WWU’s Fraser Lecture Series to Host ‘Big Data’ Seminars, Discussions in April

Western Washington University’s Fraser Lecture Series will present “The Big Data Revolution in Human and Environmental Health,” a series of lectures, seminars, workshops, and public panel discussions, throughout the month of April, both on and off its Bellingham campus.

Big Data is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data-processing applications are inadequate; cracking these huge data sets to get important information – everything from the Human Genome Project to analyses of global weather patterns to better, faster and more accurate internet searches – brings answers to questions once thought to be too complex to even ask.

The free keynote public talk is from 6-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6 at the Mount Baker Theatre, with the following panelists:

Dr. Lee Hood, Institute for Systems Biology: Hood’s outstanding contributions have had a resounding effect on the advancement of science since the 1960s. Throughout his career, he has adhered to the advice of his mentor, Dr. William J. Dreyer: “If you want to practice biology, do it on the leading edge, and if you want to be on the leading edge, invent new tools for deciphering biological information.”

Kristin Tolle, Microsoft: Tolle is the director of the Data Science Initiative in Microsoft Research Outreach and has more than 20 years of experience in industry and research computing. She manages global, multi-organizational, cloud-based research and development (R&D) projects. As a co-author and co-editor of “The Fourth Paradigm: Data Intensive Scientific Discovery,” she has been monitoring the “big data” movement from its inception.

Martin Krzywinski, BC Cancer Agency: Krzywinski works on problems in data visualization applied to cancer research and genome analysis. His work is guided by a need to rationalize, make things pretty, combine science with art, mince words, find good questions and help make connections between ideas.

The free public talks continue later in the month with the following Wednesday night discussions on the WWU campus:

  • From 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13, in Academic West 204, Jeff Carroll, assistant professor of Psychology at Western, will present “Genomic Research of Huntington’s Disease.”
  • From 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20, in Academic West 204, Brian Hutchinson, assistant professor of Computer Science at Western, will present “Scaling Machine Learning to Big Data Problems.”
  • From 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27, in Academic West 204, Robin Kodner, assistant professor of Biology at Western, will present “Environmental Genomics of Bellingham Bay.”

A set of workshops and discussions for WWU students and faculty will also run on April 7 and 8.

This is the inaugural run of the Fraser Lecture Series, funded by an endowment from the estate of Gordon H. and Alice C. Fraser. The purpose of this endowment is to support lectures, seminars, symposia or workshops in the natural, social and applied sciences, with emphasis on the Health and Life Sciences. Through the lecture series, individuals of international and national reputation are invited to the University to share their knowledge with the campus community and help improve existing programs or initiate new ones.

For more information on the Fraser Lecture series or its speakers, contact Jeff Carroll, Western Washington University assistant professor of Psychology, at (360) 650-2928.