PPFP Fellowship Recipients

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2015 - 2016 Selection Round

Dr. Ashley Payne

Photo 1Undergraduate institution: University of Texas
Ph.D. institution: University of california, Irvine
Dissertation title: An Analysis of the Behavior and Intensity of Extreme Atmospheric Moisture
Dissertation advisors: Gudrun Magnusdottir
Statement about research interests: I am interested in the movement of moisture in the atmosphere. My dissertation research was focused on intense moisture transport features known as atmospheric rivers. When they cross over land, they can be a major source of wintertime precipitation, particularly over the western coastline of North America. The extreme precipitation and flooding that sometimes accompany land falling ARs can have severe socioeconomic consequences. Despite advances in observational networks on land, the large-scale mechanisms influencing AR behavior and land-falling intensity are poorly understood. The goal of my work was to characterize the large-scale influences on AR behavior using both analysis data and climate models. I will continue working with climate models during my tenure as a PPFP fellow. My project will address current challenges in the representation of convection in a new generation of climate models. I will investigate whether the poor representation of precipitation in current climate models is ultimately related to how convection is traditionally parameterized.
UM PPFP primary mentor: Christiane Jablonowski, CLaSP

Dr. Patricia Schuster

Photo 1Undergraduate institution: University of Michigan
Ph.D. institution: University of California, Berkeley
Dissertation title: Developing an Understanding of Neutron-Gamma Pulse Shape Discrimination and the Anisotropic Response to Neutron Events in Organic Crystal Scintillators
Dissertation advisors: Karl van Bibber
Statement about research interests: My research aims to develop radiation detection materials and instrumentation for a broad range of nuclear security applications. A major focus of my work lies in understanding the light production and energy transfer mechanisms in organic scintillator materials, which have long been used as radiation detectors and offer simultaneous detection of fast neutrons and gamma rays. My dissertation studied the scintillation anisotrophy that exists in organic crystal scintillators. This anisotropy is an interesting signature that reveals information about the complex internal energy transfer processes. I am also interested in nuclear security technologies and policy, and I engage actively with the policy community to understand the complex challenges that exist in nuclear security.
UM PPFP primary mentor: Sara Pozzi, NERS

2014 - 2015 Selection Round

Dr. Stephen Oney

Photo 1Undergraduate institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D. institution: Carnegie Mellon University
Dissertation title: Expressing Interactivity with States and Constraints
Dissertation advisors: Brad Myers
Statement about research interests: My research investigates ways to make computer programming tools easier to use for programmers and more usable for a wider variety of users. In my research, I employ human-computer interaction (HCI) techniques to design, build, and test programming tools and languages.
UM PPFP primary mentor: Eytan Adar, School of Information
Dr. Oney is now a tenure track assistant professor at U-M.

Dr. Gabriel Zayas-Caban

Photo 1Undergraduate institution: University of South Florida
Ph.D. institution: Cornell University
Dissertation title: Dynamic Allocation of Healthcare Resources
Dissertation advisors: Mark E. Lewis
Statement about research interests: The goal of my research is to develop data-driven frameworks, using queueing theory, Markov decision processes, simulation, and other Operations Research techniques, that can identify effective and practical policies for resource allocation in healthcare settings. In particular, it centers on (1) working closely with physicians and practitioners to develop accurate models and (2) addressing analytical challenges to enable these frameworks to handle more realistic scenarios, determine when practical dynamic policies are optimal, and use these results to design more robust strategies. For example, when catastrophic events overwhelm the supply of EMS vehicles, it is necessary for cities in the affected region to request aid (in the form of added capacity) from neighbouring municipalities to bring the affected region back to its day-to-day levels of operation. The first part of my dissertation used queueing theory, Markov decision processes, and mathematical programming to develop a systematic framework for allocating ambulances for such scenarios. The second part of my dissertation addressed the question of how to prioritize the work by the medical provider to balance initial delays for care with the need to discharge patients in a timely fashion. We developed a multi-server two-stage tandem queueing model for the aforementioned triage and treatment process. We then used a continuous-time Markov decision process (CTMDP) formulation and sample path arguments to determine the optimal dynamic schedule for the single-server model. Using data from a hospital, we compared the performance of several potential service policies in a discrete simulation study. This work was motivated by the Triage-Treat-and-Release program at the Lutheran Medical Center, a full-service, 462-bed academic teaching hospital in Brooklyn, New York.
UM PPFP primary mentor: Amy Cohn, Industrial and Operations Engineering

