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Inaugural Executive Director of the Utah Informatics Initiative

I am pleased to announce that Mike Kirby will serve as our inaugural executive director of the Utah Informatics Initiative, effective Sept. 1, 2019.

Why informatics and why now? Informatics (data analytics, computing, and communication) now pervades all aspects of research, scholarship, and education, and it is reshaping commerce and society in profound ways. Recognizing this, many of our peer institutions have responded by launching broad and deep scholarship and education initiatives around informatics and data science.

This spring, we invited a group of national informatics experts to visit the U, meet with a wide variety of faculty and staff across academic and health affairs, and offer observations on approaches the U might consider to further elevate our already excellent informatics research and education programs and external partnerships. Not surprisingly, the visiting group observed, “Informatics is a significant opportunity for the University of Utah: Informatics efforts are both broad and deep at Utah; this is a significant strength for the institution for any forward plans.”

The goal of the Utah Informatics Initiative is to build One Utah collaborations across our campus, expand and enhance research, innovation, and education, and work with all of you to create new partnerships across the state. Spanning all areas of the U—the arts and humanities, social sciences, business, STEM fields, and health care—it truly is a One U opportunity. Equally important, the initiative is intended to enhance collaboration and create new opportunities; it is not intended to supplant or replace existing programs.

In that spirit, Mike will work collaboratively with SVPHS Mike Good, with me, and with campus leaders and faculty to identify short- and long-term interdisciplinary informatics opportunities, strategies for realizing these opportunities, and metrics for measuring our progress. Some areas of focus include, but are not limited to:

  • One U informatics envisioning and strategy
  • Community building, on campus and with state partners
  • Course and program inventory
  • Opportunities for new and novel degree and non-degree programs
  • Scholarship and research opportunities, disciplinary and interdisciplinary
  • Industry partnerships in informatics education and economic development
  • Faculty, staff and informatics support
  • Creation and coordination of an informatics advisory committee

Mike is currently the interim director of the U’s Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute, a professor of computer science, and an adjunct professor in the departments of biomedical engineering and mathematics. He holds additional leadership roles as an associate director in the School of Computing and director of the Center for Multiscale Modeling of Electronic Materials. He received his doctorate at Brown University. He joined the U as an assistant professor in 2002. He became a full professor here in 2014. His current research interests include scientific and data computing, uncertainty quantification, high-performance computing, scientific and data visualization, and computational science and engineering. He is a world leader in synergistically combining applied mathematics and computer science to real-world engineering problems.

In short, Mike has the perfect background for this new assignment and I hope you’ll join me in congratulating him.

Here’s to the future of One U!



Dan Reed
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Informatics External Review Summary

In spring 2019, Senior Vice President Dan Reed invited a group of national informatics experts to visit the U, meet with constituents, do an assessment and offer guidance on next steps. Meet the External Review Team:

Rob Rutenbar, University of Pittsburgh CHAIR

Annie Anton, Georgia Institute of Technology

Ewa Deelman, University of Southern California

Joel Saltz, Stony Brook University

Andrew Sears, Penn State

Bobby Schnabel, University of Colorado Boulder

Michael Zyda, University of Southern California