The Informatics Faculty Cluster

To date, 13 new informatics cluster faculty have been hired from 4 colleges and 10 departments [CLAS (Computer Science (2)), Statistics, GSS, Political Science/Sociology); CoE (ECE(2), MIE, CBE); TCoB (Management Sciences (2)); CoPH (Biostatistics (2))] (using 10 of the 20 new cluster positions, as three positions were leveraged from other sources).  Identified recruitments for next year include CLAS (Computer Science (network security and visualization); Biology (predictive epigenomics) and Chemistry (materials discovery)); CoE (ECE Internet of Things), CoN (health informatics), and CCoM (health informatics). Additional hiring priorities will be developed in Spring 2017.

The Cluster faculty has been very productive in their first year. Collectively they have over 63 new publications, have secured 14 external funding grants from DOE, NSF, and NIH, taught on average 20 informatics-related courses, and established numerous new collaborations on and beyond campus. 

Informatics Support Services and Infrastructure

Activities in 2015-16 were directed at extending training and consultation, upgrading informatics infrastructure, and expanding staffing. Thirteen workshops were conducted in 2015-16, training over 120 students, faculty, and staff. Investments were made into some new service initiatives in the 2016 Fiscal Year, including: Argon HPC System - $100k – Will create an Informatics queue on the next generation shared campus HPC system. Target availability January 2017; GitHub Source Control Repository - $15k – Will provide a version control repository targeted at research and education. Target availability summer 2016; and Revised Informatics Website – Revise the current Informatics website and incorporate IGPI content. Target completion of summer 2016. Plans are underway to hire two new technical support staff in Fall 2016.

Informatics Curricula

Over 500 degrees are being awarded each year across five colleges and numerous new certificate and degree programs are being established (e.g., undergraduate minor in Geographic Information Science (GISci), Geoinformatics track in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Informatics, undergraduate major in Business Analytics and Information Systems,  Large Data Analysis undergraduate certificate, Business Analytics Master's and Certificate, Digital Public Humanities graduate certificate, and the Social Science Analytics undergraduate certificate).

A significant activity this year was the transfer of the administrative operations of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGPI) in Informatics to UI3 (effective July 1, 2015).  IGPI completed its ninth year of existence. IGPI is composed of four subprograms (bioinformatics, geoinformatics, health informatics and information science), each offering Certificate, Master of Science, and Ph.D. degrees. IGPI has 100 affiliated faculty and has awarded 76 degrees, 21 in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (17 Certificates, and 4 Master's), 13 in Geoinformatics (11 Certificates, and 2 Master’s), 22 in Health Informatics (2 Certificates, 16 Master's, and 4 Ph.D. including a pre-2010 Ph.D.), and 20 in Information Science (5 Certificates, 13 Master's, and 2 Ph.D.). Three of our doctoral graduates currently hold tenure-track positions.

 Other major IGPI activities this year included: a major effort to cross-list informatics courses (making it easier for students to identify courses); starting a colloquium series for IGPI students (with informatics cluster speakers); and a website redesign (in progress).

Informatics Community Building 

In Fall 2015 faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and students engaged in scholarship, teaching, research, service, and/or outreach in informatics, big-data, and related areas were invited to join an informatics community coordinated by UI3. UI3 affiliates currently number 180, representing 140 faculty, 15 staff and 25 students/post doctoral fellows. Affiliates come from all colleges and represent 68 different departments. The informatics interests of the affiliates span a wide spectrum of areas from health informatics to digital humanities.

UI3 organized the first Informatics Showcase, taking place from April 14-23. The Informatics Showcase was a week-long event designed to display ongoing informatics-related research, central resources available to support informatics activities, and educational and career opportunities in informatics. The week kicked off with a Business Analytics Case Study competition organized by the Tippie College of Business, where students from universities across the country came to campus. Events throughout the week included departmental seminars, open houses, and workshops. A World Canvass on Big Data was also organized. The Showcase week ended with a day-long Informatics Symposium on Friday (April 22) and a training and workshop day on Saturday (April 23). The sessions for the Informatics Symposium focused on new directions in informatics research and involved talks from external and internal scholars (faculty, staff and undergraduate and graduate students). An informatics fair was held on Friday evening and included a poster session and talks highlighting research centers, core facilities, centers and institutes. A series of workshops were held on Saturday and topics included PYTHON, R, GIS, and mapping and visualization. More than 180 people attended the symposium and workshops. The Informatics Showcase is planned to be an annual event.