Photo of Ilkay Altintas
Ilkay Altintas
Chief Data Science Officer, HDSI Founding Faculty Fellow

Ilkay Altintas is a Fellow of Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI) as well as San Diego Supercomputer Center’s Chief Data Science Officer. She has played a huge role in the stewardship of HDSI cyberinfrastructure (CI) resources and services.

She will continue to work with UC San Diego faculty, industry partners, and students at all levels. In addition to her CDSO responsibilities at SDSC, an Organized Research Unit of UC San Diego, Altintas is an associate research scientist and director of the Workflows for Data Science (WoRDS) Center of Excellence at SDSC. WoRDS specializes in developing scientific workflows and solution architectures used throughout data and computational science.
Photo of Tiffany Amariuta
Tiffany Amariuta
Assistant Professor Department of Medicine/HDSI

PhD: Harvard University

Before starting her lab in San Diego, Tiffany earned a B.S. in Biological Engineering at MIT and went on to conduct graduate research as part of the Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics Ph.D. program at Harvard Medical School, where she studied the genetic susceptibility of autoimmune diseases and other polygenic diseases. During graduate school, Tiffany developed machine learning methods to predict the functionality of regulatory variants, which had applications to transcription factor binding prediction, eQTL mapping, heritability enrichment analysis, and trans-ancestry portability of polygenic risk scores. In her postdoctoral training, Tiffany developed a method to infer causal disease cell types from genome-wide association data and gene expression datasets. Dr. Amariuta has a joint appointment with the Department of Medicine. The focus of her group is to develop multi-ancestry genetic prediction methods to enable powerful disease inference for underrepresented populations.

Photo of Mikio Aoi
Mikio Aoi
Assistant Professor

Dr. Aoi is a computational neuroscientist interested in studying how populations of neurons coordinate their activity to perform computations. In particular, his interests are in understanding how the dynamics of neural computations impact behavior and in developing principled approaches to data analysis in close collaboration with experimentalists.

Before pursuing an interest in neuroscience he earned a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Long Beach and a PhD in Mathematical Biology from North Carolina State University studying the dynamics of cerebrovascular function in stroke patients.  As postdoctoral associate in the Department of Mathematics at Boston University he developed statistical methods for characterizing rhythmic synchrony in neuronal populations. He then moved to Princeton University, where he continued his postdoctoral training with Jonathan Pillow, developing scalable methods for analyzing high dimensional datasets of neuronal activity in animals performing perceptual decision making tasks.

As a native of Southern California, Dr. Aoi is thrilled to return to California to join the outstanding students and faculty at UCSD in the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute and The Department of Neurobiology – Division of Biology.

Photo of Bijan Arbab
Bijan Arbab
Industry Fellow Intel

Bijan Arbab is the Director of Telemetry and Data Science at Intel Corporation. As an Industry Fellow Dr. Arbab is making impactful contributions to HDSI and the data science community at UC San Diego. In addition to enabling a significant data sharing agreement between Intel and the University that has become the foundation for successful collaborations between faculty and industry practitioners, he is also actively engaged in the mentorship of our data science students through the senior capstone program and undergraduate research projects.

Categories: Industry Fellows
Photo of Ery Arias-Castro
Ery Arias-Castro

Ery Arias-Castro received his Ph.D. in Statistics from Stanford University in 2004. He then took a postdoctoral position at the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM), where he participated in the program on Multiscale Geometry and Analysis in High Dimensions. After that, he took a postdoctoral position at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), where he participated in the program on  Mathematical, Computational and Statistical Aspects of Image Analysis. He joined the faculty in the mathematics department at UCSD in 2005.  His research interests are in high-dimensional statistics, machine learning, spatial statistics, image processing, and applied probability.

Photo of Vineet Bafna
Vineet Bafna

Vineet Bafna, Ph.D., is a Bioinformatics researcher and a Professor of Computer Science and the Halicioglou Data Science Institute. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from The Pennsylvania State University in 1994 working on theoretical problems in genome rearrangements. His introduction of the breakpoint graph as an analytical tool has been an important driver of the field. After an NSF-funded postdoctoral research at the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science, Bafna was a senior investigator at SmithKline Beecham, conducting research on DNA signaling, target discovery, and EST assembly. From 1999 to 2002, he worked at Celera Genomics, ultimately as director of Informatics Research, participating in the assembly and annotation of the human genome. Vineet Bafna’s research focuses on the identification and characterization of complex structural variation in tumor genomes. He has made important contributions in the analysis of breakage fusion bridge cycles and extrachromosomal DNA, in identifying the genetic signals of adaptation, experimental evolution, and proteogenomics. He has co-authored over 150 research articles in the leading journals in the field. He served as co-Director of the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Ph.D. program from 2013 to 19, and was founding faculty of the Halicioglou Data Science Institute at UCSD. He has co-founded two companies: Abterra, LLC, which focuses on services and products relating to proteogenomic data, and Boundless Bio, Inc., which is targeting extrachromosomal DNA in cancer. In 2019, he was selected as a fellow of the International Society of Computational Biology.

Photo of Mikhail Belkin
Mikhail Belkin

Mikhail Belkin received his Ph.D. in 2003 from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Chicago. His research interests are in theory and  applications of machine learning and data analysis. Some of his well-known work includes widely used Laplacian Eigenmaps, Graph Regularization and Manifold Regularization algorithms, which brought ideas from classical differential geometry and spectral analysis to data science. His recent work has been concerned with understanding remarkable mathematical and statistical phenomena observed in deep learning. This empirical evidence necessitated revisiting some of the basic concepts in statistics and optimization.  One of his key recent findings is the “double descent” risk curve that extends the textbook U-shaped bias-variance trade-off curve beyond the point of interpolation.

Mikhail Belkin is a recipient of a NSF Career Award and a number of best paper and other awards. He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Machine Learning Research, IEEE Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence and SIAM Journal on Mathematics of Data Science.

Post-Doctoral Fellow: Preetum Nakkiran

Photo of Jelena Bradic
Jelena Bradic

Bradic is an Associate Professor of Statistics, and winner of multiple teaching awards. She directs the Statistical Lab for Learning Large-Scale and Complex Data. Her interests include ensemble learning, robust statistics and survival analysis. Her application areas include gene-knockout experiments, understanding cell cycles, developing new policies or detecting effects of treatments onto survival, Her research also reaches into the area of causal inference and developing new learning algorithms that can make new scientific discoveries but also quantify uncertainty with which these discoveries are being made. Her multidisciplinary expertise in handling data has expanded her research into multidisciplinary fields that include political science, marketing, engineering, public health as well as biomedical sciences.

Henrik Christensen
Categories: HDSI Associates
Photo of Henrik Christensen
Henrik Christensen

Henrik Christensen is the director of the UC San Diego Contextual Robotics Institute and a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering. Christensen came to UC San Diego after serving, most recently, as executive director of the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Christensen was initially trained in mechanical engineering and worked subsequently with MAN/BW Diesel. He earned a master’s and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Aalborg University in Denmark, in 1987 and 1990, respectively.


Photo of Alex Cloninger
Alex Cloninger
Assistant Professor

Alex Cloninger is an Assistant Professor in Mathematics and the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute at UC San Diego. He received his PhD in Applied Mathematics and Scientific Computation from the University of Maryland in 2014, and was then an NSF Postdoc and Gibbs Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Yale University until 2017, when he joined UCSD.  Alex researches problems in the area of geometric data analysis and applied harmonic analysis.  He focuses on approaches that model the data as being locally lower dimensional, including data concentrated near manifolds or subspaces.    The techniques developed have led to research in a number of machine learning and statistical algorithms, including deep learning, network analysis, signal processing, and measuring distances between probability distributions.  This has also led to collaborations on problems in several scientific disciplines, including imaging, medicine, and artificial intelligence.

