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Informatics Initiative

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 12:04pm

You can read about the Information Age on almost any page, on practically any day. More data has been created in the last fifteen years than in all previous human history. What does this mean for science? For research? For scholarship? Quite a byte(!), it turns out. Managing, storing and making this data accessible is a Herculean task that is growing by the day. It is arguably one of the greatest next-challenges of civilization, not to mention the various elevations of higher education.

The UGA Office of the President and Office of the Provost recently announced a hiring initiative in informatics designed to have a major impact on this challenge, one that will affect most if not all Franklin College research efforts:

The initiative will create up to eight new tenure-stream positions in informatics—a broad field that encompasses the collection, classification, storage, retrieval, analysis and dissemination of massive data sets—and the deans of all of UGA's schools and colleges have been invited to submit proposals.

"The University of Georgia is committed to recruiting exceptional faculty members who are engaged in world-changing scholarship," Morehead said. "The informatics faculty who join the institution through this initiative will profoundly impact instruction and research in multiple disciplines on campus and will increase opportunities for outreach across our state."

If any of this seems unfamliar, just have a look at what many of our best faculty, staff and graduate students are doing in the Institute of Bioinformatics. The task has no exterior parameters, apparently even including the rhetoric we surround it with. Managing data will have tremendously beneficial effects on human health and the planet, among other subjects. But it still must be managed, stored, visualized, shared. Great to see the University joining this challenge that will touch every discipline on campus and probably a few we haven't even thought of yet.

Image: A streamgraph showing someone's music listening habits over time, via wikimedia commons.

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