Core Faculty

Communication

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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. He studies issues of fairness, accountability, transparency, responsibility, and contestability in machine learning, particularly in online content moderation. He has 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 his 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. He 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 his 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.

Computational Geometry and Topological Data Analysis

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Yusu Wang

Professor

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. Website: yusu.belkin-wang.org

Data Infrastructure

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Arun Kumar

Assistant Professor

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.

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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.

Data Management

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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.

Humanities and Social Sciences

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Yoav Freund

Professor

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).

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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.

Interdisciplinary

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Alex Cloninger

Assistant Professor

Cloninger’s research interests are in applied harmonic analysis, machine learning and neural networks, analysis of graphs and data sets sampled from continuous geometric structures embedded in high-dimensional spaces, and applications in various scientific domains.

Cloninger researches problems around the analysis of high dimensional data. He focuses on approaches that model the data as being locally lower dimensional, including data concentrated near manifolds or subspaces. These types of problems arise in many key scientific disciplines, including medicine, imaging, and artificial intelligence. And the techniques developed relate to a number of machine learning and statistical algorithms, including deep learning, network analysis, and measuring distances between probability distributions.

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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.

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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.

Machine Learning Algorithms and Systems

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Mikhail Belkin

Professor

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. Website: misha.belkin-wang.org

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Justin Eldridge

Assistant Teaching Professor

Eldridge’s research interests include machine learning theory, and improving the correctness of learning algorithms to improve accuracy of output. His work has been in the theory of clustering as well as understanding the process of learning.

Previously, Eldridge taught foundational computer science and algorithms at Ohio State University, and worked as a post-doctoral researcher at OSU, where he was also honored as a Presidential Fellow. He served as a graduate visitor at Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, at UC Berkeley. He earned his Ph.D. and master’s degrees in computer science from Ohio State University, as well as dual masters’ degrees in physics and mathematics from OSU.

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Aaron Fraenkel

Assistant Teaching Professor

Fraenkel uses machine learning and experimental design to study large-scale abusive behaviors on the internet, particularly events driven by robots (known as bots). His teaching expertise is in the end-to-end practice of data science, drawing from his industry experience with cybersecurity, anti-fraud, and anti-abuse systems. He is one of the leaders developing and teaching the university’s foundational data science curriculum and major program overseen the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute.

Before joining UC San Diego in 2018, Fraenkel worked as a senior scientist at Amazon, with a focus on machine learning. Having worked as a data scientist at work in industry, he chose to return to academia and work at the root of instruction, helping shape student learning and critical thinking.

He earned his Ph.D. and undergraduate degrees in mathematics from UC Berkeley, and worked in postdoctoral faculty appointments in mathematics at Boston College and Pennsylvania State University. At HDSI, his curriculum development of the path-breaking data science program includes creating projects using real-world datasets and challenges.

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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.

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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 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.

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Berk Ustun

Assistant Professor

Berk Ustun is a postdoc at the Harvard Center for Research on Computation and Society. His research interests are in machine learning, optimization, and human-centered design. He develops methods to promote the adoption and responsible use of machine learning in domains such as medicine, consumer finance, and criminal justice.

Berk has built machine learning systems that are now used by major healthcare providers for hospital readmissions prediction, ICU seizure prediction, and adult ADHD screening. His work has been covered by various media outlets, including NPR and Wired, and has won major awards, including the INFORMS Innovative Applications in Analytics Award in 2016 and 2019, and the INFORMS Computing Society Best Student Paper.

Berk holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT, an MS in Computation for Design and Optimization from MIT, and BS degrees in Operations Research and Economics from UC Berkeley.

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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 https://lilyweng.github.io/

Neurobiology

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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.

Sciences

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Armin Schwartzman

Professor

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.

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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.

Theory

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Jelena Bradic

Professor

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.

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.

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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.

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Yusu Wang

Professor

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. Website: yusu.belkin-wang.org