Institute Announces 2015 Junior Faculty Fellows

The Hariri Institute for Computing at Boston University is pleased to announce the 2015 Junior Faculty Fellows. They are:

  • Leila Agha, Department of Markets, Public Policy and Law
  • Manuel Egele, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Neha Gondal, Department of Sociology
  • Kirill Korolev, Department of Physics
  • Sam Ling, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
  • Lorenzo Orecchia, Department of Computer Science

The Hariri Institute Junior Faculty Fellows program recognizes outstanding junior faculty at Boston University working in diverse areas of computing and the computational sciences. Institute Fellows help connect like-minded researchers at BU and beyond, also providing a focal point for supporting broader collaborative research.  Please read about them below, and feel free to join us as each Fellow gives a ‘Meet Our Fellow’ seminar at the Institute’s Wednesdays @ Hariri.  

Commenting on the 2015 Hariri Junior Fellows, Professor Azer Bestavros, Institute Director, noted that “the research profile of this year’s cohort underscores not only the extent to which computational and data-driven approaches are fundamentally changing a growing number of disciplines, but also the fact that computing is emerging as the lingua franca for interdisciplinary research.” 

Hariri Junior Fellows are selected by the Institute’s Steering Committee based on nominations received each spring. They are appointed for a three-year term.

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About the Fellows

DSC_0354Leila Agha is an assistant professor in the Markets, Public Policy, and Law Department at the BU Questrom School of Business. She received her Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2011. She is also a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Her research focuses on technology and innovation in healthcare, and applying economic frameworks to understand expert decision-making. Recent research topics have included the impact of health information technology adoption on costs and quality of care, the ability of peer review committees to identify and reward high-impact science, and the over-use and misapplication of medical technology.

Professor James Rebitzer, Chair of the Markets, Public Polity and Law Department, states that “Leila is a very talented empirical economist who likes to tackle big issues. Most of her research focuses on how well scientific and medical experts use information and information technology to make their decisions. Some of her findings are upsetting (from 1998-2005, health information technology did little to reduce costs or improve quality;) and others are comforting (NIH peer review committees do quite a good job identifying impactful research). Whatever you feel about her results, you have to take them very seriously because her methods and reasoning are so clear, sophisticated and appropriate to the issue. Leila is in the early stages of what is sure to be a a very successful academic career. She is also a delightful person who will be a great addition to the Hariri Institute community.”

ManmegeleProfile-646x1024uel Egele is an assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boston University. His research interests span all areas of systems security — in particular mobile and embedded systems security, privacy, and malicious code analysis.  Prior to his appointment at BU, he was a systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon University. Before that he was a post-doctoral researcher at the Computer Security Group of the Department of Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  He received his M.Sc. (2006) and Ph.D. (2011) degrees in computer science from the University of Technology in Vienna.

Professor Clem Karl, Chair of the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, states that“Manuel is one of our rising stars in the area of security. Overall Manuel’s scholarship connects the science of computing to security challenges in other disciplines, such as mobile computing and web design which makes him an ideal Hariri Junior Faculty Fellow. I am delighted that the Hariri Institute has chosen him for this honor and enhanced his connection to the computational community.” 

NehaNeha Gondal is an assistant professor in the sociology department at Boston University. Prior to joining BU, Neha was an assistant professor in the department of sociology and school of communication at The Ohio State University. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from Rutgers University in 2013 and her M.Sc. in economics from the London School of Economics in 2005. She uses quantitative and mathematical techniques to study culture and stratification through the lens of social networks. She is particularly interested in investigating how micro-level cultural and structural processes concatenate to generate macro-level network structures.

Professor Nazli Kibria, Chair of the Sociology Department, states that “Neha is a promising young scholar with a growing reputation in social network analysis, a methodology that has a wide range of substantive applications across many fields of inquiry. Neha creatively uses her methodological skills to ask questions about the dynamics of culture and social inequality. I see Neha as a scholar who personifies the mission and spirit of the Hariri Institute in her innovative use of computational research methods to explore critical questions in social science.  I am delighted that she has been awarded the opportunity to be part of the Hariri Institute and to engage with a community of researchers who all share her interest in using computational research methods to address important questions in their respective fields.”