Photo of Alessandro D’Amico (Ollie)
Alessandro D’Amico (Ollie)

Alessandro D’Amico (Ollie), nominated by Virginia de Sa of HDSI and Cognitive Science. His research involves novel and large amounts of EEG data and other relevant biosignals. They are expected to power new research to deepen our understanding of cognitive neuroscience, inform the development of new brain-computer interfaces, and obtain new insights on diagnosing and treating clinical brain disorders.

Anders Dale
Categories: HDSI Associates
Photo of David Danks
David Danks

Professor Danks conducts research at the intersection of machine learning, philosophy, and cognitive science. He examines the ethical, psychological, and policy issues around AI and robotics across a range of sectors. He has also developed multiple novel causal discovery algorithms for complex types of observational and experimental data, and has done significant research in computational cognitive science.

Danks received an A.B. in Philosophy from Princeton University, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California, San Diego. He is the recipient of a James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award, as well as an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship.

Visit David’s webpage here at:

Photo of Virginia de Sa
Virginia de Sa
Professor, HDSI Associate Director Cognitive Science

Associate Director de Sa is a leader in the fields of cognitive science, neuroscience, computer science, engineering, and data science. Her research utilizes multiple approaches to increase our understanding of  how humans and machines learn to perceive the world around them.

She earned her Ph.D. and master’s in Computer Science from the University of Rochester, and a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Engineering from Canada’s Queen’s University.

Photo of Justin Eldridge
Justin Eldridge
Assistant Teaching Professor

Justin Eldridge is an assistant teaching professor in HDSI. He obtained his PhD in computer science at The Ohio State University as a Presidential Fellow, along with BS degrees in physics and applied math. His research focus lies in statistical machine learning theory, with an emphasis on unsupervised learning and clustering in particular. His research while a PhD student received the best student paper award at COLT 2015 and a full oral presentation at NeurIPS 2016. Justin joined HDSI in 2018, where he develops and teaches courses in both the theoretical and practical foundations of data science and machine learning.

Photo of Shannon Ellis
Shannon Ellis
Assistant Teaching Professor

Shannon Ellis is an Assistant Teaching Professor in Cognitive Science and HDSI at UC San Diego. She obtained her Ph.D. in Human Genetics from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her primary focus at UC San Diego is to foster and promote data science education. To this end, she teaches undergraduate programming and data science courses and pursues projects that help provide access and educational materials to individuals who have historically lacked access to an education in data science.

Photo of Jeff Elman
Jeff Elman
Founding Co-Director

Dr. Elman left a legacy from his pioneering work in artificial neural networks, and as an internationally recognized scholar in the field of language processing and learning. His early TRACE model of speech perception, with Jay McClelland, remains one of the major theories in the field. In 1990, he developed the Simple Recurrent Network architecture (the so-called “Elman net”) that is today widely used in many fields to model behaviors that unfold over time. In his last research, he used a wide range of scientific methods, including computational simulations, neuroimaging, and behavioral measures. Elman earned his bachelor’s degree in social relations from Harvard and his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. A member of the UC San Diego faculty since 1977, Elman was a founding member of the Department of Cognitive Science, the first of its kind in the world, as well as founding director of the Center for Research in Language. He was founding co-director of the university’s Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind. He served as dean of the Division of Social Sciences from 2006 – 2014. Among his honors is the prestigious David E. Rumelhart Prize, which he received in 2007 in recognition of his groundbreaking contributions to the theoretical foundations of cognitive science. Elman was elected a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016.

The Cognitive Society established Jeffrey L. Elman Prize in his honor in 2020.

Categories: In Memoriam
Photo of James Fowler
James Fowler
Professor Fowler’s work lies at the intersection of the natural and social sciences, with a focus on social networks, behavior, evolution, politics, genetics, and big data.  He is a founding faculty member of HDSI, and author of the international best-selling book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives.
Fowler has been named a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers, TechCrunch’s Top 20 Most Innovative People, Politico’s 50 Key Thinkers, Doers, and Dreamers, and Most Original Thinker of the year by The McLaughlin Group.
Categories: Uncategorized
Photo of Rebecca Fraenkel
Rebecca Fraenkel
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Becky Fraenkel received her PhD in Economics from UCSD in 2020. Her research focuses on the provision of local public goods and the effects of environmental pollutants. She studies how these forces shape communities through property taxation, education, housing, and energy generation. Her research uses causal inference and machine learning to answer economic and policy-relevant questions in complex data.

Photo of Yoav Freund
Yoav Freund

Freund works on applications of machine learning algorithms in bioinformatics, computer vision, finance, network routing and high-performance computing. His current research focuses on machine learning to develop and analyze adaptive algorithms that change their behavior by learning from examples, rather than by re-programming.

He served as a senior research scientist at Columbia University in computational learning systems, and in machine learning development for AT&T Labs (formerly Bell Labs).

Photo of R Stuart Geiger
R Stuart Geiger
Assistant Professor

Geiger studies the relationships between science, technology, and society — not only how science and technology have substantial impacts on society, but also how they are social institutions in themselves. They study issues of fairness, accountability, transparency, responsibility, and contestability in machine learning, particularly in online content moderation. They have examined how values and biases are embedded in these technologies and how communities make decisions about how to use or not use them. Geiger also studies the development of data science as an academic and professional field, as well as the sustainability of free/open-source software and scientific cyberinfrastructure projects.

Geiger earned their Ph.D in 2015 at the UC Berkeley School of Information and the Berkeley Center for New Media, then was the staff ethnographer at the UC Berkeley Institute for Data Science. They joined UCSD in 2020, jointly appointed as faculty in the Department of Communication. Geiger is a methodological and disciplinary pluralist who collaborates across many different ways of knowing, but their work is often grounded in the fields of communication & media studies, science & technology studies, cultural anthropology, organizational sociology, human-computer interaction, and history and philosophy of science.

Photo of Avishek Ghosh
Avishek Ghosh
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Avishek Ghosh is an HDSI (Data Science) Post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego. Prior to this, he completed his PhD from the Electrical Engg. and Computer Sciences (EECS) department of UC Berkeley, advised by Prof. Kannan Ramchandran and Prof. Aditya Guntuboyina. His research interests are broadly in Theoretical Machine Learning, including Federated Learning and multi-agent Reinforcement/Bandit Learning. In particular, Avishek is interested in theoretically understanding challenges in multi-agent systems, and competition/collaboration across agents. Before coming to Berkeley, Avishek completed his masters degree from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore (in the Electrical Communication Engg. Dept) and prior to that, he completed his  bachelors degree from Jadavpur University, in the dept. of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering.

Nigel Goldenfeld
Professor Physics
Categories: HDSI Associates
Photo of Rajesh Gupta
Rajesh Gupta
Distinguished Professor, HDSI Founding Director

Professor Gupta’s research interests span topics in embedded and cyber-physical systems with a focus on energy efficiency from algorithms, devices to systems that scale from IC chips, and data centers to built environments such as commercial buildings.