2013 - 2014 Selection Round

Dr. Catherine Fromen

Photo 1Undergraduate institution: University of Rochester
Ph.D. institution: North Carolina State University
Dissertation title: Monodisperse, Uniformly-shaped Particles for Controlled Respiratory Therapeutic Delivery
Dissertation advisors: Joseph DeSimone
Statement about research interests: My dissertation work was in the field of drug delivery, focusing specifically on the development of particulate carriers for pulmonary vaccines. This work centered on establishing design rules for micro- and nanoparticle drug delivery vehicles in the lung, by considering how particle physical properties impact responses of the lung immune system. Understanding this interaction between immune cells and engineered particles is a critical step towards immunoengineering applications, which would allow particles to direct an intended immunological response. I will continue my research at this convergent interface of engineering, material science and immunology during her PPFP fellowship, by engineering particles to develop treatments for inflammation. Inflammation is a major indication in many diseases, including atherosclerosis, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and allergy but there is tremendous clinical need to develop treatments for both symptoms of inflammation and the underlying causes.
UM PPFP primary mentor: Lola Eniola-Adefeso, Chemical Engineering

Dr. Mai Hassan

Photo 1Undergraduate institution: University of Virginia
Ph.D. institution: Harvard University
Dissertation title: A State of Change: State-Building in Kenya After the Beginning of Multi-Party Elections
Dissertation advisors: Steven Levitsky
Statement about research interests: My current research centers on the role of the state in helping sustain competitive authoritarian regimes. Broadly, my dissertation project explores how authoritarian leaders manage the state to best meet electoral challenges to their rule. I look at the Kenyan state since the beginning of elections in 1992, and examine presidential control over two crucial elements of the state: the internal security apparatus and state structure (including constitutional reform and decentralization). My other research interests include authoritarian regime durability, bureaucratic politics, ethnic politics, South-South migration.
UM PPFP primary mentor: Anna Grzymala-Busse, Political Science
Dr. Hassan is now a tenure track assistant professor at U-M.

Dr. Emily Rauscher

Photo 1Undergraduate institution: University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D. institution: Columbia University
Dissertation title: Atmospheric Circulation on Hot Jupiters: Modeling and Observable Signatures
Dissertation advisors: Kristen Menou
Statement about research interests: I study the atmospheres of "exoplanets", planets that orbit around nearby stars. In the last 20 years over 1,000 exoplanets have been found and most of them are completely unlike any of the planets in our Solar System. With the goal of trying to characterize these exotic planets, I build computer models of their three-dimensional atmospheric structure. From these models, I can predict the observable signatures of various physical conditions and processes, and work to identify new types of observational techniques that can be used to study exoplanets.
UM PPFP primary mentor: Edwin Bergin, Astronomy
Dr. Rauscher is now a tenure track assistant professor at U-M.

2012 - 2013 Selection Round

Dr. Aaron Frank

Photo 1Undergraduate institution: City University of New York, Brooklyn College
Ph.D. institution: University of California, Irvine
Dissertation title: Relating NMR observables to Structure and Dynamics in Proteins and Nucleic Acids
Dissertation advisors: Ioan Andricioaei
Statement about research interests: My research interests center around combining statistical mechanical theory and state-of-the-art machine learning approaches to solve challenging problems relevant to predicting structure and dynamics of biomolecules, with an emphasis on ribonucleic acids (RNA). Additionally, I am interested in using the same combined approach to develop tools that would aid in the rational discovery and design of therapeutic drugs.
UM PPFP primary mentor: Charles Brooks, Chemistry

Dr. Aaron Frankis now a tenue track assistant professor at U-M.

