University of Colorado at Boulder

Colloquia Event

Friday February 10, 2017. 03:30 pm. GUGG 205

Building a computationally intensive science program at CU Boulder - Earth Lab’s Earth Analytics Initiative

Leah Wasser

Grand Challenge Earth Lab, Director Earth Analytics Education Initiative

Abstract: The deluge of readily available, large spatio-temporal data from both air- and space-borne sensors, high fidelity in situ sensor networks, citizen science-driven in situ observations and social media platforms, combined with increased availability of high performance and cloud computing resources has yielded new opportunities to advance both science and industry. As such, there is huge demand for the skills to both work with these data and the associated computation platforms and to apply discipline-specific knowledge that supports both scientific questions and technological innovation. The demand for skills has been realized through extensive training networks such as Data and Software Carpentry that offer thousands of data-intensive workshops a year across the globe. However, there is a recognized need to integrate such efforts with new and existing courses and carefully crafted and discipline-specific programs to better prepare existing and returning students for growing career opportunities.

This colloquium describes Earth Lab’s earth analytics program - which trains students to address the challenges of modern Earth system science with computationally intensive workflows. Highlighted in the presentation will be a proposal for a professional graduate certificate and professional masters program in Earth Analytics. This program is crafted using a market analysis of existing professional programs and surveys of industry representatives and the scientific community to better understand workforce demand. Also discussed will be a newly designed data-intensive course in Earth Analytics currently taught in the Geography department.

The CU-Boulder Earth Analytics program will support the existing student body in Geography and across the university through new and enriched data-intensive courses. Further, it will attract a new body of returning students who are interested in developing these skills through online course offerings and training.

Dr. Wasser received her Ph.D. from the Penn State Ecology program with a focus on the use of lidar data to characterize riparian vegetation structure. She went on to build the Data Skills program at the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) in Boulder - a national, online program that focuses on the use of large spatio-temporal data in science. Currently, she is the Director of Earth Analytics Education at Earth Lab, funded by the CU-Boulder Grand Challenge Initiative.