Gupta received a Bachelor of Technology in electrical engineering from IIT Kanpur, India; a Master of Science in EECS from University of California, Berkeley; and a PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University, US. Gupta is a Fellow of the IEEE, the ACM and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Categories: Uncategorized
Photo of Kyle Hofer-Mora
Kyle Hofer-Mora
Assistant Director for External Relations and Strategic Initiatives

Kyle Hofer-Mora serves as Assistant Director for External Relations and Strategic Initiatives at Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI).  In this capacity, Kyle works with a talented team focused on industry partnerships, as well as with faculty members, to strategically grow new graduate and professional programs.  He is responsible for the development and implementation of strategies to promote and expand HDSI’s program offerings and overall reach.

Kyle joins HDSI after four years as the Director of Business Analytics Graduate Programs at California Polytechnic State University, where he was instrumental in the launch and growth of a master’s program in business analytics, as well as professional certificates offered through a partnership between the College of Business and Extended Education.   With responsibilities that included working with industry partners for student projects, organizing data analytics symposia, leading the Business Analytics Advisory Board, and serving as a member of the campus-wide Data Science Task Force,  Kyle has formulated ways to ensure program offerings stay at the forefront of trends in this emerging and dynamic field and continue to meet the needs of the marketplace.

The bridge between academia and industry is a space in which Kyle is quite comfortable, having 10 years of experience in the financial services industry prior to joining the university setting.  He holds an MBA in Global Business from Pepperdine University and a B.A. in Finance from CSU Fullerton.


Photo of Mike Holst
Mike Holst

Holst is a leader in the Mathematical and Computational Physics Research Group, the Center for Computational Mathematics, and the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences. His interdisciplinary work at the university reaches into the fields of biochemistry and biophysics, computational fluid dynamics, computer graphics, materials science, and numerical algorithms relativity. A century after Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves, he has been part of a $600 million National Science Foundation collaboration working on detecting them.

Photo of Laura Horton, MA
Laura Horton, MA
Graduate Admissions & Recruitment Advisor

Laura is the Graduate Admissions & Recruitment Advisor in UCSD’s Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute. She is a two-time alumna of SDSU and earned both her BA and MA degrees in Communication Studies. Her recent professional experience includes serving as a Graduation Evaluator at SFSU, a Retention Specialist at SDSU, an adjunct faculty at various San Diego colleges, and a volunteer instructor at Los Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility. When not at work, Laura enjoys hiking, attending comedy shows, and seeking out all the delicious eateries in San Diego.

Photo of Albert Hsiao
Albert Hsiao
Associate Professor

Albert Hsiao, MD, PhD is a cardiothoracic radiologist trained in engineering at Caltech and bioengineering and bioinformatics in the UC San Diego Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). He completed his residency and fellowships in Interventional Radiology and Cardiovascular Imaging at Stanford before returning to UC San Diego as faculty in Radiology, where he leads advanced cardiovascular imaging and the Augmented Imaging and Data Analytics (AiDA) research laboratory.  He also serves as co-director of the T32 clinician-scientist radiology research residency program and co-director of the MSTP SURF program. While a radiology resident himself at Stanford, he co-founded Arterys, a cloud-native software company to bring 4D Flow MRI and artificial intelligence technologies to market. He continues to partner with industry to develop and bring new imaging technologies to market to improve diagnosis and management of disease.

Post-doctoral Fellow: Samira Masoudi


Categories: Faculty Council
Photo of Zhiting Hu
Zhiting Hu
Assistant Professor

Zhiting Hu is an Assistant Professor in Halicioglu Data Science Institute at UC San Diego. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Peking University in 2014, and his Ph.D. in Machine Learning from Carnegie Mellon University in 2020. His research interests lie in the broad area of machine learning, natural language processing, ML systems, healthcare and other application domains. In particular, He is interested in principles, methodologies, and systems of training AI agents with all types of experiences (data, knowledge, rewards, adversaries, lifelong interplay, etc). His research was recognized with best demo nomination at ACL2019 and outstanding paper award at ACL2016.

Photo of Biwei Huang
Biwei Huang
Assistant Professor

Biwei Huang’s research interests are mainly in three aspects: (1) automated causal discovery in complex environments with theoretical guarantees, (2) advancing machine learning from the causal perspective, and (3) using or adapting causal discovery approaches to solve scientific problems. She successfully led a NeurIPS’20 workshop on causal discovery and causality-inspired machine learning and co-organized the first Conference on Causal Learning and Reasoning (CLeaR 2022). She was named a Rising Star of the Trustworthy ML Initiative and is a recipient of the Presidential Fellowship at CMU in 2017 and the Apple Scholars in AI/ML Ph.D. fellowship in 2021. 

Photo of Clarence Ip
Clarence Ip
Student Videographer

Clarence is the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute’s Video and Production Assistant. Before joining HDSI, he served the role as videographer and media producer for media crews and photography teams in New York and Hong Kong. He is currently studying at UC San Diego with the goal of earning a BA degree in International Studies.

Categories: Communications, Staff
Photo of Tara Javidi
Tara Javidi
Professor, HDSI Faculty Fellow

Javidi founded and co-directs the Center for Machine-Integrated Computing and Security at UC San Diego. Among her projects is DetecDrone Target Search Technology, what she calls drones that think. Her research focus is on stochastic analysis, design, and control of information collection, processing, and transfer in modern communication and networked systems. Interests include: Information acquisition and utilization (such as active hypothesis testing and variable length coding over channels with feedback); optimal routing in wireless mesh networks; cognitive and delay-sensitive communications and networking; and communications under application and/or secrecy constraints. Her work includes the applications of microeconomic theory and organizational science to the design of wireless networks.

Interests include: theory of active learning, information acquisition and statistical inference, information theory with feedback, stochastic control theory, and wireless communications and communication networks

Photo of Kelly Jensen
Kelly Jensen
Career Advisor and Alumni/Employer Outreach Specialist Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute

Kelly Jensen (she/her/ella) is a Career Advisor and Alumni/Employer Outreach Specialist at Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute. She earned her BA in American Studies from the University of Washington and her MA in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the University of San Diego. She has an extensive background in nonprofit leadership, education, and career coaching that includes program and staff management, client/student advocacy, academic and employment support, and teaching internationally. Kelly is committed to empowering students, serving the community, and supporting social justice causes. She has prior experience as wellness professional, she is passionate about travel, language, and culture, and she is an avid San Diego Padres fan.


Photo of Haojian Jin
Haojian Jin
Assistant Professor HDSI
Haojian Jin is an Assistant Professor in Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI) at UC San Diego. His research group studies UsersSensors, and Privacy. They build new systems to protect users’ privacy from emerging big data technologies. This includes but not limit to:
  • Help developers avoid data misuse
  • Empower users to fight unfair treatment
  • Design a more transparent, fair, and accountable internet environment
He recently graduated from Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Before my Ph.D., he ran a small startup and worked as a research engineer at Yahoo Research. See more at
Photo of Young-Han Kim
Young-Han Kim
Professor, HDSI Faculty Fellow

Kim primarily works on two important challenges for high-speed, high-volume information processing systems — how to describe information efficiently, and how to transmit it reliably in the presence of noise and interference. He is a co-author of the textbook, Network Information Theory. Kim earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in electrical engineering from Seoul National University, receiving a GE Foundation Scholarship. Kim has served as a distinguished lecturer for the IEEE Information Theory Society, and as Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. He is a Fellow of the IEEE.

