Enchanted by the prospect of earning a data science degree in New Mexico? Peruse our list of graduate degrees and certificates to get started. Or keep reading for an exploration of the state’s unparalleled job market, big scholarships, and welcoming professional communities for data scientists.
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Studying Data Science in New Mexico
With two National Laboratories in the state, New Mexico schools have a recruiting advantage for research-minded graduate students. One, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), runs the Exascale Computing Project, which is dedicated to making better models and simulations with more data but less time. The other, Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, has established the Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program dedicated to predicting the effect of nuclear weapons on the environment. It falls under the lab’s computing and information science wing, which is creating supercomputers at scale.
So, what’s that high-level research mean for students? New Mexico supports three state-run research universities: University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Together, they form the New Mexico Consortium (NMC), pooling resources with Los Alamos National Laboratory to tackle advanced computing as well as modeling and analysis. For advanced computing, it runs the NMC Ultrascale Systems Research Center, which seeks to push supercomputing toward even faster computations, and PRObE, which utilizes LANL computers for large-scale, data-intensive research. As for NMC’s modeling and analysis wing, it aggregates system data to predict changes to climate, economic behavior, and the spread of viruses. Oh, and quantum computing. One great way for high school and college students to expose themselves to NMC’s research is by joining its intern program.
NMC isn’t the only active network in the state. University-based data scientists working on healthcare applications of big data can join the bioinformatics team at New Mexico IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE). Studying under a participating professor at New Mexico Highlands University, San Juan College, UNM or Northern New Mexico University may expose you to some cutting-edge genetic research. For instance, INBRE’s Sequencing and Bioinformatics Core (SBC) in Santa Fe falls under the National Center for Genome Resources, which created the first genome sequence database back in 1994.
Data Science Research & Initiatives at New Mexico Universities
Now that you know what the state’s researchers are up to in general, let’s drill down to the work being done at individual universities:
- The Bureau of Business & Economic Research (BBER) at the University of New Mexico was created by the state in 1945 to parse New Mexico census data. BBER relies on permanent and student staff to produce research for state and city policymakers, including economic forecasts and fiscal impact studies. See its data page to check out the raw numbers plus some visualizations.
- Big Data & Big Computations is a big research area at UNM’s Center for Advanced Research Computing (CARC). First, thanks to LANL hardware donations, CARC increased its processing power nearly tenfold in 2017. What’s it using it for? Everything. The center is open to researchers from any department, and undergrads and graduates work in one of a handful of resident research groups, including the Center for Rapid Environmental Assessment and Terrain Evaluation (CREATE), which analyzes environmental data gathered from UNM.
- Data science is also on the School of Medicine’s agenda because it has a Translational Informatics Division. Its research projects include Pharos, a user interface for the “druggable genome” that was funded by the National Institutes of Health; CARLSBAD Platform, a mineable database for chemical biologists; and the Target Importance and Novel Explorer (TiNEX), which can point genetic researchers to proteins that need further research for their role in diseases. The division launched a Clinical Informatics Fellowship program in 2017 to train doctors in new healthcare technologies such as these.
- New Mexico State University has its own Bioinformatics Research Lab. It won a $224,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2013 for new hardware to increase its computing power for data-intensive genome computations.
- That lab often works closely with the Data Mining Laboratory at NMSU, which won two separate NSF grants in 2016 of $360,000 apiece to research complex systems and integrate data analytics into an undergraduate research program at NMSU.
Data Science Scholarships in New Mexico
At the undergraduate level, students get scholarships. At the graduate level, you’ll have to work for your financial aid. Look for fellowships and assistantships like these from your department:
New Mexico State University
- College of Business Graduate Assistantship: Teach or conduct research under a professor and you’ll get funds. Spots are competitive.
University of New Mexico
- Department of Mathematics & Statistics Teaching Assistantship: Let the program coordinator know you’re interested in the $17,000 stipend and tuition that comes with teaching undergrads. Not everyone gets a placement.
University of Phoenix
- Million Women Mentors Scholarship: University of Phoenix, which has schools across the country, offers five full-rides to women entering a degree program within the College of Information Systems and Technology. Apply first thing because the selection committee only accepts the first 300 applications.
