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

 

Carina Gronlund

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As an environmental epidemiologist and in collaboration with government and community partners, I study how social, economic, health, and built environment characteristics and/or air quality affect vulnerability to extreme heat and extreme precipitation. This research will help cities understand how to adapt to heat, heat waves, higher pollen levels, and heavy rainfall in a changing climate.

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.

Sardar Ansari

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I build data science tools to address challenges in medicine and clinical care. Specifically, I apply signal processing, image processing and machine learning techniques, including deep convolutional and recurrent neural networks and natural language processing, to aid diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of patients with acute and chronic conditions. In addition, I conduct research on novel approaches to represent clinical data and combine supervised and unsupervised methods to improve model performance and reduce the labeling burden. Another active area of my research is design, implementation and utilization of novel wearable devices for non-invasive patient monitoring in hospital and at home. This includes integration of the information that is measured by wearables with the data available in the electronic health records, including medical codes, waveforms and images, among others. Another area of my research involves linear, non-linear and discrete optimization and queuing theory to build new solutions for healthcare logistic planning, including stochastic approximation methods to model complex systems such as dispatch policies for emergency systems with multi-server dispatches, variable server load, multiple priority levels, etc.

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.

Jesse Hamilton

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My research focuses on the development of novel Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology for imaging the heart. We focus in particular on quantitative imaging techniques, in which the signal intensity at each pixel in an image represents a measurement of an inherent property of a tissue. Much of our research is based on cardiac Magnetic Resonance Fingerprinting (MRF), which is a class of methods for simultaneously measuring multiple tissue properties from one rapid acquisition.

Our group is exploring novel ways to combine physics-based modeling of MRI scans with deep learning algorithms for several purposes. First, we are exploring the use of deep learning to design quantitative MRI scans with improved accuracy and precision. Second, we are developing deep learning approaches for image reconstruction that will allow us to reduce image noise, improve spatial resolution and volumetric coverage, and enable highly accelerated acquisitions to shorten scan times. Third, we are exploring ways of using artificial intelligence to derive physiological motion signals directly from MRI data to enable continuous scanning that is robust to cardiac and breathing motion. In general, we focus on algorithms that are either self-supervised or use training data generated in computer simulations, since the collection of large amounts of training data from human subjects is often impractical when designing novel imaging methods.

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.

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.

Elliott Rouse

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My reserach group–theNeurobionics Lab–has two chief goals. Firstly, we seek to answer fundamental questions about human locomotion through a deeper understanding of how limb mechanics are felt and regulated by the nervous system. These properties are important because they govern how people respond to disturbances during gait, such as unexpectedly stepping on an obstacle, or carefully walking over uneven terrain. Moreover, the ability to regulate these mechanics is drastically impaired following neurological injury. As a result, impaired individuals fall more frequently, fatigue faster, and have abnormal gait patterns that inhibit daily life. The more we understand about how the brain controls the body during locomotion, the better we can assess, track, and treat the changes that occur following neurological injury.

The second mission of the group is to develop technologies that address the deficits that arise from neuropathologies and amputation. We leverage biomimetic design and control approaches to develop novel wearable robotic systems. Our intent is to not only address the locomotor deficits of these individuals, but also enable them to exceed the performance of their able-bodied counterparts. Our approach is unique: the biomechanical science that we discover is used to develop a new class of assistive technology. Through interdisciplinary, bidirectional feedback between science and engineering, the Neurobionics Lab conducts innovative work that will eventually impact the lives of the disabled.

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.