter followers (@BradleyVoytek).

As a neuroscientist as well as a fan of pop culture, he has a fascination with zombies, the centuries-old myths of the undead re-animating among the living. He is co-author of a nonfiction title in that arena: “Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?: A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain.” (Complete with expert escape advice in case of attack.)

As an HDSI Fellow, he will continue his faculty role within Cognitive Science and Data Science working with faculty and students, to forge stronger connections to the integration of data science innovation.

“I look forward to bringing data science tools to the widest reach possible,” said Voytek. “I love my job and I can’t sing its praises any more highly, and want to share with others my enthusiasm for the wonder of scientific discovery.”

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Offers Internships at DSSI


The Data Science Summer Institute (DSSI) is a flexible internship program that runs for 12 weeks during the summer. During these 12 weeks, students will be paired with mentors working in the Data Science fields. Students will also be supported by DSSI to enhance their skills by attending short courses and seminars on topics relevant to data science, and gain hands-on experience through collaborative work on other data science problems relating to national importance. DSSI is open to both advanced undergraduate and graduate students who are pursuing a degree in a field related to the Data Sciences (machine learning, statistics, applied mathematics, computer science, etc).

The two Summer 2019 sessions will be held from May 20, 2019 – Aug. 9, 2019 and June 17, 2019 –  Sept. 6, 2019.

Chief Data Science Officer Ilkay Altintas Named as HDSI Fellow

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SDSC Chief Data Science Officer Ilkay Altintas Named an HDSI Fellow

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San Diego Supercomputer Center’s Chief Data Science Officer Ilkay Altintas has been named a Fellow of the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI) at the University of California San Diego for her role in the stewardship of HDSI cyberinfrastructure (CI) resources and services, effective with the fall 2018 term.

Altintas will be working with UC San Diego faculty, industry partners, and students at all levels in her leadership role at HDSI.

In addition to her CDSO responsibilities at SDSC, an Organized Research Unit of UC San Diego, Altintas is an associate research scientist and director of the Workflows for Data Science (WoRDS) Center of Excellence at SDSC. WoRDS specializes in developing scientific workflows and solution architectures used throughout data and computational science.

“I congratulate Dr. Altintas on this key appointment to the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute,” said SDSC Director Michael Norman. “She was our very first ‘Pi Person of the Year,’ named after the π symbol. This award recognizes researchers who as collaborators and innovators in applied research and development have one ‘leg’ in a science domain and the other in cyberinfrastructure technologies. Altintas makes sure scientists across a wide variety of domains can focus their resources on their research rather than computational issues.”

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Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute Fellows are extraordinary researchers who bring significant research and educational activities in core data science areas to the institute, said Rajesh Gupta, institute co-founder and director. HDSI Fellows have a demonstrated record of taking on critical organizational roles within the institute and are among the most active participants. The program works to recognize and enable select academic leaders to take on far-reaching projects or operational activities critical to building the institute.

“Bringing such an illustrious researcher such as Ilkay Altintas to the Institute will have a strong impact on guiding our foundational programs,” said Gupta in announcing her two-year appointment. “Her research is strongly relevant to the emerging domain of data sciences.”

Gupta noted that since data science topics have started to capture the attention of mainstream computer scientists and statisticians as well, Altintas’ work has found interest among peer communities including those involved in databases, data mining, and Knowledge Discovery in Data (KDD).

“I am honored to be selected as one of the inaugural HDSI Fellows,” said Altintas. “Stewardship of CI resources for HDSI involves working with multiple organizations on campus and elsewhere to enable utilization of computing and data services for education and research at HDSI. I look forward to collaborating with all stakeholders to make it possible. This fellowship also comes at a time of significant investments by SDSC for the Data Science Hub in partnership with HDSI.”

Altintas is also Principal Investigator for WIFIRE, a National Science Foundation-funded project at UC San Diego that provides real-time and data-driven simulations and predictions of wildfires. WIFIRE has been used extensively by both researchers and first-responders to track myriad wildfires in northern and southern California.

On the education side, Altintas is a lecturer in UC San Diego’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), and co-director of the MAS program in Data Science and Engineering, where she is teaches several courses. She has also been a popular MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) instructor in the field of ‘big data’ science, and reached out to hundreds of thousands of learners across any populated continent. As a CSE lecturer, Altintas has taught CSE 15L, a lower division course on software tools and techniques since 2013.

“This is a large course taken by CSE majors as well as many non-majors,” noted Gupta, a UC San Diego Distinguished Professor and Qualcomm Endowed Chair in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. “Dr. Altintas’ reception as an instructor has been extremely positive, and has been recommended by more than 96 percent of polled students. She is an excellent role model for diverse talent in computer and data sciences.”

Altintas earned her Ph.D. in Computational Sciences from University of Amsterdam in 2011. She joined SDSC in 2001 as a programmer analyst.

Keeping it Simple Wins Hacking Prize for Undergraduate Pair

They were after the prize, and maybe a little bit of glory. But mostly, UC San Diego junior Luyanda Mdanda thought of his native Africa, and classmate Hannah Peterson pictured her grandfather back home in Oregon. Those were the lives they wanted to help, when they entered and then won against some formidable teams in the annual UC Health Hack.

And so Peterson, a Data Science major, and Mdanda, a Cognitive Science major enrolled in many data science classes, took their big idea on how to help people get access to healthcare faster and more economically. They won the annual healthcare hackathon contest with their elegantly simple phone app designed to work with any mobile phone or device. Learn more.


How to build and manage better computer databases was the subject of a gathering of more than 100 industry leaders, students and researchers in the field, sponsored by Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute and six major technology companies.

The day-long SoCal DB Day 18 symposium was held Oct. 19 at San Diego Supercomputer Center, featuring representatives from sponsoring companies: Amazon, Couchbase, Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Teradata. In addition to UC San Diego, five universities also participated: UC Irvine, UCLA, UC-Riverside, UC Santa Barbara and University of Southern California. Nearly half the crowd was composed of students, and the majority of them presented project posters during the event.

Amazon Web Services hosted an after-event party. Lead organizer Arun Kumar, Assistant Professor in Computer Science and Engineering, created the event to foster connections and feedback within the community of database users and developers, and to discuss leading-edge advances in both the software industry and in academic research. Kumar said after this successful inaugural event, they plan hold the symposium annually rotating hosting duties between the six participating universities.

HDSI Distinguished Lecture by Scott Chacon, GitHub cofounder

The keys to success, advises entrepreneur Scott Chacon, are passion and failure. Chacon spoke to hundreds of data science students and the campus community on Oct. 11 as part of the Institute’s Distinguished Lecturer Series. More than 800 students and university community members attended and tuned in to the livestream to hear Chacon talk about the importance of his roots starting as a theater major at UC San Diego was following his passion and getting out of his comfort zone, he said, “You learn to put yourself out there and fail miserably, and you learn to keep going.” Chacon cofounded the tech company GitHub and with 3 other founders and grew it to 450 employees in less than 10 years, eventually being acquired by Microsoft for $7.5 billion. His newest passion project is Chatterbug, an online language learning school he cofounded that connects students to native-speaking tutors. See the full HDSI Distinguished Lecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVJcMGvXB8U

Chacon, Class of ‘02, cofounded the web-based development platform GitHub that boasts 28 million users and is now the largest host of source code in the world. He is also the author of Pro Git, published by Apress and found online at git-scm.com.


HDSI founding faculty member Dr. Lucila Ohno-Machado has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

Dr. Ohno-Machado is chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at UC San Diego Health, and professor of medicine and associate dean for informatics and technology at the School of Medicine. Learn more.