Holiday Message from Associate Chair Brent Coull

Brent CoullThe department has developed several new educational initiatives this past year. As Xihong mentioned, the School has approved a new Masters program in Health Data Science. This program affords several exciting opportunities for our department, including the opportunity to recruit students with backgrounds (e.g. computer science, software engineering) typically underrepresented in our department, new curriculum offerings in data science, and train public health students throughout the School in data science. This degree program will begin in Fall 2017, but several new classes in data science, machine learning, and computing for big data will be rolled out in the next year and a half, including a new course “Introduction to Data Science” to be taught by Rafa Irizarry next semester. Rafa and JP Onnela are developing and offering HarvardX on-line modules in data science as well. These modules open up entirely new possibilities of instruction in statistical computing, as we are exploring ways to blend classroom and video instruction to provide students a strong foundation in computation. Another new educational offering this year is an integrated epidemiology and biostatistics course developed jointly by Kim Gauvreau in Biostatistics and Nina Paynter in Epidemiology and taught to all MPH students in the School. Marcello Pagano has developed a new course “Not Just Statistics”, which is designed to teach quantitative reasoning and methods that can help overcome health inequities currently experienced in the US. In addition to these new courses, this academic year the department has undertaken a comprehensive review of the content offered in all of our Masters and doctoral courses, with recommendations to be implemented in the 2016-2017 academic year.

In summary, the department has been extremely busy moving forward with multiple educational initiatives this past year. The faculty are grateful to the students and the staff in the department, both of whom provided indispensible input into these efforts. We are excited to see what the next year holds. Happy holidays and warmest wishes for a happy and healthy 2016.