Get to Know the Faculty: Dr. Bahram Mobasher

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This week, let’s get to know Bahram Mobasher. Find out how his work as an astrophysicist applies to engineering and data science.

What course do you teach for UC Riverside’s online Master of Science in Engineering Data Science specialization?

I designed the curriculum for the online course in Data Science. The courses are designed to address the needs in the community and job market. I will teach the Data Visualization course. This covers the techniques one could use to visualize large amounts of data to extract information from the data.

What research are you currently working on at UC Riverside? Why is it important?

I am an astrophysicist by training. I work on the formation and evolution of galaxies, star formation activities in galaxies and large galaxy surveys. Over the next few years a number of outstanding galaxy surveys will become available with huge amount of data. To look for correlations among these dataset and to visualize the relations, one needs to apply data science techniques. What we aim is to adopt techniques developed in one field and apply it to another discipline. This way new discoveries would be made.


I am also the Principle Investigator of the “Fellowships and Internships in Extremely Large Data Sets (FIELDS)” with a funding of $4.5M from NASA. This is a joint program with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The aim of this program is to train undergraduate and graduate students in areas that involve large data processing and analysis. Students have the opportunity to work with JPL science staff as well as with the faculty at UCR. The aim here is to train students in their chosen field of study (STEM fields) with emphasis on data science.

What subjects are students passionate about in your courses?

Generally about the fact that we can extract so much details from our observations of galaxies in the Universe and how these data could enhance our view about the reality.

Why is Data Science necessary in the current marketplace?

Whatever you look at today, is based on data. There are enormous amounts of data in different disciplines that are produced every day. The challenge is to develop techniques to extract meaningful information from these data. This is a multi-disciplinary subject covering seemingly different areas. This is the task of a data scientist.

What inspired you to become an astrophysicist?

To be able to look through the telescope, collect data from the most distant objects in the universe and to make sense of these data using the available technology, computer power and laws of nature.

What advice would you give to those interested in pursuing their graduate degree in Data Science?

Ideally you want to be an expert in your main field of study. You will be able to contribute much more to your field if you also have the knowledge as how to exploit and visualize the data acquired in your field. By doing so you will be able to discover more and find things that no one else has done before you. You will significantly enhance your employment prospects and will have more options in the job market.

What is your favorite TV show/movie/song?

“The Big Bang Theory” is my favorite TV show. I listen to classical music and enjoy reading literature. I like documentaries and biographies.


Do you have questions? Learn more about data science with the University of California, Riverside’s online Master of Science in Engineering Data Science specialization program today.