Photo of Rob Knight
Rob Knight
Founding Director, Center for Microbiome Innovation; Professor, Pediatrics, Bioengineering, and Computer Science & Engineering

Rob Knight is the founding Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation and Professor of Pediatrics, Bioengineering, and Computer Science & Engineering at UC San Diego. He is the Wolfe Family Endowed Chair in Microbiome Research.  His work is at the intersection of data science, bioinformatics, and microbiology, and has linked microbes to a range of health conditions including obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, Parkinson’s Disease and multiple sclerosis, has enhanced our understanding of microbes in environments ranging from the oceans to the tundra, and has made high-throughput DNA sequencing and data analysis techniques accessible to thousands of researchers around the world. This work resulted in the 2019 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award and 2017 Massry Prize. Dr. Knight can be followed on Twitter (@knightlabnews) or on his web site:


Photo of Arun Kumar
Arun Kumar
Associate Professor, HDSI Faculty Fellow

Kumar is a member of the Database Lab and Center for Networked Systems and an affiliate member of the AI Group, specializing in artificial intelligence. Systems and ideas based on his research have been released as part of the MADlib open-source library, shipped as part of products from EMC, Oracle, Cloudera, and IBM, and used internally by Facebook, LogicBlox, Microsoft, and other companies. His current work focuses on simplifying and accelerating the processes of data preparation, model selection, and model deployment – complementing his primary research interests in data management and software systems for machine learning/artificial intelligence-based data analytics.

Photo of Stephanie Labou
Stephanie Labou
Data Science Librarian

Stephanie Labou is the Data Science Librarian with the UC San Diego Library. Stephanie provides user assistance with datasets and data analysis through general reference, in-person consultations, and collection development of licensed and open access data. She also co-manages the library’s Data & GIS Lab, which supports the full data lifecycle of quantitative, qualitative, and geospatial data-intensive research at UC San Diego. Additionally, Stephanie provides instruction and short-form workshops on coding skills and best practices, including the popular Software and Data Carpentry workshops.

Photo of Dean Lee
Dean Lee
Industry Fellow NIWC Pacific

Dean Lee’s research is focused on finding and bounding the limitations of such datasets and whether they are sufficient for machine learning algorithms in their current state, and if not, defining a set of conditions so that data generated in future platforms can be used to extract actionable insights.

Photo of Matthew Levy
Matthew Levy
Industry Fellow NIWC Pacific

Dr. Levy’s goal is helping find answers for projects fulfilling the needs of the U.S. Navy and learning more about the latest data science tools to bring back to NIWC. Since starting in Spring 2019, he’s been working on problems within the cybersecurity domain specifically analyzing how hackers behave in cyberspace, what they do when faced with deception and deterrent mechanisms, and the efficacy of the deception mechanisms themselves.

Photo of Shuheng Li
Shuheng Li

Shuheng Li, nominated by Rajesh Gupta of HDSI and Computer Science and Engineering. His research involves novel and large multimodal data about human activity recognition from various sensors such as IMU, Kinect cameras, and WiFi CSI. They are expected to power research into new sensing systems and applications and obtain a deeper understanding of human behavior in various contexts.

Photo of David Lightfoot
David Lightfoot
Administrative Assistant for External Relations

David Lightfoot (he/him/his) serves as Administrative Assistant for External Relations at Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI). He has worked in various departments on campus before joining HDSI. David is a fellow UC San Diego Triton from the Class of 2020 and holds a B.S. in Human Biology.

William Lim
Research Assistant

William Lim was previously a Research Administrator with SDSC for the past four years before working with HDSI. He loves working with spreadsheets and enjoys the thrill of submitting preaward proposals to federal agencies at 4:55pm local time.

Categories: HDSI Team
Photo of Curtis Lo
Curtis Lo
Administrative Operations Coordinator

Curtis is the Administrative Operations Coordinator at HDSI. He receives his MBA degree from the University of California, Riverside. He enjoys teamwork with others to achieve goals together. During his leisure time, he likes to read novels, take a walk, and take photos of nature.

Photo of Meredith Longo
Meredith Longo
Program Coordinator & Undergraduate Student Advisor Student Affairs

My name is Meredith Longo, one of the program coordinators and undergraduate student advisors at HDSI. I formerly worked as a student services advisor at UCSC in the Baskin School of Engineering, and was a high school math teacher. I also earned my B.A. in Math/Secondary Education and M.Ed. at UCSD. My favorite things in life are my husband, everything Disney, and anime! My goal is to connect with students on a personal and professional level to best prepare them to excel in the growing field of Data Science.

Photo of Yian Ma
Yian Ma
Assistant Professor

Yian Ma works on scalable inference methods and their theoretical guarantees, with a focus on time series data and sequential decision making. He has been developing new Bayesian inference algorithms for uncertainty quantification as well as deriving computational and statistical guarantees for them.

Prior to his appointment at UCSD, he worked as a post-doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley. He obtained his Ph.D. degree at University of Washington and his bachelor’s degree at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Photo of Ray Major
Ray Major
Industry Fellow SANDAG

Ray Major serves as a Chief Analytics Officer for San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and is currently leading efforts within SANDAG to become more data-driven and using data information to support decision-making and future planning efforts. During his 2-year term as an Industry Fellow, Major’s role will be important in forging important connections between the institute and data science-related industry in the goal of strengthening the data science ecosystem within San Diego.

Categories: Industry Fellows
Photo of Vicente Malave
Vicente Malave
Research Engineer
Categories: HDSI Team
Photo of Ganeshan Malhotra
Ganeshan Malhotra
Student Web Programmer

Ganeshan Malhotra is a Web Programmer for the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute. Ganeshan is a Master’s student majoring in Machine Learning and Data Science. His research objective is to build human-like interactive agents that can comprehensively understand the world around us.

Categories: Communications, Staff
Photo of Mika Marzette
Mika Marzette
Project Manager and Media Lead

I’ve spent over 20 years in the U.S. and abroad in the field of Education, Finance, and Capacity Development. I’ve dedicated my time to these fields as I have a sincere concern for the higher-level development of humanity. Recognizing that current systems are designed to reinforce culture and not the development of people to preserve life and peace on earth, I started this
non-profit to focus on the work of re-educating, by providing essential tools and resources that strive to increase awareness and challenge the constant impeding structures we face, and reminders of how community, and not individualism, will provide safety, unity, and peace. I’ve taught in Business schools at universities and Institutes in several countries. I’ve organized several community initiatives abroad and at home, and will continue providing support where necessary that brings about real structural and policy change for the improvement of those affected disproportionately by these structures.

Photo of Samira Masoudi
Samira Masoudi
Assistant Project Scientist Tier II
Photo of Arya Mazumdar
Arya Mazumdar
Associate Professor

Arya Mazumdar obtained his Ph.D. degree from University of Maryland, College Park (2011) specializing in information theory. Subsequently Arya was a postdoctoral scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2011-2012), an assistant professor in University of Minnesota (2013-2015), and an assistant followed by associate professor in University of Massachusetts Amherst (2015-2021). Arya is a recipient of multiple awards, including a Distinguished Dissertation Award for his Ph.D. thesis (2011), the NSF CAREER award (2015), an EURASIP JSAP Best Paper Award (2020), and the IEEE ISIT Jack K. Wolf Student Paper Award (2010). He is currently serving as an Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory and as an Area editor for Now Publishers Foundation and Trends in Communication and Information Theory series. Arya’s research interests include coding theory (error-correcting codes and related combinatorics), information theory, statistical learning and distributed optimization.

Post-Doctoral Fellow: Avishek Ghosh


Photo of Julian McAuley
Julian McAuley
Assistant Professor

McAuley is an assistant professor in CSE. His research focuses on the linguistic, temporal, and social dimensions of opinions and behavior in social networks and other online communities. He has harnessed data science tools to increase understanding the facets of people’s opinions, the processes that lead people to acquire taste for gourmet foods and beers, and even the visual dimensions of how they make fashion choices. He has gained academic, industry and media attention for his work analyzing massive volumes of user data from online social communities including Amazon, Yelp, Facebook and BeerAdvocate. His work includes using artificial intelligence in fashion choice, and data science in developing models that generate step-charts for the globally popular videogame, Dance Dance Revolution.

