A BGSU graduate shaking hands with BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers.
Dr. Jishan Ahmed '23 is the first to earn a doctorate in data science from BGSU.

BGSU awards first doctorate in data science four years after launching rigorous program to meet workforce demands

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As a member of the program's first cohort, Dr. Jishan Ahmed '23 lauded the program’s multi-disciplinary approach and supportive faculty

By Laren Kowalczyk '07

Dr. Jishan Ahmed '23 was in his second master’s degree program for mathematics when, out of curiosity, he took a data science course — a decision that ultimately changed his career trajectory.

In the course, Ahmed worked on a predictive modeling project for breast cancer and discovered the impact he could make on people’s lives as a data scientist.

That realization inspired him to pursue a doctorate in data science at Bowling Green State University, where he became the program’s first graduate in August 2023.

“BGSU has helped shape my career and life in many different ways,” Ahmed said. “I developed a strong knowledge of data science from the program’s diverse and rigorous curriculum and am using that to positively contribute to the field.”

BGSU was among the first 20 universities in the country to develop a doctorate in data science, an emerging and high-demand field expected to grow by 35% through 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Although the number of doctorate programs in data science has increased since BGSU began its program in 2019, Dr. Robert Green, program coordinator, said the University’s is among the most rigorous.

Three people wearing graduation gowns at the BGSU Hooding Ceremony for doctoral graduates.
Dr. Jishan Ahmed was hooded by Dr. Jennifer Waldron, vice provost and dean of graduate and professional programs, and Dr. Robert Green, associate professor and data science program coordinator. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)

A blend of three disciplines

The multi-disciplinary program is a blend of computer science, mathematics and statistics, with faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Schmidthorst College of Business teaching various communication and ethical data use courses.

Green said those courses, unique to the BGSU data science doctorate, educate students on ethically gathering and analyzing big data and effectively communicating those findings to various audiences.

“Through this program, we’re creating a new type of individual in data science that isn’t just a computer scientist who can do analysis or a statistician who can code,” said Green, the Shantanu and Reni Narayen Associate Professor of Computer Science. “We’re developing a unique individual who has depth in multiple areas.”

Ahmed valued the multi-disciplinary approach and the broad knowledge he gained through the program. The supportive culture was also crucial to his success, he said.

“Dr. Green was the best computer science professor I’ve ever had,” Ahmed said. “He always gave me positive reinforcement and was very supportive and encouraging throughout the program. All of the professors involved in the data science program were incredibly helpful.”

A man and woman standing in front of the BGSU letters and a child in the background.
Dr. Jishan Ahmed with his wife Fatema Tuz Zohra and son Tihami celebrating his graduation as the first to earn a doctorate in data science from BGSU.

Creating public good

As part of the degree program, Ahmed completed an internship at a healthcare consulting firm where he used his knowledge in data science and artificial intelligence to identify misdiagnosed cases of chronic diseases.

The goal, Ahmed said, was to ensure healthcare providers could make the most informed decisions regarding their patient’s care.

Aside from the research required for the program, Ahmed also conducts community-based research in his free time, motivated by his desire to create public good.

“I want to help the community,” Ahmed said. “My reasoning for becoming a data scientist was because I felt I could contribute more in this field. There’s so much good that can result from my work as a data scientist.”

Ahmed is now an assistant data science professor at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, helping the university grow its data science program and develop a certificate in data science for working professionals.

Green said Ahmed is kind, driven and has a strong research mentality, all qualities that will serve him well in his new position.

“He has a lot of knowledge to share, and I imagine he’ll create a really rich culture within his classes and department,” Green said. “It’s a point of pride for the University and for me that Jishan is the first to receive a doctorate in data science from BGSU.”

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | mbratto@bgsu.edu | 419-372-6349

Updated: 11/01/2023 09:36AM