CSUF News Service

$1 Million Big Data Grant

Scholars Team Up to Train Students in Emerging Field

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Cal State Fullerton a $1 million grant for a five-year multidisciplinary "big data" science program to train students in this emerging field.

The University received $187,789 in first-year funding for the program, which focuses on increasing big data exposure and knowledge through research, education and collaboration, with integration of neuroscience, genomics and epigenetics, said Archana J. McEligot, professor of health science.

McEligot is directing the "Big Data Discovery and Diversity Through Research Education Advancement and Partnerships" program in collaboration with Sam Behseta, professor of mathematics, and Math P. Cuajungco, associate professor of biological science.

"Big data is a new and exciting field, which is defined via the proliferation of large and complex amounts of data generated through a variety of sources, including biotechnology, business and medicine," McEligot added.

"Making sense of the volume and diversity of these data is critical. Therefore, training a workforce to understand, manage, explore and analyze these data will assist in unlocking important biological questions."

To increase big data research and education at CSUF, faculty will mentor and help 18 underrepresented students prepare for graduate studies and career opportunities.

Six students will be selected each year from the colleges of Health and Human Development and Natural Sciences and Mathematics for the two-year, research-based program. Students also will participate in a summer research experience at USC with scientist Arthur Toga, a leader in big data neuroscience. The first class of scholars will be recruited in the spring and start in fall 2016.

In addition, big data concepts will be introduced into several existing courses to give more students the opportunity to explore, analyze and understand vast amounts of data.

"The future of research will revolve around big data," said Cuajungco. "The NIH support is very timely, and students majoring in biology, mathematics and health science will benefit tremendously from the opportunities that this program will provide." 

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