Life-long dream of studying in Finland became a path to academia in the Master’s Programme in Data Science

Ioanna Bouri is on the path to become a data scientist, whose expertise of topics from big data to machine learning is in high demand. She studies data science at the University of Helsinki and enjoys the demanding courses based on current research trends in a constantly evolving, fast-paced field.

Ioanna Bouri became interested in the idea of studying in Finland at a young age.

“When I was younger, I wanted to come to Finland and study architecture in Alvar Aalto’s playground.”

Her field of interest changed, but the will to study in Finland remained. Bouri earned her Bachelor’s degree in computer science in her home country Greece and studied at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, before eventually deciding to study in the Master’s Programme in Data Science at the University of Helsinki.

“I was excited about living in Finland ever since I visited for the first time. Specifically for data science, the country’s industry is fast-paced and always up to date with the latest technologies.”

Data science combines computer science and statistics to solve data-intensive problems in industry and in many fields of science. The basis of computer science provided Bouri a stepping-stone to data-driven studies.

“In my opinion, data science has great depths to be explored thanks to its nature. Not only is it an intersection between math and computer science, but it also carries a multidisciplinary nature, which means that it can have applications to pretty much any other field imaginable. Where there’s data, there’s science.”

Data scientists in high demand

The vast amount of data collected and analysed in all areas of society means that the demand for professional data scientists is high, and will grow in the coming years.

“Data science is one of the hottest fields anyone could work in at the moment. The hype that has evolved around it is completely justifiable since data science tools and practices are very new and developing at a very fast pace.”

Data science is an active area of research at several departments and institutes at University of Helsinki: the Department of Computer Science, the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, the Department of Physics, the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT) and the Helsinki Institute of Physics (HIP). They are all located at Kumpula Campus, one of the four campuses at the University of Helsinki, and the largest cluster of scientific competence in the Nordic countries.

The Master’s Programme in Data Science is a joint effort of the departments and institutes. The faculty consists of internationally recognised researches.

”I still find it surprising how much hard work everybody puts into this programme. The staff is always looking for ways to improve it and the students’ voice is heard continuously. There is great devotion to cover every aspect of data science, from big data to machine learning.”

The focal areas of data science research at the University of Helsinki are machine learning and data mining, distributed computation and computational infrastructures, and statistical modelling and analysis. Studies in the programme are largely based on current research trends and topics. They focus on applying solutions and methods from research on data science problems.

“We have so many interesting and well-organised courses, all about the latest of methods and tools. After my first year in the programme, I already felt confident enough to face challenging, real-world problems and was able to propose novel solutions.”

Future challenges await

Bouri is excited about her studies and ready to tackle arising challenges in the field. Finland is a country at the forefront of AI development.

“I think the times we live in are defined by AI, which combines the highest and most abstract levels of math, statistics and computer science. Who would dare to miss out on all this fun?”

During her studies, Bouri has had the opportunity to do a bit of teaching and research assistance.

“Working alongside and discussing with the researchers has been an eye-opening experience, and the biggest part of gaining experience and intuition in research”, Bouri enthuses.

Next, she plans to write her thesis and wants to continue her studies in a doctoral programme.

“Before I could not even imagine academia being the path for me, but now I want to continue on this path. I’m opting to apply for a doctoral position at the University of Helsinki as I have while studying found out how fulfilling teaching and research are for me.”