Marie O’Neill

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My research interests include health effects of air pollution, temperature extremes and climate change (mortality, asthma, hospital admissions, birth outcomes and cardiovascular endpoints); environmental exposure assessment; and socio-economic influences on health.
Data science tools and methodologies include geographic information systems and spatio-temporal analysis, epidemiologic study design and data management.

Omar Jamil Ahmed

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The Ahmed lab studies behavioral neural circuits and attempts to repair them when they go awry in neurological disorders. Working with patients and with transgenic rodent models, we focus on how space, time and speed are encoded by the spatial navigation and memory circuits of the brain. We also focus on how these same circuits go wrong in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. Our research involves the collection of massive volumes of neural data. Within these terabytes of data, we work to identify and understand irregular activity patterns at the sub-millisecond level. This requires us to leverage high performance computing environments, and to design custom algorithmic and analytical signal processing solutions. As part of our research, we also discover new ways for the brain to encode information (how neurons encode sequences of space and time, for example) – and the algorithms utilized by these natural neural networks can have important implications for the design of more effective artificial neural networks.

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.

Sara Lafia

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I am a Research Fellow in the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan. My research is currently supported by a NSF project, Developing Evidence-based Data Sharing and Archiving Policies, where I am analyzing curation activities, automatically detecting data citations, and contributing to metrics for tracking the impact of data reuse. I hold a Ph.D. in Geography from UC Santa Barbara and I have expertise in GIScience, spatial information science, and urban planning. My interests also include the Semantic Web, innovative GIS education, and the science of science. I have experience deploying geospatial applications, designing linked data models, and developing visualizations to support data discovery.

Xianglei Huang

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Prof. Huang is specialized in satellite remote sensing, atmospheric radiation, and climate modeling. Optimization, pattern analysis, and dimensional reduction are extensively used in his research for explaining observed spectrally resolved infrared spectra, estimating geophysical parameters from such hyperspectral observations, and deducing human influence on the climate in the presence of natural variability of the climate system. His group has also developed a deep-learning model to make a data-driven solar forecast model for use in the renewable energy sector.

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.

Gary Luker

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We use a variety of quantitative imaging methods, ranging from single cells to clinical studies, to investigate cancer signaling and response to therapy over space and time. We develop image analysis methods to extract data from thousands of single cells over time and voxel-wise measurements of imaging parameters. We also use bulk and single-cell RNA sequencing to investigate heterogeneity among cancer cells and changes induced by intercellular interactions. A current goal of our ongoing work is to merge RNA sequencing and imaging data to understand cell decision making in cancer. We collaborate with investigators using machine learning and computational modeling approaches to inform cell signaling and resultant behaviors in tumor growth and metastasis.

Bogdan I. Epureanu

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• Computational dynamics focused on nonlinear dynamics and finite elements (e.g., a new approach for forecasting bifurcations/tipping points in aeroelastic and ecological systems, new finite element methods for thin walled beams that leads to novel reduced order models).
• Modeling nonlinear phenomena and mechano-chemical processes in molecular motor dynamics, such as motor proteins, toward early detection of neurodegenerative diseases.
• Computational methods for robotics, manufacturing, modeling multi-body dynamics, developed methods for identifying limit cycle oscillations in large-dimensional (fluid) systems.
• Turbomachinery and aeroelasticity providing a better understanding of fundamental complex fluid dynamics and cutting-edge models for predicting, identifying and characterizing the response of blisks and flade systems through integrated experimental & computational approaches.
• Structural health monitoring & sensing providing increased sensibility / capabilities by the discovery, characterization and exploitation of sensitivity vector fields, smart system interrogation through nonlinear feedback excitation, nonlinear minimal rank perturbation and system augmentation, pattern recognition for attractors, damage detection using bifurcation morphing.

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.