Meet the ICDS Team

Faculty Council

The ICDS Faculty Council provides guidance on the strategic directions of ICDS, establishing an overall vision for ICDS research. Specific focus areas include:

  • Providing intellectual strategic direction of ICDS by identifying and prioritizing research areas to elevate.
  • Recommending strategic investments to advance these research directions by building upon existing Penn State research strengths and advancing research methods and cyber-ecosystems as they relate to computation and data science, aligning with the ICDS mission and vision.
  • Developing, or supporting the development of, white papers and proposals directed at Penn State research administration and/or external sponsors to advance and build awareness of these research priorities.
Guido Cervone


Guido Cervone

  • Professor of Geography and Meteorology and Atmospheric Science
  • Associate Director, Institute for Computational and Data Sciences
  • ICDS Co-Hire

Department: Geography

Office: 205 Walker Building, University Park


Phone: 814-863-0179

Research Focuses: Remote sensing, environmental hazards, geoinformatics, social media

Website: Visit Guido's Website

Biography: Dr. Guido Cervone is professor of geography, meteorology and atmospheric science, an associate director for the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences, and a faculty affiliate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. His background is in computational science and remote sensing, and his research focuses on the development and application of computational algorithms for the analysis of spatio-temporal remote sensing; numerical modeling; and social media big data related to environmental hazards and renewable energy. Dr. Cervone focuses on problems related to the fusion of heterogenous data at different temporal and spatial scales. He has been an affiliated scientist with the Research Application Laboratory (RAL) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, since 2012, and adjunct professor with the Lamont-Doherety Earth Observatory at Columbia University since January 2017. Dr. Cervone holds a B.S. in computer science from the Catholic University of America, and an M.S. in computer science (artificial science track) and a Ph.D. in computational science and informatics (computational intelligence and knowledge mining track), both from George Mason University.


Keith Cheng


Keith Cheng

  • Distinguished Professor of Pathology, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Pharmacology
  • ICDS Co-Hire

Department: Pathology

Office: Room C7866A, Penn State Hershey College of Medicine


Phone: 717-531-5635

Research Focuses: Cancer genetics, genomic instability, cell differentiation, genetics of human pigmentation, web-based zebrafish atlas, image informatics, SNP database analysis

Website: Visit Keith's Website

Biography: Keith Cheng, M.D., Ph.D., geneticist and pathologist, is a Distinguished Professor and director of the Computational Phenomics Initiative in the Department of Pathology. He is a member of the Jake Gittlen Laboratories for Cancer Research of the Penn State Cancer Institute, the graduate Biomedical Sciences program at Hershey, the Genomics and Bioinformatics at University Park (past founding co-director), and has joint appointments in the departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and Pharmacology. He studies genetic and molecular mechanisms in diseases such as cancer, and is seeking the genetic origins of the differences in skin color between human populations. He received a B.A. in biochemical sciences from Harvard, an M.D. from New York University, and did his anatomic pathology residency training at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and University of Washington. He earned his Ph.D. in molecular genetics and was a senior fellow at University of Washington before joining Penn State in 1992. His 2005 cover story in Science describes zebrafish’s role in discovering SLC24A5’s key role in defining light skin color in Europeans.  His team is now using population genetics and zebrafish to find the equivalent gene in East Asians.



Michele Diaz

  • Director of Human Imaging at the Social, Life, and Engineering Sciences, Imaging Center
  • Professor of Psychology, Linguistics, & Neuroscience


Research Focuses: relations between the brain and behavior, semantic and phonological aspects of language comprehension and production, age-related differences in language

Website: Visit Michele's Website

Biography: Dr. Diaz's research focuses on the relations between the brain and behavior. Her lab has examined semantic and phonological aspects of language comprehension and production. Recently, she has been examining age-related differences in language, specifically, looking at neural factors that contribute to age-related retention (semantics) and decline (phonology) that have been observed in language production. Her lab group investigates the relations between structural factors (i.e., white matter integrity), functional activations, and behavior. Previously, she has used electrophysiology to examine how semantic and phonological processes interact during spoken language comprehension. Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), she has investigated the neural substrates of orthographic, lexical, and semantic aspects of visual word processing, and the influence of conscious perception on the engagement of brain regions that support these processes. Finally, her involvement with the Biomedical Informatics Research Network (BIRN) project has allowed her to explore technical issues related to multi-site imaging, such as quality assurance measures and reliability. This experience facilitates her current role as the Director of Human Imaging at the Social, Life, and Engineering Sciences Imaging Center.


