Master of science in data science offers more career options

Anah Southard-Goebel chose Ball State’s 100% online master of science in data science because she wanted the flexibility of working remotely while studying.

“The flexibility of doing my classes at my own pace throughout the week really drew me to online learning for my master’s,” Anah says.

Choosing Ball State Online for her institution of study made sense. The data science program aligned with her personal interests and gave her the opportunity to learn the things that were important to her career goals, like Cloud services, statistics, programming languages, and data visualization. The program focused on the technical skills that she wanted to acquire.

Originally, Anah earned her undergraduate degree in Applied Health Science with the hopes of pursuing pre-med, but after a summer internship as a research assistant, she changed direction. During the internship, she was introduced to the programming language R and realized that her love for science was more about the data. After discovering this, her path forward was easy to follow.

Once Anah began the program, working and studying simultaneously was a seamless process, and extremely rewarding for Anah. She took on a data scientist position with the state government, working for Family Social Services Administration (FSSA), while still completing her masters. In her position, she works closely with the equity officer “to connect the state’s vast amount of data to equity efforts to improve FSSA’s services and equity initiatives.”

During school, her employer encouraged her to use what she was learning in class by providing her with a “sandbox environment” at work. She was able to find many opportunities to use what she learned in school when the subjects of her work and school assignments were constantly overlapping. This allowed her to practice working on “state data in a safe way that reinforced concepts learned at school” and gave her valuable hands-on practice with time series analyses, regressions, ML models, NLP, and more.

Anah feels as if she is following her family legacy by working at FSSA. Both of her grandfathers worked in similar roles throughout their careers. One of them was an epidemiologist for the State of Maryland and the other specialized in government contracts in computer programming.

In the short term, Anah hopes to gain valuable skills in her field and take on more complex projects. Her long-term goals have her taking on a leadership role at FSSA and “expand [her] skillset to work towards becoming a data engineer.”

“Ball State’s data science master’s allowed me to learn and apply knowledge in all of these different data fields and set me apart as an employee. I felt I could not only be efficient in my work but a top performer in my data science and engineering team.”

Anah will graduate from Ball State with her master’s in data science in May 2023.

DoDEA’s Linda Curtis: “Lifelong learner, exemplary educator, motivational mentor”

When Ball State students travel overseas each year to student teach in Germany, they can applaud educator Dr. Linda Curtis, who helped open those distant classroom doors nearly 20 years ago and make the experience possible.

Representing the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), Linda was part of a planning team–including officials from Ball State, Auburn, and Florida State universities–that met in 2003 to find opportunities for their students to do student teaching on U.S. military bases throughout the world.

“I remember Ball State wanted to ensure their student interns had the best experience overseas and to connect with the military students and families,” says Linda, who, at the time, was an education program administrator for DoDEA and a Hoosier from Fort Wayne. “DoDEA had an excellent reputation just like Ball State, so it was easy to connect them.”

In the 20 years since the program launched, more than 240 Ball State student teachers have taught children of U.S. military and civilian personnel stationed on military bases, such as Ramstein, Germany, where their dependents are ready for a world-class education. Unlike many student teaching programs, Ball State education majors live and work together in the same communities and explore the host country.

“This is evidence of Ball State’s unique commitment to their students who pursue a degree in education,” says Linda, who earned special education certification for learning disabilities and emotional and behavioral disorders at Ball State.

Did You Know?
Federal employees, including DoDEA educators, may be eligible for reduced tuition for graduate school courses through Ball State’s relationship with the Federal Academic Alliance. Learn More.

Linda retired as principal deputy director and associate director of academics in 2019 after 33 years with DoDEA. “Many educators make DoDEA their career as I did because it is a way to serve our country,” she says.

Before her retirement, she managed the instructional and educational programs of DoDEA’s 166 schools which enrolled 72,000 students worldwide.

