Elizabeth F. S. Roberts

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“Neighborhood Environments as Socio-Techno-bio Systems: Water Quality, Public Trust, and Health in Mexico City (NESTSMX)” is an NSF-funded multi-year collaborative interdisciplinary project that brings together experts in environmental engineering, anthropology, and environmental health from the University of Michigan and the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública. The PI is Elizabeth Roberts (anthropology), and the co-PIs are Brisa N. Sánchez (biostatistics), Martha M Téllez-Rojo (public health), Branko Kerkez (environmental engineering), and Krista Rule Wigginton (civil and environmental engineering). Our overarching goal for NESTSMX is to develop methods for understanding neighborhoods as “socio-techno-bio systems” and to understand how these systems relate to people’s trust in (or distrust of) their water. In the process, we will collectively contribute to our respective fields of study while we learn how to merge efforts from different disciplinary backgrounds.
NESTSMX works with families living in Mexico City, that participate in an ongoing longitudinal birth-cohort chemical-exposure study (ELEMENT (Early Life Exposures in Mexico to ENvironmental Toxicants, U-M School of Public Health). Our research involves ethnography and environmental engineering fieldwork which we will combine with biomarker data previously gathered by ELEMENT. Our focus will be on the infrastructures and social structures that move water in and out of neighborhoods, households, and bodies.

Testing Real-Time Domestic Water Sensors in Mexico City

Testing Real-Time Domestic Water Sensors in Mexico City

Kevin Bakker

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Kevin’s research is focused on to identifying and interpreting the mechanisms responsible for the complex dynamics we observe in ecological and epidemiological systems using data science and modeling approaches. He is primarily interested in emerging and endemic pathogens, such as SARS-CoV-2, influenza, vampire bat rabies, and a host of childhood infectious diseases such as chickenpox. He uses statistical and mechanistic models to fit, forecast, and occasionally back-cast expected disease dynamics under a host of conditions, such as vaccination or other control mechanisms.

Thomas Schmidt

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The current goal of our research is to learn enough about the physiology and ecology of microbes and microbial communities in the gut that we are able to engineer the gut microbiome to improve human health. The first target of our engineering is the production of butyrate – a common fermentation product of some gut microbes that is essential for human health. Butyrate is the preferred energy source for mitochondria in the epithelial cells lining the gut and it also regulates their gene expression.

One of the most effective ways to influence the composition and metabolism of the gut microbiota is through diet. In an interventional study, we have tracked responses in the composition and fermentative metabolism of the gut microtiota in >800 healthy individuals. Emerging patterns suggest several configurations of the microbiome that can result in increased production of butyrate acid. We have isolated the microbes that form an anaerobic food web to convert dietary fiber to butyrate and continue to make discoveries about their physiology and interactions. Based on these results, we have initiated a clinical trial in which we are hoping to prevent the development of Graft versus Host Disease following bone marrow transplants by managing butyrate production by the gut microbiota.

We are also beginning to track hundreds of other metabolites from the gut microbiome that may influence human health. We use metagenomes and metabolomes to identify patterns that link the microbiota with their metabolites and then test those models in human organoids and gnotobiotic mice colonized with synthetic communities of microbes. This blend of wet-lab research in basic microbiology, data science and in ecology is moving us closer to engineering the gut microbiome to improve human health.

Karen Alofs

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My research focuses on how environmental change, including climate, invasion and habitat destruction influences freshwater ecological communities across space and time. I am involved in a collaborative interdisciplinary project funded by a MIDAS Propelling Original Data Science (PODS) Grant: CHANGES: Collections, Heterogeneous data, And Next Generation Ecological Studies.We are developing protocols for integrating heterogeneous natural science datasets to investigate the impacts of environmental changes on species. Our project focuses on climate change impacts on inland lake fish communities across Michigan, drawing on more than a century’s worth of data and specimens archived at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology (UMMZ) and the Institute for Fisheries Research (IFR), which is a cooperative unit of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Division and the University of Michigan.

Hernán López-Fernández

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I am interested in the evolutionary processes that originate “mega-diverse” biotic assemblages and the role of ecology in shaping the evolution of diversity. My program studies the evolution of Neotropical freshwater fishes, the most diverse freshwater fish fauna on earth, with an estimate exceeding 7,000 species. My lab combines molecular phylogenetics and phylogeny-based comparative methods to integrate ecology, functional morphology, life histories and geography into analyses of macroevolutionary patterns of freshwater fish diversification. We are also comparing patterns of diversification across major Neotropical fish clades. Relying on fieldwork and natural history collections, we use methods that span

Neil Carter

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Carter’s research combines quantitative, theoretical, and field approaches to address challenging local to global wildlife conservation issues in the Anthropocene. His work includes projects on endangered species conservation in human-dominated areas of Nepal, post-war recovery of wildlife in Mozambique, human-wildlife coexistence in the American West, and the effects of artificial lights and human-made noise on wildlife habitat across the contiguous US. Research methods focus on: (1) spatializing both human and wildlife processes, (2) probabilistic methods to infer human-wildlife interactions (3) simulation models of coupled natural-human systems, and (4) forecasting and decision-support tools.

Andrea Thomer

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Andrea Thomer is an assistant professor of information at the University of Michigan School of Information. She conducts research in the areas of data curation, museum informatics, earth science and biodiversity informatics, information organization, and computer supported cooperative work. She is especially interested in how people use and create data and metadata; the impact of information organization on information use; issues of data provenance, reproducibility, and integration; and long-term data curation and infrastructure sustainability. She is studying a number of these issues through the “Migrating Research Data Collections” project – a recently awarded Laura Bush 21st Century Librarianship Early Career Research Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Dr. Thomer received her doctorate in Library and Information Science from the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana‐Champaign in 2017.

Jeffrey Regier

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Jeffrey Regier received a PhD in statistics from UC Berkeley (2016) and joined the University of Michigan as an assistant professor. His research interests include graphical models, Bayesian inference, high-performance computing, deep learning, astronomy, and genomics.