NCSA announces 2018-2019 Illinois Faculty Fellows

04.23.18 -

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has named Faculty Fellowship awardees for 2018-2019. These six Illinois faculty members will work with NCSA to investigate a wide array of subjects including cancer, agriculture, cinema, economics, civil infrastructure and more.

Each faculty member will work closely with experts at NCSA on a project that aligns with research focus areas and/or major projects (i.e., the Blue Waters project, XSEDE, the Midwest Big Data Hub, Industry program).

2018-2019 NCSA Faculty Fellows

Heterogeneous Data Analytics Framework for Predicting the Deterioration of Civil Infrastructure Systems
Nora El-Gohary

Nora El-Gohary, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Civil infrastructure systems (CIS) data, like structured bridge inventory data, unstructured textual bridge inspection reports, traffic and weather data, etc. are most often analyzed in isolation by CIS decision makers. The overarching goal of El-Gohary's project is to develop a novel computational data analytics framework which could be used for learning from multi-source heterogeneous data to enhance civil infrastructure system deterioration prediction and maintenance decision making.

Learning Huge-Scale Diffusion Networks in Real-Time
Niao He

Niao He, Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering
Current approaches to modeling and learning the temporal dynamics and recurrent behaviors of huge-scale diffusion networks, such as social networks, disease networks, and cyber-crime networks typically lack the flexibility and/or scalability to accommodate ever-growing massive event data. This leads to poor predictions of abnormal events, while accurate prediction is crucial in life-death related contexts such as healthcare and crime. He’s project aims to establish statistically and computationally efficient approaches that enable flexible modeling of diffusion processes using deep neural networks and to reinforce their scalability and wide applicability in the emerging healthcare and security analytics.

OmiX Development: A Visual Analytics Platform for Multi-Omic Microbiome Data
Hannah Holscher

Hannah Holscher, Food Science and Human Nutrition
Microbial communities have a significant impact on human health. Growing research has demonstrated the influence of the host microbiota in cancer and the interaction with the human immune system, which impacts potential diagnosis and treatment. Also, gastrointestinal microbiome perturbations and diet are independently linked to public health issues including obesity, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and type 2 diabetes. Holscher's project will study the impact of the human microbiome on health status using machine learning approaches developed by Dr. Zhu and the VI-Bio group. Her work will also inform the development of the NCSA VI-Bio group's prototype OmiX, an informatics tool which will enable scientists to study microbiome-human interaction.

Development of Machine Learning-Based Analytics and Visualization Approaches for Predictive Toxicology
Zeynep Madak-Erdogan

Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, Food Science and Human Nutrition
As new molecules such as pesticides are developed for the agriculture industry, they must be rigorously assessed for acute to chronic mammalian toxicity and risk to human health. In many cases, toxicity to human health is only detected during late stage of product development, resulting in major setbacks to agricultural R&D pipelines. Returning NCSA Faculty Fellow Madak-Erdogan aims to develop a machine learning approach for early prediction of mammalian toxicity of small molecules using gene expression data, specifically to identify early biomarkers of liver cancer due to liver toxicant exposure, a critical problem at the intersection of the agriculture industry and human health today.

Indian Cinema in Context: Interactive Film History Archive and Tools
Rini Mehta

Rini Mehta, Comparative and World Literature
Indian cinema, born in the early 1900s, has had a unique and interesting history, particularly with the recent and popular development of Bollywood, the Hindi film industry based in Bombay. The project Indian Cinema in Context (ICIC) proposes to build a set of tools to study the history and evolution of Indian cinema, the world’s largest film industry which produces more films annually than the combined output of the second and third nations on the list (U.S. and China).

A Workshop to Jumpstart High-Performance Computing in Finance
Mao Ye

Mao Ye, Finance
Modern financial markets generate vast amounts of data, and industry practitioners routinely apply big-data techniques to guide their decision. However, financial economists' empirical tools have not kept pace with the markets they analyze. Ye's project aims to stimulate collaborations among financial economists and high-performance computing experts via a workshop this summer, in hopes of catalyzing a solution for how supercomputing resources can be used to address new questions in financial economics.

OmiX Development: A Visual Analytics Platform for Multi-Omic Microbiome Data
Ruoqing Zhu

Ruoqing Zhu, Statistics
Zhu's project will tackle the analytical challenge of detecting the effect of the microbiome using multiple feature sets that have different characteristics. Working with Dr. Holscher to characterize the diet-microbiome-host relationship, Dr. Zhu will collaborate with the VI-Bio group to develop an ensemble feature selection and ranking procedure that feeds into an integrative modeling process; thereby addressing the limitations of traditional multivariate methods for microbiome studies. His approach will handle: 1) compositional and sparse data, 2) data where the number of features are orders of magnitude greater than the number of samples, 3) heterogeneous feature modalities, and 4) multiple disease status. The outcome will be an analytical procedure that produces results with higher accuracy and will be integrated into VI-Bio's OmiX tool.

About the Faculty Fellows Program

The Faculty Fellows Program at NCSA provides an opportunity for faculty and researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to catalyze and develop long-term research collaborations between Illinois departments, research units, and NCSA. This competitive program provides seed funding for demonstration or start-up projects, workshops, and/or other activities with the potential to lead to longer-term collaborations around research, development and education. Learn more about the Faculty Fellows program.

About NCSA

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) is a hub of transdisciplinary research and digital scholarship where University of Illinois faculty, staff, and students, and collaborators from around the globe, unite to address research grand challenges for the benefit of science and society. Current research focus areas are Bioinformatics and Health Sciences, Computing and Data Sciences, Culture and Society, Earth and Environment, Materials and Manufacturing, and Physics and Astronomy. Learn more about NCSA.