Photo of Gal Mishne
Gal Mishne
Assistant Professor

Mishne’s research is at the intersection of signal processing and machine learning for graph-based modeling, processing and analysis of large-scale high-dimensional real-world data. She develops unsupervised and generalizable methods that allow the data to reveal its own story in an unbiased manner. Her research includes anomaly detection and clustering in remote sensing imagery, manifold learning on multiway data tensors with biomedical applications, and computationally efficient application of spectral methods. Most recently her research has focused on unsupervised data analysis in neuroscience, from processing of raw neuroimaging data through discovery of neural manifolds to visualization of learning in neural networks.

Post-doctoral Fellow: Zhengchao Wan

Photo of Erik Mjoen
Erik Mjoen
Industry Relations Manager

As Industry Relations Manager, Erik focuses on building partnerships and collaboration between industry and the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute, with an emphasis on Research & Innovation, Recruitment, Continued Learning, and Leadership.

Photo of Jennifer Morgan
Jennifer Morgan
Chief Administrative Officer
Photo of Eran Mukamel
Eran Mukamel
Associate Professor

Mukamel is a computational neuroscientist focusing on modeling and analysis of large-scale data sets to understand complex biological networks of the brain. He uses large-scale genomic and epigenomic datasets to study how brain cells develop, and adapt throughout the lifespan.

He earned his physics Ph.D. from Stanford University, and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics and mathematics from Harvard University, where he followed with a postdoctoral fellowship in theoretical neuroscience.

Photo of Keith Muller
Keith Muller
Industry Fellow UC San Diego & Teradata

Dr. Keith Muller is an Adjunct Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California, San Diego. He is recently retired from Teradata where he served as a Senior Fellow and CTO and has worked on finding data sets and problems for HDSI undergraduate students that are representative of what they will encounter in industry and offer a rich breadth of opportunity to experience the practice of creativity in data science.

Categories: Industry Fellows
Photo of Saura Naderi
Saura Naderi
K-14 Outreach Director

Saura Naderi ‘07 earned her engineering degree from UC San Diego Jacobs School just as the recession hit. Not satisfied by the opportunities available to her, she created her own. She volunteered, later becoming an employee, to create a program at UC San Diego where undergraduates and K-12 students could play and explore science and technology with art-themed engineering-based projects. After receiving the exemplary employee award at UC San Diego and the Athena Pinnacle award and invited to do a TEDx talk, she was recruited by Qualcomm to create a similar program named – Thinkabit Lab. Upon leaving Qualcomm, Thinkabit Lab engaged 14,000+ middle school students and has been replicated in many different environments from libraries and schools to universities and companies. Saura was also a contestant on SyFy’s Robot Combat League, was an “Adventure Person” on Nerdist, and is the color commentator for the world’s first giant robot fight held in Japan. One of the creative projects she is most proud of is envisioning, and leading a team of engineers and artists to create, a robotic dress that hugs people. Saura is leading efforts to broaden participation in Data Science by designing creative ways to engage a diverse population.

Photo of Preetum Nakkiran
Preetum Nakkiran
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Preetum Nakkiran is a postdoc at UCSD, in Misha Belkin’s group.

He obtained his PhD in the CS Theory group at Harvard, advised by Boaz Barak and Madhu Sudan. He did his undergraduate work in EECS at UC Berkeley.

He works on the empirical theory of machine learning: aiming to discover and characterize empirical behaviors, if not prove them formally. His past work includes understanding generalization in deep learning, robustness, double-descent, and overparameterization.

Photo of Soohyun Nam Liao
Soohyun Nam Liao
Assistant Teaching Professor

Hello! I am specialized in Computer Science (CS) education. I am passionate in conducting CS education research as a means to push for diversity and equity in CS programs. I am currently affiliated with The CSEd Research Lab in University of California at San Diego. Before joining UCSD, which is my PhD alma mater, I worked at Princeton University as teaching faculty.

I love to travel around the world, although I won’t be able to anytime soon thanks to my 2 year old. I have visited all continents but one – Antarctica!

If you are my students and looking for my course website, go to DSC30 – FA21 or DSC96 – FA21.

Categories: Faculty
Photo of Olivia Navarro
Olivia Navarro
Faculty Assistant

Olivia (she/her/hers) joined HSDI in May of 2022 and serves as a Faculty Assistant. She is a UC San Diego alumni and holds a B.A. in Political Science and a Minor in Psychology.

Photo of Isaac Nealey
Isaac Nealey

Isaac Nealey, nominated by Ilkay Altintas of HDSI and SDSC. His research involves large amounts of forest wildfire monitoring-related data from the WIFIRE project, spanning LiDAR sensors, 3D vegetation models, QIUC-Fire simulation outputs, and real-time weather data. They are expected to power new research and artifacts for data pipelines and visualizations to help both researchers and fire professionals to better model and respond to wildfires.

Photo of Sonlong Nguyen
Sonlong Nguyen
Undergraduate Manager Student Affairs

Sonlong is an Undergraduate Manager at HDSI. Previously, Sonlong has served as a coordinator and academic advisor at Thurgood Marshall College and Eleanor Roosevelt College at UCSD. He is also an alum of UCSD where he received a BA in Urban Studies & Planning before going on to SDSU to receive his MA in Postsecondary Educational Leadership.

Photo of Parthe Pandit
Parthe Pandit
Postdoctoral Fellow
Parthe is a HDSI-Simons Postdoctoral Fellow. He obtained his Ph.D. in ECE, M.S. in Statistics both from UCLA, and B.Tech., M.Tech. in Electrical Engineering from IIT Bombay. His current research focuses on understanding the interplay between optimization and generalization in high dimensional models in Machine Learning.
Link to webpage:
Madhusudan Parthasarathy
Visiting Scholar
Categories: Visiting Scholar
Photo of Andrea Perez
Andrea Perez
Fund Manager

My name is Andrea Perez (she/her/hers) and I am currently the fund manager at HDSI. I formerly worked at SIO Director’s Office in the business office as a Financial Services Analyst for 3 years and as an Administrative Assistant for almost 2 years. I graduated from UCSD in 2017 with a BA in Economics. My passion for finance and accounting makes my job so rewarding and fun! I love to analyze data, help and connect with others.

Photo of Dimitris Politis
Dimitris Politis
Distinguished Professor, HDSI Associate Director

Associate Director Politis is an internationally known scholar in mathematics and economics, working on time series, bootstrap methods, and nonparametric estimation, and a researcher with authorship of more than 100 journal papers and monographs.

Politis earned his Ph.D. in statistics from Stanford University, and dual masters’ degrees from Stanford in statistics and mathematics. He also holds a master’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in computer and systems engineering, and his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from University of Patras in Greece.

