Skip to content

Five Universities with Exceptional Data Science Faculty

Big data is everywhere. And so are the opportunities for professionals trained to handle it. Data science is used in every industry across the globe, creating a huge demand for individuals uniquely qualified for these positions. LinkedIn reported a 56 percent increase in job openings for data scientists in the U.S. during the past year, and Glassdoor rated the booming profession as the number one job in the country for 2019. With more than 6,500 open positions, a median salary of $108,000, and a 4.3/5 job satisfaction rate, the employment outlook is promising for this diverse professional niche.

Data science involves working with large scale data to solve problems within a particular industry, from cancer research to marketing to online dating. The field is interdisciplinary and makes use of principles from computer science, statistics, and applied mathematics. The work of a data scientist is to collect, store and analyze information to uncover relationships and observe what the data reveals. Automated abstraction methods using algorithmic formulas are created to solve problems unique to each industry.

As the use of big data becomes more and more enmeshed in the fabric of society, issues of privacy and security regarding the collection and use of data have become some of the main concerns within the field.

For aspiring students of data science, there are five universities in particular with outstanding online and on-campus programs, as well as first-rate facilities to lead the next generation of professionals in this growing field.

University of California, Berkeley

The University of California at Berkeley has a legacy that stands apart. It is the birthplace of the Sierra Club (1892), a device to clean smokestacks (1907), the wetsuit (1952), biotechnology (1960), immunotherapy (1992), and robotic legs (2011), among other standout contributions to humanity.

UC Berkeley continues to leave its mark on the world. Eight current faculty members are Nobel Prize winners, and 20 percent of the class of 2022 are first-generation college students. The School of Information is Berkeley’s newest, created in 1994 to provide education and training in the “problems and possibilities of information.” The online master of information and data sciences was the first of its kind offered in a 100 percent online format.


Coye Cheshire , PhD

Dr. Coy Cheshire is an associate professor in UC Berkeley’s School of Information. His research foci include data science, computer-mediated communication, and social and cultural studies. He is particularly interested in the concepts of trust, cooperation, social exchange, and interpersonal relationships within the context of computer-mediated environments. He is currently conducting experiments across societies that examine changes in social exchange modalities and a study of online romantic relationships over time.

Dr. Cheshire teaches courses in social psychology and information technology, quantitative research methods for information systems management, computer-mediated communication, and doctoral research and theory. He holds a BA in sociology from NC Chapel Hill and MS and PhD degrees in sociology from Stanford. His most recent publication, A Fragmented Whole: Cooperation and Learning in the Practice of Information Security, examines the lack of security practitioners trained in the competencies required of information security teams.


Deirdre K Mulligan , JD

Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, Deirdre Mulligan is also an associate professor in the School of Information. She teaches courses in technology and delegation, information law and policy, and behind the data (humans and values).

Notably, Professor Mulligan has numerous publications to her credit. She co-authored the book Privacy on the Ground: Driving Corporate Behavior in the United States and Europe with Berkeley professor Kenneth Bamberger. They were honored with the International Association of Privacy Professionals Leadership Award for their contributions to the field in 2016. Professor Mulligan also has served in leadership roles for a variety of organizations and boards, including the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission, the TRUST Science Technology Center, and the NSF-supported ACCURATE center.

Her current research interests include human rights, consumer protection IoT, values in design, technology and governance, cybersecurity, fairness, and privacy. She holds a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who was dedicated to the health and education of his community. The $7 million he left in his will for a hospital, college, orphanage, and university was the largest act of philanthropy of the time.

Paying thought to the Hopkins legacy, JHU’s first president, Daniel Coit Gilman, mapped out the university’s core mission to cultivate students’ capacity for lifelong learning, original research, and global advancement. And in the spirit of Hopkins, who earned much of his fortune from investment in emerging industries, JHU offers an MS in the growing field of data science through its engineering for professionals department of the Whiting School of Engineering.


John Piorkowski , PhD

Dr. John Piorkowski serves as the chief engineer of the asymmetric operations sector at JHU’s applied physics laboratory and also co-chairs the data science program. During his 30-year career, Dr. Piorkowski has focused his research on the areas of data analytics, software systems, communications, networking, and most recently, social media analytics. Professor Piorkowski currently teaches social media analytics and serves as the program chair for information systems engineering.

Dr. Piorkowski earned his bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Pennsylvania State University; his master of science in the same field from Johns Hopkins, as well as a post-master’s certificate concentrated on telecommunications; and his PhD in information systems from the University of Maryland–Baltimore County.


James C. Spall , PhD

Dr. James Spall is the co-chair of the data science department at Johns Hopkins University, where he currently teaches stochastic optimization and control. He also is a member of the principal professional staff of JHU’s applied physics laboratory.

