Marketing & Communications

Big Data present big opportunities

The digital age has produced a tremendous surge in digital data whose availability provides significant opportunities for basic and applied research. Getting access to, and meaning from, the enormous amounts of data produced each day is a challenge the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has named a national priority and to which significant federal funding is being directed.

BGSU plans to be on the crest of the wave of "Big Data," as it is known, and hopes to create a critical mass of faculty engaged in data-driven research within the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, business, and education. To introduce this initiative, the Division of Research and Economic Development will host Big Data Day on Sept. 7, from 1-5:30 p.m. in the Donnell Theatre of the Wolfe Center for the Arts. A reception will follow.

The BGSU community is invited to hear some nationally prominent speakers who will discuss various aspects of Big Data and its applications in business, the natural and social sciences and the humanities, in addition to the "core" areas of computer science, statistics and mathematics.

On the humanities side, BGSU's Dr. Andrew Schocket, director of American culture studies and a history faculty member, will be speaking at the symposium. He is the project manager for The Scholar's Dashboard, which pilots the creation of a multidisciplinary digital research tool, funded by the Office of Digital Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Every second of every day, worldwide, staggering amounts of digital data are being produced. They come from mobile sources such as cell phones, from the Internet, the financial sector and social media, but most of all from the "Internet of things," as Mike Hoskins, chief technology officer of Pervasive Software calls it - data collected by machines, from GIS to sensors and monitors continually tracking and measuring everything from temperature to volume of water usage. Hoskins, a BGSU alumnus, is one of the speakers at Big Data Day. View his Tedx talk on Big Data.

"Big Data is a very recent development," said Dr. Michael Ogawa, interim dean of the Graduate College and vice president for research and economic development. "The business world has been active in this area in the last couple of years in terms of data mining and making this information useful, but there's a shortfall in the workplace of people who have the necessary skills.

"We want to create an Institute for Data Analytics that will help give us the infrastructure for sharing digital data and to promote and encourage its use. We'd like to build out from the core areas to the domain areas, in the sciences, business and the humanities. The initiative can help guide new hires and faculty development and foster cross-disciplinary projects."

BGSU is well positioned for this development, Ogawa said. "The University already has one of the largest numbers of faculty in advanced statistics among the state universities, and our new chair of computer science, Dr. Venu Dasigi, has worked in this area."

In addition, Drs. Arthur Yeh, chair of the applied statistics and operations research department; Hanfeng Chen, statistics; and Joe Chao, computer science, are collaborating on developing a master's degree program in analytics.

Ogawa noted that the NEH, the National Institutes for Health and the National Science Foundation, along with the federal government, are among the biggest funders of Big Data projects. "Some large universities are making big investments in Big Data," he noted.

"The research possibilities are endless. Our emphasis will be on analysis and data-driven applications," he said.


Click on a speaker to view his or her bio and Big Data Day lecture.

Mike Hoskins (CTO and Executive Vice President, Pervasive Software)

The Age of Big Data

As CTO and executive vice president, Mike Hoskins has more than 25 years of experience in developing and managing software companies. He is a widely respected thinker in the area of Big Data and was a speaker at the 2011 BGSU TEDx conference where he spoke about the possibilities and promises of the current data intensive age. He received the AITP Austin chapter’s 2007 Information Technologist of the Year Award for his leadership in developing Pervasive’s big data flagship offering, Pervasive DataRush™. A 1977 graduate of BGSU, Mike recently received the Distinguished Alumni Award and was inducted into the BGSU Dallas-Hamilton Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame.

Dr. Sastry Pantula (Director, Division of Mathematical Sciences of the National Science Foundation)

Big Data = BIG Opportunities

As division director, Dr. Pantula oversees the annual allocation of $250 million in research and training support for the mathematical and statistical sciences. These funds include support for research in Big Data, computational and data-enabled science and engineering, and public access to scholarly publications. Receiving his B.Stat and M.Stat from the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata, India, and his Ph.D. in Statistics from Iowa State University, he has been a faculty member at North Carolina State University since 1982. Dr.Pantula is a fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA) and of AAAS. He served as the 105th president of ASA in 2010 and received the Young Statistician Award from the International Indian Statistical Association in 2002 and the D.D. Mason Faculty Award in 2001.

Dr. Ashok Krishnamurthy (Interim Co-Executive Director, Ohio Supercomputer Center)

Big Data and the OSC (with Dr. Pankaj Shah)

Ashok K. Krishnamurthy, Ph.D., serves as interim co-executive director for the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), as well as senior director of research. The OSC is a statewide resource that provides supercomputing services and computational science expertise to Ohio university researchers as well as Ohio industries. Dr. Krishnamurthy is also an associate professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at The Ohio State University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1979 from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, India. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Florida in 1981 and 1983, respectively.

