Carleton’s Areas of Excellence in Data Sciences

including Big Data, Data Analytics, and Social Sentiment Analytics

Among the best comprehensive universities in Canada, Carleton University is actively involved in data sciences, with over 170 researchers from five faculties and 26 university departments, schools and institutes (including cross-appointments) actively engaged in immensely varied research, with applications as far-ranging as criminal profiling, seismic modelling, statistical analysis, business intelligence and linguistic studies.

From among all the many projects and research interests at the University, there are several emerging areas of concentration. These eight main areas of particular interest to Carleton researchers are:

  • Health and Biomedical Informatics
  • Digital Humanities
  • Geomatics, climate monitoring and remote sensing
  • Computer Science and parallel computing
  • Medical Physics and Particle Physics
  • Engineering, modelling and simulation
  • Real Time and Distributed Systems RADS
  • Marketing and IT for business

Carleton Faculty Engaged in Data Analytics and Big Data Research

Health and Biomedical Informatics 

Carleton University is a research-intensive university that is making a huge impact on health research despite its comprehensive nature. Thanks to advances in technology and the ability to capture ever-increasing quantities of data, Carleton researchers are working across disciplines to tackle some of the most complex problems in healthcare today. Dr. Lara Varpio in the School of Linguistics is investigating information and communication technologies (ICT) as they are used in inter-professional healthcare teams while also studying mobile alerting technologies and electronic patient records. Researchers in the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering and the School of Information Technology are currently using biosignals, medical imaging, and simulations to develop novel biomedical sensing and measurement technologies and advanced data analytics.

Also in Engineering, the Carleton University Biomedical Engineering research group has successfully developed better methods for diagnosing diseases, improved the computer-assisted analysis of medical data and created research training systems such as surgical simulators. Researchers in the departments of Neurosciences, Biology, Physics and Chemistry are also making great strides in health research. Their interests include DNA repair studies, radiation treatments, drug design, and antimicrobial resistance. As the population ages, healthcare research is taking on greater importance, and Carleton researchers are working across campus and the globe to build on their combined expertise. One of the testimonials of Carleton’s engagement in this area is the recent creation of the inter-disciplinary Centre for Research on Health: Science, Technology and Policy, where Carleton researchers are actively working together and reaching out to various partners to solve healthcare issues with the power of Data Sciences.

Social Science and Humanities

The Social Sciences and Humanities researchers at Carleton are increasingly becoming bigger users of Data Sciences, as large data sets are opening up new research avenues. With an MA program in Digital Humanities and the Hypertext Laboratory, social science research and technology are becoming more closely connected. With the support of founding Director Dr. Brian Greenspan, members from Arts, Science and Engineering faculties are collaborating on projects involving digital text and narrative, game studies, locative media, digital theatre, film and new media studies. One data-intensive project of particular interest is the Augmented Browsing Client (ABC), which is being developed for real and virtual libraries and archives that will combine the benefits of physical stack searches with assisted web browsing, integrating physical and digital information in a seamless, intuitive interface. The project will bring together automated data mining tools, dynamic processing and situational guides in a handheld touchscreen device.

Another proponent of data sciences and the digital humanities is Dr. Michael Dorland in the School of Journalism and Communication. With media becoming more digitized and online-accessible, Dr. Dorland is interested in the implications for teaching and scholarship of the statistically-based concept of data mining and what he sees as any clear equivalent for text-based bodies of knowledge. Along with his colleagues, his work (including applications and aspects of digital visualization) is opening doors for others in the social sciences to explore all the options that large data sets can bring to the table.

Just as Carleton’s social scientists are embracing the potential of data sciences, so too are our environmental experts. Researchers from several departments are currently involved in ground-breaking work to improve the way researchers have traditionally gathered, analyzed and interpreted information. Much of this work is carried out through the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre under the leadership of Dr. Fraser Taylor. As one of the world’s leading cartographers, Dr. Taylor introduced, and continues to develop, the new paradigm of cybercartography. His research projects include studies on the preservation of First Nations’ knowledge and languages.

Geomatics, climate monitoring and remote sensing

Other researchers at the Centre are studying remote-sensing, multisensory cartography, open-source technology and interoperability, the management of geographic information and the Global Map project. Complementing the research at the Centre is the Geomatics and Landscape Ecology Research Laboratory which advances habitat modelling, mapping and species conservation science. With a directorship shared by four researchers in Geography, Biology and the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada, it is the epitome of the interconnected synergistic research that Carleton researchers are committed to. In fact, not only are our researchers working with colleagues in other departments, but Carleton researchers are also reaching out to colleagues at other universities. Dr. Jörg-Rüdiger Sack and Dr. Anil Maheswari are members of the NCE GEOIDE (GEOmatics for Informed Decision Network), a four-university research team that has insights into computer architecture, computer science and geomatic application areas. The researchers are accessing the value of geomatic systems to improve their performance, positively affecting the productivity and competitiveness of sections of Canadian industry dealing with spatial and geographical data. By using parallel and distributed computing research methods, these Carleton researchers are not only adding to a new dimension to Geomatics research but merging two areas of importance and high potential.

