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OU Introduces New Data Science Institute for Societal Challenges

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July 31, 2020

OU Introduces New Data Science Institute for Societal Challenges

NORMAN, OKLA. – A new institute established at the University of Oklahoma is designed to accelerate and integrate data science expertise across the university and harness data science innovation to solve real-world problems.

“As part of the university’s strategic plan, the Data Science Institute for Societal Challenges will build and expand on the research excellence in data science already in place at the university to bring the power of methods such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, visual analytics and other emerging tools of the digital era to important problems with high social impact,” said Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, vice president for research and partnerships.

Díaz de la Rubia adds that the multidisciplinary institute will orchestrate industry partnerships and position the university as a national leader in the development and application of tools and methods to impact the future of the digital society.

David Ebert, associate vice president for research and partnerships and the director of the institute, says the goal is to develop transdisciplinary, integrative approaches to data science initiatives across the university and use real-world problems to drive the research agenda.

“The institute will grow the Oklahoma economy by accelerating digital transformation in communities, industry and government,” Ebert said. “I am working with faculty and administrators across the university to create fundamental data science advances with targeted impact in energy and climate resiliency and sustainability, defense and security, health and digital humanities.”

Ebert said the institute will solve challenges in artificial intelligence and machine learning, including AI programs that are trustable, reliable and understandable, as well as “human-computer teaming,” or ensuring that AI and machine learning programs make use of human expertise and enable the user to make effective, actionable, data-driven decisions.

Research will advance visual analytics, harnessing massive digital data in interactive visual decision-making environments. Ebert emphasized that the institute will provide technologies that help industries and communities adapt to the ever-increasing pace of digital transformation.

“Organizations are reliant on data-driven, defendable, decision making,” Ebert said. “We are going to accelerate integrative data research and educate the workforce to ensure Oklahoma’s prominence in being able to solve these global challenges.”