Universiteit Leiden

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Leiden Centre of Data Science


In this series of interviews, researchers from the Leiden Centre of Data Science talk about their academic discipline and the role of data science in it.

Making policy with big data

Governments have increasing amounts of data at their disposal. How can big data be used in policymaking? And are governments ready to deal with all this data? That is what Sarah Giest, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Public Administration, is interested in.

Integrating data to learn more

Tremendous amounts of data are generated in scientific research each day. Most of this data has more potential than we are using now, says Katy Wolstencroft, assistant professor in bioinformatics and computer science. We just need to integrate and manage it better.

Working with datasets that are larger than the entire university

Radio telescope LOFAR maps the sky. It produces incredibly detailed images of the universe - and vast amounts of data. Huub Röttgering, director of the Leiden Observatory, talks about the challenges of working with those enormous datasets.

Thousands of images of frozen bacteria

How do bacteria sense and adapt to their environment? Ariane Briegel, Professor of Ultrastructural Biology, is intrigued by this question. Using new techniques, she produces three-dimensional images of bacteria that provide us with new clues about their sensory system.

Big data cannot do without statistics

Data science and statistics are closely linked, says Spinoza Prize winner and Stochastics professor Aad van der Vaart. We talk with him about the big data hype, genome research and collaboration with other disciplines. ‘Statistics helps wherever data is not perfect.’

From scarcity to abundance: big data in archaeology

New digital methods and a data explosion are radically changing archaeological research. Karsten Lambers, Associate Professor of Archaeological Computer Science, tells us all about it.

Digging up new information from ancient Chinese texts

How were ideas about politics and society distributed in ancient China? Hilde De Weerdt, professor of Chinese History, investigates this through new digital methods.

Staying healthy with big data

By analysing the metabolism using big data techniques, we can identify health risks at an earlier stage. Thomas Hankemeier, professor of Analytical Biosciences at the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research, explains how that works.

A treasure trove of legal data

Data science offers great opportunities for legal research, according to Simone van der Hof and Bart Custers (eLaw). But at the same time, we have to keep an eye on the unwanted side effects of big data - such as ethnic profiling.

Software, star clusters and supercomputers

Simon Portegies Zwart, professor of Computational Astrophysics, uses computers to simulate the evolution of stars. We speak with him about his field and about the challenges of working with huge amounts of complex data.

Searching for the wanted and unwanted effects of innovation

How does ICT affect society? Mirjam van Reisen, professor Computing for Society at the Leiden Centre of Data Science, finds this question intriguing. We speak with her about innovation, changes in health care, and mobile human trafficking. ‘Innovation has many benefits, but can also be very disruptive.’

Making everything we know computer-readable

Data and information should be stored in a way that computers can understand, says Barend Mons, professor of Biosemantics at the Leiden University Medical Center and Chair of the High Level Expert Group for the European Open Science Cloud. We speak with him about FAIR data, knowlets and nanopublications.

Screening enormous databases to find a cure for cancer

Pharmaceutical research should make more use of data science, says Gerard van Westen, postdoctoral fellow at the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR). ‘If we want to have better drugs, we should start with data.’

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