2714_smallKirill Korolev is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and the Graduate Program in Bioinformatics at Boston University, which he joined in 2013. After receiving his PhD in theoretical physics from Harvard University in 2010, he spent three years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Pappalardo Postdoctoral Fellow. Kirill uses mathematical modeling, computation, and statistical analysis of data to understand evolution and population dynamics in a variety of practical contexts. The main focus of his group is on the spatial organization of microbial colonies, evolution in cancer tumors, and invasions of exotic species or pests. He is also interested in sudden transitions in complex system such as an onset of dysbiosis in the gut microbiome. Overall, his work seeks simplicity in the complexity of dynamic and evolving collectives.

Professor Karl Ludwig, Chair of the Physics Department, states that “Kirill is part of a new wave of scientists who are physicists by training but who bring the physics tradition of mathematical model building to the investigation of living systems.” Professor Thomas Tullius, Director of Bioinformatics Program, adds that “Kirill brings the rigor of a theoretical physicist to the study of fundamental problems in biology by developing mathematical, biophysical and computational models of evolution and ecology, systems biology, and human health. Kirill’s appointment as a Hariri Junior Faculty Fellow will no doubt lead to productive interactions with other computational disciplines (such as computer science, data mining and economics) that will influence the direction of his research.”

SamLingSam Ling is an assistant professor in Psychological and Brain Sciences at Boston University. Sam directs the Visual Neuroscience lab, which aims to understand how the human visual system optimizes itself for the task at hand. Towards that end, his research combines a variety of techniques, including psychophysics, computational modeling, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) ­all aimed at understanding how early visual processing is formed, and how it can change as a result of top-down or bottom-up modulation. Sam received his Ph.D. in Psychology from New York University, and completed his postdoctoral training at Vanderbilt University.

Professor David Somers, Chair of the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, states that “Sam is one of the leading young vision scientists in the world.  His research combines computational and experimental approaches to reveal the perceptual mechanisms by which attention influences what we see and the neural architectures that underlie these perceptual computations.  Sam is also a gifted teacher dedicated to training future leaders.  He is a caring mentor who works hard to advance the careers of his students and post-docs.  Sam is deeply committed to the development of our academic programs and is a fine colleague and academic citizen.  Sam is truly exemplary and very deserving of the honor to be a Hariri Junior Faculty Fellow.”

OrecchiaLorenzo Orecchia is an assistant professor of Computer Science at Boston University, which he joined in 2015 from MIT, where he was a postdoctoral associate and an Applied Mathematics Instructor. Lorenzo obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on the theoretical study of algorithms, with the goal to design methods that are both mathematically sound and applicable in practice. Lorenzo’s research has produced algorithmic advances for foundational computational problems, both of combinatorial nature, such as graph clustering, and of continuous nature, such as the solution of systems of linear equations and of large resource-allocation linear programs. He advocates a broad approach to the design of algorithm that incorporates techniques from discrete and continuous optimization and is able to model computational challenges arising in a variety of applications, including Machine Learning, Numerical Analysis and Combinatorial Optimization.

Professor Mark Crovella, Chair of the Computer Science Department, states that “Lorenzo is an immensely creative Computer Scientist who is developing new approaches to fundamental problems that have application across many disciplines inside and outside of Computer Science.  He is particularly apt at taking what look like combinatorial problems and casting them as continuous optimization problems with a clear geometric interpretation, which makes them easier to understand.  Thanks to his innovative approach, Lorenzo has recently broken longstanding barriers to yield very efficient algorithms for a number of crucial problems, including maximum flow.  As a result I believe that Lorenzo’s technical background and research directions put him in an ideal position to contribute to the mission of the Hariri Institute to reaffirm the central role of computing throughout the sciences, and I am thrilled by his appointment as a Hariri Junior Fellow.”