Pankaj Shah (Executive Director, Ohio Academic Resources Network, Ohio Supercomputer Center)

Big Data and the OSC (with Dr. Ashok Krishmnamurthy)

Pankaj Shah is the executive director of the Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet) and Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC). For more than 25 years he has committed himself to the IT infrastructure and broadband initiatives through work in the private and public research and education communities, identifying trends in high-speed data transfer, videoconferencing, hybrid networking, and shared services including computing and storage. Under Shah’s leadership, OARnet has helped Ohio become a broadband state with an expansive network backbone and research and education services while partnering with the private sector to create economic development opportunities. Shah received a diploma in mechanical engineering as well as certification in advanced tool technology from S.B.M Polytechnic in Bombay (Mumbai), India. He earned his master’s in computer and information science from Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and an Executive MBA from The Ohio State University Fisher School of Business.

Dr. Trevor M. Harris (Eberly Distinguished Professor of Geography and Department Chair, West Virginia University)

Adding space to Big Data: Spatial Data Trends in Geographic Information Science and the Geospatial Semantic Web

Dr. Harris received his bachelor’s degree in geography and history and PhD in geography from the Hull University. His research interests include geographic information science, GIS and society, critical GIS, participatory GIS, humanities GIS, spatial humanities, virtual GIS, virtual reality, augmented reality, exploratory spatial data analysis, GIS and archaeology and environmental impact assessment. Dr. Harris serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Applied Geography and International Journal for Arts and Humanities Computing. Dr. Harris has edited several books, including “Spatial and Digital Humanities Series”, and published numerous papers in journals. He is a member of the Virtual Center for Spatial Humanities which is a collaboration among IUPUI, Florida State University and West Virginia University to develop technologies and methods and to create a scholarly literature for this new field.

Dr. Marc Smith (Social Media Research Foundation)

Mapping Social Media Networks: Data for Insights into Communities, Markets, and Conflicts

Dr. Smith is a sociologist specializing in the social organization of online communities and computer-mediated interaction. He leads the Connected Action consulting group and lives and works in Silicon Valley, California. Connected Action ( applies social science methods in general and social network analysis techniques in particular to enterprise and Internet social media usage. He is the co-editor, with Peter Kollock, of “Communities in Cyberspace” (Routledge), a collection of essays exploring the ways identity, interaction, and social order develop in online groups. Smith received a B.S. in International Area Studies from Drexel University in Philadelphia in 1988, an M. Phil. in social theory from Cambridge University in 1990, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA in 2001. He is an affiliate faculty at the Department of Sociology at the University of Washington and the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Smith is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Stanford University Media-X program.

Dr. Andrew M. Schocket (Director, American Culture Studies and Associate Professor of History and American Culture Studies, BGSU)

The Scholar's Dashboard: Building Digital Tools to Answer Humanistic Questions

Dr. Schocket received his B.A. in History from Yale University in 1990 and his Ph.D from the College of William & Mary in 2001. He is author of “Founding Corporate Power in Early National Philadelphia “(2007) -- winner of the 2008 Ohio Academy of History Outstanding Publication Award -- and “Forever Founding: The American Revolution in Contemporary Life and the Politics of Memory” (forthcoming), and has published in a variety of academic journals as well as writing for the public through the History News Network. He is the project manager of the Scholar’s Dashboard, bringing together humanities scholars, librarians, and technologists to pilot the creation of multidisciplinary digital research tool, funded by the Office of Digital Humanities of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Dr. Neocles Leontis (Professor, Department of Chemistry, Bowling Green State University and Program Officer, National Science Foundation)

Making Data Available for RNA Bioinformatics (with Dr. Craig Zirbel )

Dr. Leontis received a B.S. in Chemistry from The Ohio State University, a M.S. from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Biophysical Chemistry from Yale University. He has studied RNA biochemistry since his Ph.D., shifting toward RNA bioinformatics as more atomic-resolution 3D structures became available. He has collaborated with Dr. Craig Zirbel at BGSU since the year 2000. Dr. Leontis was the founding director of the RNA Ontology Consortium, an effort to systematize RNA knowledge to facilitate computer reasoning about RNA. He is the recipient of the 2007 Olscamp Research Award and 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from Bowling Green State University. He has edited two books on RNA and has published more than 60 research articles. One of his major research concerns is the integration of vast and growing amounts of RNA sequence data with relatively sparse but highly accurate RNA 3D structures.

Dr. Craig L. Zirbel (Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Bowling Green State University)

Making Data Available for RNA Bioinformatics (with Dr. Neocles Leontis)

Dr. Zirbel received a B.A. in Mathematics and Physics from Illinois Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. in Applied and Computational Mathematics from Princeton University, with a specialization in applied probability. Around the year 2000, he began a collaboration with Dr. Neocles Leontis at BGSU on RNA bioinformatics. Together, they have co-authored 14 papers and have developed a suite of software tools for the analysis of atomic-resolution RNA 3D structures. In 2010, they received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to build their analysis tools into the Nucleic Acid Database / Protein Databank, the international depositories for RNA and protein 3D structures. Dr. Zirbel is working to identify known RNA 3D motifs from their characteristic sequences, so that new RNAs can be found in genomic data from sequencing projects.