“Guiding curriculum and instruction for over 166 schools around the world had many challenges and rewards,” says Linda. “I would not say the job was easy, but it was most rewarding working with military-connected students and families as well as the many dedicated and professional teachers and administrators.”

Rachel Geesa, assistant clinical professor of educational leadership at Ball State, says Linda was a role model to her when she worked with DoDEA as a teacher and administrator in Japan.

“We were pleased to have her visit because she wanted to talk with teachers, students, families, staff, and administrators, says Rachel. “She had the desire to continue to improve the student teaching program and enhance the opportunities and partnerships that were available between DoDEA and Ball State.””

Dr. Roy Weaver, retired dean of the Teachers College and an advocate of the student teaching program, remembers a heroic move by Linda several years ago when, four days before students were to leave the country, paperwork had not been processed to clear the group’s departure.

According to Roy, Linda worked with the appropriate DoDEA personnel to process the details just in time.

“Tickets had been purchased, teaching assignments had been made, housing had been secured—all those arrangements were in place,” he says. “Without Linda’s quick response and follow-through, the students would not have been able to go, which would have been devastating,” he says.

In 2019, DoDEA created the Dr. Linda L. Curtis Educator of Promise Award to recognize one educator who demonstrated teacher leadership qualities each year. In 2020, she received a Teachers College Distinguished Service Award for her achievements.

In Rachel Geesa’s nomination letter for the award, she wrote: “Dr. Curtis is a lifelong learner, exemplary educator, powerful leader, and motivational mentor. We are grateful for her support and service to educators of military-connected students and Ball State.”

“We are Just Getting Started”: Gerrity on Online Music Education Concentration

Speaking of Ball State’s online master of music with a concentration in music education, Kevin Gerrity, associate professor of music education, can’t contain his pride, nor his joy. 

“Our online program has become a quick success, and we are just getting started,” he says of the program launched in 2020. 

Kevin says the program met its enrollment goal much sooner than expected and continues to see an increase in student demand.. 

A Graduation Celebration 

“We recently celebrated our first two graduates from the program, who completed the program a semester ahead of schedule,” he says.

The online master’s was launched to support the growth of K-12 music educators and provide a quality foundation for those considering doctoral study. 

“I think the program’s appeal among students is that it is rather affordable, has a rigorous curriculum taught by expert faculty, and is practical and achievable while teaching full time,” he says.  

Courses Provide Practical Solutions 

Kevin says online professional development courses give practical solutions to challenges that in-service music teachers, who comprise most of the enrollment, face each day. 

“It is often the case that our faculty discuss and model specific strategies that the candidates themselves request because of personal struggle or interest,” he says. “We can tailor our discussion to their specific needs. These strategies can be easily implemented into their classroom the very next day.” 

Kevin points out that Ball State’s music education curriculum is unique.  

“Most teacher candidates, despite four years of learning, will end up teaching ‘the way they were taught’ when they were students in K-12 music programs,” says Kevin. “But we are able to dig deeper. We challenge our students to question what they teach and how they teach it, always taking into account the unique needs of their students.” 

Faculty Prepared at Top-notch Programs  

He says it makes a difference that students learn from nationally known and award-winning professors. 

Ball State faculty hold specialized doctoral and/or terminal degrees from the best-known music education programs in the country, he adds. 

“We have music education experts in every field—a band specialist, a string music specialist, a secondary education music specialist, a choral music specialist, and so on,” he says. “At many institutions, music education courses are often taught by music faculty who are content specialists, but not music educators that have actually taught in K-12 public schools.” 

He notes that Ball State’s music education faculty have more than 200 years of combined experience, half of which was spent as public or private school music teachers in K-12 settings.  

Kevin Invested Years in K-12, Too 

As an example, Kevin spent 14 years teaching instrumental and general music in Ohio before joining the Ball State faculty, who have come to be recognized by many peers and colleagues as experts in their field because they regularly participate as leaders in state, regional, and national conferences. 

