Brunner joins iSchool faculty

Posted: February 14, 2017

The iSchool is pleased to announce that Robert J. Brunner has joined the faculty, effective January 1. Professor Brunner holds a joint appointment with the Department of Accountancy in the College of Business. He has affiliate appointments in the Astronomy, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Informatics, Physics, and Statistics Departments; at the Beckman Institute, in the Computational Science and Engineering program; and at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). He is also the data science expert in residence at the Research Park at the University of Illinois. 

From 2003-2016, Brunner served as a member of the faculty in the Department of Astronomy. During this time, his research interests started to shift into the area of data science.

"Around seven years ago, I realized new graduate students did not have sufficient skills to work in my group. As a result, I began adding informatics to the curricula in astronomy to bring them up to speed, eventually creating a new course in which graduate students from a variety of scientific and engineering departments enrolled. This experience led to the eventual creation of two new courses under the informatics rubric, to teach data science more broadly," said Brunner. 

"With the explosive growth in the interest in data science across campus, I feel a natural home in the iSchool, and I am looking forward to strengthening my existing collaborations while also building new ones."

Brunner earned his PhD in astrophysics at Johns Hopkins University, working on the development of the science archive for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He spent five years as a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology before coming to the University of Illinois.

"A highly accomplished scientist, Robert is a leading figure in data science at the University. In this area, he teaches some of the largest courses on campus, conducts critical research, and provides leadership for major initiatives. His contributions will ensure that the iSchool remains at the forefront of developments in this important emerging area. We are delighted that he has joined us," said iSchool Dean and Professor Allen Renear.

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