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.

Atamturktur Russcher

Sez Atamturktur Russcher

  • Harry and Arlene Schell Professor and Head of the Department of Architectural Engineering
  • ICDS Associate

Department: Department of Architectural Engineering

Office: 104 Engineering Unit A


Website: Visit Sez's Website


Orfeu Buxton


Orfeu Buxton

  • Professor of Biobehavioral Health
  • ICDS Associate

Department: Biobehavioral Health

Office: 206 Biobehavioral Health Building, University Park


Phone: 814-867-5707

Research Focuses: Causes of sleep deficiency, health consequences of sleep deficiency, biomarkers

Website: Visit Orfeu's Website

Biography: Dr. Buxton directs the Sleep, Health & Society Collaboratory at Penn State. His research primarily focuses on the causes of chronic sleep deficiency in the workplace, home, and society, the health consequences of chronic sleep deficiency, and the physiologic and social mechanisms by which these outcomes arise. Ongoing interdisciplinary studies in free-ranging humans of all ages address sleep health and wellbeing across the life course. Current studies include the long-running Child and Family Well-Being Study and the Einstein Aging Study. Dr. Buxton received his PhD in Neuroscience from Northwestern University. Dr. Buxton has published over 130 peer-reviewed original reports and has an active NIH-funded research program in sleep health. Dr. Buxton serves as the second Editor in Chief for Sleep Health (


Guido Cervone


Guido Cervone

  • Professor of Geography and Meteorology and Atmospheric Science
  • Interim 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

  • 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, and the 2022 ICDS Faculty Scholar, pursuing a Science for Society project. 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, Pharmacology, and Public Health. He studies genetic and molecular mechanisms in diseases such as cancer, and studies 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, is now using population genetics and zebrafish to find the equivalent gene in East Asians. Separately, Keith’s lab has developed a new X-ray based method of 3D tissue imaging called histotomography as a foundation for automated phenotyping of whole organisms.


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).


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.



Esther Obonyo

  • Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering
  • Director, Global Building Network
  • ICDS Associate

Department: Engineering Design and Architectural Engineering

Research Focuses: Big Data, Machine Learning, Climate Resilient Housing. Vulnerable Populations

Website: Visit Esther's Website

Biography: Esther Obonyo applies a holistic, system thinking approach to a portfolio of data science, climate change responsive buildings, resilience in low income housing, and social justice research, educational and evidence to policy activities that have a significant global engagement component through synergies with academic and non-academic collaborators in the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Mexico, India and Philippines.



Hyungsuk Tak

  • Assistant Professor of Statistics and Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • ICDS Co-Hire

Department: Statistics; Astronomy and Astrophysics


Research Focuses: Astronomical time series and imaging data, developing practically motivated data analytic tools, time delay cosmography for the Hubble constant estimation, statistical computation (data augmentation/missing data/Markov chain Monte Carlo), robust inference on pulsar timing array for detecting gravitational waves, and Bayesian hierarchical modeling with frequency coverage evaluation.

Website: Visit Hyungsuk's Website

Biography: Hyungsuk (Tak) Tak is an Assistant Professor of Statistics, Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State. Dr. Tak received his Ph.D. in Statistics from Harvard University in 2016. He received his A.M. in Statistics from Harvard University in 2012, and a B.A. in Statistics from Korea University in 2009. In preparation for the era of the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST), Tak works closely with astronomers and astrophysicists to analyze astronomical time series and imaging data, developing practically motivated data analytic tools. Specifically, his research interests are (i) statistical challenges in astronomical data analysis such as heteroscedasticity, outliers, irregularly-spaced time series, (ii) time delay cosmography for the Hubble constant estimation, (iii) statistical computation via data augmentation and Markov chain Monte Carlo, and (iv) Bayesian hierarchical modeling with frequency coverage evaluation.



Ashton Verdery

  • Associate Professor of Sociology
  • ICDS Co-Hire

Department: Sociology and Criminology

Office: 716 Oswald Tower, University Park


Phone: 814-863-5385

Research Focuses: Social networks; computational sociology; quantitative methodology; social demography

Website: Visit Ashton's Website

Biography: Ashton Verdery is a sociologist and demographer who uses computational and statistical methods to conduct research on social networks, asking questions about how and why people are socially connected to each other and the consequences of those connections. Within this broad area, he is especially interested in demographic processes, specifically how population dynamics shape family, kinship, and social networks and how those networks in turn affect health and other population processes. Currently, much of his work focused on bereavement, looking at what happens to people after they lose loved ones. In past work, he has given special attention to migration and the network ties that migrants retain to origin areas after moving as well as the new ties they form in different destinations. He is also very interested in using social networks as a basis for sampling populations that are otherwise difficult to survey, including migrants, those at high risk of sexually transmitted or blood-borne infections, and opioid users. In this line of research, he is working on new ways to use and improve network based sampling methods, especially respondent-driven sampling.