Our research group studies how and why an organism’s traits (“phenotypes”) evolve in natural populations. Explaining the mechanisms that generate and regulate patterns of phenotypic diversity is a major goal of evolutionary biology: why do we see rapid shifts to strikingly new and distinct character states, and how stable are these evolutionary transitions across space and time? To answer these questions, we generate and analyze high-throughput “big data” on both genomes and phenotypes across the 18,000 species of reptiles and amphibians across the globe. Then, we use the statistical tools of phylogenetic comparative analysis, geometric morphometrics of 3D anatomy generated from CT scans, and genome annotation and comparative transcriptomics to understand the integrated trait correlations that create complex phenotypes. Currently, we are using machine learning and neural networks to study the color patterns of animals vouchered into biodiversity collections and test hypotheses about the ecological causes and evolutionary consequences of phenotypic innovation. We are especially passionate about the effective and accurate visualization of large-scale multidimensional datasets, and we prioritize training in both best practices and new innovations in quantitative data display.
My research interests are broad, but generally center on the causes and consequences of biodiversity loss at local, regional, and global scales with an explicit focus on global change drivers. Our work has been published in Science, Nature, Science Advances, Global Change Biology, PNAS, AREES, TREE, and Ecology Letters among other journals. We are especially interested in using AI and machine learning to explore broad-scale patterns of biodiversity and phenotypic variation, mostly in ants.
Xiaoquan (William) Wen is an Associate Professor of Biostatistics. He received his PhD in Statistics from the University of Chicago in 2011 and joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in the same year. His research centers on developing Bayesian and computational statistical methods to answer interesting scientific questions arising from genetics and genomics.
Michael is an Assistant Professor of Energy Systems at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability and PI of the ASSET Lab. He researches how to equitably reduce global and local environmental impacts of energy systems while making those systems robust to future climate change. His research advances energy system models to address new challenges driven by decarbonization, climate adaptation, and equity objectives. He then applies these models to real-world systems to generate decision-relevant insights that account for engineering, economic, climatic, and policy features. His energy system models leverage optimization and simulation methods, depending on the problem at hand. Applying these models to climate mitigation or adaptation in real-world systems often runs into computational limits, which he overcomes through clustering, sampling, and other data reduction algorithms. His current interdisciplinary collaborations include climate scientists, hydrologists, economists, urban planners, epidemiologists, and diverse engineers.
My research focus the application and development of new algorithms for solving complex business analytics problems. Applications vary from revenue management, dynamic pricing, marketing analytics, to retail logistics. In terms of methodology, I use a combination of operations research and machine learning/online optimization techniques.
Dr. Brian Lin has 12 years of experience in automotive research at UMTRI after his Ph.D. His current research is focused on mining naturalistic driving data, evaluating driver assistance systems, modeling driver performance and behavior, and estimating driver distraction and workload, using statistical methods, classification, clustering, and survival analysis. His most recent work includes classifying human driver’s decision for a discretionary lane change and traversal at unsignalized intersections, driver’s response to lead vehicle’s movement, and subjective acceptance on automated lane change feature. Dr. Lin also has much experience applying data analytic methods to evaluate automotive system prototypes, including auto-braking, lane departure, driver-state monitoring, electronic head units, car-following and curve-assist systems on level-2 automation, and lane-change and intersection assist on L3 automation on public roads, test tracks, or driving simulators. He is also familiar with the human factors methods to investigate driver distraction, workload, and human-machine interaction with in-vehicle technologies and safety features. He serves as a peer reviewer for Applied Ergonomics, Behavior Research Methods, IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Vehicles and Transportation Research Part F.
Dr. Kochunas’s research focus is on the next generation of numerical methods and parallel algorithms for high fidelity computational reactor physics and how to leverage these capabilities to develop digital twins. His group’s areas of expertise include neutron transport, nuclide transmutation, multi-physics, parallel programming, and HPC architectures. The Nuclear Reactor Analysis and Methods (NURAM) group is also developing techniques that integrate data-driven methods with conventional approaches in numerical analysis to produce “hybrid models” for accurate, real-time modeling applications. This is embodied by his recent efforts to combine high-fidelity simulation results simulation models in virtual reality through the Virtual Ford Nuclear Reactor.
“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.
My lab researches how the human brain processes social and affective information and how these processes are affected in psychiatric disorders, especially schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. We use behavioral, electrophysiological (EEG), neuroimaging (functional MRI), eye tracking, brain stimulation (TMS, tACS), and computational methods in our studies. One main focus of our work is building and validating computational models based on intensive, high-dimensional subject-level behavior and brain data to explain clinical phenomena, parse mechanisms, and predict patient outcome. The goal is to improve diagnostic and prognostic assessment, and to develop personalized treatments.
I am an Assistant Professor in the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan and am part of the Sustainable Food Systems Initiative. My research examines the impacts of environmental change on agricultural production, and how farmers may adapt to reduce negative impacts. I also examine ways that we can sustainably enhance agricultural production. To do this work, I combine remote sensing and geospatial analyses with household-level and census datasets to examine farmer decision-making and agricultural production across large spatial and temporal scales.