Grady Weyenberg, PhD, an alum of Waiakeawaena, Waiakea Intermediate and Waiakea High School, returns to the island after gaining cutting edge skills that he will now teach to local students.
A new data science program is being created at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and its first faculty hire—a statistical researcher fresh from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom—grew up on Hawaiʻi Island.
Grady Weyenberg will start his new position on Aug. 1 and is the first of four tenure-track assistant professors UH Hilo will hire in mathematics, computer science and the natural and social sciences by late 2019 to create the new program. While teaching courses and mentoring students, the new hires will work with existing faculty to develop a data science certificate program, followed by a baccalaureate degree.
Weyenberg was born on Maui, but came to Hilo at an early age and attended Waiakeawaena, Waiakea Intermediate and Waiakea High School before relocating to Arizona for his final two years of high school. He received his bachelor of science in mathematics and bachelor of science in physics from the University of Arizona-Tucson, and his master of science in statistics and doctor of philosophy in statistics from the University of Kentucky-Lexington.
He’ll be arriving at UH Hilo fresh from his current work as a research assistant in the Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. He previously taught various statistics courses and held related research appointments at the University of Kentucky.
Weyenberg has co-authored several studies on statistical methods for analyzing the evolutionary relationships between organisms, which were published in Bioinformatics and Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. His research projects in Bristol include studies of the genetic diversity and structure of the British Isles and Europe.
The new data science program is funded through UH Hilo’s participation in the $20 million ʻIke Wai project awarded to the state last year by the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), a statewide initiative funded by the National Science Foundation.
The ‘Ike Wai project will provide data and models that address the grand challenge of water sustainability. A diverse workforce of data scientists and water researchers will work in concert with the community, government and business to inform decision makers with high-quality data and predictive capacity. The project incorporates indigenous and local communities, and its robust, inclusive and diverse human capital pipeline of undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs and junior faculty will address water challenges at the academic and policy level.
UH Hilo students enrolled in the new data science program will analyze data sets generated by the ʻIke Wai project’s five-year study to create a data-driven, sustainable water future for the state of Hawaiʻi and its Pacific neighbors and those from previous EPSCoR-funded projects. Students will hone their data analysis skills by supporting the university’s active research faculty whose projects generate large amounts of data.