Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute names directors from Marquette, UWM

Edward Blumenthal and Purush Papatla will provide strategic direction

The Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons office building in downtown Milwaukee.

Last updated on September 4th, 2019 at 10:15 am

A Marquette University geneticist and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee marketing professor have been named directors of the new Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute.

As directors, Edward Blumenthal of Marquette and Purush Papatla of UWM will provide strategic direction for the data science institute, a partnership of the Milwaukee-based life insurance company and two universities.

Edward Blumenthal
Purush Papatla

Blumenthal is currently associate dean for research and graduate affairs in Marquette’s Klingler College of Arts and Sciences.

Papatla, formerly professor of marketing and associate dean of academic affairs at the UWM Lubar School of Business, had been serving as director for the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute on an interim basis.

“I’m excited to welcome Dr. Blumenthal to the team and to continue working with Dr. Papatla as we advance the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute,” said Keri McConnell, executive director of the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute. “Both Ed and Purush bring unique perspectives from their experience and research that will help position the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute as a premier organization to build our talent pipeline and solve problems with data science.”

Through the institute, Northwestern Mutual has committed $15 million over five years to support an endowed professorship at each university, research projects, new faculty, expanded curriculum, K-12 STEM initiatives and pre-college programming. Marquette and UWM have each committed more than $12 million to data science education and research at their universities.

Northwestern Mutual is providing classroom and office space in Cream City Labs, the company’s innovation lab in downtown Milwaukee, for the institute. The first classes in the institute will launch this fall.

The goal is to help build a technology ecosystem and advance southeastern Wisconsin as a national hub for technology, research, business and talent development, while also creating a pipeline of tech talent in the area.

“Marquette has made a broad commitment to its data science initiative with the development of academic programs and disciplines to answer the call for ethically centered data science research and education,” Blumenthal said. “I am excited about the multidisciplinary nature of data science and breakthroughs that are possible in a wide array of areas, including health care, criminal justice, sports and exercise, and the natural sciences.”

“Data science at UW-Milwaukee spans a remarkable range of fields like business, cybersecurity, engineering, political science, public health and social welfare,” Papatla said. “I look forward to working through the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute to further expand teaching and research in data science across our entire campus and graduating more and more students skilled in data science. I am also committed to helping the Institute and UWM use data science to have a significant positive impact on our community.”

Get our email updates

Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.