Dr. Spall publishes widely on the topics of control and statistics. He is a senior editor for the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control and a contributing editor for the Current Index to Statistics. Awarded with the Joel Dean Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2017, he works part-time supervising the research of doctoral and master’s degree students.

Dr. Spall earned his PhD in systems engineering from the University of Virginia and holds two US patents.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California is a prominent part of LA county’s economy, generating $8 billion in annual revenue for the state. It is also one of the highest ranked universities in the country and a world leader among private research institutions. With an enrollment of 47,500 and 4,000 faculty members, USC has come a long way since opening its doors to 53 students and ten teachers in 1880.

The Department of Computer Science houses the Viterbi informatics program and the MS in data science programs, offering specializations in communications, healthcare, public policy, and applied and spatial data sciences. The Department also offers a video game design program, and in 2016, women outnumbered men in this degree program, ranked number one by the Princeton Review, for the first time in USC history.

Dr. Dilkina

Bistra Dilkina , PhD

Dr. Bistra Dilkina is a Gabilan assistant professor of computer science at USC. She also serves as an associate director of the Center for AI in Society (CAIS) and is one of the faculty leaders in the emerging field of computational sustainability.

Prior to joining USC, she earned her PhD in computer science at Cornell University and was an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she served as of co-director of the Data Science for Social Good Atlanta summer program.

Dr. Dilkina’s work focuses on machine learning, network design, discrete optimization, and stochastic optimization. She is particularly interested in using her data science and AI expertise to solve real-world problems in sustainability, conservation, and city planning.


Jason D. Lee , PhD

Dr. Jason Lee is an assistant professor of data sciences and operations at USC, where he currently leads courses in statistical machine learning. He has published widely in professional journals and refereed various conference publications.

Dr. Lee is a co-PI on a research grant funded by ARO MURI on semantic information pursuit for multimodal data analysis. He is also the recipient of the Best Paper Award for “Algorithmic Regularization in Learning Deep Homogeneous Models” from the ICML Workshop on Nonconvex Optimization.

Dr. Lee earned his doctoral degree in computational and mathematical engineering from Stanford University and his bachelor of science in mathematics from Duke University.


Viktor K. Prasanna , PhD

Dr. Viktor Prasanna is the Charles Lee Powell chair in engineering and a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at USC. He is also the director of the center for energy informatics.

Dr. Prasanna’s current research interests are cloud computing and smart energy systems, parallel and distributed systems, and reconfigurable and high-performance computing. He has published extensively in the field and has been honored with numerous awards, including the 2015 W. Wallace McDowell Award granted by the IEEE Computer Society.

Dr. Prasanna holds a doctorate in computer science from the Pennsylvania State University and is the current editor-in-chief of the Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing.

University of Oklahoma

With its flagship location in Norman, OK, the University of Oklahoma has two additional campuses in the state, as well as locations in Italy, Mexico, and Brazil. The extended campus network offers master’s degrees in locations across the U.S. and Europe for non-traditional students, military, and civil service personnel.

Notably, the school supports diversity with its various societies advocating for groups underrepresented in engineering programs: the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP).

As the first school to offer an engineering physics degree in the United States, the OU Gallogly College of Engineering faculty members hold more than 60 patents among them. A collaboration between the Schools of Industrial and Systems engineering and Computer Science, OU offers an MS in data science and analytics, a dual-degree option, and a graduate certificate.


Le Gruenwald , PhD

Dr. Le Gruenwald is the Dr. David W Franke professor and Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation presidential professor of computer science at UO. She also serves as the program director of the information integration and informatics cluster and the Cyber Trust program of the National Science Foundation, as well as editor of the Open Journal of Databases.

Dr. Gruenwald has industry experience as a software engineer for White River Technologies. Her research interests include data security, mobile and sensor databases, privacy and confidentiality, data mining, web databases, and stream data management, among others.

She has held a variety of leadership positions and has and dozens of scholarly published articles to her name. Her numerous awards include recognition by the National Science Foundation for Superior Accomplishments and Valuable Services to the Directorate of Computer and Information Science and Engineering.

Dean Hougen

Dean Hougen , PhD

Dr. Dean Hougen is associate professor of computer science at the University of Oklahoma. He has over 70 published scholarly articles and has been awarded over $2 million in research funding.

Dr. Hougen’s research focuses primarily on robotics and machine learning. He has been developing hardware systems and fielded software for 20 years, and his achievements include developing the University of Oklahoma’s iPhone app OU2GO.

Dr. Hougen has been widely recognized for excellence in teaching; by illustration, he is the recipient of the professor of the year award (2014-16), as well as the teaching scholars award (2013).


