UMKC big data and data science initiatives

Steve Simon


I am trying to keep track of several recent initiatives at UMKC. Here are the details, as I best understand them.

Center for Big Learning

The School of computing and Engineering at UMKC was awarded a multi-year grant to develop research efforts in deep learning. Here is a press release describing the grant and listing the faculty who were awarded the grant. The grant lead to the development of the NSF IUCRC Center for Big Learning, which has a small website and which sponsors a semi-annual research meeting. The last meeting that I can find was held in May 2019, but the program looked like it would have been interesting to attend. I missed that meeting, but hope to attend future ones.

NextGen Data Analytics Center

The NextGen Data Analytics Center (NextGen Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center) is an internally funded effort to purchase a massive computer for data analytics. Details for this project are hard to come by. A press release in August 2019 talks about several grants including the one that funded this computer system. There’s also a brief description here. The grant calls for the use of a recent technology, Hyperconverged Infrastructure, that improves speed and reliability.

NextGen Precision Health Initiative

This computer system is a small piece of a big effort within the University of Missouri system, the NextGen Precision Health Initiative. You can find lots of press releases about this. Here’s one from January 2020. This effort includes the construction of a nice building on the Columbia campus with lots of lab space. But the initiative also involves the hiring of faculty at all four campuses and lots of seed money for starting up new research projects.

Institute of Data Analytics, Education, and Science

Another initiative goes by the acronym IDEAS. It stands for the Institute of Data Education, Analytics, and Science. There’s no official website for this group yet, but has already awarded four small seed grants to UMKC researchers and has held several data science workshops for industry partners in the Kansas City area. There’s a December 2019 press release documenting how data scientist is the sexiest job of the 21st century. There are currently four working group luncheons scheduled for the Spring of 2020. you might also want to look at this two minute promotional video. As part of an outreach to the business community, IDEAS is offering a sereies of Saturday workshops on data science.

Health Equity Institute

There is a new initiative on research and community outreach in health, the UMKC Health Equity Institute. I attended a nice panel session decidated to the efforts of this group, which is summarized here.

Here are a couple of additional items that are not UMKC but rather regional efforts.

Nexus Bioinformatics Conference

There is an annual conference on Bioinformatics held in the Kansas City area (or sometimes in Columbia, MO). It has a new name, the Nexus Informatics conference, but it has the same mix of local speakers and invited experts from outside the area. There is an official conference webpage and publicity from Kansas City University (this year’s host) and from Bionexus KC.

Frontiers in Biostatistics and Data Science

Another conference in the Kansas City area goes by the name of IDAD (Innovations in Design, Analysis, and Dissemination) as well as Frontiers in Biostatistics and Data Science. It is jointly sponsored by the Kansas/Western Missouri Chapter of the American Statistical Association, the Department of Biostatistics and Data Science at the University of Kansas Medical Center. In the past, Cerner Corporation was also a sponsor of this conference and they are still providing some of the best speakers. There’s a special spot in my heart for this conference because I was one of the invited speakers for the very first conference, back in 2008. The Kansas/Western Missouri chapter hosts the official website for this conference.

This conference has been CANCELED for 2020. The link will probably be updated in early 2021 to describe that year’s conference.