Chad Shaw named director of Rice’s Data to Knowledge Lab

Joint professor of statistics at Rice, Texas Medical Center to expand D2K partnerships.

Chad Shaw

Chad Shaw ’01, joint professor of statistics (STAT) at Rice who holds teaching positions in the Texas Medical Center, has been named director of Rice’s Data to Knowledge Lab, known as D2K.

“Chad has an extensive background in statistics and data science through his work in academic research and commercial applications. Combined with his reputation as an outstanding teacher, mentor and adviser, and his leadership and management skills, he strikes an excellent balance of education and experience for directing D2K,” said Rudy Guerra, professor and department chair of STAT, which hosts D2K.

Shaw serves as a professor in the Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital, and professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine.

D2K was founded in 2018 as a data science laboratory in which students work directly with companies, academic labs, government agencies and nonprofits to translate their data into useful ideas.

“D2K gives students a glimpse into the real world at a time and place where they can hone their skills, make mistakes and develop their own voice among their classmates. It gives them experience in project management, taking a project from start to finish through incremental steps,” said Shaw, who earned his Ph.D. in mathematical statistics from Rice in 2001.

D2K offers courses and events linking students with those seeking help interpreting data. In each lab course, students work in teams to solve problems brought in by clients. Students participate in the D2K Consulting Clinic, a walk-in clinic on Monday afternoons designed for smaller-scale problems that can be tackled in a few hours or days. Another offering by D2K is its culminating capstone course, which features in-depth, semester-long or year-long data science projects defined by sponsors.

Shaw has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and has received numerous research grants from the National Institutes of Health and other sources. According to Google Scholar, Shaw’s papers have been cited 26,749 times and he has an h-index of 85.

“What I most crucially bring to the table,” Shaw said, “is a commercial background, which will enable me to engage new partners for D2K. I’ve worked in a commercial capacity as senior director of both bioinformatics and innovation at Baylor’s genetics clinical diagnostic lab. It’s a fee-for-service molecular testing laboratory here in Houston.”

About the future of D2K, Shaw said:

“We are planning new faculty hires and are working to expand the capstone activities to new partners and new projects. We’ll make new industry and non-profit connections to expand the pipeline of projects.”