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Big investment in big data: UGA completes Presidential Informatics Hiring Initiative

Athens, Ga. – Eight new faculty members in the rapidly growing field of informatics have joined the University of Georgia following the completion of the Presidential Informatics Hiring Initiative.

“I am pleased to welcome these outstanding new faculty members to our campus,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “This successful hiring initiative reflects the university’s strong commitment to expanding research and education in areas of strategic importance to our state and nation.”

The new hires, who will work in seven departments and five of the university’s schools and colleges, build upon the university’s longstanding leadership in informatics. UGA has more than 160 faculty members whose work involves the analysis of massive data sets, and plans are underway to create the campus-wide Georgia Informatics Institutes for Research and Education.

“The University of Georgia is on the leading edge of one of today’s most promising fields, giving students new learning opportunities and using big data to promote health, security and sustainability, and economic vitality,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten.

UGA’s new informatics faculty members, all of whom begin this fall unless otherwise noted, are:

L. Jason Anastasopoulos, an assistant professor in the departments of political science and public administration and policy in the School of Public and International Affairs. Anastasopoulos develops software and statistical tools to study political behavior and communication, as well as the politics of migration and immigration.

Steven E. Bellan, assistant professor in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics in the College of Public Health. Bellan uses mathematical and statistical models to better understand and control infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola.

Alexander Bucksch, an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the department of plant biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the UGA Institute of Bioinformatics and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. Bucksch develops imaging methods and software to quantify how plants adapt to increasingly resource-limited environments, with implications for crop breeding.

Dale E. Green, an associate professor in the department of health policy and management in the College of Public Health. Green has developed a comprehensive set of population health analytics tools used to drive quality and efficiency improvements in the delivery of health care.

Jaewoo Lee, assistant professor in the department of computer science in the Franklin College. Lee develops new computational and statistical techniques for data mining, with a focus on enhancing data privacy and security.

WenZhan Song, a professor in the College of Engineering. Song works to enhance the security of smart electric grids and explores the use of sensor networks for monitoring the environment and promoting health.

Steven E. Wheeler will join UGA’s faculty in January as an associate professor of chemistry in the Franklin College. Wheeler and his team have developed computational tools to screen and design new catalysts. Their work has implications for the synthesis of pharmaceuticals and the creation of organic electronic materials.

Zhong-Ru (Paul) Xie, assistant professor in the College of Engineering. Xie creates computational models and tools that predict and simulate how biologically important molecules bind, with the ultimate goal of informing work to develop new drugs.