First BGSU data science doctorate graduate praises program’s multi-disciplinary approach, supportive faculty

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Committed to investing in in-demand programs that meet workforce needs, Bowling Green State University is one the first universities in the country to develop and offer a doctorate in data science.

Launched in 2019, the BGSU program is among the most rigorous available, applying a multi-disciplinary approach to an emerging and high-demand field expected to grow by 35% through 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Four years later, the program’s first graduate Dr. Jishan Ahmed '23, who graduated in August, is praising the University for helping him find success and advance his career.

“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.”

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.

Dr. Robert Green, program coordinator, said the 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.”

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.”

Updated: 10/27/2023 03:35PM