Computer Science and parallel computing

As one would expect, researchers from Carleton’s School of Computer Science are heavily specialized in Big Data and data analytics. Recognized internationally for research excellence, faculty members bring knowledge and expertise from a variety of backgrounds and maintain strong links with international high-tech leaders and colleagues across Canada. One researcher who particularly stands out is Dr. Frank Dehne, a leader in Big Data research, data analytics and parallel computing. Through his leadership of the Parallel Computing and Bioinformatics Research Laboratory, researchers are working on projects in parallel computing, parallel Big Data analytics and parallel computational biology. By studying the use of parallel computing to speed up current online analytical processing systems, the lab members are working to develop better corporate decision support systems that operate on the latest online transaction processing while still supporting real-time decision making on big databases.

Also working with large data analytics at the School is Dr. Nicola Santoro, the Director of the Evolutionary Computations and Communications Laboratory (ECC). The ECC supports research activities on the relationship between computation and communication arising in dynamic and distributed settings. Researchers at this lab are continuing to build Carleton expertise in Big Data through research in distributed computing, network computing, mobile agents, computing, autonomous mobile robots, mobile sensor networks and cellular automata.

Medical Physics and Particle Physics

Carleton’s Physics Department has traditionally been a hub of Big Data research. What makes Carleton researchers unique is not only their strengths in using large data sets but also their strengths in advancing knowledge transfer through the formation of networks and other partnerships. One example of this type of collaboration is the Ottawa Medical Physics Institute (OMPI), a Carleton University Research Network consisting of close to 30 members from a number of institutes in the Ottawa region, including Canada Research Chairs Dave Rogers and Rowan Thomson. The medical physics community in Ottawa has one of the most diverse spectra of research and service activities in Canada and the OMPI has been successfully tapping into this rich community of expertise for more than 20 years. Along with coordinating and delivering graduate programs in medical physics, OMPI researchers are making strides in such diverse areas as quantitative MRIs for brain perfusion, Monte Carlo systems and simulations, health physics studies in the Arctic, benchmark data for electron and photon beams, and photon attenuation data and coherent scatter form factors. It is a testament to the effectiveness and relevance of Carleton’s OMPI that it continues to attract new members.

Carleton physics researchers are also involved with international colleagues through the ATLAS project at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, an experiment so ground-breaking that it is bringing experimental physics into completely new territory, leading to the recent discovery of the Higgs boson. Carleton researchers also played a key role in the creation of Canada’s SNOLAB, the deepest, cleanest underground lab in the world. With the support of colleagues across the country, our researchers are advancing discoveries in the areas of dark matter, supernova detection and observation, and attempting to measure the mass of neutrinos.

Engineering, modelling and simulation

From the long-term monitoring of the world’s longest bridge to artificial intelligence and virtual reality environments, engineering researchers in nearly all departments and schools are at the forefront of Data Sciences. Researchers in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering are producing cutting-edge work in the development of new methods for solid-mechanics applications and computational fluid mechanics. Researchers across the Faculty of Engineering and Design are pooling strengths by coming together through the Computer-Aided Engineering Research Laboratory to focus on signal integrity and mixed-domain simulations. Faculty members are also heavily involved in large-scale modelling and simulation as evidenced through the Carleton Immersive Media Studio, a centre within the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism. Researchers at the centre are developing tools, processes and techniques involved in the transformation of data into tangible artifacts. As previously noted, the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering are working with large data sets, often in close collaboration with colleagues across the Faculty.

Real Time and Distributed Systems RADS

Carleton University’s Real Time and Distributed Systems (RADS) Research Centre is well known for its world class research on real time and distributed systems. A number of RADS researchers are engaged in cutting edge research on the enabling technology for batch (bulk), real time and streaming data analytics. Examples include novel resource management techniques for clouds in general and for platforms that support parallel frameworks used by data analytics applications in particular. Such platforms are necessary for speeding up the performance and meeting the latency requirement of data analytics applications for enterprises as well as cyber-physical systems. Two of its recent inter-disciplinary research projects include cloud based platforms for smart facilities management. This research has addressed the unification of geographically distributed heterogeneous resources for the monitoring and analysis of sensor data from smart facilities such as bridges and industrial/aerospace machinery. Research is also underway on data classification, artificial intelligence and machine learning that are critically important for data analytics applications. Tools and techniques for data mining, data visualization and for the analysis of internet traffic data are currently under development. The Centre maintains close collaborations with the industrial sector and its state of the art advancing contributions are recognized internationally.

Marketing and IT for business

Big Data and data analytics are often referred to as an important tool for companies and Carleton’s Sprott School of Business has taken note. As regular collaborators with the business community, researchers from Sprott are regularly using data-driven research to transform large volumes of data into actionable insights, especially in the fields of marketing and IT strategies. With the School’s emphasis on collaborative partnerships with business leaders, researchers at Sprott are highly sought after for their expertise in these areas. Dr. Louise Heslop’s work focuses on marketing and business strategy and she has been identified as one of the most published authors of research in country image and branding. Dr. Irene Lu is also an expert in international marketing and consumer behaviour. She is particularly skilled at utilizing data analytics in measurement issues, exploring and evaluating psychometric measurement techniques as well as latent variable modelling methods in marketing.

Specializing in IT solutions for business, researchers like Dr. Gerald Grant, Director of Carleton’s Centre for Information Technology, Organizations and People, have worked on ICT capacity building, national ICT strategies and strategic management of information technologies in the public and private sectors. Other researchers at Sprott are involved in computer mediated communications, visual approaches to data analysis results, decision support systems and other topics related to technology and innovation management in international business. With a strong reputation internationally as a research-intensive business school, Sprott researchers are helping businesses of all sizes capture the power and possibilities afforded through Big Data usage.