During its first year, the School of Data Science and Society at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill successfully recruited 15 new faculty members to join the school. Some faculty have a joint or secondary appointment with another department or school, and some have a 100% SDSS appointment.
“This first cohort of faculty showcase the strong partnerships we are forming across campus,” said Dean Stan Ahalt. “The School of Data Science and Society is a hub for data science at Carolina and this new group of faculty from Chapel Hill, the country and the world are an investment in the school’s future.”
Iain Carmichael, Assistant Professor — Iain Carmichael will join the department of pathology in the School of Medicine in June 2024 with a 25% secondary appointment in the School of Data Science and Society. He serves as a visiting assistant professor at University of California at Berkeley and as an adjunct professor/visiting assistant professor at the University of California at San Francisco. Carmichael is broadly interested in developing statistical and machine learning algorithms for data with a complex structure such as networks, multi-modal data integration and high-resolution medical imaging data. The major focus of his research is computational pathology.
Can Chen, Assistant Professor — Can Chen is completing his postdoc at Harvard Medical School and will join as Assistant Professor in the School of Data Science and Society in January 2024 with a secondary appointment in Mathematics. His research interests include control theory, network science, machine learning, deep learning, tensor algebra, numerical analysis and computational biology. Specifically, Chen’s research explores how hypergraph learning can assist in deciphering biological networks.
Anita Crescenzi, Assistant Professor — Anita Crescenzi joins the School of Data Science and Society after serving as a faculty member in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy and the School of Information and Library Science (SILS). She continues to have a secondary appointment in SILS. Her research interests include: the impact of time constraints and time pressure on the process and outcomes of exploratory information-seeking; information search in support of decision-making; metacognitive regulation in information search; designing and evaluating search systems provide better support for learning, problem-solving and decision-making in exploratory or collaborative information-seeking; and FAIR data practices and data search.
Snehalkumar ‘Neil’ Gaikwad, Assistant Professor — Neil Gaikwad will join the School of Data Science and Society in the 2024-25 academic year with a secondary appointment in the department of computer science. He is joining as an assistant professor after finishing his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he specializes in responsible AI and policy. In his research, he delves into ethical issues surrounding equity, access and discrimination in algorithmic system design.
Hsun-Ta Hsu, Associate Professor — Hsun-Ta Hsu is joining UNC-Chapel Hill as an associate professor in the School of Social Work with a 25% secondary appointment in the School of Data Science and Society. Hsu was most recently an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Social Work. He continues to serve as a core-faculty affiliate of the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society at the University of Southern California. Hsu’s work analyzes the implication of using artificial intelligence to address societal disparities and improve systems.
Dan Kessler, Assistant Professor — Dan Kessler will join the department of statistics and operations research in the College of Arts & Sciences with a full joint appointment in the School of Data Science and Society. He will join the University in July 2024 after serving as mathematical sciences postdoctoral research fellow, funded by the National Science Foundation, in the department of statistics at the University of Washington. His research interests are in developing advanced statistical methodology with an emphasis on application to problems in neuroscience and neuroimaging, in particular.
Harlin Lee, Assistant Professor — Having completed her postdoc at University of California at Los Angeles, Harlin Lee joins the School of Data Science and Society with secondary appointments in the department of mathematics and the department of computer science, both in the College of Arts & Sciences. Her research focuses on learning from high-dimensional data supported on structures such as graphs, networks or low-dimensional subspaces, motivated by applications in health care and social science.
Youzuo Lin, Associate Professor — Youzuo Lin will join the School of Data Science and Society as an associate professor in July 2024 after serving more than 12 years as a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. His areas of research focus on physics-informed machine learning, deep learning, computational methods, and their applications in computational imaging, signal and image analysis. Specifically, he has worked on subsurface imaging for energy exploration, medical imaging and cancer detection and time series classification for small earthquake detection.
Yifei Lou, Associate Professor — Yifei Lou is joining the department of mathematics in the College of Arts & Sciences with a full joint appointment in the School of Data Science and Society as an associate professor. She was most recently an associate professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her research lies in the intersection of computational mathematics and data sciences. Specifically, she focuses on signal/image recovery from a limited number of measurements, where “limited” refers to the fact that the amount of data that can be taken or transmitted is restricted by technical or economic constraints.
Richard Marks, Professor of the Practice — Richard Marks joins the School of Data Science and Society as a professor of the practice with a secondary appointment in the department of computer science in the College of Arts & Sciences. Most recently, he was a director and technical project lead for Google ATAP, exploring new interaction approaches for ambient computing environments. Prior to that, Marks was at PlayStation R&D where he founded the PlayStation Magic Lab and helped create the EyeToy, PlayStation Eye, PlayStation Move, and PlayStation VR. His research interests include AR/VR, machine learning and context-aware computing systems.
Alex McAvoy, Assistant Professor — Alex McAvoy joins the School of Data Science and Society as an assistant professor with a secondary appointment in the department of mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences after completing his postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania. He is an applied mathematician working in evolutionary dynamics, game theory, multi-agent learning and networks. His research looks at how behaviors spread in populations, with a focus on developing tools for studying heterogeneous social networks.
Santiago Olivella, Associate Professor — Santiago Olivella is an associate professor of political science in the College of Arts & Sciences with a full joint appointment in the School of Data Science and Society starting January 2024. He also serves as chair of the School’s Research Advisory Council. He specializes in developing, implementing, and applying statistical models — particularly Bayesian probabilistic models and machine learning techniques — to study electoral and legislative politics.
Courtney Rivard, Assistant Professor — Courtney Rivard is an assistant professor in the department of English & Comparative Literature in the College of Arts & Sciences and has a secondary appointment in the School of Data Science and Society. She is also the director of the Digital Literacy and Communications Lab, which serves as a hub for innovation in the humanities that focuses on digital literacy, public humanities, digital humanities and critical game studies. Her research is at the intersection of rhetoric and composition and digital humanities.
Keriayn Smith, Associate Professor — Keriayn Smith joins the School of Data Science and Society, with a secondary appointment in the department of genetics in the School of Medicine. She is an academic scientist whose research focuses on RNA structure and molecular interactions. Smith also founded a multi-national 501(c)(3) organization, the Society for Scientific Advancement, which serves geographically diverse, underserved and underrepresented students in STEM fields.
Huaxiu Yao, Assistant Professor — Huaxiu Yao is joining as an assistant professor in the department of computer science in the College of Arts & Sciences with a full joint appointment in the School of Data Science and Society. He most recently completed his postdoc at the department of computer science at Stanford University. His research focuses on both the theoretical and applied aspects of building reliable and responsible foundation models.
The school is continuing to recruit faculty, focusing on the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and health, an investigation by and across all disciplines on how AI and its fundamentals are applied to, impact, and promote health disciplines, individual health, and community well-being.