Master’s programs in biological data analytics, microscope imaging to roll out this fall

DNA and cells artistic rendering

Two new master’s degrees – one in the analysis of biological data, the other in the technology and design of microscopes – will be offered at Colorado State University starting this fall.

CSU’s College of Natural Sciences is now accepting applications for the fall semester in the Professional Science Master’s Degree in Biological Data Analytics and the Professional Science Master’s Degree in Microscope Imaging Technology. Both programs are housed in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology but are highly interdisciplinary, drawing coursework from a range of disciplines spanning a dozen departments at CSU.

Biological Data Analytics

With the 21st century becoming the era of “big data,” CSU developed the new master’s program in Biological Data Analytics to answer the growing need for trained professionals in high-level analysis of biological data.

In the biosciences, big data is primarily driven from studies characterizing molecular systems, including genomes, transcriptomes, proteomes and metabolomes. Such studies produce voluminous amounts of data that require expertise in both data science and biology.

The new program was developed jointly by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Department of Biology. Organizers designed the curriculum in coordination with industry leaders who have long identified gaps in workforce training for biological data experts. The program leadership will include biochemistry professor Shing Ho, as director; and biochemistry associate professor Tingting Yao, as academic adviser.

“Different types of so-called ‘omics’ data need further integration and model development,” Yao said. “We are really responding to the fact that a variety of big data is generated from biological studies, more broadly than just sequence data, which is the traditional type of dataset associated with bioinformatics.”

The two-year Professional Science Master’s Degree in Biological Data Analytics is intended to accommodate students from either a computer science or a biological background. “Each will have their strengths, but our courses are designed to help students fill in the background they are lacking,” Yao said. Furthermore, the new program is a logical complement to the College of Natural Sciences’ recently launched undergraduate data science major.

The degree program is accepting applications through July 15. Email for more information.

Microscope Imaging Technology

The Professional Science Master’s Degree in Microscope Imaging Technology is the first such master’s-level program available nationwide, according to organizers.

The one-year degree program will give students broad training in life sciences, cell cultures, optics, microscope design and data processing. The program is meant to fill an interdisciplinary void of people equipped to work in or lead an imaging facility at a university, research operation or government agency.

“The idea is for students to be comfortable across disciplinary lines – biology, hard sciences, optics, data management and business management,” said Jeff Field, director of the Microscope Imaging Network core facility at CSU, who will lead the new program.

The curriculum is designed to be open to a variety of backgrounds; students from disciplines ranging from physics and math to biochemistry are welcome to apply.

Developing microscopic imaging tools is a dynamic field that is constantly evolving. Field pointed out that various Nobel Prizes have been awarded for the development of imaging tools and techniques, from fluorescent proteins to super-resolution microscopy and holographic imaging. The new program will train students to be well versed in many kinds of imaging technologies and equipped to navigate changing demands and advances in the field.

Email for more information.