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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.

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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.

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Bobby Gordon
Marketing & Communications Director

Bobby serves as the Institute’s Marketing & Communications Strategist. Before joining UC San Diego, he served higher education in a variety of marketing and strategic administrative roles at Arizona State University, University of Arizona, University of Akron, Kent State University and University of Phoenix. He serves as a professional consultant and volunteer in higher education and non-profit sectors, and also is a professional speaker. He earned his MBA from University of Arizona and his BA from Muskingum University.

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Rob Knight
Founding Director, Center for Microbiome Innovation; Professor, Pediatrics 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 was honored with the 2019 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award for his microbiome research and received the 2017 Massry Prize, often considered a predictor of the Nobel. His work has linked microbes to a range of health conditions including obesity and inflammatory bowel disease, has enhanced our understanding of microbes in environments ranging from the oceans to the tundra, and made high-throughput sequencing techniques accessible to thousands of researchers around the world. Dr. Knight can be followed on Twitter (@knightlabnews) or on his web site http://knightlab.ucsd.edu/.

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Arun Kumar
Assistant 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.

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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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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.

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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 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.