By Jerry Robinson
As one of the iSchool’s newest data science hires, Daniel Acuna has an affiliation with the Center for Computational and Data Science (CCDS). Acuna is an Assistant Professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. He earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and completed a postdoc at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University before joining the iSchool this fall.
Acuna’s work crosses multiple disciplines including cognitive science, computer science, machine learning, and neuroscience. Currently, he most identifies with the relatively new but growing field of Science of Science.
Acuna research and tools help scientists and funding agencies to make high-quality decisions around hiring, promotion, literature search, and expertise matching. He believes his work is possible because of data science: “Data science is a fundamental area that allows me to enter a number of fields and use data to answer critical questions in those fields.”
Acuna regularly relies on his background knowledge to design useful computational tools that help scientists and funders make sense of data and answer important questions in their specific domain. For instance, cognitive science helps him to understand how uncertainty factors into human decision making as well how to make interfaces that enable people to manage it effectively. His knowledge of machine learning techniques enables him to design algorithms that quickly and accurately analyze data. Finally, as a Ph.D. trained in computer science, Acuna knows how to develop tools that can be maintained by one scientific community and reproduced in others.
As an interdisciplinary scientist, Acuna views the iSchool as an “amazing diversity of fields represented in a single building” and appreciates its longtime visionary focus on data science. He also enjoys and looks forward to working with scholars from diverse disciplines such as Natural Language Processing, Public Policy, Economics, Sociology, and Mathematics both within the iSchool and across the S.U. community.