The Data Science Lab: For the passionate
What happens when a group of people share a big interest, want to develop this, and spread it further? Well, if this group consists of PhD students, master students, teachers and researchers at LUSEM really good things can happen, as the establishment of a new Data Science Lab.
Data Science Lab (DSL) is a network of PhD students and master students who keep a lab open regularly aiming for helping all LUSEM students with questions related to data methodology, design and data analysis, AI and machine learning. The lab was launched in March 2023 and the main responsible are two PhD students, Hassan Hamadi at Department of Business Administration, and Natalie Irmert at Department of Economics. The idea is to offer students help and reduce some of the questions usually addressed to the supervisors. Tha lab is also a place to meet, discuss and share ideas.
The initiative is a great example of department wide collaboration at LUSEM when different people contribute with their knowledge, expertise and focus of interest.
"Without data, you simply cannot do research in finance"
The initiative came from Department of Economics and Department of Business Administration, where the Heads of department came together to achieve a common goal, to help students and researchers to access data.
"The Data Science Lab idea came from Joakim Gullstrand. My prioritization was, and is, financial databases. Quantitative research and teaching require access to data, not least corporate financial data. From a business administration viewpoint, without financial data, we would certainly not be able to offer students to write theses in finance. Access to data is important to students outside of finance as well, e g, in accounting, marketing, strategy, entrepreneurship and research policy but data is critical for finance students – and researchers, of course. Without data, you simply cannot do research in finance," Niclas Andrén, Head of Business Administration, explains.
For the passionate about data science
LUSEM students passionate about data science have come to the right place. In parallel with the Data Science Lab a student society, Lambda, was also launched during 2023.
"This year, we've embarked on a new journey, launching a student society, Lambda, for those who are truly passionate about finding solutions through data science. The society originated from the Data Analytics and Business Economics (DABE) MSc programme and is designed to bring together students and scholars eager to enhance their analytical capabilities. We gather weekly to exchange knowledge, insights, and news about emerging technologies, fostering a welcoming atmosphere for anyone interested in the expansive field of data science. Meanwhile, we closely collaborate with passionate PhDs and Department of Economics at LUSEM," says Jan Jarco, master student at the DABE MSc and one of the initiators of Lambda.
Physically, the Data Science Lab is a room in the LUSEM Learning Hub where three computers are located and available for both students and employees. The tools in use in the lab are the S&P Capital IQ and Refinitiv Eikon. The fairly limited original idea of supporting access to Refinitiv Eikon eventually grew into a much more ambitious data support function.
When it was realized that support also was needed in the room the idea of having PhD candidates providing this support came up:
"The Data Science Lab has become so much more than just a room with three computers, thanks to Joakim Gullstrand, Hassan, Natalie and Joakim Axelsson at the library, and industrious students on the DABE program," Niclas says.
"It's about socializing our research," Hassan Hamadi and Natalie Irmert say. Photo: Oskar Svensson
The lab is only a few months old but already a popular place for both PhD students and master students.
"We are around ten PhD students involved already, the majority is from Department of Economics," Natalie says.
For the future they do have a plan, Natalie reveals:
"To make sure that we keep up the work and keep this in the long term we plan to recruit more students, both PhD:s and master students. If we involve PhD students in their early years we will probably have someone willing to take over when me and Hassan finish our PhD studies."
It all started during a coffee break
But how did it all start? Joakim Gullstrand, Head of department of Economics, tells the story:
“The establishment of the Data Science Lab can be traced back to a coffee break during a workshop on Machine Learning in Economics. It was during this serendipitous encounter that some students expressed their desire for a dedicated data-science hub at LUSEM. This resonated with the frequent 'gentle demand' from teachers for a support system that would enhance students' understanding of empirical methodologies, especially during essay periods. Thus, the concept of a Data Support Network emerged, taking shape through a series of meetings and the invaluable contributions of students, PhD candidates, teachers, administrators, and librarians. This network encompasses a comprehensive Canvas page featuring an extensive array of digital support materials, a student organization known as the Lambda Data Society, which unites students passionate about harnessing the power of data, and, of course, the Data Science Lab itself."
"Within the lab, accomplished LUSEM PhD candidates provide expert guidance in quantitative applications and statistical software, ensuring students receive comprehensive assistance to facilitate students’ learning process when it comes to applying a wide variety of empirical methodologies as well as to support supervisors so that they could focus more on the writing process.”
It's about socializing our research
When turning to two of the most important players in all this, Natalie and Hassan, curiousity arises about what and why.
What makes data science so interesting?
“It’s a field that is very dynamic and changing fast. New technologies, new methods and new applications develop fast and make the old counterparts obsolete. It’s a fast-paced learning environment and whether you are a data scientist, an economist or an engineer you still have to work with people who work with data science. There is always a data dimension to everything we do. There is a shared discussion between different professionals. Basically it's about socializing our research,” Hassan explains.
Why do we need the Data Science Lab and the Lamda society?
Hassan thinks the need of both the lab and the society is based on statistics and maths:
“Understanding the logic and the lingo is important and also the basic statistics is definitely needed for people to have any discussion around data. At the heart of data science there is statistics and mathematical concepts, and this is basically the role of the data science lab and the Lambda data society”, Hassan says.
The python code is an interpreted, object-oriented, high-level programming language with dynamic semantics and with high-level built in data structures. Photo by Chris Ried on Unsplash.
Different fields but shared interest
One might think that the students visiting the lab come only from the DABE programme but just like Niclas said before this is not the case at all. Hassan gives an example of students at the Master’s in Management programme with questions about how to manage the data science and data analytics. As Hassan puts it, there is a team dimension to it that needs to be managed.
“This is changing everything that we were doing in the past. It’s really about embracing the change and being outside the comfort zone if you are not within that field already. In different fields there is a shared interest of data analytics and data science,“ Hassan explains.
Jan probably speaks for all students when he expresses his excitement for the new data science lab:
"I am very excited about the launch of the Data Science Lab, where we can use high-performance computers for data-intensive tasks. We in the Lambda Society, had an opportunity to consult about the software available on these computers to ensure they are ready to perform advanced analytics at LUSEM for school projects, extracurricular activities, and thesis writing. These computers have access to multiple relevant databases that can enhance your capabilities when applying analytical methods."
Come with your ideas and an open mindset!
Finally a call to all students from one student to another:
"When it comes to writing theses and undertaking academic projects, I highly recommend seeking assistance from the PhDs at the Data Science Lab. They are available every Thursday to share their expertise in statistics and machine learning. So come with your ideas and an open mindset, and take advantage of the support that the Data Science Lab offers!" says Jan.
"Notably, we host lectures featuring industry experts and carry out projects in collaboration with companies, enabling us to forge strong ties with the business world. Looking ahead, we plan to expand our society's activities to include hackathons. So, keep an eye out for what's coming! Whether you're a seasoned data enthusiast or someone just beginning to explore this intriguing world, there's a place for you in our society. Join us, not just to learn, but to share, grow, and make a difference with data science. Welcome to our journey!"