Choose your focus

When you begin earning your Ph.D. in Informatics, you’ll choose to specialize in one of several tracks of study. All of our tracks are interdisciplinary, giving you a wide range of experiences as you earn your degree—no matter which track you choose.

Are you interested in pursuing answers to biological and medical research questions through training in informatics, computer science, life sciences, chemistry, and statistics? The bioinformatics track may be for you. This track focuses on:

  • Sequence pattern recognition
  • Comparative genomics
  • Structural genomics
  • Fragment assembly in DNA sequencing
  • Systems biology
  • Models of evolution
  • Molecular modeling
  • Drug design

This track will prepare you to become a top academic researcher or accomplished bioinformatics professional, in part through research collaborations with scientists at Indiana University, other institutions and research centers, and businesses.

Are you interested in exploring and understanding how the parts of a system interact with each other to drive the behavior of the system as a whole, in areas as diverse as social networks, the human brain, a language, power grids, financial markets, or gene regulatory networks? The complex networks and systems (CNS) track may be for you.

When you study CNS, you’ll explore new solutions for problems in computer science, physics, math, biology, health, and cognitive and social sciences. You might determine what makes a certain YouTube video go viral, examine Instagram data to discover adverse reactions caused by drug interactions, or develop a model that can accurately predict the spread of misinformation online.

The complex networks and systems track includes:

  • A focused core of informatics coursework
  • Research and events under the interdisciplinary NSF-NRT training in complex networks and systems
  • Seminars such as the NSF-NRT Colloquium or talks organized by CNetS and the CSBC
  • A strong faculty-supervised research component
  • Research and events in the Indiana University Network Science Institute

Learn about related research

Training in this track is consolidated and enhanced by the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research ( CNetS) and the Center for Social and Biomedical Complexity ( CSBC).

Visit CNetS

Get a Fellowship for a dual-major Ph.D.

We also offer interdisciplinary training in complex networks and systems through a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) award. This integrated dual Ph.D. program will train you in CNS as well as another discipline you choose from the natural or social sciences.

Learn more about the CNS NRT

Do you have a social science background and an interest in computing, or are you a computer scientist interested in social and ethical implications of computing? The computing, culture, and society (CCS) track may be for you.

Sometimes referred to as social informatics, this track focuses on the relationship between technological innovation and larger social, political, legal, and economic developments. You’ll receive essential training in social scientific and humanistic theories, methods, skills, and knowledge as you examine such issues as:

  • Gender and technology
  • Gender and informatics
  • Cultural variation and informatics
  • Free and open source software
  • Social dimensions of information and communications technology
  • Methodologies for developing an informatic knowledge base
  • The ethics of information and informatics
  • Privacy
  • File sharing
  • Blogging
  • Mechanisms of collaborative ad-hoc filtering

You’ll produce original research on the ways culture and society shape, reflect, challenge, and constrain the design and use of information technologies around the world. Computing, culture, and society draws on rich backgrounds in anthropology, cognitive science, engineering, history, information science, law, linguistics, music, political science, public policy, robotics, and sociology.

Learn more about CCS

Do you want to learn how to use cutting-edge technologies to help people better understand, manage, and improve their health? The health informatics track may be for you. This track focuses on:

  • Electronic health records
  • Health data exchange
  • Standards and terminology for health data
  • Clinical decision support
  • Consumer health informatics
  • Technology to enhance patient safety
  • Health application development and implementation
  • Ontologies
  • Mining clinical data
  • Natural language processing

Through your studies, you’ll have an impact on the research community and the world by empowering people to manage their health outside of a clinical setting. You might examine:

  • Population-based technologies, such as algorithms that use new data sources to better predict the spread of disease
  • Patient-facing technologies, such as applications patients can use to manage and improve their own health
  • Personalized medicine, which combines biology and chemistry to determine the best treatment for an individual based on their genome and other factors
  • Infrastructure technologies, such as computation that preserves privacy or data mining of a large amount of health data

Learn about related research

The Proactive Health Informatics group designs, develops, and evaluates intelligent learning systems to empower people to better understand, manage, and improve their health.

