HDSI Faculty

Headshot 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.


Email: yusuwang@ucsd.edu

Headshot 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.


Email: bsalimi@ucsd.edu

Headshot 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.


Email: mbelkin@ucsd.edu

Headshot of Justin Eldridge

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.


Phone: 858.246.5259

Email: jeldridge@eng.ucsd.edu

Headshot of Aaron Fraenkel

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.


Phone: 858.534.5213

Email: afraenkel@eng.ucsd.edu

Headshot of Zhiting Hu

Zhiting Hu

Assistant Professor

Zhiting Hu’s research interests lie in the broad area of machine learning, including learning with all forms of experiences such as structured knowledge, deep learning, generative modelling, natural language processing, healthcare, and ML systems. His work was recognized at ACL2019 and ACL2016 and with IBM fellowship. He is now a Ph.D. candidate in the Machine Learning Department at Carnegie Mellon University.


Email: zhh019@ucsd.edu

Headshot 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.


Email: yianma@ucsd.edu

Headshot 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.


Email: gmishne@ucsd.edu

Headshot of Berk Ustun

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.


Email: Berk@ucsd.edu

Headshot 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 https://lilyweng.github.io/