Annette Ostling

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Biodiversity in nature can be puzzlingly high in the light of competition between species, which arguably should eventually result in a single winner. The coexistence mechanisms that allow for this biodiversity shape the dynamics of communities and ecosystems. My research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of competitive coexistence, how competition influences community structure and diversity, and what insights observed patterns of community structure might provide about competitive coexistence.

I am interested in the use and development of data science approaches to draw insights regarding coexistence mechanisms from the structural patterns of ecological communities with respect to species’ functional traits, relative abundance, spatial distribution, and phylogenetic relatedness, through as community dynamics proceed. I am also interested in the use of Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian approaches for fitting demographic models to forest census data sets, demographic models that can then be used to quantitatively assess the role of different competitive coexistence 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.

Ranjan Pal

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Cyber-security is a complex and multi-dimensional research field. My research style comprises an inter-disciplinary (primarily rooted in economics, econometrics, data science (AI/ML/Bayesian and Frequentist Statistics), game theory, and network science) investigation of major socially pressing issues impacting the quality of cyber-risk management in modern networked and distributed engineering systems such as IoT-driven critical infrastructures, cloud-based service networks, and app-based systems (e.g., mobile commerce, smart homes) to name a few. I take delight in proposing data-driven, rigorous, and interdisciplinary solutions to both, existing fundamental challenges that pose a practical bottleneck to (cost) effective cyber-risk management, and futuristic cyber-security and privacy issues that might plague modern (networked) engineering systems. I strongly strive for originality, practical significance, and mathematical rigor in my solutions. One of my primary end goals is to conceptually get arms around complex, multi-dimensional information security and privacy problems in a way that helps, informs, and empowers practitioners and policy makers to take the right steps in making the cyber-space more secure.

Carlos Aguilar

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The Aguilar group is focused understanding transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms of skeletal muscle stem cells in diverse contexts such as regeneration after injury and aging. We focus on this area because there are little to no therapies for skeletal muscle after injury or aging. We use various types of in-vivo and in-vitro models in combination with genomic assays and high-throughput sequencing to study these molecular mechanisms.

Xu Shi

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My methodological research focus on developing statistical methods for routinely collected healthcare databases such as electronic health records (EHR) and claims data. I aim to tackle the unique challenges that arise from the secondary use of real-world data for research purposes. Specifically, I develop novel causal inference methods and semiparametric efficiency theory that harness the full potential of EHR data to address comparative effectiveness and safety questions. I develop scalable and automated pipelines for curation and harmonization of EHR data across healthcare systems and coding systems.

Evan Keller

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Our laboratory focuses on (1) the biology of cancer metastasis, especially bone metastasis, including the role of the host microenvironment; and (2) mechanisms of chemoresistance. We explore for genes that regulate metastasis and the interaction between the host microenvironment and cancer cells. We are performing single cell multiomics and spatial analysis to enable us to identify rare cell populations and promote precision medicine. Our research methodology uses a combination of molecular, cellular, and animal studies. The majority of our work is highly translational to provide clinical relevance to our work. In terms of data science, we collaborate on applications of both established and novel methodologies to analyze high dimensional; deconvolution of high dimensional data into a cellular and tissue context; spatial mapping of multiomic data; and heterogenous data integration.

Lisa Levinson

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My research interests are in natural language semantics and psycholinguistics, focusing on verbs. I conduct behavioral psycholinguistic experiments with methodologies such as self-paced reading and maze tasks, as well as surveys of linguistic and semantic judgments. I also study semantic variation using corpora and datasets such as the Twitter Decahose, to better understand how words have developed diverging meanings in different communities, age groups, or regions. I use primarily R and Python to collect, manage, and analyze data. I direct the UM WordLab in the linguistics department, working with students (especially undergraduates) on experimental and computational research focusing on lexical representations.

Yuehao Bai

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My research interests lie in design and analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), partial identification, identification and inference with multi-valued treatments and instruments, and quantile regression. In one recent paper I study the optimal stratified randomization procedure in RCTs, and found a certain kind of matched-pair design is optimal. In another paper (coauthored with Joe Romano and Azeem Shaikh), we provide asymptotically exact inference procedure for matched-pair designs. In another paper we study inference with moment inequalities whose dimension grows exponentially fast with the sample size. I also have a paper in which we study the sharp identified sets for various treatment effects with multi-valued instruments and multi-values treatments.

Albert S. Berahas

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Albert S. Berahas is an Assistant Professor in the department of Industrial & Operations Engineering. His research broadly focuses on designing, developing and analyzing algorithms for solving large scale nonlinear optimization problems. Such problems are ubiquitous, and arise in a plethora of areas such as engineering design, economics, transportation, robotics, machine learning and statistics. Specifically, he is interested in and has explored several sub-fields of nonlinear optimization such as: (i) general nonlinear optimization algorithms, (ii) optimization algorithms for machine learning, (iii) constrained optimization, (iv) stochastic optimization, (v) derivative-free optimization, and (vi) distributed optimization.

9.9.2020 MIDAS Faculty Research Pitch Video.

Ya’acov Ritov

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My main interest is theoretical statistics as implied to complex model from semiparametric to ultra high dimensional regression analysis. In particular the negative aspects of Bayesian and causal analysis as implemented in modern statistics.

An analysis of the position of SCOTUS judges.