Categories: Leadership, Staff
Photo of Tauhidur Rahman
Tauhidur Rahman
Assistant Professor HDSI

Tauhidur Rahman is an Assistant Professor in the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute at the University of California San Diego where he directs the Mobile Sensing and Ubiquitous Computing Laboratory (MOSAIC Lab). His current research focuses on building novel ubiquitous and mobile health sensing technologies that capture observable low-level physical signals in the form of an acoustic and electromagnetic wave from our bodies and surrounding environments and map them to relevant biological and behavioral measurements. Some of his notable accomplishments include a Google Ph.D. fellowship in 2016 in mobile computing, a finalist position in Qualcomm innovation fellowship in 2015, Outstanding Teaching Award 2015 from Cornell University, one best paper award in ACM Digital Health 2016, one best paper honorable mention award in ACM Ubicomp 2015 and a distinguished paper award from ACM IMWUT in 2021. Tauhidur received his B.S. in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas and PhD in Information Science from Cornell University. He has a long track-record working with large-scale multi-modal and multi-rate sensor data, especially in the application areas of digital epidemiology, substance use disorder, mental health and sleep. His work has been featured in several US-based and International media outlets including Wall Street Journal, MIT Technology Review, NewScientist, Public Television for Western New England, Daily Mail (UK) and Hindustan Times (India). His laboratory has been funded by NSF, NIH, DARPA and industry grants.

Photo of Suraj Rampure
Suraj Rampure

Suraj Rampure is a Lecturer in the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute at UC San Diego. He received his BS and MS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from UC Berkeley in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

While at Berkeley, he helped create and teach multiple undergraduate computer science and data science courses, including the core upper-division course for data science majors and an introductory programming course for non-majors. There, he was the recipient of multiple teaching awards, including the departmental Distinguished Graduate Student Instructor Award in 2020 and the campus Extraordinary Teaching in Extraordinary Times award in 2021.

At UC San Diego, he will focus on the undergraduate experience for data science students and will be involved in data science education research.

For more information, see

Categories: Faculty, Lecturers
Photo of Finn Reid
Finn Reid
Student Graphic Designer

Finn Reid is a graphic designer for the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute. In addition to working at HDSI, he plays for UCSD’s club lacrosse team. Finn is majoring in Cognitive Science with a specialization in Design and interaction and minoring in Computer Science.

Categories: Communications, Staff
Photo of Margaret “Molly” Roberts
Margaret “Molly” Roberts
Associate Professor

Roberts research lies at the intersection of political methodology and the politics of information, with a focus on methods of automated content analysis and the politics of censorship in China.  Roberts co-directs the China Data Lab, which is part of the 21st Century China Center at the School for Global Policy and Strategy.

She earned her Ph.D. in government from Harvard, and both her master’s in statistics and bachelor’s in international relations and economics from Stanford. She joined UC San Diego in 2014. Her recent book, Censored: Distraction and Diversion Inside China’s Great Firewall, was published in 2018 by Princeton University Press.

Post-Doctoral Fellow: Rebecca Fraenkel

Photo of Rayan Saab
Rayan Saab
Associate Professor

Rayan’s work is on the mathematics of information, data, and signals. His research is broadly motivated by problems in the acquisition, digitization, and processing of data. For example, he is interested in sampling and quantization, compressed sensing, sparse  and low-dimensional representations of data, as well as inverse problems like phase retrieval and blind source separation.

Before joining UCSD as an assistant professor in 2013, he was a visiting assistant professor and a Banting postdoctoral fellow at Duke University (2011-2013). Before that, he completed his PhD at the University of British Columbia in 2010, where he was a member of the Institute of Applied Mathematics.

Photo of Barna Saha
Barna Saha
Associate Professor HDSICSE

Barna Saha is an Associate Professor of UCSD CSE and HDSI. Before joining UCSD, she was an Associate Professor at UC Berkeley. Saha’s primary research focus is on Theoretical Computer Science, specifically Algorithm Design. She is passionate about diversity and teaching, and seeing students succeed from all backgrounds. She is a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award (PECASE)- the highest honor given by the White House to early career scientists, a Sloan fellowship, an NSF CAREER Award, and multiple paper awards.

Photo of Babak Salimi
Babak Salimi
Assistant Professor

Babak Salimi is an assistant professor in HDSI at UC San Diego. Before joining UC San Diego, he was a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington where he worked with Prof. Dan Suciu and the database group. He received his Ph.D. from the School of Computer Science at Carleton University, advised by Prof. Leopoldo Bertossi.  His research seeks to unify techniques from theoretical data management, causal inference and machine learning to develop a new generation of decision-support systems that help people with heterogeneous background to interpret data. His ongoing work in causal relational learning aims to develop the necessary conceptual foundations to make causal inference from complex relational data. Further, his research in the area of responsible data science develops needed foundations for ensuring fairness and accountability in the era of data-driven decisions. His research contributions have been recognized with a Research Highlight Award in ACM SIGMOD, a Best Demonstration Paper Award at VLDB and a Best Paper Award in ACM SIGMOD.

Photo of Armin Schwartzman
Armin Schwartzman

Armin Schwartzman’s research encompasses theoretical and practical aspects of statistical signal and image analysis in a variety of scientific applications. These include spatio-temporal and high-dimensional data analysis, geometric statistics and smooth Gaussian random fields, with applications in biomedicine, the environment, neuroscience, genetics and cosmology.

Armin Schwartzman received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology; and his PhD in Statistics from Stanford University. He was an R&D engineer at Rockwell Semiconductor and Biosense Webster, and has held faculty positions in Biostatistics at Harvard University and Statistics at North Carolina State University.

Photo of Terry Sejnowski
Terry Sejnowski
Co Dir/INC

Terry Sejnowski received his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School before joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins, where he was a Professor of Biophysics.   He currently holds the Francis Crick Chair at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and is a Distinguished Professor of Biology and Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, where he is co-director of the Institute for Neural Computation.  He also is the founding editor-in-chief of Neural Computation.  His book on “The Computational Brain” introduced distributed representations in neural networks to a generation of neuroscientists.

Categories: Faculty Council
Photo of Jingbo Shang
Jingbo Shang
Assistant Professor

Jingbo Shang is an Assistant Professor in CSE and HDSI at UC San Diego. He obtained his Ph.D. from CS@UIUC. He received his B.E. from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. He is broadly interested in data mining, natural language processing, and machine learning. His research about mining and constructing structured knowledge from massive text corpora with minimum human effort has been recognized by many prestigious awards, including the Grand Prize of Yelp Dataset Challenge in 2015 and Google Ph.D. Fellowship in Structured Data and Database Management in 2017.

Photo of Elina Shankar
Elina Shankar
Graphic Designer

Elina Shankar is the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute’s Graphic Design and Media Specialist. Before joining HDSI, she served as a graphic design intern for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Elina began at HDSI as a Graphic Designer on the Student Communications Team. After completing her BS degree in Cognitive Science with a Specialization in Design and Interaction at UCSD and gaining experience at HDSI she was promoted to Graphic Design and Media Specialist on the external relation team.

Photo of Benjamin Smarr
Benjamin Smarr
Assistant Professor

Benjamin Smarr is an assistant professor at the Halicioğlu Data Science Institute and the Department of Bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego. As an NIH fellow at UC Berkeley he developed techniques for extracting health and performance predictors from repeated, longitudinal physiological measurements. Historically his work has focused on neuroendocrine control and women’s health, including demonstrations of pregnancy detection and outcome prediction, neural control of ovulation, and the importance of circadian rhythms in healthy in utero development. Pursuing these and other projects he has won many awards from NSF, NIH, and private organizations, and has founded relationships with patient communities such as Quantified Self. With the COVID-19 pandemic, he became the technical lead on TemPredict, a global collaboration combining physiological data, symptom reports, and diagnostic testing, seeking to build data models capable of early-onset detection, severity prediction, and recovery monitoring.