Sridhar Radhakrishnan , PhD

Dr. Sridhar Radhakrishnan is director of computer science and co-director of data science and analytics at the University of Oklahoma. His research interests include the internet of things (IoT) and software-defined networks; specifically, he focuses on the development of protocols related to the intersection of the two, as well as high-performance computing and algorithms for mobile, wireless, and broadband networks.

Dr. Radhakrishnan has over 100 published articles to his credit and is currently working on a transit management systems project for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Federal Transit Administration. He holds degrees in computer science (BS, PhD), system sciences (MS), library and information science (MLIS), and physics (BS).


Randa L. Shehab , PhD

Dr. Randa Shehab serves as the associate dean of academic affairs for the Gallogly College of Engineering at UO. She has been researching the experiences of engineering students for over a decade. Her focus is on advancing equality and diversity in engineering education by means of improving the educational climate.

Dr. Shehab currently teaches courses in statistical design and analyses, industrial engineering, and ergonomics. Notably, she has worked on the cognitive performance of astronauts in microgravity for the spaceflight ergonomics research program at OU for over 20 years.

Prior to her work in academia, Dr. Shehab was an ergonomics consultant for General Motors. She holds BS, MS, and PhD degrees in industrial engineering—all from the University of Oklahoma.

University of Wisconsin

Created by the merger of the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin State Universities in 1971, the University of Wisconsin System is made up of 26 schools statewide. The UW System now serves 170,000 students, employs 39,000 staff and faculty, and awards more than 36,000 degrees a year.

The UW System’s “2020FWD” framework embraces teaching and learning as the heart of the university’s commitment to students. The forward-thinking vision also pays thought to the importance of “cultural fluency” to adapt to our changing world and societies.

One of the most pressing challenges has been found at the intersection of computer science, math, statistics, communication, and management in the growing field of data science. UW-Extension and six other UW campuses have partnered to offer an online MS in data sciences to address the need for professionals qualified to guide decisions using “big data” in virtually every industry across the global economy.


Abra Brisbin , PhD

Dr. Abra Brisbin is an assistant professor of mathematics at UW–Eau Claire, where she leads courses in programming and data mining. As a graduate student at Cornell University, Dr. Brisbin developed and taught courses for middle and high school students such as probability in board game strategy and computers, math, and DNA. She also taught a class in a summer program for women in math through George Washington University entitled cancer modeling in fluid dynamics and math modeling in fluid dynamics.

Dr. Brisbin’s research focuses on statistical genetics. She holds PhD and MS degrees in applied mathematics from Cornell University and a BA in mathematics from Carleton College. She also completed a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at the Mayo Clinic before joining the faculty at the University of Wisconsin.


Robert Dollinger , PhD

Dr. Robert Dollinger has been a professor of computer information systems at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point since 2003. He has worked as a course developer, researcher, and teaching focusing on rich internet applications, object-oriented systems, data mining, intelligent tutoring systems, automated code generation, and emerging Web development technologies.

Dr. Dollinger’s professional career in medical imagery and computed tomography began at the Medical Informatics Institute in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. His work has taken him to a variety of countries while collaborating on EU-funded projects in Italy, Ireland, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. He has over 60 publications to his name and outside of his work in academia, he donates his time as a pro bono consultant.

Dr. Dollinger completed his graduate work at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca in computer science (MS) and artificial intelligence (PhD).


Alice Kyburg , PhD

Dr. Alice Kyburg is an associate professor at UW–Oshkosh with research interests in cognitive science and the philosophy of the mind. Having taught ethics for over 20 years, she is now researching the emerging field of data science ethics. As a resident of West Tisbury, Martha’s Vineyard, she also serves as the director of the Center for New Learning, providing tutoring, tutor/mentor support, test preparation and college application assistance to island learners of all ages.

She earned her PhD in philosophy and computer science from the University of Rochester and her master of education from UMass–Amherst. She is the daughter of the late Henry Kyburg, Jr—the Gideon W. Burbank professor of intellectual and moral philosophy at the University of Rochester, and renowned professor of philosophy and computer science.


Lynn Ludwig , PhD

Dr. Lynn Ludwig is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. Prior to joining UW, she taught at St. Cloud State University, the Minnesota College of Business. Russell Sage College (NY), and the Southern Illinois University’s College of Technical Careers. She also has over ten years of industry experience writing for corporate and government entities, consulting on technical communication and instructional design, and working as a software education development manager.

Dr. Ludwig’s former clients include Lockheed Martin and IBM. She currently teaches introduction to technical writing and advanced scientific and technical writing courses at UW–Stevens Point. She also participates in international research and writing projects using SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning methods).

Dr. Ludwig holds a PhD in rhetoric and computer composition with a specialization in instructional design technology.