The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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New Senior Data Scientist is Helping to Bridge the Gap Between Industry Needs and Academic Research

Tom Bernardin joined the Center for Data Science (CDS) in March as Senior Data Scientist. In this new position for the center, Tom will be working to bridge  the gap between the data science needs of potential partners, such as companies and university departments, and the data science resources in the College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS). Tom received his PhD in economics from UMass Amherst in 2013, focusing his research on the relationship between mortgage securities and home prices during the 2008 financial crisis. After completing his degree, Tom took a faculty position teaching economics and statistics at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, wherehe mentored students on data science research projects such as predicting patient readmissions to hospitals. Tom has also worked for industry on projects ranging from predictive modeling on patient payments of hospital bills, to modeling alternative data to gain insights on the performance of financial markets.

 

Given his background in modeling diverse data sets, Tom is well-positioned to make connections between CICS and both internal and external entities. Already, he is managing graduate students on a project with the UMass Amherst classics department involving computer analysis of images of artwork in the ancient city of Pompeii. Tom is also scoping out a project with the UMass Amherst  Fine Arts Center to help them better predict box office sales. According to Tom, “I haven’t had a problem drumming up business. It seems that there is a lot of demand for working, practicing, data scientists to help departments in UMass and to connect with industry.”

 

For Brant Cheikes, executive director of CDS, Tom’s role speaks to the mission of the centeras a service organization that works to help faculty, students, and industry partners to be successful in their endeavors. In the past, when a company or organization came to CDS looking for help, it was not always immediately obvious whether there was a strong match between their need and the center’s expertise.

 

Brant explains, “Now that Tom is here we are better able to make those connections. We now have an experienced data scientist who can invest time and energy in understanding a particular company problem. What's their data? What are the unique characteristics of the data?  What problem are they really trying to solve? Where can our faculty have an impact, and how can we involve students in a way that furthers their education?”

 

While Tom is ramping up with internal projects, he is also ready and willing to talk with potential industry partners about prospective projects. If you are interested in engaging with CICS data science faculty on a business issue, contact Tom (tbernard@cs.umass.edu) to begin a conversation about if and how we can help.