Photo of Larry Smarr
Larry Smarr
Director/Professor, CSE

Professor Smarr is founding Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), a UC San Diego/UC Irvine partnership. His research includes pioneering work in advanced cyberinfrastructure and the quantified self movement. He currently serves as principal investigator on 3 National Science Foundation (NSF) grants: Pacific Research Platform, Toward a National Research Platform, and Cognitive Hardware and Software Ecosystem Community Infrastructure. His data science and cross-disciplinary scholarship and leadership are extensive, and he has held advisory positions with NASA, NSF and the National Institutes of Health. He is frequently interviewed by scientific and mainstream media, including Science, Nature, the New York Times, BBC and the Wall Street Journal

Categories: Uncategorized
Photo of Sheetal Srivastava
Sheetal Srivastava
Student Web Programmer

Sheetal is a web programmer for the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute. She is a graduate student, pursuing the MS in Data Science program with the HDSI department. Additionally, she is also working for the Women’s Center at UC San Diego as the Graduate Climate Intern. Sheetal’s motivation is understanding how the human brain works and modeling that behavior as artificial intelligence in different ways. She also hopes to bridge the gap between healthcare and technology by leveraging her background in data science.

Categories: Communications
Photo of Shankar Subramaniam
Shankar Subramaniam
Distinguished Professor

Subramaniam is the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Endowed Chair in Bioengineering and Systems Biology, and a Distinguished Scientist at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. He has served on advisory boards for several biotech and bioinformatics companies, universities, international governmental organizations, and the NIH.

Photo of George Sugihara
George Sugihara
Distinguished Professor

Sugihara is a theoretical ecologist who has performed foundational work in the data analysis of complex systems from fisheries to medicine to finance. He gained renown for developing, with Lord Robert May, methods for forecasting chaotic systems, providing the first example of chaos in nature with the diatom populations at Scripps Pier. He has worked with the major institutions on questions of systemic risk and on detecting early warning signs of critical transitions, including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and The Bank of England. He also worked with fisheries to develop a currently enacted market-based incentive plan for reducing wasteful bycatch and to improve forecasting of wild fish stocks. His current interest in neurobiology and genomics includes collaborations with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies to apply EDM to neurobiology and to problems in gene expression in cancer.

Photo of Janine Tiefenbruck
Janine Tiefenbruck

Tiefenbruck focuses her mathematics background on developing strong foundations in the teaching of Data Science. She is a lecturer who serves as a core educator in the Data Science major and minor undergraduate education program through the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute. Her goal is educating students in the theoretical basis of math that will help them build a solid foundation for whatever direction they choose to take in data science, and other technology specializations. “What I like about the field of Data Science is that it’s so customizable, it’s not just: ‘Here’s a formula, plug it in.’ It’s such a broad field, it covers areas from sports to politics,” said Tiefenbruck. Her educational approach is to highlight the creative side of the academic discipline, and present students with lively projects to spark their imagination, like analyzing trends in the TV quiz show game “Jeopardy!” or predicting the genre of a song based on its lyrics.

Tiefenbruck earned her Ph.D. and master’s degrees in mathematics from UC San Diego, specializing in algebraic and enumerative combinatorics, and her bachelor’s from Loyola University, Maryland in both math and computer science. Among her academic awards include a GAANN Fellowship (federal support for scholars fulfilling a national need), a Goldwater Scholarship and a Best Teacher award from Jacobs School of Engineering. Contact:

Photo of Sidney Tran
Sidney Tran
Research Administrator and Fund Manager

Sid joined HDSI in September of 2021 as part of the finance team that supports academic research at HDSI. Previously Sid had served similar positions at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and Keck School of Medicine of USC. His primary role is supporting academic research by providing the financial and administrative duties for his assigned faculty staff. He is a recent resident of the San Diego and relocated to San Diego and UCSD in particular because of the opportunity to support the faculty staff with its multi-disciplinary research mission. His academic background includes a BS in economics from the University of Houston and an MBA in international finance from California State University Channel Islands.

Photo of Sophia Tran
Sophia Tran
Industry Relations Specialist

Sophia Tran serves as the Industry Relations Specialist supporting programs and initiatives in collaboration with HDSI’s industry partners. Prior to joining the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute, Sophia worked at the Career Center with the Industry Engagement team in executing programs and creating opportunities for leading employers to connect with the vast talent base here at UC San Diego.

Photo of Berk Ustun
Berk Ustun
Assistant Professor

Berk Ustun is an Assistant Professor at the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute at UCSD. His research lies at the intersection of machine learning, optimization, and human-centered design. In particular, he is interested in developing methods to promote the responsible use of machine learning in medicine, consumer finance, criminal justice, and the physical sciences.

Prior to his appointment at UCSD, Ustun held research positions at Google AI and the Harvard Center for Research on Computation and Society. He also co-founded Petal, a financial services company that uses machine learning to broaden access to credit in the United States. He received his PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT and Bachelors in Operations Research and Economics from UC Berkeley.


Photo of Brad Voytek
Brad Voytek
Professor & HDSI Founding Faculty Fellow

Bradley Voytek is a Professor in the Department of Cognitive Science, the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute, and the Neurosciences Graduate Program at UC San Diego. He is an Alfred P. Sloan Neuroscience Research Fellow and a Kavli Fellow of the National Academies of Sciences, as well as a founding faculty member of the UC San Diego Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute and the Undergraduate Data Science program. After his PhD at UC Berkeley, he joined Uber as their first data scientist—when it was a 10-person startup—where he helped build their data science strategy and team. His research program uses neural modeling and simulation, along with large-scale data mining and machine learning techniques, to understand how neurons communicate with one another to give rise to complex human cognition, and how alterations in communication underlie disease and age-related cognitive decline. He is an advocate for promoting science to the public and speaks extensively with students at all grade levels about the joys of scientific research and discovery. In addition to his academic publications, his outreach work has appeared in outlets ranging from Scientific American and NPR to the San Diego Comic-Con. He is currently writing a book with neuroscientist Ashley Juavinett regarding the powerful future of data science in neuroscience discovery, though his most important contribution to science is his book with fellow neuroscientist Tim Verstynen, “Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?”, by Princeton University Press.

Photo of Zhengchao Wan
Zhengchao Wan
Post-doctoral Fellow

Zhengchao Wan is a postdoc at HDSI working with Prof. Gal Mishne and Prof. Yusu Wang. He received his PhD in Mathematics from the Ohio State University, advised by Prof. Facundo Mémoli. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Peking University. His research is oriented towards applications of geometry and probability to problems arising from data analysis with focus on topological data analysis (TDA) and clustering. Link to website:

Photo of Mona Wang
Mona Wang
Program Coordinator & Undergraduate Student Advisor

Mona (she/her/hers) is the Undergraduate Program Intake Advisor at HDSI. Mona received her B.S. in Clinical Psychology from UC San Diego and is passionate about supporting college students from all backgrounds to achieve academic and personal success. In her free time, Mona enjoys cooking, spending quality time with family and friends, and viewing sunsets at the beach.

Photo of Yusu Wang
Yusu Wang

Yusu Wang obtained her PhD degree from Duke University in 2004, and from 2004 – 2005, she was a was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University. Prior to joining UC San Diego, Yusu Wang is Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Department at the Ohio State University, where she also co-directed the Foundations of Data Science Research CoP (Community of Practice) at Translational Data Analytics Institute (TDAI@OSU) from 2018–2020.

Yusu Wang primarily works in the field of geometric and topological data analysis. She is particularly interested in developing effective and theoretically justified algorithms for data analysis using geometric and topological ideas and methods, as well as in applying them to practical domains. Very recently she has been exploring how to combine geometric and topological ideas with machine learning frameworks for modern data science.

