CS faculty lead effort to create a new Ph.D. program focused on big data and urbanization

By the year 2030, six out of every 10 people in the world are projected to live in a city. Key issues faced by urban populations, such as public health, sustainable use of limited energy resources, emergency preparedness, and societal stability, will rise to the forefront.  Virginia Tech will create a new PhD program called UrbComp focused on big data and urbanization.  UrbComp will prepare doctoral students to become interdisciplinary data scientists who will use computational modeling to tackle the challenges faced by urban populations.  This is one of only 10 NSF NRT awards made from more than 200 submissions, after two rounds of panel reviews.  The award size is approximately $3 million over 5 years.  The Discovery Analytics Center (DAC) will lead this effort with participation from faculty drawn from 10 departments (CS, AAEC, AOE, CEE, ECE, MATH, PHS, SOC, STAT, UAP), 4 centers/labs (DAC, ARI, NDSSL, SDAL), 3 institutes (VBI, ICTAS, VTTI), and 6 colleges (COE, COS, CAUS, CALS, CLAHS, VMCVM).  Students pursuing a Ph.D. from one of eight departments at Virginia Tech (computer science, mathematics, statistics, electrical and computer engineering, population health sciences, urban affairs and planning, civil and environmental engineering, or sociology) can participate in the UrbComp program. The program directed by Naren Ramakrishnan and co-directed by Layne Watson will be available to students from both Blacksburg and National Capital Region campuses.


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Principal Investigators:

Naren Ramakrishnan (CS)

Layne Watson (CS, MATH, AOE)

Mark Embree (MATH)

Leanna House (STAT)

Achla Marathe (VBI, AAEC)


Senior Personnel:

David Bieri (UAP)

Kaja Abbas (PHS)

Saifur Rahman (ECE)

John Ryan (SOC)

Hesham Rakha (CEE, VTTI)


Other participating faculty:

Dhruv Batra (ECE)

Chang-Tien Lu (CS)

Devi Parikh (ECE)

B. Aditya Prakash (CS)

Stephen Eubank (VBI, PHS)

Madhav Marathe (VBI, CS)

Anil Vullikanti (VBI, CS)

Sallie Keller (VBI, STAT)

Stephanie Shipp (VBI)


Dr. Ramakrishna


Dr. Watson
Dr. Watson


Dr. Lu
Dr. Lu


Aditya Prakash
Dr. Prakash


Dr. Marathe
Dr. Marathe


Dr. Vullikanti
Dr. Vullikanti