Dr. Daniel Romero

Photo 1Undergraduate institution: Arizona State University
Ph.D. institution: Cornell University
Previous postdoc institution: Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems
Dissertation title: Dynamics of Social Network Evolution and Information Diffusion
Dissertation advisors: Jon Kleinberg
Statement about research interests: Daniel M. Romero's research focuses on the empirical and theoretical analysis of Social and Information Networks. He is particularly interested in understanding the mechanisms that control network evolution, information diffusion, and user interactions in online social networks. Sociologists have studied social networks and the interactions among people for a long time. In his research, Daniel aims to complement the methods used in Sociology with approaches that draw on large data sets from the Web, mathematical models, and new algorithms. Using these tools, Daniel's research focuses on validating existing social theories at large scale and discovering new ones. While much of Daniel's work is academically motivated, the results of his research have important implications for the development of useful applications such as user influence ranking, friend recommender systems, and spam detection. Daniel completed his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics at Cornell University under the advisement of Dr. Jon Kleinberg in 2012.
UM PPFP primary mentor: Eytan Adar, School of Information
Dr. Romero is now a tenure track assistant professor at U-M.

Dr. Ginger Shultz

Photo 1Undergraduate institution: The Evergreen State College
Ph.D. institution: University of Oregon
Dissertation title: Polymerization Methods for the Synthesis of Photosensitive Organometallic Polymers with Mo-Mo Bonds in the Backbone
Dissertation advisors: David R. Taylor
Statement about research interests: Dr. Shultz will focus on research in chemical education. She is leading a large-scale curriculum development project aimed at investigating problem-based pedagogy in synthetic chemistry laboratory courses. The project involves transforming expository experiments to hypothesis driven projects where students will work in small groups to design experiments based on authentic research conducted in the UM Department of Chemistry. Shultz was a 2012-2013 UM Learning Analytics Fellow and is also interested in using learning analytics (the application of data science to educational problems) to create tailored learning experiences for students in STEM. As part of the E2Coach project and in collaboration with the Sweetland Center for Writing, Shultz is applying learning analytics methods to Writing pedagogy. Writing-to-learn strategies, which are highly effective at facilitating deep and meaningful learning, are generally not feasible in high enrollment courses for practical reasons. Shultz is investigating the use of technology to deploy writing assignments, which are tailored to the individual student based on their content mastery, preparation and background, in large introductory STEM courses.
UM PPFP primary mentor: Tim McKay, Physics

Dr. Ginger Shultz is now a tenure track assistant professor at U-M.

2011 - 2012 Selection Round

Dr. Tawanna Dillahunt

Photo 1Undergraduate institution: North Carolina State University
Ph.D. institution: Carnegie Mellon University
Dissertation title: Using Social Technologies to Increase Sharing and Communication around Household Energy Consumption in Low-Income Communities
Dissertation advisor: Jennifer Mankoff, Associate Professor, Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Statement about research interests: Tawanna Dillahunt is a Ph.D. candidate in Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute under the advisement of Dr. Jennifer Mankoff. While completing her Ph.D., Tawanna has designed, implemented, and studied interfaces that reward conservation behavior by sensing and presenting positive feedback about green transportation choices and home energy consumption. Her dissertation work included implementing a home-energy monitoring application that allowed community members to engage with one another to share knowledge and information; to compare electricity consumption; and to build community. Tawanna's results demonstrated the impact of engagement around social sharing, specifically around community energy monitoring in residential communities. Tawanna has also researched barriers and opportunities for saving energy in low-income communities and explored the impact of multi-stakeholder relationships, and socioeconomic factors on conservation behavior. Tawanna received a Bachelors of Science degree in Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University and started her career as a software engineer with Intel. While at Intel, Tawanna developed desktop and network products for Original Equipment Manufacturers. Tawanna left Intel to pursue her Ph.D. She was a recipient of the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship (2011, 2012), the Fran Allen IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Award (2011), and served on the program committee for FLAIRS in 2011. Tawanna holds one patent and has two patents pending with IBM TJ Watson.
UM PPFP primary mentor: Paul Resnick, School of Information
Dr. Dillahunt is now a tenure track assistant professor at U-M.