Pride and joy are also what he feels for his music education alumni. 

“So many Ball State grads, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, are doing great things in Indiana schools,” he says. “I want prospective students to know that choosing our program will also put them in the company of all of our alumni who continue to do amazing things within our profession.” 


Kendra Martz, MBA Alumna, Saw Her Future on NBC Dateline

As a youngster, Kendra Martz was so touched by an NBC Dateline episode about the bionic arm that she made her career choice on the spot. “I was immediately intrigued,” says the 2021 Ball State Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduate, “and ever since, I knew I wanted to go into biomedical engineering.” 

Growing up in Boise, Idaho, Kendra’s ambitions led her to California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo to earn a bachelor’s in bioengineering and biomedical engineering. After graduation, she was hired as a development engineer contractor by Zimmer Biomet, a medical device company headquartered in Warsaw, Indiana.  

At the time, her manager was pursuing a Ball State MBA. “He was the first person that vouched for how flexible the program was for those with a full-time job,” says Kendra, who today is senior development engineer. She knows of a product manager, packing engineer, and manufacturing engineer at Zimmer who are Ball State MBA students. 

She’s a Believer in a Degree You Can Apply 

“I’m a big believer in getting a degree in the hopes that you can apply your knowledge for a future job,” she says. “It needs to be applicable to your field or a future opportunity that is realistic for you. I didn’t want to get an MBA just to pad my resume.” 

She recalls that classes in her bachelor’s program focused on careers in research and academia. “There wasn’t a large focus on industry and how engineers benefit from knowledge of business operations,” she says. 

As a new employee at Zimmer, she realized how much business decisions can impact engineering.  

“You can design a surgical instrument that has all sorts of bells and whistles and has pristine functionality,” she explains, “but could be so over engineered that it’s confusing to the customer and doesn’t improve patient outcomes.” 

Pursued Professional Experience First 

Having been advised to get professional experience before doing an MBA, Kendra was four years into her career before enrolling and opting for Ball State’s general MBA.

“A general MBA allowed me to tailor the program for my current role as development engineer, and post-graduation role, as a project manager,” says Kendra, adding, “I took a specific project management class and health economics and policy as it was relevant to my company’s role in personal healthcare.” 

Online classes were ideal for Kendra.  

“I appreciated how I could feel more engaged and connected to classes by actually ‘sitting’ in a class online,” she says. “Classes that allowed me to rewatch lectures at a different time and were predictable on assignment delivery dates were important for me to organize and balance my life between class and work.” 

Online Helped Her Around Busy Seasons 

Kendra says online instruction allowed her to work around high-volume seasons of work and still attend classes at her own pace. 

She found that personal attention from the faculty was also possible online.

“Professors were very prompt via email and understanding my travel schedule pre-pandemic,” she says. “Also, I received very thorough comments and constructive feedback in long-form writing and presentation assignments. It was important input that I could apply to the next assignment.” 

Zimmer Role is Rewarding 

Kendra says it’s rewarding that her role with Zimmer can improve patients’ lives—and hit close to home. 

Both of my parents have had joint replacements,” she says, “so I understand how a hip or shoulder replacement can impact a patient’s future and quality of life.” 

Master’s Program Gives Henderson the Interaction He Preferred

After deciding to pursue another school’s master of business administration (MBA) program with a technology emphasis, state technologist Chris Henderson soon realized he had another decision to make.  

“What I failed to realize was how much the social learning component meant to me,” he says. “Selecting a graduate program is not just about the academics, but also about the network of people and faculty that you work with, and the program that I selected was not ideal for my needs.”  

When he learned about Ball State’s online master of science in information and communication sciences (ICS)—and its interdisciplinary blend of technology, business, leadership, and communications—Chris says what to do next “was an easy decision to make.” 

