By: Srijani Datta, Assistant News Editor


The Office of the SFU Vice-President, Research has announced that SFU is set to collaborate with the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI). The national headquarters of CANSSI will be hosted at SFU’s Big Data Hub.

      Associate vice-president, research, Dugan O’Neil discussed the collaboration, its impact on the students and its potential benefits for both CANSSI and SFU, in an email interview with The Peak.


Leading up to the collaboration
Describing how the collaboration came about, O’Neil wrote to The Peak that “in the fall of 2017, CANSSI ran a competition to select a host for its national headquarters.  Institutions from across Canada then bid to host CANSSI, which SFU won.”

      He continued, “The bid represented a lot of work on the part, in particular by Derek Bingham in the department of Statistics and Actuarial Sciences, as well as staff at our Big Data Hub.”

     O’Neil believes that the collaboration represents “a great opportunity for SFU. We are thrilled to have been selected as the CANSSI national HQ.”


Impact on SFU students
“This collaboration will generate quite a bit of activity in our Big Data Hub which will be interesting to SFU students,” O’Brien said of this development’s effect on students. “This will include visiting lecturers, short-term training courses and new programs of research which will employ both undergraduate and graduate students.”

      O’Neil was unable to confirm whether the partnership will result in new academic courses, but noted that “[existing] programs such as the undergraduate Data Science program (Statistics and Actuarial Science) and, programs at the graduate level such as the Professional Masters in Big Data (School of Computing Science) [. . .] will benefit from the proximity of CANSSI’s national headquarters.”


Collaboration benefits
According to O’Neil, “Bringing CANSSI to SFU raises the profile of our already-strong efforts in [the statistical] area. It also makes us a natural partner for government and industry who wish to investigate a data-related problem, or who wish to hire co-op students or new graduates. So, we will benefit significantly from the presence of CANSSI on our campus.”

     He continued that CANSSI’s choice of SFU as their national headquarters reflects the future benefits that CANSSI anticipates can result from close proximity to the university: “[CANSSI] will be located in our Big Data Hub, which is an excellent multi-disciplinary space with exceptional facilities for collaboration and training. [They] will also be near several world class SFU departments or schools including Statistics and Actuarial Sciences and Computer Science.”

      O’Neil concluded by expressing his enthusiasm about the partnership, and stated, “We are very excited! It has already been a pleasure to work with CANSSI and I look forward to working with the new CANSSI director and their staff once they settle into our Big Data Hub.”