Vasant Honavar


Vasant Honavar

  • Professor and Edward Frymoyer Chair of Information Sciences and Technology
  • Associate Director, Institute for Computational and Data Sciences
  • ICDS Co-Hire

Department: Information Sciences and Technology

Office: 301A Westgate Building, University Park


Phone: 814-865-3141

Research Focuses: Artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining, big data analytics, bioinformatics and computational molecular and systems biology, discovery informatics, knowledge representation and semantic web, applied information integration and informatics

Website: Visit Vasant's Website

Biography: Dr. Vasant G. Honavar is the Edward Frymoyer Endowed Professor of Information Sciences and Technology, and an Associate Director of the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences at Penn State. He is a member of faculties of the graduate programs in Computer Science and Engineering,  Bioinformatics and Genomics, Informatics, Operations Research and Neuroscience and a founding member of the undergraduate program in the Data Sciences. Dr. Honavar received a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, specializing in artificial intelligence. Dr. Honavar is an expert in artificial intelligence (AI) (machine learning, knowledge representation, causal inference), information integration, big data analytics, as well as applications in bioinformatics and health informatics. His research, funded by grants totaling over $60 million during 1990-2020 (documented in over 300 peer-reviewed publications, with over 14,500 citations, h-index =57), has resulted in foundational contributions in scalable approaches to learning predictive models from (distributed, heterogeneous, multi-modal, longitudinal, and ultra high-dimensional) big data; eliciting causal information from observational and experimental data; selective sharing of knowledge across disparate knowledge bases; representing and reasoning about preferences; composing complex software services from components; and applications in bioinformatics and systems biology (including characterization, analysis, and prediction of protein-protein, and protein-RNA interfaces, interactions, and complexes, analyses of biomolecular and brain networks, integrative analyses of multi-omics data).



Margaret Hu

  • Associate Dean for Non-JD Programs
  • Professor of Law
  • Professor of International Affairs
  • Faculty of the Institute for Network and Security Research, College of Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University
  • ICDS Co-Hire

Department: Penn State Law


Research Focuses: Research interests include the intersection of immigration policy, national security, cybersurveillance, and civil rights.

Website: Visit Margaret's Website

Biography: Professor Margaret Hu is a professor of law and of international affairs, co-hire for the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences, and faculty member of the Institute for Network and Security Research in Penn State's College of Engineering. She also serves as Penn State Law's inaugural dean for Non-JD programs. Her research interests include the intersection of immigration policy, national security, cybersurveillance, and civil rights. She has published several works on dataveillance and cybersurveillance, including, Biometric ID CybersurveillanceBig Data BlacklistingTaxonomy of the Snowden DisclosuresBiometric Cyberintelligence and the Posse Comitatus Act; and Algorithmic Jim Crow.  She is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Future of Privacy Forum, a non-profit think tank in Washington, D.C., that promotes responsible data privacy policies. Previously, she served as special policy counsel in the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice. Dean Hu holds a B.A. from the University of Kansas and a J.D. from Duke Law School. She clerked for Judge Rosemary Barkett on U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and subsequently joined the U.S. Department of Justice through the Attorney General’s Honors Program.


