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Busy Recent Graduate Uriah Israel

About to start a new job; working on current pandemic research; and being interviewed by The Chronicle of Higher Education - he just may need some energy from The Force
Uriah Israel with part of his dissertation committee after defending January 20, 2020. Abigail Jacobs (School of Information, Complex Systems); Scott E Page (John Seely Professor of Management and Organizations, Ross School of Business), Uriah, Rada Mihalcea (EECS, MIDAS). Absent from photo, Timothy McKay (Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Physics, Astronomy, Education, and LSA Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education)

Uriah Israel, Complex Systems Graduate Certificate alum, defended his PhD in Applied Physics on January 20, 2020.  A long time fixture in the Center for the Study of Complex Systems, Uriah was a Graduate Assistant for Scott Page’s CMPLXSYS 391 Modeling Political Processes course and has served as one of the organizers for the Complex Systems Advanced Academic Workshop (CSAAW - Rackham RIW).  

We congratulate Uriah on his new job starting May 1, 2020 (remotely of course) at Caltech where he has accepted a Postdoctoral Fellowship working with David Van Valen from Biology and Biological Engineering (BBE) and Yisong Yue from Computing and Mathematical Sciences (CMS) .

Uriah explains “I'll be using methods from explainable AI (XAI) to try and discover biological phenomena from data.” 

Uriah is also currently busy continuing to do research related to his dissertation and recent publication, as it has implications for the current pandemic and what re-starting university will look like in the fall. He and his research group are teaming up with researchers at Cornell University to take the concepts to the next level.

This collaboration was born out of a Twitter conversation between Kim Weeden (Professor and Chair - Cornell Sociology) and Tim McKay (UM - Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Physics, Astronomy, Education, and LSA Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education).    Tim, Uriah, and UM Physics Research Specialist Benjamin Koester co-authored the paper -  “Campus Connections: Student and Course Networks in Higher Education”. This paper was referenced by Weeden and co-author Benjamin Cornwell in their pre-press work “The Small World Network of College Classes: Implications for Epidemic Spread on a University Campus”.  Professors McKay and Weeden chatted and decided to continue this work together.

The whole Michigan/Cornell group is now working together to analyze the impact of various scenarios around class sizes, online/IRL mix, degrees, social interaction and more, at the two institutions with wider implications.

The respective work of Weeden and Cornwell; and McKay, Koester and Uriah, was just featured in a Chronicle of Higher Education article ‘A Very Small World’: How Data on Student Enrollment Could Help Colleges Stop Coronavirus’s Spread by Nell Gluckman April 17, 2020 (get a free online subscription to the Chronicle if you cannot see the article in its entirety).

From the article:

Israel had spent the last few weeks at home, preparing to start a postdoc on machine learning and single-cell biology at the California Institute of Technology. He had no idea that his research might be used to plan how to reopen universities.

“This has been pretty weird,” he said.

His work was meant to map how students interact with one another through classes in order to foster the spread of ideas on campus by making those connections stronger and more frequent.

Now his work might be used to limit where students are coming from and where they might go.

Release Date: 04/27/2020
Tags: Complex Systems; Scott Page; Abigail Jacobs