Letter from the Chair

Jason Kinser, Associate Professor/Chair, Computational and Data Sciences

Throughout the years discoveries and technologies have led to creation of new scientific fields. Many of these fields have enjoyed a surge of activity and then have relaxed into their niche in the overall field of science. Recently, the fields of computational science and data science have emerged but have done so in a manner very different from their predecessors. These are not self-contained new fields of science, but rather they are becoming of hub to almost every field of investigation. The onslaught of inexpensive and massively available detectors have led to the ability of almost every field of academia and business to generate a plethora of data. Indeed, data generation is now measured in zettabytes (1021) and by the year 2020 the generation of daily data production will have increased ten-fold.

Suffering from this deluge is our ability to manage and analyze the data that is available. Yet, the overwhelming belief is that great benefits await from the ability to understand what belies in the data. From these needs are born the new fields of computational science and data science.

The Computational and Data Sciences (CDS) department at George Mason University is designed to pursue these very goals. CDS offers degrees at all levels and is commissioned to create of a new generation of scientists and technologists. The philosophy of education is, as it must be, different in that this is not a field of isolation. Rather, students will gain a handle on methods in data management and computational analysis as applied to particular fields such as physics, biology, social science, material science, image analysis, health science, athletics – just to name a few. The possibilities are more numerous than the number of degrees offered at Mason.

Students pursuing a bachelors degree will obtain skills in data management and analysis. CDS also offers a bachelor’s/accelerated master’s degree program for enthusiastic, highly qualified, undergraduates to obtain the Computational and Data Sciences, BS and the Computational Science, MS within the accelerated timeframe of 5 years.

Students earning degrees in other departments at Mason will find a competitive advantage with the addition of a CDS minor which will marry their field with the ability to effective analysis and manage large sets of data.

The certificate programs – Data Science and Computational Social Science – provide the opportunity for professionals to quickly enhance their expertise in computational methods that will compliment their advancing careers.

The masters degree is the first graduate level degree in which students pursue computational science with a scholarly application.

The CDS department also offers two different Ph.D. tracks. One is in Computational Sciences and Informatics which fosters interdisciplinary research linking computational science to the another field of research. The other is in Computational Social Science which is an emerging field that is burgeoning with possibilities from analyzing collective human behavior to the pursuit of modeling megacities.

Research within the CDS department is quite varied as the faculty and students explore exciting fields of data analysis. The latest endeavor is the creation of the DataLab which will unify databases, utilities and researchers.

The best news of all is that this is only the beginning. These fields are rapidly evolving and growing with immense leaps and bounds. Across the nation, graduates in these fields earn very respectable salaries far exceeding those offered to counterparts in other fields. Employers report a severe shortage of qualified, talented people to fulfill their needs. Educational backgrounds, such as those offered in the CDS department, provide graduates with a competitive advantage in these fast paced fields.

As the Chair of the CDS department, I invite potential students to explore our website and to open dialogs with the faculty and staff to answer any questions about research and educational opportunities. If you find that this is the career path that you wish to pursue then we invite you to apply for admission and then begin your new journey in computational and data sciences.

Come and join us.

Jason M. Kinser, D.Sc.
Chair, Computational and Data Sciences

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