Data Science Events in New Mexico
Data Science Meetups & Communities in New Mexico
For a general introduction to the local tech scene, sample regularly meeting groups such as ABQ Innovation Ecosystem. That’s because once you go down the data science rabbit hole, you won’t be dealing with vendor-neutral settings. In New Mexico, the communities really love particular software:
- Albuquerque Apache Spark Meetup: This small but active meetup welcomes both beginner Big Data enthusiasts and grizzled data scientists to its monthly meetups. It’s based around the UNM academic term, so expect guest presentations on topics such as machine learning and quality tests during the semester. Throughout the summer, the group meets for smaller coffee dates on campus.
- Albuquerque SQL Server User Group: The ABQ chapter of PASS (née the Professional Association for SQL Server) holds free monthly meetings for members and nonmembers alike. Come from 11:30 to 1:00 for food and to digest talks from guest speakers on data analytics, business intelligence, and other SQL-ly topics.
- Lac Cruces & El Paso SQL Users Group: Las Cruces and El Paso are an hour apart, so it’s a good thing for New Mexicans that this group meets at the Las Cruces City Hall. Come every second Thursday from 11:30 to 1:00 for pizza and presentations from local pros. Talks typically delve into data analytics and visualization techniques.
Data Science Conferences & Workshops in New Mexico
One of the best ways to discover upcoming conferences and workshops is by bookmarking the Los Alamos National Laboratory calendar. Doing so in 2016, for instance, would have alerted you to a one-off conference called Data Science and Optimal Learning for Material Discovery and Design. Here are some other events in New Mexico, both on and off LANL premises:
- Conference on Data Analysis: LANL puts on CoDA, which draws academics and researchers from universities and national laboratories across the nation. The three-day conference is heavy on Department of Energy-related presentations, and graduate students are welcomed with a discount.
- New Mexico BioInformatics, Science & Technology (NMBIST) Symposium: The New Mexico IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), a network of state universities and federal government institutes, has been hosting the NMBIST Symposium in Santa Fe since 2006. The two-day academic conference attracts investigators and students who are deep in the weeds of genetic research and looking for new methods to understand the data produced by billions of human bodies.
- NM Data Users Conference: This daylong conference put on by the UNM Bureau of Business & Economic Research (BBER) in Albuquerque with support from the U.S. Census Bureau, explores new tools for visualizing demographic data in the state. You can see some of the results at the BBER’s data dashboard.
- Stats Camp: Though it tours the nation’s universities, Stats Camp is based in Albuquerque, so it always comes home for one or two weeklong trainings in the summer. Campers are university undergrads and graduate students (or faculty) looking for an in-depth course in a particular area of data analysis. All classes are taught by faculty members from U.S. colleges.
Data Science Jobs in New Mexico
If you want to do some serious data science research, New Mexico is a great place to do it, as it has not one but two of the country’s 17 National Laboratories: Sandia in Albuquerque and Los Alamos northwest of Santa Fe. Both are among the state’s biggest employers. Little wonder, then, that New Mexico has the highest concentration of computer and information research scientists in the nation, with two of the state’s metropolitan areas – Albuquerque and Las Cruces placing in the top 10 of all cities. (Don’t pack for Las Cruces, though, because its scientists focus on rocket engines, not analytics.)
If going straight to work for one of these two research behemoths is too intimidating, you can knock on doors at the Sandia Science & Technology Park in Albuquerque, but the bigger data science firms are elsewhere. The team at Datalytic Solutions mines data for clients in agriculture, healthcare, finance and transportation, while Presbyterian Healthcare Services snatches up graduates with an informatics background.
Data Scientist Salaries in New Mexico
While the title “computer and information research scientist” isn’t an exact proxy for data scientist, the numbers from New Mexico do give some idea of how much you can make. The average research scientist pulled in $114,000 a year in 2016, several thousand more than the national average. As employees work up the career ladder, the disparity increases: The top 10 percent earned above $179,000, about $10K more than the U.S. average.
We found 3 universities in New Mexico offering Masters of Data Science programs (and/or closely related programs, like MS in Analytics / Masters in Business Analytics).
If you represent a university and would like to contact us about editing any of our listings, or adding new programs, please send an email to info (at) mastersindatascience.org.