Ben Marlin receives NSF CAREER Award

Assistant Professor Benjamin Marlin received a five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for the project "Machine Learning for Complex Health Data Analytics." Marlin's CAREER award research will address several fundamental sources of complexity in the analysis of both clinical and mobile health (mHealth) data, enabling researchers in health and behavioral science to extract more useful knowledge from these data sources.

 "The fields of health and behavioral science are currently undergoing a data revolution," says Marlin. "Electronic health records are seeing wide adoption across the U.S., resulting in the emergence of increasingly vast stores of clinical data." Marlin's research will also explore data from emerging mHealth sensor systems that are enabling the collection of large volumes of continuous physiological measurements in non-clinical settings. These data sources are widely regarded as having the potential to yield transformative advances in the fundamental understanding of human behavior and health. They also have the potential to significantly enhance numerous applications including data-driven clinical decision support and continuous health monitoring.

According to Marlin, the fundamental problem with analyzing data from these sources is that they exhibit a number of complicating factors that can include sparse and irregular sampling, incompleteness, noise, non-stationarity, between-subjects variability, high volume, high velocity and heterogeneity. Marlin's research aims to develop new models and algorithms with the ability to meet the challenges posed by complex health data, and in the process significantly expand the frontiers of machine learning. Marlin's CAREER Award research is enabled by collaborations with researchers at the UMass Amherst School of Computer Science, the University of Memphis Department of Computer Science, the Yale University School of Medicine, and Children's Hospital Los Angeles, who are providing access to unique mHealth and clinical data resources.

Marlin's CAREER Award activities will also extend beyond research. "An important goal of the CAREER Award program is the integration of education and research," Marlin says. His work will include the development of a new applied machine learning course aimed at the growing segment of master's students in the School of Computer Science. It also includes a significant community educational outreach component that was supported by Girls Inc. of Holyoke and integrated with the Girls Inc. Eureka! summer program.

Marlin joined the School of Computer Science in 2011 where he co-founded and co-directs the Machine Learning for Data Science Laboratory with Profs. Hanna Wallach and Daniel Sheldon. Marlin was previously a fellow of the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences and the Killam Trusts at the University of British Columbia where he was based in the Laboratory for Computational Intelligence. Marlin received his Ph.D. in machine learning from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto in 2008. He is a 2013 Yahoo! Faculty Research Engagement Award recipient. He has served as a senior program committee member for the Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence and the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference. This summer, he is serving as the general co-chair of the Meaningful Use of Complex Medical Data symposium. Marlin also serves as the School of Computer Science's Honors Program Director.

The CAREER Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. Such activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.