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Special Feature

Data Science: A seismic shift changing how we research and learn

Data science is transforming Northwestern - and the world

A tidal wave of digital information has ushered in a new era of computing and analysis in the 21st century. Data science, or "big data," is affecting every aspect of Northwestern’s learning and research enterprises — among other things, leading to breakthroughs in precision medicine; contributing to a revolution in astronomy with profound insights about the universe; transforming the scope and depth of social science research with significant policy implications, and fueling research about consumer behavior that is affecting how companies do business.

Explore our series on data science

Our multimedia coverage investigates how various fields of academia are learning from and using massive volumes of information.

Photo of Globe showing data lines wrapping it
Impact on Northwestern

Data science is reaching into every aspect of daily life and transforming Northwestern’s learning and research enterprises. Our scholars believe that in a decade, a knowlege of data science basics will be as important as an understanding of algebra, and training is already underway. 

See how it's changing teaching and learning
Digital Medicine

At Feinberg School of Medicine, data science is transforming biomedical research, propelling important discoveries in rare and common diseases and beginning to translate those findings into new treatments and individualized patient care.

Read about the future of patient care
african american toddler girl eating from a green bowl
Computing and Social Policy

Northwestern's social science researchers are using data science to address some of society’s biggest problems. They are tracking children over time, studying how people manage their online identities and conducting cutting-edge studies on consumer behavior in the digital age.

Learn how social scientists use data

Data storage, by the numbers

Data science is transforming biomedical research at the Feinberg School of Medicine, largely through Northwestern Medicine’s Enterprise Data Warehouse. The mind-boggling 1,203 terabytes of data in the warehouse include 8.4 million unique patient records and 530 million lab results.

1,203 terabytesof data in total

8.4 millionpatients in Feinberg's data warehouse

530 millionlab results since 1998

Making sense of data science as it transforms research

Read about big data training and the surprising collaborations across the University. In a glance, see how Feinberg doctors are sifting through mountains of data to connect patients with the most precise treatments. And hear how students from disparate disciplines think about data science.

photo of Luis Amaral standing by a wall

A champion of big data training

Luis Amaral, co-director of the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO), trains students and scholars across the University in data science. His annual big data boot camp has evolved into a for-credit course for undergraduates, and he says immersion in the “new language” of data analysis is a necessity for teaching and learning today. 

Read Q&A with Luis Amaral

Picturing precision medicine

How do the millions of files from an electronic data warehouse make it to the treatment of individual patients? Our infographic shows how doctors sift through data to zero in on a single patient.

See how it works

infographic that says "70 billion observations (bits od data)"

Voicing the impact of data science

See students reflect on what big data means to them.

The multidimensional world of data science

Watch videos of faculty and students as they discuss the impact of data science across a number of disciplines and industries.

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