Leadership

Students learn from faculty working at the forefront of their fields. Internationally respected, these leading researchers collaborate with industries, governments and organizations to develop innovative solutions and make a tangible difference to our world. The UBC Master of Data Science Program was created by the joint efforts of experts from the UBC Computer Science and Statistics departments. These thought leaders are passionate about their work, committed to student education and eager to share their knowledge.

Meet Some of Our Faculty and Staff

 

Giuseppe Carenini, Co-Director

Giuseppe Carenini, Co-Director

“One of the most unique aspects of this program is that it is designed for students whose main expertise is not in CS and Stats, but rather in other fields like life sciences, healthcare, business, and journalism; after graduation our students will be ready to effectively work as data scientist in those domains.”

Joining the University of British Columbia’s Faculty in 2004, Giuseppe Carenini has been teaching artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing, for over 10 years. In his research, Giuseppe has focused on text summarization, information visualization, and decision support, publishing over 100 peer-reviewed publications and receiving two best-paper awards – one from the UMAP 2014 conference (premier user modeling conference ) and the other from the ACM-TiiS-14 journal (top journal on Intelligent Interfaces). Giuseppe's research has been applied by companies like Microsoft, IBM, Google and Yahoo to develop summarization techniques of product reviews, as well as of conversational data (e.g., emails and blog).  Giuseppe is also currently collaborating with companies that aim to make data more useful in supporting complex decisions (Compass) and for public engagement (Metroquest).

Paul Gustafson, Co-Director

Paul Gustafson, Co-Director

“There is a huge need for people who can intelligently make sense of ever-bigger amounts of data from an ever-wider array of sources.”

Paul Gustafson received his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of British Columbia in 1990, after which, he went on to complete a Master of Science in Statistics, also at UBC, in 1992. Two years later, he received his Doctorate in Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University, and in 1995, he became a UBC Faculty member. His work has helped to develop statistical methodology that can be used in public health and epidemiological research, while his more theoretical interests lie in Bayesian inference and evidence synthesis. Some of his achievements include a collaboration with UBC colleagues that looked at the long-term effects of multiple sclerosis drug treatments, as well as his work with the BC Centre for Disease Control to better understand the health of hard-to-sample populations. Paul has also won the CRM-SSC Prize and has been a Fellow of the American Statistical Association since 2011.

Jenny Bryan, Academic Director

Jenny Bryan, Academic Director (On Leave)

“I love seeing how empowered students feel as they gain the practical computing skills to tame wild-caught datasets. I look forward to cultivating and witnessing a similar, deeper transformation in our MDS students.”

After completing an undergraduate in Economics and German Literature at Yale, Jenny Bryan spent time working in management consulting for the Boston Consulting Group. She then went on to complete a Doctorate in Biostatistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and in the same year, became a professor at the University of British Columbia. Today, her work as an applied statistician focuses on data analysis and computing, especially in the R programming environment (one of the top programming languages used in data science). Her most recent work, in collaboration with colleagues in the Michael Smith Labs at UBC, produced an assay and analytical method, which allow for the detection of specific mutations in colorectal cancers – a development that will be key in guiding patient treatment.

 

Tiffany Timbers, Teaching Fellow

Tiffany Timbers, Teaching Fellow

We teach cutting-edge tools and techniques that are used by data scientists out in the wild.”

Tiffany Timbers received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Carleton University in 2001, following which she completed a doctorate in neuroscience at the University of British Columbia in 2012, which focused on the genetic basis of learning and memory. After obtaining her doctorate, Tiffany carried out data-intensive postdoctoral research in behavioural and neural genomics at Simon Fraser University (published in PLoS Genetics). During this time, she also gained valuable experience teaching computational skills to students and scientists through her work with Data and Software Carpentry, the SFU scientific programming study group, and teaching a course in computation in Physical Sciences at Quest University. Tiffany began her teaching role in the MDS program at UBC in the summer of 2016. 

Michael Gelbart

Michael Gelbart, Teaching Fellow

“There’s something great about teaching students who understand the opportunity cost of their education. Many of them left good jobs or other opportunities to do this program — so they are here to work hard and make the most of the 10 months.”

Michael Gelbart’s undergraduate degree is in physics from Princeton University. In graduate school, he switched fields to computer science and received a PhD from the Machine Learning Group at Harvard University, where he co-developed a software package for hyperparameter optimization called Spearmint, which is widely used in academia and industry, mainly for optimizing machine learning algorithms. He joined UBC in 2015 and is an advisor at Vanedge Capital, a local venture capital fund in the technology space, and is also involved in the Vancouver startup scene as a consultant. Mike joined UBC in 2015 and is part of the team that designed the curriculum for the MDS program.

Vincenzo Coia, Teaching Fellow 

“Our world is increasingly demanding a data literate population. That's really what this program is all about -- it recognizes the entire gamut that's involved with promoting data literacy. And I'm excited to be a part of it!"

Vincenzo Coia couldn't settle for a single bachelor's degree, so earned two B.Sc degrees at Brock University spanning mathematics, statistics, biology, and earth sciences. Recognizing the power of statistics in the natural sciences, Vincenzo continued his studies at the graduate level, obtaining a M.Sc at Brock University, and a PhD at UBC, both in statistics. His research focussed on multivariate statistics and forecasting extreme events for risk management, and applied it to flood forecasting. During his studies, Vincenzo also worked on many statistical consulting projects in academia and industry. Vincenzo began teaching in the Master of Data Science program at UBC in January 2017.  

Milad Maymay

Milad Maymay, Director, Program Operations and Student Management

“Nearly all the employers I talk to are starting to recognize [or appreciate] the real need for trained and knowledgeable staff who can help them not only make sense of, but also develop the thread of a story, from the vast amount of data that is out there.”

Milad Maymay received his Bachelor of Science at the University of British Columbia. He has over 17 years of experience managing projects and programs in both the non-profit and public sectors. At UBC he has managed the Work Study/Work Learn program, the NSERC Undergraduate Research Awards, and the launch of the CareersOnline management system. A trained career educator, he has experience in helping students explore career options, write resumes and cover letters, practise interview skills, and negotiate salaries. Over the years he has built excellent relationships with the local employer community, which helps MDS students achieve their ultimate goal of a fulfilling career as a data scientist.

Lee Smith

Lee Smith, Senior Program Assistant

It’s interesting to be part of the progress and development of the hugely emerging field of data science at UBC.”

Lee Smith completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in theoretical linguistics and Asian studies in 1990 at the University of British Columbia, and has worked at UBC and Provincial Health Services Authority as an executive assistant, a senior program and an academic assistant in a wide range of academic faculties, departments, and health agencies.