Works Between Technology, Partner Agencies 

Bearing the title of what he calls “a word salad,” Chris is deputy chief technology officer for enterprise architecture and relationship management for the State of Indiana, through the Indiana Office of Technology. 

“My role is to help facilitate and steward the collaboration between the centralized technology support agency and the 75-plus partner agencies we serve,” he says. 

Chris has worked for four state agencies over the last 20 years and says he “‘grew up’ working in the Indiana State Park system, starting my public service at 20 years old.”

“Serving Hoosiers is Powerful Motivator” 

“The mission-focused work and reward of serving Hoosiers has been a powerful motivator for me since joining the State,” says Chris. “Many of the folks I have worked with over the years have been incredibly smart, diligent workers, and truly passionate about what they do.” 

That passion is infectious, he says.  

“There is a very good chance that I will end up hiring ICS alumni to join us at the Indiana Office of Technology,” says Chris. 

The flexibility of the online MS in ICS program enabled him to go part-time across six semesters and substitute a course that supported his career plans instead of a core requirement. He graduated with his master’s in 2021. 

Immersive Learning Taught in Every Course 

“The immersive learning opportunities and real-world issues were true in nearly every course for me with some specific examples including conducting competitive analysis for a pre-startup company, writing machine learning algorithms for facial recognition, and producing research and recommendations for cloud architecture for a consulting company,” says Chris of the program’s course work. 

The program’s social learning components provided him the network of professionals and alumni he wanted. 

Life’s Possibilities Inspired by Alumni Network 

“These folks were honestly world class and offered perspectives and insights that are invaluable to those considering careers or roles in specific segments of the industry,” he says. “Numerous conversations with faculty and alumni have both inspired me and expanded my view of what is possible in my life.” 

Being able to bounce ideas off classmates in roles like his has been a great resource, he adds. 

“The course work was engaging, practical, and incredibly relevant to innovation and emerging technologies,” says Chris. “The program isn’t easy, but I had a great deal of fun along the way taking on that challenge and met a stellar network of students, faculty, and alumni.” 


Ryan Wiaranowski Calls Master’s in EMDD “Ultimate Experience”

When Ryan Wiaranowski began interviewing for UX jobs after earning his master’s in emerging media design and development (EMDD), he had answers, strategies, and a portfolio at the ready. 

“I know I got my first job at Quest [Diagnostics] because I could speak about the design thinking strategies and lessons learned,” he says, referring to his UX architect job with the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services. 

Ryan says his master’s in EMDD was still working for him when he moved on to become director of experience design with BioReference Laboratories in Cincinnati, Ohio, and part of the largest full-service specialty laboratory in the U.S.  

Communication Skills Required 

Working with product, IT, marketing, operations, and delivery divisions at BioReference, Ryan oversees a team of seven designers. 

“Being a director now, and having to hire UX designers, the first thing I look for are communication skills,” he says, noting that the EMDD helped him develop speaking and leadership skills.  

Ryan says there is a strategy behind the program’s course work. 

“The course work is the foundation,” he says. “It provides a set of strategies and techniques required to enter the field.” 

Mentoring Designers Brings Reward  

Now, he speaks from experience when it comes to his designer team: “Being able to mentor them, develop their skills, and watch them succeed, is the most rewarding feeling I’ve had professionally.” 

Ryan joined BioReference Laboratories in 2020 when the company was becoming a national leader in COVID 19 testing solutions. 

“I have spent the last two years creating digital solutions and strategies to help the organization test as many patients as possible throughout the pandemic,” he says.  

Helps Launch Scarlet Health® 

In 2021, his team helped launch Scarlet Health®, which provides in-home laboratory appointments, including COVID-19. 

“With Scarlet, a phlebotomist will come to your home or workplace to collect the sample for the lab,” he says.  

Ryan designed and executed the creative/UX strategy for Scarlet. “I love being able to play a role in people getting care and doing so in a way that is as comfortable and convenient as possible,” he says. 

