Edgar Franco-Vivanco

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Edgar Franco-Vivanco is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and a faculty associate at the Center for Political Studies. His research interests include Latin American politics, historical political economy, criminal violence, and indigenous politics.

Prof. Franco-Vivanco is interested in implementing machine learning tools to improve the analysis of historical data, in particular handwritten documents. He is also working in the application of text analysis to study indigenous languages. In a parallel research agenda, he explores how marginalized communities interact with criminal organizations and abusive policing in Latin America. As part of this research, he is using NLP tools to identify different types of criminal behavior.

Examples of the digitization process of handwritten documents from colonial Mexico.

Elle O’Brien

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My research focuses on building infrastructure for public health and health science research organizations to take advantage of cloud computing, strong software engineering practices, and MLOps (machine learning operations). By equipping biomedical research groups with tools that facilitate automation, better documentation, and portable code, we can improve the reproducibility and rigor of science while scaling up the kind of data collection and analysis possible.

Research topics include:
1. Open source software and cloud infrastructure for research,
2. Software development practices and conventions that work for academic units, like labs or research centers, and
3. The organizational factors that encourage best practices in reproducibility, data management, and transparency

The practice of science is a tug of war between competing incentives: the drive to do a lot fast, and the need to generate reproducible work. As data grows in size, code increases in complexity and the number of collaborators and institutions involved goes up, it becomes harder to preserve all the “artifacts” needed to understand and recreate your own work. Technical AND cultural solutions will be needed to keep data-centric research rigorous, shareable, and transparent to the broader scientific community.

View MIDAS Faculty Research Pitch, Fall 2021


Jodyn Platt

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Our team leads research on the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) of learning health systems and related enterprises. Our research uses mixed methods to understand policies and practices that make data science methods (data collection and curation, AI, computable algorithms) trustworthy for patients, providers, and the public. Our work engages multiple stakeholders including providers and health systems, as well as the general public and minoritized communities on issues such as AI-enabled clinical decision support, data sharing and privacy, and consent for data use in precision oncology.

Ben Green

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Ben studies the social and political impacts of government algorithms. This work falls into several categories. First, evaluating how people make decisions in collaboration with algorithms. This work involves developing machine learning algorithms and studying how people use them in public sector prediction and decision settings. Second, studying the ethical and political implications of government algorithms. Much of this work draws on STS and legal theory to interrogate topics such as algorithmic fairness, smart cities, and criminal justice risk assessments. Third, developing algorithms for public sector applications. In addition to academic research, Ben spent a year developing data analytics tools as a data scientist for the City of Boston.

Allyson Flaster

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I manage research activities for the College and Beyond II study at ICPSR, including survey development and data infrastructure planning. My research broadly focuses on issues of postsecondary access and success for undergraduate and graduate students and uses quantitative methodologies.

Kevin Stange

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Prof. Stange’s research uses population administrative education and labor market data to understand, evaluate and improve education, employment, and economic policy. Much of the work involves analyzing millions of course-taking and transcript records for college students, whether they be at a single institution, a handful of institutions, or all institutions in several states. This data is used to richly characterize the experiences of college students and relate these experiences to outcomes such as educational attainment, employment, earnings, and career trajectories. Several projects also involve working with the text contained in the universe of all job ads posted online in the US for the past decade. This data is used to characterize the demand for different skills and education credentials in the US labor market. Classification is a task that is arising frequently in this work: How to classify courses into groups based on their title and content? How to identify students with similar educational experiences based on their course-taking patterns? How to classify job ads as being more appropriate for one type of college major or another? This data science work is often paired with traditional causal inference tools of economics, including quasi-experimental methods.

Mithun Chakraborty

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My broad research interests are in multi-agent systems, computational economics and finance, and artificial intelligence. I apply techniques from algorithmic game theory, statistical machine learning, decision theory, etc. to a variety of problems at the intersection of the computational and social sciences. A major focus of my research has been the design and analysis of market-making algorithms for financial markets and, in particular, prediction markets — incentive-based mechanisms for aggregating data in the form of private beliefs about uncertain events (e.g. the outcome of an election) distributed among strategic agents. I use both analytical and simulation-based methods to investigate the impact of factors such as wealth, risk attitude, manipulative behavior, etc. on information aggregation in market ecosystems. Another line of work I am pursuing involves algorithms for allocating resources based on preference data collected from potential recipients, satisfying efficiency, fairness, and diversity criteria; my joint work on ethnicity quotas in Singapore public housing allocation deserves special mention in this vein. More recently, I have got involved in research on empirical game-theoretic analysis, a family of methods for building tractable models of complex, procedurally defined games from empirical/simulated payoff data and using them to reason about game outcomes.

Catherine Hausman

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Catherine H. Hausman is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She uses causal inference, related statistical methods, and microeconomic modeling to answer questions at the intersection of energy markets, environmental quality, climate change, and public policy.

Recent projects have looked at inequality and environmental quality, the natural gas sector’s role in methane leaks, the impact of climate change on the electricity grid, and the effects of nuclear power plant closures. Her research has appeared in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rahul Ladhania

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Rahul Ladhania is an Assistant Professor of Health Informatics in the Department of Health Management & Policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. He also has a secondary (courtesy) appointment with the Department of Biostatistics at SPH. Rahul’s research is in the area of causal inference and machine learning in public and behavioral health. A large body of his work focuses on estimating personalized treatment rules and heterogeneous effects of policy, digital and behavioral interventions on human behavior and health outcomes in complex experimental and observational settings using statistical machine learning methods.

Rahul co-leads the Machine Learning team at the Behavior Change For Good Initiative (Penn), where he is working on two `mega-studies’ (very large multi-arm randomized trials): one in partnership with a national fitness chain, to estimate the effects of behavioral interventions on promoting gym visit habit formation; and the other in partnership with two large Mid-Atlantic health systems and a national pharmacy chain, to estimate the effects of text-based interventions on increasing flu shot vaccination rates. His other projects involve partnerships with step-counting apps and mobile-based games to learn user behavior patterns, and design and evaluate interventions and their heterogeneous effects on user behavior.