James Shanahan, Ph.D., to lead Bryant University Data Science Initiative

Reading Time: 3 minutes


Bryant University announces the appointment of James (Jimi) Shanahan, Ph.D., as the inaugural John ’01H and Jeanne Rowe Professor of Data Science, effective summer 2019. Shanahan brings 30 years of leading-edge entrepreneurship, data science expertise, and academic accomplishment to the new role. Bryant’s curriculum, with its unique integration of business and liberal arts, is perfectly suited for this interdisciplinary course of study. The University launched an innovative undergraduate program in Data Science in fall 2017 to meet growing demand in one of the fastest growing sectors worldwide.

“If one looks to the future impact of rapid advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, block chain, the ‘internet of things,’ and other emerging technologies, it is clear that higher education must take the lead in preparing graduates for the many challenges and opportunities these developments will create,” says Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley.

“I am honored to be joining the Bryant University faculty,” says Shanahan. “The workforce of the future will require constant up-skilling, and employee digital dexterity will outweigh tenure and experience. Bryant recognizes this and is well-positioned to prepare its students with the technical and critical thinking skills needed to successfully compete in the digital marketplace.”

“Jeanne and I have been delighted to help Bryant University because it does so much to help young people acquire the skills that make them productive in today’s ever changing society,” says John Rowe ’01H. “We are especially pleased that Bryant’s first Rowe Professor, Dr. James Shanahan, is expert in the rapidly moving fields of big data and artificial intelligence. Sorting the real from the fantastic in these areas will be a vital part of tomorrow’s education.”

Throughout his career, Shanahan has split his time between industry and academia, gaining vast experience developing cutting-edge information management systems that harness deep learning, statistical machine learning, and information retrieval in domains such as web search, ecommerce, retail, computational advertising, and security. As a teacher and scholar, he most recently served as a founding faculty member of the Masters in Data Science programs at University of California, Berkeley, and Indiana University. He has also held visiting positions at University of California, Santa CruzRutgers University, and Syracuse University.

Provost and Chief Academic Officer Glenn Sulmasy, J.D., LL.M., notes that with Shanahan’s leadership the new Data Science program will capitalize on the Bryant reputation of bringing together the best of data science and business, reflecting the emerging demands of the 21st century workforce. “The Bryant Data Science initiative is interdisciplinary in nature, including a rich experiential component, and aligns perfectly with Bryant’s strengths and innovative culture. The addition of Jimi Shanahan to our outstanding faculty will help advance the program and prepare our students, both intellectually and practically, for the surge in marketplace demand for skilled data scientists and analysts.”

Madan Annavarjula, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Business, sees Shanahan’s appointment as an important investment and opportunity for Bryant. “Our undergraduate Data Science program is rapidly evolving as one of the most distinguished in the country for students who want to pursue a career in this area.”

An accomplished entrepreneur and business leader, Shanahan has co-founded companies that leverage AI, machine learning, deep learning, and computer vision in areas such as digital advertising, web search, and smart cameras. These firms include Church and Duncan Group, Inc., a boutique consultancy in large scale data science founded in 2007 in San Francisco, CA; RTBFast, a real-time bidding engine infrastructure play for digital advertising systems founded in 2012 in San Francisco, CA; and Document Souls, an anticipatory information system founded in 1999 in Grenoble, France. He has also served as SVP of Data Science and Chief Scientist at NativeX in San Francisco, CA, a mobile ad network that was acquired by MobVista. In addition, he has held positions at Adobe Research, Turn Inc., Xerox Research, Mitsubishi Research, and Clairvoyance Corp. He’s been part of 20 U.S. patent filings at Xerox, AT&T, Just Systems, and InferSystems.

A prolific scholar, Shanahan has published eight books, including “Soft computing for knowledge discovery: introducing Cartesian granule features” in 2000, which is considered one of the seminal texts for advanced undergraduates, professionals and researchers in computer science.His newest book is “Machine Learning at Scale.” He has published more than 45 peer-reviewed articles in prestigious publications such as the Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems; seven book chapters including “Digital Advertising: an information science perspective” in the textbook “Advanced Topics in Information Retrieval;” and scores of conference papers including “Parsing Spoken Local Queries using Committees” at the Fourth ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining. Shanahan is a sought-after expert speaker at conferences, businesses, and universities around the world.

Shanahan completed his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at University of Limerick in Ireland, and earned his Ph.D. in Engineering and Mathematics at University of Bristol in the U.K. He is an EU Marie Curie Fellow, and in 2011, he was selected as a member of the Silicon Valley 50 (Top 50 Irish Americans in Technology).


SOURCE Bryant University