Todd Allen

Todd Allen

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My research is focussed on nuclear energy systems and public policy. My research has included data analysis to predict equipment failures and materials degradation.

Max Li

Max Li

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Max’s research interests lies in the design, management, and optimization of large-scale infrastructure systems, focusing on the air transportation system and emerging aerial mobility systems. He is interested in the application of methods applicable to networked systems, especially with resource constraints (e.g., airspace and airport capacity), diverse stakeholders (e.g., passenger-centric, airline-centric), and complex dynamics (e.g., changing temporal behaviors). Max has worked on a variety of data-driven problems related to analyzing flight delays across airport networks, strategic/tactical air traffic management and delay assignments, privacy and routing in drone-based applications, and uncertainty-aware traffic management. He is interested in methods such as graph signal processing and signal processing over non-Euclidean domains, data-driven optimization, mixed-integer/integer/combinatorial programs, resilient network design, and stochastic optimization. Broadly, Max hopes to contribute to a safe, resilient, and efficient air transportation system (inclusive of intra- and inter-city modalities) within the context of a passenger’s (or cargo’s) door-to-door journey.

A flight delay assignment mechanism that does not rely on knowing the exact value of an airline's private per-flight valuation of flight delays. The mechanism requires the system capacities/demand per round, and computes an initial solution. This solution is adjusted by a Coordinating Airline using privatized information from Participating Airlines. The resultant solution is proposed, and any negative public delays incurred is recorded to a ledger. The role of Coordianting/Participating Airlines then rotate depending on the current ledger balance.

Image: A flight delay assignment mechanism that does not rely on knowing the exact value of an airline’s private per-flight valuation of flight delays. The mechanism requires the system capacities/demand per round, and computes an initial solution. This solution is adjusted by a Coordinating Airline using privatized information from Participating Airlines. The resultant solution is proposed, and any negative public delays incurred is recorded to a ledger. The role of Coordinating/Participating Airlines then rotate depending on the current ledger balance.

What is the most significant scientific contribution you would like to make?

Working with air traffic controllers and traffic flow managers to deploy/prototype a congestion management solution/model!

What makes you excited about your data science and AI research?

The potential positive impact on the air transportation system, and helping to make it more efficient and equitable in terms of access.

Talia Moore

Talia Moore

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My research involves discovery, modeling, and design for comparative biomechanics and bio-inspired robotics. I develop new information-based methods to analyze the behavior and locomotion of animals in natural environments and use laboratory-based experiments to build detailed models of how animal motion is generated by muscles, tendons, and bones. I’ve developed machine learning methods to automatically segment non-standard animals in photographs for taxonomically-broad phylogenetic comparative analyses of color pattern and behavior. I also use Finite Element Analysis to understand how the evolution of 3-dimensional shape in animal bones and teeth have adapted to a variety of ecological situations, such as novel substrates or diet.

Because FEA and other biomechanical methods are so computationally intensive, I’ve adopted a surrogate model approach that uses Bayesian Optimization to perform stimulus selection and make accurate predictions of sample performance with the minimum number of model datapoints. I’ve also begun applying this surrogate model approach to explore the design space of bio-inspired grippers made from dielectric fluid actuators. Data-driven modeling also informs the design rigid legged robots in my lab, which we will use to test hypotheses regarding how limb shape affects overall locomotion.

Finite element modeling of snake fangs helps us understand how fang shape can be adapted for different types of loading conditions, and therefore prey types. We use Bayesian Optimization to select which species to analyze for our surrogate model, which minimizes the computation time while maximizing prediction accuracy.

Additional Information

What are some of your most interesting projects?

Jerboas are bipedal desert rodents that hop erratically with zig-zag trajectories when they are escaping from predators (some describe them as “ricochetal”). These animals are about the size of your fist, but they can jump over 3 feet straight up in the air or forwards. Little was known about their locomotion, and the majority of biomechanical locomotion research was performed in lab environments on treadmills. However, training an animal to run on a treadmill reduces the variability in direction and speed that the animals would need to survive in the wild. So I went out into the desert and filmed these animals jumping and running on their natural substrates.

To understand how these trajectories might confound predators, I measured the unpredictability (or entropy) and found that bipedal desert rodents are much less predictable than quadrupedal desert rodents. Then, taking a closer look using high-speed video cameras, I determined that they have at least 5 distinct bipedal gaits. Using both kinematic and dynamic data, I built a modified Spring-Loaded Inverted Pendulum model with a torsional spring to control the neutral leg swing angle. I then performed a numerical search using a continuing approach to test neighboring parameter values for viability to discover bifurcations in gait structure. I found that by decoupling the neutral leg swing angle between left and right legs, the model was capable of transitioning between gaits across the entire speed range, just as the real jerboas do. This research will be used to inform the design of controllers for legged robots to switch gaits smoothly across a wide range of speeds.

How did you end up where you are today?

I started off not knowing at all what I wanted to do, but enjoying martial arts. A friend told me to check out the biomechanics class in my last year in undergrad at UC Berkeley, and I was hooked! I joined the lab immediately and worked there for two years after graduating. I wanted to learn everything, so I worked on a different project with a different graduate student every day of the week. During that time, I worked with cockroaches, geckos, iguanas, and agama lizards, learning about how they generate and control their motions. I was also lucky to get hands-on experience with designing and building bio-inspired robots and using them to test biological hypotheses to reveal fundamental principles of animal locomotion.

After that, I went on to study biomechanics and evolutionary biology at Harvard, where I was introduced to jerboas for the first time. They are such strange and wonderful creatures that I knew I wanted to study them for the rest of my life. I came to UM in 2015 and worked as a postdoc in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, where I developed a new modular ethogram system to analyze snake anti-predator behaviors and design snake-mimicking soft robots. Then I became a Research Scientist in the Robotics Institute, followed by being hired as an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering in January of 2021. Now I am appointed in both Robotics and Mechanical Engineering and have affiliations with Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Museum of Zoology.