Visit the Proactive Health Lab

Human-computer interaction design (HCI/d) creates amazing possibilities, from massive-scale collaboration systems like Wikipedia to everyday innovations such as personal health tracking. But interactive systems also contribute to serious social problems, such as e-waste, privacy concerns, and unequal access.

In this track, you’ll seek to understand these opportunities and problems in a way that equally addresses technological possibilities, human needs, and social and cultural context and trends, all in a way that’s oriented toward intervention through design. You’ll contribute to the development of design theory, methods, and practice as you conduct practical research in areas such as:

  • Interaction design
  • Computer-supported cooperative work
  • New media
  • Dynamic visualizations
  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Usability and evaluation methods
  • Augmented reality
  • Learning systems
  • Design pedagogy

This track is designed to change the way you think. You’ll go beyond using technology to solve a problem, to creating a technology experience that will be functional, intuitive, and even delightful for users. With this track, you’ll learn to think like a designer. You’ll refine your personal design philosophy through coursework that:

  • Teaches you the key history, literature, and research of HCI/d
  • Introduces you to multiple frameworks, research techniques, and creative exercises
  • Helps you learn the skills necessary to use and design applications
  • Explores the socioeconomic consequences of implementing technologies in different cultures
Learn more about HCI/d

Are you interested in studying interactions between people and digital systems and in developing systems that perceive, understand, and interact with people and the environment? The intelligent and interactive systems (IIS) track may be for you. You’ll focus on areas such as:

  • Autonomous robots
  • Human-robot interaction
  • Wearable and ubiquitous computing
  • Digital music libraries
  • Music information retrieval
  • Motion planning and control

Investigating and building technologies involves understanding relationships between people and computing systems, as well as developing systems that are better able to understand and interact. As an IIS student, you’ll explore theories, develop prototype technologies, and evaluate human responses to and interactions with those technologies.

Learn about related research

The R-House Lab hosts researchers, students, and visitors interested in studying human-robot interaction (HRI) through the design and evaluation of robotic technologies for everyday use. Lab members explore the connections between HRI, human social behavior and cognition, and the emerging social meanings and consequences through a variety of methods.

Learn about the R-House

If you’re interested in going beyond technology to consider the social and practical aspects of protecting data, privacy, and other assets, the security informatics track may be for you. In this track, you’ll focus on topics such as:

  • The economics of security
  • User-centered design of security
  • Cryptography
  • Security modeling
  • Threat assessment and analysis
  • Network security
  • Privacy
  • Security and computer forensics

To better protect today’s computer systems and sensitive data, security professionals must understand the people as well as the technology. That’s why you’ll not only get a technical foundation in designing, implementing, and managing secure information technology systems, you’ll also gain insight into the social, legislative, and economic considerations affecting decisions people and businesses make about their own security.

Security professionals are in high demand in a wide variety of industries, so you can expect to have abundant career options when you graduate.

Learn about related research

Security and Privacy in Informatics, Computing, and Engineering (SPICE) is the branch of informatics that studies and supports the design, evaluation, and implementation of technologies that enable control over information.

Learn more about SPICE

Are you interested in bringing the past to life? The virtual heritage track allows you to study how information technology can be applied to the traditional goals of cultural heritage professionals: discovery, recording, restoration, analysis, interpretation, and transmission of 3D human creations.

In this track, you’ll receive practical training in the use of 3D tools for analysis of cultural heritage objects and hone your ability to conceptualize and demonstrate how to use these tools to develop new and compelling solutions to important problems faced in fields such as:

  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Conservation
  • Exhibition design
  • Egyptology
  • Art and architectural history

You’ll focus on digitization of 3D objects, including digitally restoring objects to their original condition by using best practices of the profession and time-tested principles of art and architectural restoration. You’ll learn how to publish your 3D models on web pages, print them on a 3D printer, and visualize them interactively in a virtual reality environment to make the items more available to researchers.

Visit the Virtual World Heritage Laboratory

Learn more about the Ph.D. in Informatics

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