Ryan credits Ball State’s EMDD degree with providing “the ultimate experience. I could not have achieved the success I’ve had in my career without the program.”

Commends EMDD Founder Dr. Palilonis 

Ryan also commends Dr. Jennifer Palilonis, professor of multi-media journalism and founder of the EMDD program.  

“Dr. Jennifer Palilonis is a tremendous mentor. I knew when I talked with Jenn, I would always get feedback that would provide clarity—or challenge me to be better,” he says.  

Ryan contends that the EMDD provides flexibility for graduates. 

“While UX design turned out to be my career,” he says, “the methodologies and strategies the program teaches, and real-world experiences you gain, could land you a career in any profession you are passionate about.” 

Why Bridget-Anne Burke at CNN Believes EMDD is Emerging

Had she not taken an elective course in video production in high school, Bridget-Anne Burke, graduate of Ball State’s emerging media design and development (EMDD) program, might be working with whales and other aquatic mammals. Instead, she is editorial operations trainer at CNN, instructing current and incoming employees on technical applications and operations. 

Until Bridget-Anne took that high school elective, marine biology was her career quest. By the time she was a college undergraduate, her passion was for television news and fueled by opportunities to film, edit, and direct weekly episodes for her college news station.

After graduation, she worked as a professional videographer and photojournalist, before joining CNN as digital media coordinator. 

While working remotely for the network at the start of the pandemic, she realized she had time to spare and began to search for master’s degrees. She knew she needed a program that was mostly online and on her schedule so she could continue full time employment. 

“The interesting curriculum and topics that EMDD offered seemed like a perfect addition to my existing knowledge base,” says Bridget-Anne, who also noted, “Ball State’s program was significantly lower in cost than some of the other online programs I was looking at.” 

She says the flexibility of the EMDD program was a “huge perk.”  

While the low-residency, mostly online EMDD program typically meets once each semester, Bridget-Anne’s cohort met only once because of pandemic precautions.  

“However, when we were able to meet our colleagues in person, it was an exciting experience,” she says. “We were able to work on problems and solutions and prepare for our projects for the upcoming semester in a different way than if it had just been over Zoom.” 

In one of Bridget-Anne’s projects, she served as social media manager and assistant videographer for a team of students that produced Match Point 2.0: The Rise of HCBU Men’s Volleyball, the sequel to a transmedia documentary produced the year before. 

For this sequel, students used Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram for social media. In the first 100 days, Instagram registered a 14 percent increase in followers and engaged nearly 55 thousand Instagram accounts compared to the campaign for the original documentary. 

“Emerging” is a key word in the emerging media design and development title, observes Bridget-Anne.

“This program is very focused on up-and-coming skills as well as current trends,” she says. “To be innovative in the areas of media and design you need to understand building blocks, but you have to be focused on the future.” 

The EMDD master’s degree was designed to accommodate working professionals and distant learners. 

“It is a good fit for people who are more autonomous and self-directed and empowers its participants to take more control of their learning and goals” says Bridget-Anne. 

From her time in the industry, she has seen many more females in news in front of the camera, and in roles like writing and producing, but fewer working in sound, directing, editing, and filming. 

“I knew that I wanted to continue in a more technical role in a larger market and city,” she says about her move to CNN in Atlanta. 

Today she is preparing for a promotion to a senior trainer role. “I believe my experiences in my master’s program have made me more qualified for this promotion,” she says. “Being introduced to emerging concepts has allowed me to bring back fresh and more unique ideas to my department at CNN.” 

She believes it will make a difference in her future. 

“I will be able to use the knowledge and skills learned from this program for many years to come.” 



Erin Boomershine Inspired to Pursue Master’s Degree While Wrapping Up Bachelor’s

While finishing her bachelor’s in computer and information technology (CIT), Erin Boomershine was already doing graduate research toward Ball State’s online master of science in information and communication sciences. 