Yusu Wang received the Best PhD Dissertation Award from the Computer Science Department at Duke University. She also received DOE Early Career Principal Investigator Award in 2006, and NSF Career Award in 2008. Her work received several best paper awards. She is currently on the editorial boards for SIAM Journal on Computing (SICOMP), Computational Geometry: Theory and Applications (CGTA), and Journal of Computational Geometry (JoCG). She is elected to serve on the Computational Geometry Steering Committee in 2020.


Photo of Duncan Watson-Pariss
Duncan Watson-Pariss
Assistant Professor

Duncan Watson-Pariss previously worked as a senior research associate at the University of Oxford. His research addresses the representation of aerosols and clouds within climate models. Aerosols and clouds together represent some of greatest challenges for climate models, and Dr. Watson-Parris has pioneered strategies to capitalize on the machinery of data science in tackling these research problems. “He was hired under the Chancellor’s Joint FTE initiative to promote interdisciplinary research.The Chancellor’s Interdisciplinary Collaboratories are an opportunity to apply for multiyear funding to encourage faculty and student research collaborations across disciplines. The Collaboratories program is intended to provide fellowship support for groups of students (undergraduate, graduate, and/or professional) who will work jointly under the supervision of an interdisciplinary faculty group. The aim is to encourage faculty to form and support such groups as they develop preliminary research results sufficient to support successful applications for extramural funding.”

Photo of Nika Weixelmen
Nika Weixelmen
Faculty Assistant

Nika (she/her/hers) started with the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute in April 2022, after graduating from UC San Diego June of 2021 with a BS in Public Health. She gained experience working as an administrative assistant for a brokerage/real estate investment company. Nika loves to continuously learn new things and assist others in different capacities. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, baking, and finding interesting new shows to watch!

Photo of Lily Weng
Lily Weng
Assistant Professor

Lily Weng is an Assistant Professor in the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute at UC San Diego. Her research interests focus on the intersection between machine learning, optimization and reinforcement learning, with applications in cybersecurity and healthcare. Specifically, her vision is to make the next generation AI systems and deep learning algorithms more robust, reliable, trustworthy and safer. She has worked on developing efficient algorithms as well as theoretical analysis to quantify robustness of deep neural networks. She received her PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) from MIT in August 2020, and her Bachelor and Master degree both in Electrical Engineering at National Taiwan University in 2011 and 2013. More details please see

Photo of Logan Wiedenhoffer
Logan Wiedenhoffer
Executive Assistant to the Director

Logan Wiedenhoffer serves as Executive Assistant to the Director within the Halicioglu Data Science Institute and point of contact for the HDSI Business Office. Having joined UC San Diego in 2017, Logan has worked in a wide variety of departments across campus prior to becoming part of HDSI. As a member of the UC San Diego class of 2014, Logan holds a B.A. in Sociocultural Anthropology.

Photo of Kimber Worthy, MA
Kimber Worthy, MA
PhD Advisor Student Affairs

Kimber has over six years of experience guiding graduate students through the academic labyrinth as an academic advisor. As the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute’s Graduate Advisor, she serves as an information hub for graduate students, faculty, and administrative staff on matters of academic policy, regulatory compliance, and graduation requirements.  She plays a crucial role in supporting the academic and personal development of graduate students. In her current role as the Graduate Advisor, Kimber draws upon her diverse background to devise creative solutions that advance academic progress and catalyze program development.

Photo of Frank Wuerthwein
Frank Wuerthwein

Frank W. Wuerthwein is the Director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center and executive director of the Open Science Grid (OSG), a national cyber infrastructure to advance the sharing of resources, software, and knowledge.

Photo of Ronghui (Lily) Xu
Ronghui (Lily) Xu

Xu earned her Ph.D. in Mathematics and a Master’s in Applied Mathematics from UC San Diego, and her Bachelor’s in Math from Nankai University, China.

After a year as Postgraduate Researcher at UC San Diego, she took up Assistant Professorship in Biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA. She returned to UC San Diego in 2004 with a joint appointment from the main campus (Mathematics) and health sciences (Biostatistics and Bioinformatics). Among her academic honors are as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA), and a recipient of the ASA’s David P. Byar Young Investigator Award. Her current research interests include causal inference, survival analysis, and machine learning methods as applied to biomedicine.


Photo of Rose Yu
Rose Yu
Assistant Professor Computer Science and Engineering

Dr. Rose Yu is an Assistant Professor at the UC San Diego, Department of Computer Science and Engineering. She earned her Ph.D. in Computer Sciences at the University of Southern California in 2017. She was subsequently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the California Institute of Technology. She was an assistant professor at Northeastern University prior to her appointment at UC San Diego.

Her research focuses on advancing machine learning techniques for large-scale spatiotemporal data analysis, with applications to sustainability, health, and physical sciences. A particular emphasis of her research is on physics-guided AI which aims to integrate first-principles with data-driven models. Among her awards, she has won Google Faculty Research Award, Adobe Data Science Research Award, NSF CRII Award, Best Dissertation Award in USC, and was nominated as one of the ’MIT Rising Stars in EECS’.


Photo of Simeng Zeng
Simeng Zeng
Event Coordinator Industry Relations

Simeng serves as the Events Specialist for External Relations at Halıcıoğlu Data Science
Institute (HDSI). Prior to joining HDSI, Simeng also worked as an Events Specialist for the
Research Centers at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego. In the past
decade, Simeng has planned numerous events both on campus and off campus.
Simeng completed her master’s degree in International Affairs from the School of Global Policy
and Strategy (frmly IR/PS) in a bachelor’s-master’s (BA/MA) dual degree program at UC San
Diego. She also studied abroad at Meiji University in Japan before pursuing her graduate
studies. Simeng is fluent in Chinese and Japanese. During her free time, Simeng enjoys
climbing, hiking, traveling, gardening, and exploring local cafes.

Photo of Hao Zhang
Hao Zhang
Assistant Professor HDSI

Dr. Zhang has served as a Postdoctoral Researcher at UC Berkeley’s Sky Lab and a Research Scientist for Petuum Inc, a start-up company that specializes in making AI technology scalable and affordable for general consumption and use.

Photo of Haoqi Zhang
Haoqi Zhang
Visiting Scholar
Categories: Visiting Scholar
Photo of Zhongyang Zhang
Zhongyang Zhang

Zhongyang Zhang, nominated by Tauhidur Rahman of HDSI. His research involves novel and large data of human dancing events recorded by new neuromorphic cameras in low-light, dynamic, and cluttered settings. They are expected to power new research on understanding human movement, obtain new insights on neurodegenerative diseases, and enable new video analytics applications.

Photo of Wenxin Zhou
Wenxin Zhou
Associate Professor Mathematics

Wenxin Zhou is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics at UCSD. My research areas include high-dimensional statistical inference, nonparametric and robust statistics. The driving force is to address some of the key issues in big data, ranging from robustness, heterogeneity, model selection uncertainty, statistical and computational trade-offs, to inference under privacy-preserving or parallel and distributed computing platforms.

Photo of Yuhua Zhu
Yuhua Zhu
Assistant Professor

Dr. Yuhua Zhu is an Assistant Professor at the UC San Diego, holding a joint appointment in the Department of Mathematics and Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute.  She earned her Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2019 and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University. Her research explores the connection between mathematics and machine learning, with a focus on utilizing partial differential equations to study stochastic optimization algorithms in machine learning, linking sequential decision-making to differential equations.  Website: