Presidential Interdisciplinary Faculty Hiring Initiative in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence

The University of Georgia has launched an ambitious initiative to recruit 70 faculty members with expertise in applying data science and artificial intelligence to some of society’s most urgent challenges.

Rather than being housed exclusively in a single department, the majority of UGA’s newly recruited faculty will focus on the fusion of data science and AI in cross-cutting areas such as infectious diseases, integrative precision agriculture, computational social sciences, ethics, cybersecurity, virtual reality in teaching and learning, resilient communities, and the environment.

President Morehead“At the University of Georgia, we are constantly seeking opportunities to expand our impact on society, to solve complex challenges, and to shape the future. This strategic hiring initiative will enable us to do that while building on our excellence in teaching, research, and service.”
- President Jere W. Morehead

The cluster hiring initiative, scheduled for completion in 2024, stems from the work of the Task Force on Academic Excellence charged by Provost S. Jack Hu shortly after he joined UGA in 2019. Composed of faculty and academic leaders across campus, the task force examined the university’s areas of strength and opportunity to guide strategic investments that maximize the institution’s impact.

The 70 new faculty hires will be recruited in 12 interdisciplinary clusters that focus on broad themes. Details on each of the clusters are below.

Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, and the Dynamics of Infectious Diseases

The University’s Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases (CEID) and Institute of Bioinformatics (IOB) are recognized globally for their contributions to disease ecology, epidemiology, and evolution. UGA is especially strong in the areas of pathogen spillover, the modeling of transmission and interventions, and spatial spread. The recruitment of faculty with expertise in epidemic forecasting, biosurveillance, and the use of artificial intelligence for fitting dynamical systems, agent-based modeling, and multi-scale modeling of disease transmission will build on the University’s recognized and multidisciplinary expertise in infectious diseases.

Positions
Quantitative Community Ecology of Infectious Diseases – Odum School of Ecology (Assistant Professor)

Quantitative Disease Ecology – Odum School of Ecology (Open Rank)

Infectious Disease Dynamics and Modeling – School of Chemical, Materials and Biomedical Engineering (Open Rank)

Biostatics and Machine Learning Applied to Infectious Diseases – Department of Epidemiology and Biostatics (Open Rank)

More details about the cluster and positions

Contact
John Drake, Distinguished Research Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Odum School of Ecology (jdrake@uga.edu)

Additional links
Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Department of Statistics
Institute of Bioinformatics
Odum School of Ecology
School of Chemical, Materials and Biomedical Engineering

Environmental Artificial Intelligence

Understanding ecosystem resiliency in the face of sea-level rise, increasingly extreme weather events, and ocean warming and acidification is one of the most challenging and pressing research problems of our time, with vast implications for decision-makers and the general public in adapting to and mitigating environmental change. Artificial Intelligence is at the forefront of geoscience research and the interactions of atmospheric, terrestrial, and oceanic processes. The Environmental AI cluster will leverage a deep base of faculty expertise, and the wide-ranging big datasets they hold, to move UGA to the forefront of AI-driven research on ecosystem resiliency.

Positions
Artificial Intelligence for Earth System Modeling – Department of Geography (Open Rank)

Data-driven Marine Conservation and Sustainability – Department of Marine Sciences (Assistant Professor)

Deep Learning in Microbiome Research – Department of Statistics (Open Rank)

More details about the cluster and positions

Contact
Daniela Di Iorio, Professor and Head, Department of Marine Sciences (daniela@uga.edu)

Related links
Department of Anthropology
Department of Geography
Department of Marine Sciences
Department of Statistics

Ethics, Data, and AI

The pervasive applications of AI and Data Science have brought ethical considerations to the forefront, including issues of bias, fairness, accountability, deception, opacity, privacy and related technical, governance, regulatory, and policy approaches.The Ethics, Data, and AI cluster involves collaboration among the departments of Philosophy, Management Information Systems, Theater and Film Studies, and the Lamar Dodd School of Art. The cluster aims to advance the understanding of such social, philosophical, and ethical issues and to catalyze multi-disciplinary research on ethical AI and Data Science. 

Positions
Ethics of Human-AI Interactions, AI Interfaces and the Future of Work – Department of Management Information Systems (Assistant Professor)

Ethics, Robotics, and AI Technologies – Lamar Dodd School of Art (Assistant Professor, Sculpture)

Contacts
Elena Karahanna, C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry Distinguished Chair of Business Administration and Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Management Information Systems, Terry College of Business (ekarah@uga.edu)

Aaron Meskin, Professor and Head, Department of Philosophy, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences (aaron.meskin@uga.edu)

Related links
Department of Philosophy
Department of Theatre and Film Studies
Lamar Dodd School of Art
Department of Management Information Systems

Integrative Precision Agriculture Center of Excellence

Agriculture is Georgia’s largest industry, and the size and diversity of the state’s agricultural sector make it unique in the nation. Integrative Precision Agriculture, the application of digital technologies, big data, and AI to improve the agricultural value chain through better decision-making and site-specific field operations, holds considerable promise for sustainably feeding a growing global population. Building on its existing research strength in this area, the University of Georgia is conducting a cluster hire to fill nine tenure-track or tenured faculty positions in Integrative Precision Agriculture, of which at least four are being recruited for a target start date of August 2022. Outstanding candidates who can contribute significantly to the application of digital agriculture technologies, data analytics, or models for the sustainable intensification of cropping, plantation forestry, or livestock systems relevant to the southeastern U.S. are especially encouraged to apply.

Positions
Precision Crop Protection/Digital Plant Pathology – Department of Plant Pathology (Open Rank)

Human and Social Factors of Integrative Precision Agriculture – Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication (Open Rank)

Robotics, Design Automation, Autonomous Vehicles and Systems – School of Environmental, Civil, Agricultural, and Mechanical Engineering; School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (Open Rank)

AI Based Decision Making – Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics (Open Rank)

Contacts
Jaime Camelio, Professor and Associate Dean for Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, College of Engineering (jcamelio@uga.edu)

Harald Scherm, Professor and Head, Department of Plant Pathology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (scherm@uga.edu)

Related links
Department of Plant Pathology
Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication
School of Environmental, Civil, Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering
School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

Machine Learning Applications in Cyber-Physical Systems Security

The increasing reliance on Cyber-Physical Systems—which integrate computation, networking, and physical processes—opens up critical needs for improvements in both their fundamental implementations and the methods by which we maintain their security. This cluster enables growth in specialties that support the development of high-impact research in CPSS and the training of future students who are prepared to contribute to the workforce needs in this area. It helps keep UGA at the forefront of Cyber Physical Systems Security research and ensures that it can continue to produce the engineers and computer scientists that serve as the core workforce for the design, development and deployment of CPSSs.

Positions
Machine Learning and Cyber-Physical Systems – School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (Open Rank)

Focus on Embedded Systems for Machine Learning Applications – School of Computing (Open Rank)

Contact
Thirimachos Bourlai, Associate Professor, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering (thirimachos.bourlai@uga.edu)

Related links
School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
School of Computing

Precision One Health Initiative

The Precision One Health Initiative seeks to utilize artificial intelligence (AI), data science, machine learning, and more traditional methods to understand how genetics, the environment, and lifestyle inform the most efficacious approaches to prevent and treat diseases of humans and animals. A total of 16 faculty members will be recruited, with eight joining UGA in fall 2022 and the remaining eight joining UGA in fall 2023. Research will focus on three pillars of infectious and non-infectious disease management: Pillar 1 – pathogenesis and diagnostics; Pillar 2 – health promotion and disease prevention; and Pillar 3 – therapeutic intervention. The goal is to design optimal preventive or therapeutic care that prevents disease and, if needed, provides the individual patient (human or animal) with the right medical approach at the right time. The initiative follows a bench to bedside to community paradigm, using basic and applied research to lay the foundation of knowledge needed to develop improved preventive, diagnostic, and treatment tools and protocols that translate into more refined approaches to improving the health of individual persons and animals.

Key areas of the Precision One Health Initiative will include: 

  • Prevention: developing and implementing best practices for maintaining health and preventing disease;
  • Surveillance: clarifying the ecological drivers of vector and host disease transmission to optimize disease surveillance, mitigation strategies, and in situ treatment options;
  • Screening: screening persons or animals to identify traits associated with disease pathogenesis and markers that predict disease susceptibility, disease severity, and health outcomes; 
  • Diagnostics: using these traits and markers to develop diagnostic screening tests; and 
  • Application to Individuals and Communities: leveraging these traits to prevent ‘at risk’ individuals from developing the disease, or to allow individuals to more effectively manage health using behavioral interventions, molecularly guided treatments, and novel drugs.  

Positions
Cognitive Aging – College of Public Health, Institute of Gerontology (Open Rank) 

Precision Diagnostics – Department of Pathology (Open Rank)

Pharmaceutical Health Services, Outcomes, and Policy – Department of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy (Open Rank)

Drug Discovery/Antimicrobial Resistance – Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, Department of Infectious Diseases (Open Rank)

Pharmaceutical Health Services, Outcomes, and Policy – Department of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy (Open Rank; Position #2)

Precision Diagnostics in Virology – Department of Population Health (Open Rank)

Precision Diagnostics in Microbiology – Department of Population Health (Open Rank)

Chemical, Material, and Biomedical Engineering – School of Chemical, Materials and Biomedical Engineering (Open Rank)

Health Promotion and Behavior – Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Gerontology (Open Rank)

Contact
Sharron S. Quisenberry, Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty and Graduate Affairs, College of Veterinary Medicine, Precision One Health Liaison (sharron.quisenberry@uga.edu)

Related links
College of Public Health
Institute of Gerontology
Department of Pathology
Department of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy
Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences
Department of Infectious Diseases
Department of Population Health
School of Chemicals, Materials and Biomedical Engineering
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Resilient Infrastructure for Sustainability and Equity (RISE)

The increasing threats to communities and livelihoods caused by aging infrastructure, urbanization, and climatic changes are well known; however, the rate of progress and effectiveness of adaptation measures are not keeping pace with the increasing risks. The Resilient Infrastructure for Sustainability and Equity (RISE) interdisciplinary cluster will unite and catalyze strengths in data science, transportation engineering, Engineering With Nature, environmental and atmospheric sciences, public service and outreach, public administration, law, and policy to establish UGA as an international leader in smart and resilient infrastructure systems that protect people, their livelihoods, and their communities from severe weather impacts, climate change, unsafe or degraded infrastructure, and other hazards.

Positions
Smart Infrastructure – School of Environmental, Civil, Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering (Open Rank)

Contact
Jenna Jambeck, Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering (jjambeck@uga.edu)

Related links
School of Environmental, Civil, Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering

Secure AI Systems for Biomedical Applications

Machine learning applications to biomedical data have the potential to enable breakthroughs of exceptional benefit to society. However, research in this area is hindered by the fact that biomedical data is often highly sensitive and cannot be easily shared among researchers, especially in the case when projects span multiple institutions such as universities and hospitals. In addition, biomedical datasets are often massive, diverse and of varying quality, making it difficult to efficiently learn from them. The Secure AI Systems for Biomedical Applications cluster will advance fundamental research that enables secure, privacy-preserving and highly scalable machine learning over sensitive data.

Positions
High Performance AI Systems – School of Computing (Assistant Professor)

Cryptography – Department of Mathematics (Assistant Professor)

Applied Cryptographic Machine Learning – School of Computing (Assistant Professor)

Network/Web Security and Applied Cryptography – School of Computing (Assistant Professor)

Contact
Roberto Perdisci, Patty and D.R. Grimes Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Director, Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy (perdisci@uga.edu)

Related links
Department of Computer Science
Department of Mathematics
Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy
School of Computing

Translational Education Research in the Health Professions

Translational education research in the health professions seeks to take the scholarship of teaching and learning that informs best practices in education and creates enhanced learning experiences for health care professionals and health care educators. Simulated learning experiences using virtual reality, augmented reality, and simulation programs can allow students to safely engage in high-risk surgeries, experience complex patients and intensive care settings, and work with diverse patients and clients. These technologies will prepare students to better treat patients and clients. Additionally, using these simulation technologies can develop practitioners who are prepared to use mobile technology in the delivery of health care (especially in rural and underserved areas), reduce medication errors using artificial intelligence and data science, and improve patient safety.

Following the One Health model, this cluster includes two hires focused on human health education to include social determinants of health, one hire focused on animal health education, and one hire that works with both animal and human health. All hires will engage in collaborative research across these areas since health care practice continues to emphasize interprofessional practice to improve patient care. The partnerships in this cluster hire and the additional collaborators can support UGA in becoming a leader in translational education research, the application of virtual reality and augmented reality in education and practice, and in the area of One Health. The goal is to create an interdisciplinary, collaborative team of researchers and teachers that will be leaders in using enhanced learning design and technology, and workforce education principles to improve educational and health-related outcomes. This cluster of faculty hires will expand the core faculty affiliated with current programs across the Mary Frances Early College of Education (MFECOE), the College of Pharmacy (COP), and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). 

The following list highlights key areas:

  • Establish socially responsive/responsible research programs that increase innovation in education and training in healthcare
  • Advance the development and implementation of virtual reality, augmented reality, and simulation as core pedagogy to enhance student learning
  • Create habits and routines that support skill development, especially in solving high-risk and complex patient problems
  • Utilize simulation and virtual reality to enhance student learning in social determinants of health and health equity

Positions
Learning Design and Technology in the Health Professions – Department of Pathology and the Department of Workforce Education and Instructional Technology (Open Rank)

Learning Design and Technology in the Health Professions – Department of Learning, Design, and Technology and the Department of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy (Open Rank)

Translational Education in the Health Professions – Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and the Department of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy (Open Rank)

Translational Education in the Health Professions – Department of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy and the Department of Workforce Education and Instructional Technology (Open Rank)

Contact
Michael J. Fulford, Senior Academic Professional and Assistant Dean for Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Initiatives, College of Pharmacy (mfulford@uga.edu

Related links
Department of Workforce Education and Instructional Technology
Research and Innovation in Learning
Health Professions Education Group
Department of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy
Department of Physiology and Pharmacology
Department of Pathology

Leveraging Data Science and AI to Advance Teaching and Learning

Data science and artificial intelligence can help solve our greatest educational challenges. Scholars in these fields improve outcomes in K-12 and higher education by enhancing assessment and active learning in classrooms and by illuminating previously unseen inequities in classrooms and educational systems. The availability of educational data has grown exponentially, and data science and AI can help us transform the data into new insights that benefit students, teachers and administrators. This cluster crosses six departments in education, science and the humanities. As such, it will include scholars who use machine learning, learning analytics and educational data mining to take on pressing problems and opportunities in education and to generate foundational knowledge about teaching and learning. Cluster faculty will pursue interdisciplinary research collaborations with support from two UGA centers. The cluster will study K-12 education and higher education and will forge new instructional connections between the sciences, social sciences and humanities at UGA.

Positions
Biology Education Research – Department of Microbiology (Assistant Professor)

Physics Education Research – Department of Physics and Astronomy (Assistant Professor)

Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytic Methodologies – Department of Educational Psychology (Assistant Professor)

Data Science & Analytics in Undergraduate Chemistry Education – Department of Chemistry (Assistant Professor)

Data Analytics and Pedagogy in Classics – Department of Classics (Assistant Professor)

Learning Analytics and Machine Learning for Science Education – Department of Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Education (Open Rank) 

Contact
Tessa Andrews, Associate Professor, Department of Genetics, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences (tandrews@uga.edu

Related links
Department of Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Education
Department of Educational Psychology
Department of Microbiology
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Department of Chemistry
Department of Classics
Scientists Engaged in Education Research Center
AI for STEM Education Center

Social and Behavioral Dynamics of Health, Well-Being, and Security

Global-scale challenges like pandemics, climate change, and economic upheaval pose risks to human health, security, as well as emotional and economic well-being. Understanding the complexities of human behavioral, cultural, and social dynamics in the face of such challenges increasingly depends on large-scale data and computationally intensive analysis. Rooted in the basic social and behavioral sciences, computational social scientists combine the tools of data science with insights from social and behavioral theories.
 
At the same time, reliance on complex analyses of massive data sets to inform new social and governmental responses itself poses challenges that can only be addressed by careful social science research. New techniques for harvesting and processing social data require scrutiny themselves, because these techniques can and have exacerbated social inequalities and injustices. Without an understanding of the ways that data collection has evolved over time within traditional social science research, machine-learning approaches to analyzing massive amounts of harvested social and behavioral data can “bake” systematic social biases into the algorithms and generate “solutions” that amplify, rather than address, existing social inequalities and injustices. Principled use of data science and computational approaches to address global social problems requires careful attention to the origins of such biases in earlier periods of history. Thus, our proposal includes not only social scientists conducting computational work but also a scholar whose research focuses on studying the use of algorithms, analytics, and “big data” as social and historical practice.
 
This hiring cluster will build on existing strengths at the university to create an exceptional convergence of scholarship in computational social science poised to offer theory- and data-driven solutions to contemporary societal challenges. This cluster of six academic track faculty hires will be housed in five departments: psychology, sociology, history, international affairs, and health policy and management. These departments span three colleges: the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Public and International Affairs, and the College of Public Health. This cluster will leverage the strengths of the Owens Institute for Behavioral Research (OIBR), which has been advancing interdisciplinary social science research at UGA for over 50 years though faculty mentoring of grant writing, promotion of interdisciplinary collaborations, and expert pre- and post-award services.

Positions
Risks to Human Security, Health, and Well-Being – Department of International Affairs (Open Rank)

Risks to Human Security, Health, and Well-Being – Department of Health Policy and Management (Assistant Professor)

Computational Sociology – Franklin College of Arts and Sciences (Assistant Professor)

Advanced Quantitative Methods, Psychology – Franklin College of Arts and Sciences (Assistant Professor)

Contact
Dawn T. Robinson, Professor of Sociology, Owens Institute for Behavioral Research (sodawn@uga.edu)

Related links
Department of Health Policy and Management
Department of International Affairs
Department of Psychology
Department of Sociology
Computational Social Science Workgroup
Owens Institute for Behavioral Research 


Applied Social Science Interventions for Community

The Applied Social Science Interventions for the Community cluster seeks to utilize computational social sciences to measure, understand and intervene on human behavior at the interplay between individuals, systems (family, social service, public health systems) and communities. A total of six faculty will be recruited to join UGA in fall 2023 to conduct research and instruction on community-based metrics, app-based interventions and human behaviors. Their work will focus on using machine learning, AI based applications and mHealth technology to inform measurement of human-centered processes; data collection; decision making; and inclusive intervention development, implementation and evaluation of innovative personalized and community-level approaches. This work can help generate the knowledge base and practical applications that are based in real world settings to ensure that solutions meet real world needs, thus descreasing health, mental health and socioeconomic inequalities. 

Positions
Computational Social Sciences – College of Public Health (Open Rank)

Computational Social Sciences – School of Social Work (Open Rank)

Computational Social Sciences – Department of Human Development and Family Science, College of Family and Consumer Sciences (Open Rank)

Contact
Marsha Davis, PhD, Dean, College of Public Health (davism@uga.edu)

Related links
College of Family and Consumer Sciences
School of Social Work
College of Public Health

 

Provost Hu“This hiring initiative builds on the expertise of our existing faculty and leverages our strength as a comprehensive research institution with a land- and sea-grant mission of service. It will give students new learning opportunities while sparking transformative discoveries.”
- Provost S. Jack Hu

 

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