Skip to main content

University of Michigan School of Information


Media Center

UMSI welcomes media inquiries

Kevyn Collins-Thompson appointed academic director of Master of Applied Data Science program

Headshot of Kevyn Collins-Thompson. "MADS names new academic director, Kevyn Collins-Thompson, Associate Professor, UMSI logo"

Thursday, 02/03/2022

Associate Professor Kevyn Collins-Thompson has been named the new academic director of the University of Michigan School of Information’s online Master of Applied Data Science (MADS) program. His three-year term begins June 1, 2022.

Collins-Thompson is no stranger to the MADS program. He has been involved in MADS since its inception and has been a lead instructor for core machine learning and milestone project courses, says Elizabeth Yakel, senior associate dean for Academic Affairs at the School of Information. 

”He is thoughtful about addressing issues facing MADS, as well as how to balance program priorities,” Yakel says. “I am looking forward to working with Kevyn as the MADS Program director.” 

Prior to joining U-M in 2013, Collins-Thompson was a researcher at Microsoft Research. Among his many scholarly achievements, he was named an ACM Distinguished Member in 2020, and was a co-winner of Coursera’s Outstanding Educator Award in 2018.

He holds a PhD in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University, and a B.Math from the University of Waterloo. His research interests center on the intersection of information retrieval, human-computer interactions, and machine learning. 

Launched in 2019, the Master of Applied Data Science is a full-fledged University of Michigan master’s degree conducted entirely online. Courses are taught by core University of Michigan School of Information faculty. MADS is a flexible professional degree program for people who want to apply rigorous data science in their jobs or chart new courses by launching careers in data science.

“The MADS program has been successful because of the great faculty who have contributed to the curriculum in innovative ways,” says Yakel, adding that as the new academic director, Collins-Thompson will continue that tradition. 

Collins-Thompson is taking over for Qiaozhu Mei, the inaugural academic director for the MADS program. Under Mei’s leadership, the program has grown and evolved into a powerhouse program for students. 

“Qiaozhu Mei has been a great inaugural program director for MADS; his energy, insight, and proactive approach has led to the success of the program,” says Yakel. 

“I'm humbled to be taking up a role that has been done so well by the founding director,” says Collins-Thompson. “Professor Mei and I share the same core vision and goals toward a flexible, rigorous, and inclusive MADS program.” 

Collins-Thompson hopes to add to the success of the program by contributing his own ideas and perspectives. His goals include adding more electives, improving flexibility to learning paths, continuing to work on diversity and inclusion, and exploring how to best leverage technology for learning opportunities. 

“The most gratifying thing for me is seeing how the MADS program can make a real difference in the lives and learning experiences of our students,” he says. “The MADS degree approach to data science reflects the multidisciplinary nature of the University of Michigan, and most especially, the core values of the School of Information: striving for inclusivity and diversity, while creating and sharing knowledge so that people will use information — with technology — to build a better world.”

“It's an incredible opportunity to take a larger role in shaping the future of what we are striving to make the best data science degree anywhere,” says Collins-Thompson.

—Sarah Derouin, UMSI public relations specialist