Leadership

The UBC Master of Data Science programs partner computer science and statistics experts, providing the foundation for a comprehensive approach, as these two disciplines are at the very core of the emerging field of Data Science. Through active and flexible learning techniques, students will be given the opportunity to put theory into practice and to work with real-world data.

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. 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

Anne Condon is a Professor and former Head of UBC's Department of Computer Science.  Her research in computational complexity theory and algorithms focuses on bio-molecular computing - the art and science of writing programs that are realized and executed by DNA.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and has received the Anita Borg Institute Technical Leadership Award as well as Distinguished Alumna Awards from University College Cork, Ireland and U. Washington's College of Engineering.

Anne Condon, Co-Director, MDS Vancouver

"I'm excited to work with this program because it provides great opportunities for our students, both intellectually and for their careers, and because of the talent and dedication of our team of faculty and staff."

Anne Condon is a Professor and former Head of UBC's Department of Computer Science. Her research in computational complexity theory and algorithms focuses on bio-molecular computing - the art and science of writing programs that are realized and executed by DNA. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and has received the Anita Borg Institute Technical Leadership Award as well as Distinguished Alumna Awards from University College Cork, Ireland and U. Washington's College of Engineering.

Ramon Lawrence, Director and Associate Professor, MDS Okanagan

“The goal of the program is to train you in data science skills for employment in data analyst jobs. Our personalized instruction will help you realize your dreams."

Ramon Lawrence is an associate professor of computer science and Director of the Master of Data Science program at UBC’s Okanagan campus. His research interests are database systems, embedded devices, and software development. The research has produced over 60 publications and $1.5 million dollars in research funding. He is an award-winning professor whose accolades include the UBC award for teaching excellence and innovation in 2017, and being named to UBC’s teaching honour roll nine times, a recognition given only to the top 10% of instructors. He is the founder of Unity Data Inc., which provides software for data integration from multiple sources. He is also a database consultant for enterprises, including Fortune 500 companies such as GE, requiring Big Data (and small data) solutions. In addition, he has pioneered work on MongoDB produced software for SQL querying and integrating MongoDB with enterprise relational systems that is used by numerous companies world-wide, including Apple, Bank of America, Barrick Gold, and the US Defense Department. Dr. Lawrence is a technical advisor and mentor to BlockCAT, a successful ICO company developing innovative smart contracts using blockchain technology. He is also a member of the ACM and senior member of IEEE.

Matias Salibian-Barrera, Co-Director, MDS Vancouver

“The fact that every single module of our program was designed from scratch (instead of recycling existing courses at UBC) and completely focused on the specific skills we wanted to teach in each of them makes our program truly unique."

 

Matias Salibian-Barrera is a Professor in the Department of Statistics. His research interests include Computational Statistics and Robust Statistics, which studies methods designed to extract reliable information from data that may contain atypical or aberrant observations. He designed the course Methods for Statistical Learning for our Statistics students, and has been teaching and updating it since 2011. In 2015 he was awarded the CRM-SSC Prize in Statistics (by the Centre de recherches mathématiques and the Statistical Society of Canada) for his research accomplishments during the first fifteen years of his academic career.

Julian Brooke, Director and Instructor, MDS Computational Linguistics

“The CL option is aimed at helping those, like me, who have a love for language to parlay that interest and experience into a career building cutting-edge technology.”

Julian Brooke has a Bachelor’s of Science in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University, a Masters of Arts in Linguistics from Simon Fraser University, and a Ph.D in Computer Science from the University of Toronto. For over 10 years, he has been carrying out research in diverse areas of computational linguistics, including applications in education, social science, the law, and literary studies. He recently taught computational linguistics as part of the MDS program at the University of Melbourne. His industry experience includes NLP projects at Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, and Maluaba.

Tiffany Timbers, Option Co-Director and Instructor, MDS Vancouver

Tiffany Timbers, Option Co-Director and Instructor, MDS Vancouver

"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. Learn more about Tiffany.

Michael Gelbart, Option Co-Director and Instructor, MDS Vancouver

Michael Gelbart, Option Co-Director and Instructor, MDS Vancouver

"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. Learn more about Michael.

Jeff Andrews, Assistant Professor, MDS Okanagan

“Decisions are always made in the face of uncertainty. My goal is to guide a further understanding of uncertainty, and caution against the pitfalls of underestimating it."

 

Jeff Andrews is an assistant professor of statistics and leads the Statistical Machine Learning Laboratory at UBC’s Okanagan Campus. His research primarily focuses on unsupervised machine learning with mixture models, including model development, implementation, and optimization. He has been a recipient of two international awards in the past five years for his research in this field: the 2017 Chikio Hayashi Award for Young Researchers from the International Federation of Classification Societies, and the 2013 Distinguished Dissertation Award from the Classification Society. He has attracted more than $125k in research funding as a primary investigator since joining UBC in 2015, and more than triple that as co-investigator on several collaborative and interdisciplinary projects—such as the Medical Physics and Data Analytics Cluster. Dr. Andrews currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Classification Society and the New Investigators Committee for the Statistical Society of Canada

Vincenzo Coia, Teaching Fellow, MDS Vancouver

Vincenzo Coia, Teaching Fellow, MDS Vancouver

"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. Learn more about Vincenizo.

Khalad Hasan, Assistant Professor, MDS Okanagan

"The MDS program is an exciting journey for the students as it provides them the opportunity to build a strong understanding of data science subject matters and use this knowledge out in the wild."

Khalad Hasan is an assistant professor of computer science at UBC’s Okanagan campus. His research interest is in human-computer interaction, with a focus on developing and studying novel interactions with mobile and wearable devices. More specifically, he is interested in exploring users’ needs and making an impact in their lives, specifically when it concerns interacting with large data on small devices. Before joining UBC Okanagan, Khalad worked as an NSERC postdoctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo.

Ireme Vrbik

Irene Vrbik, Instructor, MDS Okanagan

“The need for Data Scientists has grown rapidly over a relatively short amount of time. I am proud to be contributing to a program that is keeping pace with this demand.”

Irene Vrbik completed her PhD in Statistics at the University of Guelph and is a newly appointed instructor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. As a former NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow (UBC Okanagan) and postdoctoral researcher (McGill University), her research has covered a range of topics including: modelling the spread of fire, developing semi-supervised learning algorithms, presenting theoretical results for robust distributions, and analyzing HIV transmission dynamics with phylogenetic data.
Milad Maymay, Director, Program Operations and Student Management, MDS Vancouver

Milad Maymay, Director, Program Operations and Student Management, MDS Vancouver

"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.

Giuseppe Carenini, Co-Director, MDS Vancouver

Giuseppe Carenini, Co-Director, MDS Vancouver (On Leave)

"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).