University of Lethbridge receives grant to train students in data science

The University of Lethbridge will help meet the demand for well-trained professionals in data science thanks to a $1.65-million grant over six years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program.

The funding by NSERC is part of a $26 million investment to create 16 innovative training programs across the country that will facilitate the transition of new researchers from trainees to productive employees in the Canadian workforce.

The purpose of the CREATE program is to improve the training and mentoring environment for upcoming Canadian researchers. At ULethbridge, Dr. Artur Luczak, a neuroscientist at the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience (CCBN), will lead the Training Biology Students for Jobs in Data Science (TrainBioData) program.

“We are very grateful to receive this grant,” says Luczak. “Data science is essential in many research domains and industries today and the demand for well-trained professionals is strong. Our TrainBioData program will establish a world-class training environment for graduate and post-doctoral trainees.”

Data scientists analyze large amounts of data using mathematics, statistics, artificial intelligence and computer engineering. Data science has broad applications in many fields, including health care, finance, marketing and technology.

This program will provide trainees with broad learning opportunities that include computer programming, data science foundations and internships with academic and industry partners in Canada and internationally.

“Our trainees will have access to an outstanding group of leaders in data science in Alberta,” Luczak says. “TrainBioData will also provide new pathways to introduce undergraduate students in the life sciences to data science.”

The program will receive support from various ULethbridge departments, including the School of Graduate Studies and the Centre for Neuroengineering Solutions.

“The TrainBioData initiative builds on ULethbridge’s reputation as an internationally recognized leader in applying data science to training life science researchers,” says Dr. Dena McMartin, vice-president of research at ULethbridge. “We look forward to bolstering our strengths in this area through this grant.”

The TrainBioData team includes Drs. Luczak, Robert Sutherland, Bruce McNaughton, Gerlinde Metz, Cheryl Currie, Olga Kovalchuk, Claudia Gonzalez, Nehal Thakor, Chelsea Ekstrand and Majid Mohajerani.

The Research Support Fund supports a portion of the costs associated with managing the research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, such as salaries for staff who provide administration support, training costs for workplace health and safety, maintenance of libraries and laboratories, and administrative costs associated with obtaining patents for inventions.