In fact, she’s teaming up with Ball State professors on two research projects. 

A primary project, “The Machine Wisdom Project,” will have local application, says Erin. Her research, along with that of Chris Davison, associate professor of computer and information technology, and David Hua, associate professor of computer technology, will lead to an application allowing students in the Applied Technology building to register their comfort level with the building’s temperature. An artificial intelligence system will use that information to, ultimately, alter the HVAC system to improve student comfort.  

Erin Receives Funding for CareDEX Project 

For a secondary project, known as CareDEX, Erin has received funding from the University of California-Irvine’s Summer Research Undergraduate Fellowship. CareDEX, a project founded by Professor Davison, enables an “incident commander” to communicate with first responders in case of an emergency in assisted living facilities. Erin’s role is to encourage local assisted living facilities to participate in the research and testing process.  

Explaining her fascination with computer and information technology, Erin says, “It encourages exploration and discussion regarding common problems in the world of computers. This discussion allows students to begin crafting their own solutions, which is one of the things I love about CIT.” 

Says Smaller Classes Meet Student Needs 

Erin insists that “smaller class sizes make the learning experience more tailored to students’ needs.” 

That was the case, she says, in courses such as systems administration fundamentals, internetwork design and administration, and infrastructure services. She not only explored a variety of subjects but also discussed her exploration with classmates.  

“All of these classes were extremely immersive as the final projects were case studies or RFPs,” says Erin, referring to projects where students function as tech consultants. “Not only were these projects interesting but they allowed me to understand the formal communication aspect of technology, which I have grown to love.” 

 Worked as Teaching Assistant 

As an undergraduate, Erin worked as a teaching assistant within the Department of Computer Science on campus.  

“This position helped me further my formal communication regarding technology and code,” she says. “I have learned multiple ways to explain problems and solutions to those who may not be CIT or computer science students.” 

Profs Showed Erin Her Potential 

Professors Davison and Hua helped Erin understand her potential when she was a CIT major.  

“Both of these professors have helped me understand CIT from an outside and industry perspective via personal stories,” she says. “These stories helped me understand the vast area this major covers and all the possibilities that will be unlocked post-graduation.” 

Post-graduation, Erin plans to become a business analyst or technology consultant. 

Master’s in EMDD Launches Parker Swartz’s Career in Chicago Marketing

“I loved going into his office because there was a lot of creative energy there,” says Parker, graduate of Ball State’s emerging media design and development (EMDD) master’s degree. 

The EMDD program emphasizes three key areas that are in high demand in the workforce: design thinking, human-computer interaction, and cross-platform storytelling. 

A generation later, Parker works as marketing manager for Blinkfire Analytics, a marketing analytics company based in downtown Chicago, located in the West Loop. 

Parker says Blinkfire is a leading business intelligence and marketing analytics platform that evaluates sports, media, and entertainment sponsorships across social media, digital, and advanced TV. He still gets a thrill from the marketing ambience.

“Their Creativity Inspires Me Every Day” 

“One of the best things of working in marketing and advertising is the creative atmosphere and people,” he says. “At Blinkfire, I have coworkers building computer programs that are changing the world of sports. Being around that kind of creativity inspires me every day.” 

Parker is convinced that his graduate degree prepared him for his work in the world of marketing. 

He’s convinced it can do the same for others in the field: “I believe this program has a ton to offer marketing and advertising students and professionals specifically because of how the marketing industry is adopting the rapidly growing digital world.”

Parker began his career at Upshot, an advertising agency also located in Chicago’s West Loop.  

Started Career in Advertising 

“To be able to start my career in Chicago at an amazing advertising agency like Upshot and work with an incredible client in Constellation Brands [Corona, Modelo, and Pacifico Beer] was a dream come true,” he says. 

Parker says, “You can’t beat downtown Chicago. The city has everything: Lake Michigan, beaches, world-renowned museums, sports, mass amounts of entertainment, and any restaurant you can think of. I think the city inspires everyone who works here.” 