What is the most significant scientific contribution you would like to make?

I really want to build tools to bridge the gap between biology and engineering. So many biological questions are constrained by the technology we have available. By forming connections between these fields, I have already facilitated more quantitative study of non-steady-state locomotion in natural environments. There is also a big gap between what motions animals and robots are capable of performing. I hope to learn strategies from animals and design robots to succeed in unstructured and complex environments.

What makes you excited about your data science and AI research?

I’m extremely excited that data science is making it possible to analyze the types of large datasets that we can collect from animals. There is no limit to the amount of data you can collect about animal locomotion, behavior, appearance, or structure, and the types of studies that used to take decades can now be done in a semester thanks to data science and AI. This makes it possible to integrate information from multiple different data streams and understand more complex relationships between animals, their environments, and how these relationships change through space and time.

What are 1-3 interesting facts about yourself?

I’ve done fieldwork in Malaysia, China, Australia, California, the Bahamas and Peru. I think it’s incredibly important to examine animals in their natural habitats, because our assumptions about their behaviors might be totally wrong if we only see them in zoos or labs.
The first sentence I try to learn in every language is “Where is the bathroom?”
My two rules for fieldwork are: 1) Never stop moving and 2) Never sit down or lean on anything.

Vineet Kamat

Vineet Kamat

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My group conducts research in automation and robotics to improve work processes in the construction, operation, and maintenance of civil infrastructure and the built environment. Our research has developed several licensable technologies that include visualization, perception, and modeling techniques to help on-site construction robots with autonomous decision making. We are particularly interested in exploring new methods for enabling collaborative work strategies for human-robot teams jointly performing field construction work. In addition, we are also interested in exploring methods to integrate data to support semi-autonomous mobility for people with physical disabilities in the urban built environment.

Data-Driven Co-Robotic Field Construction Work

Peter Song

Peter Song

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My research interests lie in two major fields: In the field of statistical methodology, my interests include data integration, distributed inference, federated learning and meta learning, high-dimensional statistics, mixed integer optimization, statistical machine learning, and spatiotemporal modeling. In the field of empirical study, my interests include bioinformatics, biological aging, epigenetics, environmental health sciences, nephrology, nutritional sciences, obesity, and statistical genetics.

Ryan Stidham

Ryan Stidham

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Dr. Stidham is an academic gastroenterologist specializing in medical image analysis in Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), and gastroenterology conditions at large. His research is focused on developing new measures of disease activity to power automated care models and clinical decision support systems in IBD with a focus on medical image analysis and new technology development. His work has focused on automation of existing IBD disease measures that relying on colonoscopy, CT, MRI, and ultrasound using neural networks and novel image analysis approaches. Dr. Stidham is also developing new measures of disease activity, inflammation, and fibrosis that leverage advances in image segmentation, transfer learning, signals analysis, and fuzzy network approaches as well as collaborating for development of new image acquisition modalities. Finally, his team has active projects in collaboration with the Department of Learning Health Sciences for merging data from clinical office notes with imaging data using computational linguistics approaches. His work has been supported by the NIH, DOD, NSF, and several large investigator-initiated industry collaborations.

Sabine Loos

Sabine Loos

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My research focuses on natural hazards and disaster information, everything from understanding where disaster data comes from, how it’s used, and its implications to design improved disaster information systems that prioritize the human experience and lead to more effective and equitable outcomes.

My lab takes a user-centered and data-driven approach. We aim to understand user needs and the effect of data on users’ decisions through qualitative research, such as focus groups or workshops. We then design new information systems through geospatial/GIS analysis, risk analysis, and statistical modeling techniques. We often work with earth observation, sensor, and survey data. We consider various aspects of disaster information, whether it be the hazard, its physical impacts, its social impacts, or a combination of the three.

I also focus on the communication of information, through data visualization techniques, and host a Risk and Resilience DAT/Artathon to build data visualization capacity for early career professionals.

Geospatial model for predicting inequities in recovery from the 2015 Nepal earthquake

Photograph of Nicholas Kotov

Nicholas Kotov

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Nicholas A. Kotov is Irving Langmuir Distinguished University Professor in Chemical Sciences at the University of Michigan. He is a pioneer of theoretical foundations and practical implementations of complex systems from ‘imperfect’ nanoparticles that offer a vast field for the application of data science and machine learning. Chiral nanostructures, biomimetic nanocomposites, and graph theoretical representations are the focal points in his current work.  Nicholas is a recipient of more than 60 awards and recognitions. Together with his students, Nicholas founded several startups that commercialized self-assembled nanostructures for the energy, healthcare, and automotive industry. Nicholas is a Fellow of the America Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors.  He is an advocate for scientists with disabilities.

Zheng Song

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I received my second PhD in Computer Science (with a focus on distributed systems and software engineering) from Virginia Tech USA in 2020, and the first PhD (with a focus on wireless networking and mobile computing) from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications China in 2015. I received the Best Paper Award from IEEE International Conference on Edge Computing in 2019. My ongoing research projects include measuring the data quality of web services and using federated learning to improve indoor localization accuracy.

Gen Li

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Dr. Gen Li is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biostatistics. He is devoted to developing new statistical methods for analyzing complex biomedical data, including multi-way tensor array data, multi-view data, and compositional data. His methodological research interests include dimension reduction, predictive modeling, association analysis, and functional data analysis. He also has research interests in scientific domains including microbiome and genomics.

Novel tree-guided regularization methods can identify important microbial features at different taxonomic ranks that are predictive of the clinical outcome.