Doctoral student aims to leverage data analytics degree to advance U.S. Army

KENNESAW, Ga. | Nov 11, 2020

Trent Geisler
Trent Geisler

Lt. Col. Trent Geisler’s military career has led him across the globe as he did everything from commanding dive teams in Southwest Asia to teaching at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Now a second-year student in Kennesaw State University’s Ph.D. in Analytics and Data Science program, his main directive is to earn his degree with the intent to apply his studies within the Army thereafter. Upon graduation, he will once again join the faculty at West Point to guide future generations of commissioned officers in data science.

“I can’t think of many other places that invest in the education of its employees quite like the Army, but I am extremely thankful to have the opportunity to expand my knowledge in what many in government consider an in-demand industry,” Geisler said.

After earning an undergraduate degree in mathematical sciences at West Point in 2004, Geisler would go on to serve as an engineer officer where he commanded dive teams across Southwest Asia. Seeking a career change, he would return to the classroom at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he earned graduate degrees in business administration and operations research before becoming an instructor at West Point for a three-year period. From 2016 to 2019, he served as a data scientist within the Army Marketing and Research Group near Washington, where he helped construct and implement mathematical models and software applications to optimize Army marketing operations.

Wishing to return to the Atlanta area and further advance his career, he sought out Ph.D. degree programs for data science, ultimately discovering KSU.

“Initially, we were already sold on Kennesaw State because of the location,” he said. “But when I had a chance to meet Dr. Jennifer Priestley, Dr. Sherrill Hayes and Dr. Gene Ray, I knew for sure this is where I wanted to be. It was an environment that just felt very student-centric and supportive, and I felt right at home.”

Currently, Geisler is advancing the research of a former KSU doctoral student Lili Zhang, who earned her Ph.D. in Analytics and Data Science in May. The research involves using novel approach predicting credit scoring in financial systems.

“Since his arrival, we have been nothing short of impressed by Trent and his commitment to applying his studies while leveraging his extensive professional experience,” said Jennifer Priestley, director of the Ph.D. in Analytics and Data Science program. “There is perhaps no better example of how relevant our field is to a variety of industries, particularly government sectors who benefit from improved data literacy through experts like Trent.”

Sherrill Hayes, executive director of KSU’s Analytics and Data Science Institute, said Geisler has the hallmarks of a great student.

"From his first year in the program Trent really distinguished himself," he said. "He is often the first in the office in the morning and the last to leave in the evening, always learning and growing. He’s the sort of individual you want as a doctoral student and future colleague."

– Travis Highfield

Photos by David Caselli



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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit