Big Data University of Melbourne

Big data attack

By Brett Szmajda

Modern problems require a multidisciplinary approach.

Could genetic testing help doctors diagnose and treat cancer more efficiently? How can we sustainably harvest our fisheries? What’s the best way to manage invasive species like cane toads?

To equip the next generation of scientists with the skills to tackle 21st Century problems like these, the University of Melbourne is introducing a computational biology major, which focuses on big data within their Bachelor of Science degree.

Big data problems require special analysis techniques to tackle the sheer volume of data. They also need people whose expertise sits at the intersection of the biological sciences, maths and computer science.

“Students gain the necessary training methods to analyse and attack big data,” says James McCaw, from the School of Mathematics and Statistics.

By the end of the degree, each student will have specialised in a chosen area of biology – like biochemistry or ecology – and learned analytical skills in maths, statistics or computer science.

By integrating theory and practical issues in this unique way, students gain an understanding of how to tackle major problems in the life sciences.

“This major is in the context of biology, but the data skills students learn – like how to receive data, analyse it, interpret it and exploit it – are so much more,” says James.

“This has great currency across areas of business, and people with these skills are in high demand in government.”

TO GET THERE: Bachelor of Science (Computational Biology) at The University of Melbourne