Meet some of our current DCDS students and learn about their background and research

Sandeep Acharya

Computational Methodologies

My research mainly involves applying machine learning algorithms to map the gene regulation mechanism in humans. Recently, my work has expanded to finding specific genes and mechanisms they are involved in that lead to healthy aging in humans.

Charles Alba

Research interests:

My primary research interests span the health data sciences. I am specifically interested in employing Artificial intelligence (AI), geospatial, and textmining tools to address socioeconomic disparities across public health outcomes. My ultimate goal is to use fair and impactful AI tobridge inequities surrounding the public health domains.


I was born and raised in Singapore. I completed my BS in Data Science from Penn State University and my MS in the Behavioral and Data Sciences from the University of Warwick (UK). My background has provided me with the opportunity to collaborate with researchers encompassing the fields of computational & information sciences, health & recreational sciences, and decisionmaking. I am always grateful to my past and present advisors who have invested their time in my research endeavors.

Gordon An

Research interests:

Developing machine learning algorithms and optimization. Current works focus on Gaussian process models and Bayesian active learning applied in active cognitive testing.

Yehu Chen

Computational Methodologies 

My research interest lies in the interaction between Bayesian machine learning and political methodology, including but not limited to election forecasting and causal inference.

My current project is Bayesian difference in difference with mult-task gaussian process.

My paper ‘Polls, Context, and Time A Dynamic Bayesian Forecasting Model for US Senate Elections’ is under R&R of Journal of Political Analysis.

Alex DiChristofano

Public Health & Social Work

My research focuses on working with local communities and stakeholders to develop online tools for connecting underserved and underrepresented populations with scare societal resources. I employ methods from the fields of mechanism design, optimization and human-computer interaction.

Tom Earnest

Psychological & Brain Sciences

In DCDS, I am interested in applying machine learning and data-driven approaches to study neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. I just finished a first-year rotation in the lab of Aristeidis Sotiras, where I worked on using non-negative matrix factorization (NMF) to learn patterns of brain pathology in Alzheimer’s Disease neuroimaging.  In my next rotation with Todd Braver, I will evaluate the utility of the lab’s dynamic brain modeling method (MINDy) for predicting behavioral and psychological outcomes. 

Robert Jirsaraie

Psychological & Brain Sciences

My research interest includes mapping developmental trajectories of psychopathology to better understand biomarkers and predict risk. My first doctoral project aims to determine how generalizable existing brain age models are to capturing within-subject changes in brain development and mental health. Towards this end, I am actively building my skills in machine learning, longitudinal analysis, and multimodal brain imaging. 

Robert Kasumba

Research Interest:

I am generally interested in the application of AI and Machine learning to solve challenges with keen interest in achieving successful HumanAI team collaborations.

Joshua Landman

Public Health & Social Work

My research interests are, broadly speaking, biomedical data science and clinical predictive modeling with a focus on social determinants of health. Projects I’m currently working on include modeling the impact of social determinants of health on COVID-19 outcomes, predicting whether patients will be readmitted to the hospital following spinal fusion surgery, examining the performance of machine learning and statistical models on predicting autoimmune disease diagnosis, and exploring how social connectedness impacts new daily rates of COVID-19 cases across counties.

Messi (Hojun) Lee

Psychological & Brain Sciences

I am generally interested in how languages reflect implicit biases in society. My research specifically involves word embeddings – building relevant corpora through web scraping and APIs, training embedding models, and using association tests for bias detection. I am currently working on two projects: one is a project on perceptions of media bias trying to identify the specific proxies news consumers use to assess bias degree of news outlets, and the other is on detecting political biases in the media and studying their priming effect on the general public and political elites.

Abigail Lewis

Public Health & Social Work

I am interested in using data science to understand disparities in access to health care and patient outcome. Currently I am working on a project in the Institute for Informatics which aims to understand the use of biomarker testing in Alzheimer’s diagnoses and racial disparities in access to these tests.    

Kris Nilsson

Research Interests:

I’m interested in how an agent can learn quicker, and more accurately, by interacting with a complex environment. Currently, I’m exploring how causal reasoning can be used to generalize between different environments.

David O’Gara

Public Health & Social Work

I am interested in the intersection of complex systems and public health.

Lydia Reader

Research interests:

I am interested in exploring the effects of the built environment on public health and on equity. Currently, I am working on a project to model the social and environmental determinants childhood physical activity using agentbased modeling. I am also interested in studying feedback loops in social systems, and previously presented a model of feedback mechanisms in systems of inequity.

Ivy Smith

Public Health & Social Work

My research interest includes addressing health disparities and bias in health care by utilizing data science methodologies and applications.

Jean Springsteen

Research Interest:

My research focuses on how the structure of a social network can influence opinion dynamics and methods of reducing polarization on networks.

Lauren Treiman

Research Interest:

I am interested in how cognitive biases affect our decisionmaking strategies. My research primarily focuses on how these biases influence choices when people interact with Artificial Intelligence (AI). By understanding how these biases influence this interaction, we can implement AI to help us make optimal choices efficiently while ensuringAI properly considers how these biases affect the overall decisionmaking process.

Ben Wang

Track: Psychological & Brain Sciences

Research interest: I work in Dr. Dosenbachlab where the lab studies brain development, plasticity and precision mapping using neuroimaging technique like fMRI. I am interested in using big neuroimaging dataset to learn brain behavior correlation and how environmental/SES factors affect brain development.

Linn Xia

Research interest:

I am interested in handling complex databases and applying computational methodologies to study many fields. Currently, my research focuses on analyzing datasets of complex connectivity patterns and their relation to health and disease.


I am a firstyear PhD student in the Division of Computational & Data Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. I am excited to contribute to technological advances in many different research directions by utilizing my data analysis skills. To be more specific, I am interested in handling complex databasesand applying computational methodologies to study many fields. Currently, my research focuses on analyzing datasets of complex connectivity patterns and their relation to health and disease. I graduated from the Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in data analytics. Through my undergraduate studies, I felt that data science is very useful and interesting. So, I decided to pursue the DCDS Ph.D. program at WashU. I like to play many different sports in my free time. Recently, I enjoy playing squash, badminton, tennis, golf, and swimming.