Researcher Spotlight Series


Researcher Spotlight Series

Our Researcher Spotlight Series profiles DataLab affiliated faculty, staff, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars across disciplines to demonstrate the diversity of our community and highlight their amazing work.

Ryan Peek

From frog trapping and gene sequencing, to coordinating the Davis R-Users Group while a DataLab postdoctoral affiliate, Ryan has made indelible contributions to UC Davis. "The ability to quickly take any sort of data and visualize it to tell a story is really powerful," he said in a recent interview about what he learned during his career at UC Davis. "I wish more people realized that it's worth the pain of learning a new computational language, because it does open doors."

Image of Ryan Peek in a red shirt on the water inside the Grand Canyon.

M.V. Eitzel

M.V. is a postdoctoral scholar at the UC Davis Center for Community and Citizen Science where she partnered with DataLab on the MPA Watch Project, an analysis of publicly collected coastal use data. The data gathered from such participatory science projects is often extraordinarily complex, which can make it difficult to use for decision making. “Data science techniques can offer new understanding and interpretation,” she notes. When M.V. isn't testing models, rock-climbing, or writing speculative fiction, she’s working to dismantle barriers to the use of community-derived data and harnessing data science in the pursuit of improved social and environmental outcomes.

Chen-Nee Chuah

Chen-Nee Chuah’s research interests have evolved during her twenty-year career at UC Davis, but one thing remains the same: she’s interested in data-driven, living systems and the people that use them. "Over the years, I have applied…data-driven analysis from end to end, from collecting data to analyzing it, to actually transferring it to data-driven control, or designing some kind of optimal control of the whole pipeline," she says. During her PhD and the early convergence of internet voice, video, and data services, Chen-Nee trained in computer networks and distributed systems, and this work now informs which inform her collaborations with UC Davis Health on smart health technologies that assistant clinicians in making life-saving diagnoses.

Chen-Nee Chuah, UC Davis Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science

Savannah Hunter

Savannah Hunter is a Research and Policy Associate at the UC Berkeley Labor Center, providing research and technical assistance to worker-centered organizations such as labor unions and social justice groups. She considers her time working with DataLab during her PhD, where she learned to use data science tools and methods and collaborated across disciplines on meaningful data-driven projects, extremely valuable for her sociological research and career. But for Savannah, it’s not just that sociologists can benefit from data science methods: “We as social scientists have a lot to offer too, because our training is in how to design thoughtful research questions based on our theories of the social world. So we use these methods thoughtfully…and we have a lot to offer in reverse—to data science, with feminist and humanistic values. There is a lot to offer in both directions.”

Martin Hilbert

As the first person to fully measure how much data exists in the world, Martin Hilbert’s research covers a lot of ground. From working with the United Nations to crossing computational science with statistics in his research, Martin’s work has a broad impact. After officially retiring from his job with the United Nations in his mid-30s, Martin joined academia in order to more deeply study his passion, what he terms the “digitalization and algorithmification of society.” Between his work with the UN and DataLab and his partnerships with students and faculty in the growing Computational Social Sciences Designated Emphasis program, these collaborations are “what I’ve always loved about data science,” he says.

Andrea Yang, UC Davis English PhD Student

Andrea Yang

Andrea Yang is an English PhD student at Davis and DataLab’s Digital Humanities Intern. As an undergraduate, she studied both English and Computer Science: “two majors that had nothing to do with each other,” according to most people she talked to who were confused by her future career path. Fully prepared to leave behind her literary background, she pursued a Master’s in Computer Science: but the experience exposed her to text mining and digital humanities and instead set her on a path to unite her two passions via her work as a digital humanities and early modern literary scholar here at Davis.