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Alumnus Peng Qiu Wins NSF CAREER Award

Alumnus Peng Qiu Wins NSF CAREER Award

Alumnus Peng Qiu (Ph.D. EE, 2007), who was advised during his Ph.D. studies by Professor K.J. Ray Liu,  is the recipient of a 2016 National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for “Experimental Design and Model Reduction in Systems Biology.” The five-year award is worth $440,000. The NSF CAREER program fosters the career development of outstanding junior faculty, combining the support of research and education of the highest quality and in the broadest sense.

About the award

Mathematical modeling is a crucial tool for understanding behaviors of complex biological systems.  In systems biology, mathematical models are often highly complex, accounting for interactions among genes and proteins in the system. In contrast, experimental data related to these systems is almost always limited. This information gap between complex model and limited data presents challenges to model analysis, obscuring the insights into the key controlling mechanisms underlying complex biological systems. Two strategies to close the information gap are to obtain more data and to simplify the model. The project aims to develop novel computational algorithms to determine which experiments will bring the greatest amount of new information or to identify what reductions are most appropriate to simplify the experimental model? 

Biologists consider experimental design every day. Model reduction answers a fundamental question of how to identify key mechanisms underlying complex biological systems. Rigorous computational algorithms for these two questions are expected to greatly benefit experimental studies of complex biological systems, provide insights that are complementary to the biologists’ expert intuitions and bring new knowledge to the field. Although experimental design and model reduction are assessing two very different problems, this project will develop a unified computational framework and geometric interpretation to tackle bother problems in a systematic way.

Qiu anticipates that this research will lead to the development of computational tutorials and workshops for biologists, development of novel interdisciplinary courses at undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as research supervision and community outreach to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students.

Peng Qiu is an assistant professor in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. He joined the Georgia Tech faculty in 2013 after holding a research position at Emory University.  Qiu completed his Ph.D. in 2007 at the University of Maryland; there he was advised by Professor K.J. Ray Liu. His research interests are in bioinformatics and computational biology focusing on statistical signal processing, machine learning, control systems and optimization.

March 3, 2016


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