Data, Analytics and Computing Research Group


The challenges of effective management and analysis of data are pervasive across the Queen’s community and represent a significant opportunity for Queen’s to enhance its research and educational presence in the area. The collection, storage and analysis of large data sets are important aspects of the work of research groups in all faculties and in units such as ITS, HPCVL and the Library. The Data, Analytics and Computing (DAC) Research Group at Queen’s University will support the development of expertise in research, teaching, management and policy issues related to advanced computing and analytics, digital infrastructure and data. It will foster leadership, collaboration and dialogue among researchers, teachers, practitioners and trainees from various disciplines, and from industry, with an interest in DAC. The Group will seek to provide support services to researchers and teachers in the areas of data management, data preservation, data curation, data security, high performance computing and big data analytics, and help support the training of emerging scholars and highly-qualified personnel in these areas.

Planned Research or Scholarly Activities

    The objectives of the DAC Research Group are the following:
  • To enhance the study, instruction and use of advanced computing, analytics and data at Queen’s University, and position the DAC Research Group provincially and nationally as a sustainable community where researchers, teachers, practitioners and trainees can exchange ideas, best practices and knowledge in a constructive, collegial and productive manner.
  • To establish a strong interdisciplinary hub of faculty, postdoctoral fellows, students and staff with interests and/or expertise in the use of high performance computing, big data, and analytics at Queen’s, and promote collaboration with academic institutions, business and non-profits across Canada.
  • To advance Queen’s as a leader in provincial and national discussions on issues pertaining to digital infrastructure, high performance computing, data management and analytics. To play a leadership role and demonstrate best practices in the application of methods to achieve data security.

In the first year (2015-6) the activities of the DAC group will focus on creating synergies among members of the group in order to foster research collaborations, building recognition of, and interest in, data analytics and advanced computing, in general, and the DAC group, in particular, within Queen’s and the wider community.

    Activities planned for the first year include the following:

  • Creation of a (this) website and discussion group for the DAC group members.
  • Establish a plan for initial support of DAC activities through university faculties, departments and the Office of the VPR, which are designed to
    capitalize on current opportunities that will enhance research prominence, internationalization and the student learning experience.
  • Establish a plane to seek sponsorship from corporate (eg CMC, IBM) and other organizations (eg KEDCO, hospital).
  • Organize a series of six seminars in the areas of data analytics and advanced computing. Where possible, we will seek to piggyback off of existing seminar series in related departments, in order to help fund external speakers. An ice-breaker panel event will be held in late April or early May of 2015. A set of experts, from both academia and industry, will be invited to present their views on general topic such as “research landscape and challenges for big data”. A reception will follow to provide time for networking and discussion.
  • Plan and deliver three workshops on topics in the areas of data analytics and advanced computing. The first workshop in the fall of 2015 is planned on the topic of Cognitive Computing and can serve as a template for vents that enhance the student learning experience, as well as lead to innovative interdisciplinary educational approaches .
  • Members of the group will participate in a planned NSERC CREATE proposal coordinated by the Faculty of Health Sciences for a program on big data management and analytics.

    In the second year (2016-17) the activities of the DAC group will include the following:

  • Continue the seminar and workshop series started in the first year.
  • It is expected that by the second year the group will have a good understanding of the research and teaching expertise in the DAC areas and that some research collaborations among group members will have begun. The group will identify and pursue potential research funding opportunities to support work of DAC members and/or transition the group to a center or institute.
  • Produce a catalogue of DAC-related courses offered at Queen’s and use it to identify training opportunities for DAC members.
  • Identify shortcomings in the catalogue of DAC-related courses and, where needed, propose new courses.

Mode of Operation

The DAC group will initially be led by a four member executive team consisting of Christopher Ferrall (Economics), John Fisher (Health Sciences), Patrick Martin (Computing) and James McLellan (Chemical Engineering). The team will work together to identify topics of common interest, schedule meetings and promote DAC to the wider Queen’s community. Regular formal meetings of the group will be held through a planned series of seminars and workshops. It is hoped that additional informal meetings will develop through the interactions that take place in the formal ones.

Initially, the research group will not have a physical presence but will develop a website and electronic discussion group. Interim administrative will be sought on advice from the Office of the VPR.