Big Data 4 ISU - Enhancing Diversity in Biomedical Data Science

BD4ISU (Big Data 4 ISU) is a program to prepare ISU undergraduate students for high quality jobs and graduate programs in the area of big data and the biomedical sciences, a growing area nationally and in Indiana.  ISU is partnering with The Ohio State University (OSU) to develop a curriculum that includes biology, mathematics, and computer science, and a knowledge base and skill-set using big data and the latest tools.  The program will launch in the spring 2018 semester.  ISU and OSU are grateful to have the support of the NIH (National Institutes of Health, citation below) to fund the development of the program and small cohorts of student researchers from under-represented groups.

Key information of interest to ISU students and faculty is below.  This website will updated as the program is developed with more information and resources.

Key Contacts | News | Student Positions | Staff Positions | Curriculum | More Information

Key Contacts

The following ISU faculty are developing and administering the BD4ISU program - Dr. Yongsheng Bai, Dr. Rusty Gonser, Dr. Liz Brown, Dr. Jeff Kinne. You can also write to the BD4ISU email address -


Student Positions

We are currently looking to hire 5 first-year ISU students as student research assistants to start in January 2018. We are also taking applications from those who will start at ISU in the fall of 2018 to start in fall 2018.

  • Big Data for Indiana State University (BD4ISU) - A training program for undergraduate students in bioinformatics. Our goal is to prepare and train underrepresented students for undergraduate research, BS completion, and prepare for, apply and be admitted to Graduate Schools.
  • To apply - write to with the subject line "APPLY for bd4isu" with the following in your email - (0) applying to start in spring 2018 or fall 2018 (are you a current ISU student, or entering freshman in fall 2018), (1) names and contact information for up to 3 references (at least one from ISU for current ISU students), (2) statement of your interests in the project and career goals. Applications will be reviewed by program faculty, and phone or in person interviews (to discuss interest in the program, career goals, etc.) conducted with top applicants.
  • Requirements to apply -
    • Interest in learning how to use computers to analyze data and biomedical fields of science. Preference to majors in biology, pre-medicine, computer science, mathematics.
    • GPA above 3.0
    • Member of an under-represented group. Preference for African-American, Hispanic, multi-racial. Will consider international minorities (e.g., African) and disabled students if not enough students from preferred categories apply.
  • Deadline - To start the program in January 2018, must be current ISU student or transferring to start in January, and apply before Jan 1, 2018. To start the program in the fall of 2018, must apply before May 1, 2018.
  • Qualifying Students will participate in -
    • Research Job during the fall and spring semestesr: $8.25 per hour and 8 hours per week
    • Training workshops and mentorship during the fall and spring semesters
    • 10 week ISU summer job/research training (during first summer of participation): $11.50/hour and 24 hours/week, housing is not included
    • 10 week Ohio State University summer Job/research training (during second summer of participation): $11.50/hour and 24 hours/week, housing IS included
    • Possibility of travel to appropriate conferences and/or workshops off campus as part of training
    • GRE training during last two years at ISU
    • Summer activities
  • This program is renewable, potentially through 2021.
  • This program does not include a tuition waiver. The positions are paid research training positions, they are not scholarships.

Note - if you are interested in this program but not qualified to apply for the paid positions, please do contact us to let us know you are interested so we can keep you updated on parts of the program you can participate in.

Staff Positions

We are screening candidates for a part time administrative assistant position. We are reviewing applications and are not currently taking new applications. If you are interested but were not able to submit an application please contact one of the ISU faculty listed above.


Students participating in the BD4ISU program will be advised by program faculty on key courses to take as part of the program. The basic curriculum is as follows.

Year Biology and related Mathematics Computer Science
1 BIO 101 & 102 and lab Principles of Biology I and II, CHEM 103 & lab Elementary Chemistry, CHEM 104 Elementary Organic and Biochemistry MATH 112 Trig, MATH 115 College Algebra, MATH 131 Calculus I CS 151 Intro to CS, CS 201 CS I
2 BIO 380 Genetics, BIO 481 Genome Science, BIO 487 Bioinformatics MATH 132 Calculus II, MATH 241 Principles of Statistics CS 303 Discrete Structures, CS 442 Computational Science
3 BIO 491 Introduction to Big Data MATH 342 Statistics II, MATH 436 Numerical Analysis CS 491 Big Data Integration and Processing
4 BIO 492 Research in Bioinformatics - -
total 28-30 credit hours 23 credit hours 16 credit hours

Students who are calculus ready would not need to take trigonometry and college algebra, and their schedule in mathematics would be one semester ahead of the above. BD4ISU can petition the program to use an altered schedule in special circumstances.

The following are courses that students in the program will take as electives (among others) within their major.

  • Biology major: BIO 485 Introduction to Biostatistics
  • Mathematics major: MATH 341 Probability and Statistics, MATH 442 Mathematical Statistics
  • Computer Science major: CS 457 Database Processing, CS 458 Algorithms, CS 475 Artificial Intelligence

More Information

BD4ISU is funded for its first four years by NIH-NIMHD with three specific aims.

  1. To recruit and prepare underrepresented students for research careers in Biomedical Big Data Science
  2. To offer hands-on research experience on biomedical big data manipulation for underrepresented students
  3. To enhance and expand big data knowledge to faculty/staff

The ultimate goal of the BD4ISU program is to build a path of underrepresented students (and all interested students) into graduate studies and career settlement in the biomedical research field. The timeline for the first four years of the project includes the following.

  • 10-week workshops / research program for participating students in the summers of 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
  • 10-week summer research at The Ohio State University in the summer of 2019, 2020, 2021
  • Academic-year paid research experience for cohorts of under-represented students throughout the program
  • Specialized curriculum to prepare students for the summer experiences and research

Many parts of the program will be available to all interested students. Small cohorts of 5 students per year will receive more targeted mentoring and be paid during the academic year and summer. Cohort selection criteria will include - GPA, research interest, recommendation letters, diversity criteria (from an underrepresented group)