Kandermir Mahmut


Mahmut Kandemir

  • Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering
  • Director of Graduate Affairs
  • ICDS Associate

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Office: 354C Information Science and Technology Building, University Park


Phone: 814-863-4888

Research Focuses: Embedded systems, programming languages, compilers, power-aware computing, dependable computing, input/output systems

Website: Visit Mahmut's Website

Biography: Mahmut Taylan Kandemir is a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Penn State, and a member of the Microsystems Design Lab. Dr. Kandemir's research interests are in optimizing compilers, high-performance computing, computer architecture, storage systems, and latest trends in public cloud services. He is the author of more than 100 journal publications and over 500 conference/workshop papers in these areas. He advised 32 doctoral and 20 master's students who have graduated, and is currently advising/co-advising 10 doctoral students and 2 master's students. He served in the program committees of 40 conferences and workshops in computer science and engineering. He is a member of the hall of fame of three top computer architecture conferences: MICRO, ISCA and HPCA. His research is/was funded by NSF, DOE, DARPA, SRC, Intel, and Microsoft. He is a recipient of an NSF Career Award and the Penn State Premier Research Award. He is a Fellow of IEEE. Between 2008-2012 and 2017, he served as the graduate coordinator of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Penn State. Dr. Kandemir’s research lab actively works on novel computer architectures including accelerators such as GPUs and FPGAs, application mapping and code optimization techniques for emerging multicore/manycore architectures, and large-scale data storage and management for high-performance computing systems.


Edward O'Brien


Edward O’Brien

  • Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • ICDS Co-Hire

Department: Chemistry

Office: 402 Chemistry Building, University Park


Phone: 814-867-5100

Research Focuses: Ribosome-associated protein folding, macromolecular self-assembly and chaperone interactions in living cells

Website: Visit Edward's Website

Biography: Dr. Ed O'Brien's research focuses on non-equilibrium phenomenon in molecular biology and chemistry through the development and application of theoretical and computational tools from chemistry, physics, and bioinformatics. Recent efforts have focused on the molecular origins of the kinetics of protein synthesis, how changes in protein synthesis rates alter protein structure and function, as well as the impact of these changes on messenger RNA half-lives. These efforts have contributed to the emergence of a new paradigm in which the kinetics of protein synthesis can have long-term biological consequences for cells and organisms. Dr. O'Brien received degrees in biochemistry and chemical physics and carried out postdoctoral research at University of Cambridge, and his research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and international funding bodies including the Human Frontiers Science Program, and the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council in the United Kingdom. He is a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the White House.



Sarah Rajtmajer

  • Assistant Professor of Information Sciences and Technology
  • ICDS Associate

Department: Information Sciences and Technology

Office: E351 Westgate Building


Phone: 814-863-2554

Research Focuses: Machine Learning, Network Science, Game Theory, Privacy and Security

Website: Visit Sarah's Website

Biography: Dr. Rajtmajer’s research integrates graph theory, game theory, and machine learning, with applications to social and biological phenomena. Recent work aims at characterization and modeling of behavior within evolving social networks both in the abstract as evolutionary games on structured populations, and in applied, data-driven scenarios related to privacy decision making, deviance, and abuse. Current focus includes implications of these behaviors for emerging topics in defense and intelligence, including state-backed disinformation. In addition, Dr. Rajtmajer is interested in understanding fundamental issues around credibility and reproducibility in big data science. In particular, the large datasets considered in computational social science bring additional challenges as privacy protection dovetails with the usual conversations around methods, reporting and dissemination standards, evaluation, and incentives. Before joining the Penn State faculty, she served as a consultant to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on scientific programs aimed at breakthrough technologies for national security, with specific focus on initiatives in big data and computational social science.  Prior to her work in consulting, Dr. Rajtmajer was an Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Applied Research Laboratory and a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Mathematics at Penn State. Dr. Rajtmajer has a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Zagreb, Croatia, and a BA in Mathematics from Columbia University.



Qian Wang

  • Professor of Mechanical Engineering
  • ICDS Associate

Department: Mechanical Engineering

Office: 328 Reber Building


Phone: 814-865-8281

Research Focuses: Additive manufacturing, modeling and control of Type 1 diabetes, machine learning.

Website: Visit Qian's Website