Now at Blinkfire, Parker works with many sports leagues, teams, and players across the globe that use their platform. 

Blinkfire is Perfect Blend of Passion and Abilities 

“As a sports nerd and NCAA D1 collegiate volleyball player,” says Parker. “I think my role at Blinkfire is the perfect blend of passion and abilities for me.” 

The fact that the EMDD program enrolled students from diverse undergraduate backgrounds appealed to Parker. 

“I got to work with people who studied telecommunications, journalism, art, science, and much more,” he says. “I think EMDD does a great job of giving you the tools to success in a modern work environment within your chosen industry.” 

Applied lab experiences are the centerpiece of the EMDD. Parker applies storytelling strategies learned in the EMDD program to his daily work. 

“Our design thinking labs have proven to be incredibly relevant in my workplace,” notes Parker. “I have used ideation strategies from our labs countless times. And it has helped me solve problems surrounding marketing tactics, competitive research, and digital solutions across many forms of business.” 

Parker admits he didn’t compare the program to similar programs because Ball State EMDD is so unique. 

“I knew some of the most talented professors at Ball State were a part of the program,” he says, noting that faculty truly care about their students. “Working with amazing professors such as Dr. Jennifer Palilonis, Dr. Adam Kuban, and Dr. Kevin Moloney was a huge draw.” 

Aihua Li, Master’s in Data Science Professor, is Living Example

Aihua Li, assistant teaching professor of data science, uses herself as an example of what one can do with an advanced degree in data science. 

“If you are equipped with knowledge in data science,” she says, “there is a high chance that you can get a great job, no matter where you are in this growing field.”   

Aihua came to Ball State in 2021 after doing five years of post-doctoral work at Boise Aerospace Laboratory at Idaho State University and Boise State University as well as one year at Miami University in Ohio. She completed all her academic degrees at Beijing Normal and Lanzhou universities in China. 

Her expertise in data science and applications in geography and environmental science led her to the Ball State faculty position. 

One of the First Full-time Faculty 

“I am very proud to be one of the first full-time faculty in the program,” she says of Ball State’s master’s in data science, which was launched in 2020. “I have contributed a lot to the program, and I am very happy to observe its growth.” 

The 32-credit, online-only, non-thesis degree provides a strong foundation in math, computer science, and statistics and programming skills that are in high demand in the businesses of software development, network and systems engineering, business analysis, and data analysis, and mathematics, to name a few.  

“Even in an online learning environment, we place an emphasis on smaller class sizes and greater personal attention from faculty,” says Aihua.  

Aihua is Interdisciplinary Geospatial Scientist 

Aihua says she was trained to be “an interdisciplinary geospatial scientist, with lots of experience in big data and statistical analysis.” 

“There is a big increase in data and information over the world, but how to make good use of these data is difficult and needs people with the expertise,” she says. “Any company and institute that uses data need data analysts to conduct a quality job.” 

The most lucrative jobs in data analysis,” she notes, “are those that use data to make investment decisions, target customers, assess risks, and decide on capital allocations.”   

What Students Want from the Program 

What’s attracting students to the program, she observes, is mastering skills for current jobs and future jobs, and enhancing their research in academic fields.  

“Real-world problems are used as examples in our classes to train students, so they can immediately apply the skills after graduation to their careers,” says Aihua. “Students are expected to conduct more complex projects or research during the courses to achieve the goal of addressing real-world problems.” 

“The knowledge you gain in these courses can easily expand into a number of discipline-specific applications in the health, environmental, social, and behavioral sciences,” she says.

She is Scholar of Big Data Analysis 

With ten-plus years of research in environment and ecology, Aihua is a scholar of big data analysis and its applications on natural resources, ecology, and environment. 

Which is why she self-identifies as an environmentally-friendly and data-sensitive person in nature.”  

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