RISS organization

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1. Mission

RISS’s mission is to further research innovation, discovery and learning in the interdisciplinary application of informatics to study complex problems or systems.

2. Organization

We support all kinds of interdisciplinary informatics support from digital humanities projects to genome research.  Much of RISS resources and efforts address the high and critical demand for data analysis support associated with the application of genomics in the life sciences, biomedical,  clinical and translational research fields.  Our current organization reflects that emphasis.  Also, not all communities share the same needs with some requiring dedicated or specialized help.  For these RISS has established a partnership model providing scientific management supervision of community assigned and sponsored informatics analysts. Financially supported by RISS’s community partners, these analysts are scientifically managed and guided by RISS senior informatics personnel.  This too shapes RISS’s organization into a distributed model in which dedicated analysts are closely associated with specific communities such as a department or center and MSI core analysts respond to the needs of other university researchers. This structure provides means for MSI and RISS to reach and support a greater number of researchers with whom to share and distribute knowledge.  Through these close partnerships, a better understanding of researchers’ needs is achieved enabling an informed decision process, and a proactive role in coordination of infrastructure and resource development.

3. The RISS Hub

The hub refers to the core of RISS composed of informatics analysts who interface between MSI units (e.g. HPC, App Dev, Viz) and university researchers while providing consulting and analytical services.  In its distributed model of knowledge and support RISS has established partnerships with the department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology and the Center for Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics.  The hub provides a point of attachment for partnership-sponsored RISS-managed analysts.  To further increase accessibility RISS also maintains office hours on the Saint Paul campus in the Cargill Microbial and Plant Genomics Institute (MPGI) building and has secured consulting space in the upcoming Microbiology building in the Discovery Gateway district on the Minneapolis campus.  Further establishing the informatics network RISS and MSI provide data processing and data storage support to analytical resources such as the Center for Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics and the UMN Genomics Center for which MSI processes  ~5TB of raw next generation sequencing data every 10 days.

Representation of RISS knowledge and support distributed model. The MSI-RISS core of analysts assists with informatics help request from researchers across the university. A second role is to work towards improvement of MSI resources with the goals of promoting the visibility and use of informatics and computational resources with the intent of increasing researchers and scholars’ informatics proficiency.  Sponsored by department, center or other partnering entity, RISS managed analysts are, as the name indicates, scientifically managed by RISS but focused on the needs of their sponsors.  The managed analysts also act as a satellite point of knowledge distribution closely connected to their sponsoring community.

4. RISS Team

See MSI RISS program staff pages to read about the analysts .

5. RISS Oversight Committee

A RISS Oversight Committee has been established to advise RISS in its mission to support interdisciplinary informatics at the University of Minnesota .  Reporting to the director of MSI the  committee functions are to 1) recommend  informatics tools and platforms required by the broad university community and prioritize their deployment,  2) oversee the timely integration of these tools  and platforms, 3) help identify research or instrumentation funding programs that are consistent with the mission of the RISS program, campus research constituencies and university priorities and 4) provide oversight of the effectiveness of the program and its priorities by proposing new mechanism that can increase the impact of the program. 

Following are the current committee members.


Nathan Springer, Chair

Plant Biology

Zohara Cohen

Bio-Medical Health Informatics

Chap Le

Biostatistics, Masonic Cancer Center

Wei-Shou Hu

Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

Chad Myers

Computer Science and Engineering

Heather H. Nelson

Epidemiology, Institute of Human Genetics and Masonic Cancer Center