Dr. Keren Sharon

Photo 1Undergraduate institution: Tel Aviv University
Ph.D. institution: Tel Aviv University
Previous postdoc institution: KICP fellow, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago
Dissertation title: Evolution of Supernova Rates and Dark Matter In Clusters of Galaxies
Dissertation advisor: Dan Maoz
Statement about research interests: Keren Sharon is an Astrophysicist, working in the field of extragalactic Astrophysics. Her main research interest is using the phenomenon of strong gravitational lensing as a tool to understand massive structures in the Universe, like clusters of galaxies. These gravitational lenses can also be used as powerful "natural telescopes" to study even more distant galaxies. In her research, which combines theoretical modeling with observations, Dr. Sharon makes use of both ground-based and space telescopes.
UM PPFP primary mentor: Eric Bell, Astronomy
Dr. Sharon is now a tenure track assistant professor at U-M.

Dr. Carlos A. Silvera Batista

Photo 1Undergraduate institution: The City College of New York
Ph.D. institution: University of Florida
Previous postdoc institution: National Institute of Standards and Technology
Dissertation title: Manipulation of the Microenvironment Surrounding Single Wall Carbon Nanotubes and Its Effect on Photoluminescence and Separation Processes
Dissertation advisors: Kirk J. Ziegler (advisor) and Jason E. Butler (co-advisor)
Statement about research interests: The focus of my UM PPFP postdoc will be on the self-assembly of semiconducting nanoparticles for highly efficient photovoltaics.
UM PPFP primary mentor: Michael Solomon, Chemical Engineering

Dr. Jessica S. Welburn

Photo 1Undergraduate institution: University of Pennsylvania
Ph.D. institution: Harvard University
Previous postdoc institution: University of Michigan, National Center for Institutional Diversity
Dissertation title: Managing Instability: Conceptions of Opportunity and Success among African Americans from Middle-Income Households
Dissertation advisors: Michele Lamont, Professor of Sociology and African and African American Studies and Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies
Statement about research interests: Jessica S. Welburn earned her PhD in Sociology from Harvard University (November 2011). Her research interests include race and ethnicity, cultural sociology, the sociology of the family and qualitative methodology. With funding from the National Science Foundation and the Harvard Real Estate Academic Initiative Jessica's dissertation explored how African Americans who grew up in middle income households in New Jersey conceptualize their mobility prospects. Dr. Welburn is currently working on a book manuscript based on her dissertation research entitled Managing Instability: Conceptions of Opportunity and Success among African Americans from Middle-Income Households. She is also working on a project on African Americans and downward mobility in Detroit, Michigan. In addition, Dr. Welburn works with Professor Michèle Lamont (Harvard University) and an international team of researchers on a project comparing the antiracist strategies of stigmatized groups in the U.S., Brazil and Israel. Dr. Welburn earned her B.A. in sociology (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in 2004 from the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been published in Ethnic and Racial Studies and The DuBois Review for Social Science Research.
UM PPFP primary mentor: Karyn Lacy, Sociology
Dr. Welburn is now a tenure track assistant professor at the University of Iowa.

    AY2016-2017 Critical Dates

    • Thursday, 09.01.2016
      On-line Application Opens


      Tuesday, 11.01.2016
      On-line Application Closes

      11:59pm Pacific Time


      Thursday, 12.01.2016
      Letters of Support Due

      from up to two U-M tenured/tenure-track faculty, two references, and from U-M department chair/director/dean


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      Wednesday, 09.21.2015
      President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program applicants sought

      Office of the Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs


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