Stephen Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. The Smith lab group is primarily interested in examining evolutionary processes using new data sources and analysis techniques. They develop methods to address questions about the rates and modes of evolution using the large data sources (e.g., genomes and transcriptomes) that have become more common in the biological disciplines over the last ten years. In particular, they use DNA sequence data to construct phylogenetic trees and conduct analyses about processes that shape the evolution of lineages and their genomes using these trees. In addition to this research program, they also address how new data sources can facilitate new research in evolutionary biology. To this end, they sequence transcriptomes, primarily in plants, with the goal of better understanding where, within the genome and within the phylogeny, processes like gene duplication and loss, horizontal gene transfer, and increased rates of molecular evolution occur.
Trachette L. Jackson is Full Professor in the Mathematics Department, who specializes in Computational Cancer Research or Mathematical Oncology. A focus of Dr. Jackson’s research has been achieving a unified understanding of how signaling molecules, cells, and micro-environmental structures coordinate to control blood vessel generation, morphology and functionality during tumor growth. Her work aims to biochemically and biomechanically characterize the collective motion vascular endothelial cells, one of most important cell types involved in cancer development due to their role in angiogenesis.
With an eye toward addressing critical challenges associated with targeted molecular therapeutics, for example determining which drugs are the best candidates for clinical trials, Dr. Jackson also develops multiscale mathematical models that are designed to optimize the use of targeted drug treatment strategies. These mathematical models connect the molecular events associated with tumor growth and angiogenesis with the temporal changes in tumor cell and endothelial cell proliferation, migration and survival, and link these dynamics to tumor growth, vascular composition, and therapeutic outcome.
Jon Zelner is an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Epidemiology and Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health in the UM School of Public Health. His work focuses on understanding the joint contributions of social, biological, and environmental factors to infectious disease transmission dynamics, with a particular focus on Tuberculosis (TB) transmission in high-burden contexts.
To do this, Jon uses mathematical and individual-based models to guide the design of studies and statistical tools for extracting information on infectious disease transmission from real-world spatiotemporal data. This ranges from small-scale simulation of household and community-based transmission to large-scale individual-based models of infectious disease transmission in megacities. A recurring methodological theme of this work is the challenge in navigating the tradeoff between fidelity to real-world processes and the need for parsimonious explanation of observable phenomena.
Heather Mayes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Her research group uses multi-scale modeling to discover protein-sugar interactions and to harness them for renewable energy and improved health. The study of carbohydrate-protein interactions is an important step to create renewable fuels and chemicals from non-food biomass, and the results can be applied to several human diseases, including cancer and autoimmune disorders. Prof. Mayes uses computational tools in her research, including quantum mechanics, molecular dynamics, and rare-event sampling methods. She collaborates with experimental groups to understand past and guide future wet-lab studies to advance renewable chemicals and fuels, as well as disease understanding.
Angela Violi is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and adjunct faculty in Chemical Engineering, Biophysics, Macromolecular Science and Engineering, and Applied Physics. The research in the group of Violi is focused on the application of statistical mechanics and computational methods to chemically and physically oriented problems in nanomaterials and biology. The group investigates the formation mechanisms of nanomaterials for various applications, including energy and biomedical systems, and the dynamics of biological systems and their interactions with nanomaterials.
Michal Zochowski is a Professor in the Departments of Physics and Biophysics Program. His research interests lie in the intersection of physics and neuroscience. His group focuses on understanding the mechanisms of the formation of spatio-temporal patterns in coupled dynamical systems, their applicability and role during information processing in the brain. They use theoretical and experimental approaches, including computational modeling of various brain processes including memory storage, consolidation and its retrieval.
Marisa Eisenberg is an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, and in the Department of Mathematics. Her research revolves around mathematical epidemiology, focus on using and developing parameter estimation and identifiability techniques to model disease dynamics. Her group builds multi-scale models of infectious disease, including HPV, cholera and other environmentally driven diseases.
Silas Alben is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, and the Director of the Applied & Interdisciplinary Mathematics program. He uses theoretical analysis, and develops numerical methods and models of problems arising from biology, especially biomechanics and engineering. Some of his group’s current applications are piezoelectric flags, flag fluttering in inviscid channel flow, snake locomotion and jet-propelled swimming.
Victoria Booth is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Anesthesiology. Her interdisciplinary research in mathematical and computational neurosciences focuses on constructing and analyzing biophysical models of neurons and neural networks in order to quantitatively probe experimental hypothesis and provide experimentally-testable predictions. Her research provides continuous reciprocal interactions between modeling and experimental results.
Prof. Booth and her colleagues are constructing neurophysiologically based models of the neuronal networks and neurotransmitter interactions in the brainstem and the hypothalamus that regulate wake and sleep states. She is also addressing the question of the influence of intrinsic neuron properties and network topology on the generation of spatio-temporal activity patterns in large-scale neural networks.