Institute Announces 2013 Junior Faculty Fellows

in BU News, Institute News
October 18th, 2013

The Hariri Institute for Computing at Boston University is pleased to announce its third cohort of Junior Faculty Fellows. They are:

The Hariri Institute Junior Faculty Fellows program was established in 2011 both to recognize outstanding junior faculty at Boston University working in diverse areas of the computational sciences, as well as to provide focal points for supporting broader collaborative research in these areas at BU and beyond. Junior Fellows are selected by the Hariri Institute Executive Steering Committee based on nominations received each spring, and are appointed for a two-year term.

Commenting on this third cohort of Hariri Junior Fellows, Professor Azer Bestavros, Director of the Institute, noted that “This is a remarkable group of Junior Fellows, not only for their impressive scholarship, but also for the diversity of disciplines they represent — an indication of how computational and data-centric approaches are impacting research across the academic landscape.”

Over the next several months, each of the Junior Faculty Fellows will be giving a Hariri Institute Distinguished Lecture. For more information and to receive notices about this and other Hariri Institute activities, please join the Institute mailing lists by becoming an affiliate member or by subscribing to the Institute’s mailing list for general announcements. For more information, please visit the Institute’s web site.

About the Fellows

Boas (196x196)Taylor Boas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at BU, which he joined after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009. His research examines various aspects of electoral politics in Latin America, including campaigns, political communication, voting behavior, and religion and politics, and involves a variety of methods, such as online survey experiments and the statistical analysis of electoral data. Professor Boas has played a lead role in developing interdepartmental programs for training social science graduate students in quantitative methods. Prior to starting at BU, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame.

Professor Graham K. Wilson, Chair of the Political Science Department, states, “Taylor Boas is one of the new generation of comparative political scientists who combine the deep knowledge of the area they study (in Taylor’s case, Latin America) with strong training in quantitative techniques. Taylor uses his methodological skills to explore topics such as presidential campaign strategies in the countries of Latin America that have democratized in recent decades and the difficult to study relationships between political support, government spending and corruption. Taylor has made a huge contribution to advancing quantitative skills not only in Political Science but in social departments more generally.”

Decarolis (196x196)Francesco Decarolis is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at Boston University, which he joined in 2012. After receiving his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, he spent three years as assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Madison. His research focuses on the use of empirical methods to analyze firms behavior in auctions and procurement systems.

Professor Bart Lipman, Chair of the Economics Department, says, “Francesco is a smart and energetic researcher who makes sophisticated use of computational and big data techniques to address problems of significant importance to society and economy. For example, his research on Medicare drug procurement, uses data covering all drug purchases by the 10 million Medicare Part D enrollees between 2006 and 2009.  He also studies issues of interest in computation, such as Internet sponsored search auctions, and has been a regular visitor at the Microsoft New England Research Lab since 2010.”

Pankaj Mehta (196x196)Pankaj Mehta, an Assistant Professor in the Physics Department at BU, is a theoretical physicist interested in problems at the interface of physics and biology. He holds a BS in Mathematics from Caltech and a Ph.D. in Physics from Rutgers University. Before joining BU, he was a postdoctoral fellow with Ned Wingreen in the Biophysics Theory Group at Princeton University. His research aims to provide an understanding of how complex behaviors observed within single cells and cellular populations arise from the interaction of many individual molecular elements and how these interactions allow cells to perform sophisticated computations in response to environmental cues.

Professor Sid Redner, Chair of the Physics Department, states, “Pankaj Mehta is applying information-theoretic ideas to understand how cells process external stimuli and perform computations at an elemental level.  He has been focused on understanding how collective cellular behavior emerges from the interaction of many elemental molecular components so as to allow cells to perform complex computations in response to the environmental cues. He is also investigating the energetic constraints on the computations that cells can perform through their biomolecular networks.  Pankaj is exploiting ideas at the interface of computer science and biology to elucidate the role of fundamental thermodynamic constraints on cellular computations.  These research efforts overlap nicely with the mission of the Hariri Institute.”

Spiliopoulos (196x196)Konstantinos Spiliopoulos is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at BU, which he joined in 2012. After receiving his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland at College Park, he was a Prager Assistant Professor at Brown University. His current research work focuses in two main areas: Monte Carlo methods, rare event simulation and mathematical analysis of multi-scale systems and equilibrium problems, and development of mathematical and computational tools for the quantification of systemic risk in large financial networks.

Professor Tasso Kaper, Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, says, “Our department is delighted that Prof. Kostantinos Spiliopoulos has been selected to be a Junior Fellow of the Hariri Institute. His research focuses on large-scale stochastic systems, in which fluctuations, noise, and random events play central roles.  Prototypical examples of these large-scale systems include large portfolios of investments, financial markets, and collections of interacting particles.  In the course of his studies, Konstantinos made fundamental mathematical and computational advances in the areas of probability theory, differential equations, and Monte Carlo methods.”

Walker (196x196)Dylan Walker is an Assistant Professor of Information Systems at Boston University Questrom School of Business, which he joined in 2012.  He received his Ph.D. in Physics from SUNY Stony Brook in 2008, followed by a postdoctoral position at New York University’s Stern School of Business.  His research applies empirical techniques to large-scale social networks and networked systems in order to understand the role of online interactions in the diffusion of information, behaviors and dynamic processes. His work fuses in-the-wild networked randomized trials with large-scale data analysis to inform new policies and incentive structures that seek to promote or discourage behavioral and economic outcomes at the individual, community, and population level.

Professor Chris Dellarocas, former Chair of Information Systems, says, “Dylan’s research lies in the broad domain of computational social science, which brings together a diverse range of academic disciplines spanning computer science, complex networks science, physics, information systems, economics, sociology, and political science. Dylan’s work within this area seeks to understand the role of networks and networked systems in the diffusion of information, behaviors and dynamic processes. This type of interdisciplinary work will both benefit from, as well as benefit, interactions with other Hariri Institute Fellows. I am, therefore, delighted to see Dylan recognized as a Hariri Institute Junior Faculty Fellow.”

Zervas (195x196)Georgios Zervas is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Boston University Questrom School of Business. Previously, he was a Simons Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University and an Affiliate at the Center for Research on Computation and Society (CRCS) at Harvard University. He received his PhD in Computer Science from Boston University under the supervision of John Byers and Michael Mitzenmacher (from Harvard). He is broadly interested in problems lying in the intersection of marketing, computer science, and economics, and a lot of his work has focused on large scale empirical studies of internet markets, including online advertising, crowd-sourced reviews, and daily deals.

Professor Barbara Bickart, Chair of the Marketing Department, says “Giorgos works at the intersection of marketing, economics and computer science. He identifies interesting online phenomena, asks important questions, acquires novel data through web scraping, and then applies creative empirical techniques to generate managerially relevant insights. Using this approach, Giorgos has made a big impact in a short time with his work examining the relationship between daily deals and consumer reviews.  We are proud and excited that Giorgos has been selected as a Hariri Institute Junior Faculty Fellow.”