These IDRE fellowships will provide partial support for the fellows’ research related to the IDRE programs. The IDRE fellows will have direct access to and interact with technologists within the Office of Advanced Research Computing’s Research Technology Groups, as well as relevant IDRE affiliated faculty and researchers.
The UCLA postdoctoral fellows include (from left to right) Dr. Aviv Solodoch, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences; Dr. Bryor Snefjella, Psychology & Linguistics; Dr. Casey Youngflesh, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Dr. Ricky Savjani, Radiation Oncology; and Dr. Wenwen Kong, Statistics and the Environment.
Meet the fellows
(In Alphabetical Order)
Dr. Aviv Solodoch’s current research focuses on the overturning circulation, which connects all of earth’s oceans in a global highway of currents. Water which cools and densifies at polar regions sinks to great depths under gravity and gets carried thousands of kilometers between oceans as it slowly rises to the surface again to complete an overturning cycle. The overturning circulation has significant implications for the climate as a whole, since it regulates the rate of exchange of heat and of CO2 between the atmosphere and the deep ocean. Dr. Solodoch investigates processes which impact the pathways and variability of the overturning circulation, using numerical models and analyses of observational data. His present research foci are: (1) Understanding how the overturning pathways depend on the regions in which dense water forms around Antarctica. (2) Developing machine learning methodology to estimate the overturning rate based on available ocean observations.
About Dr. Solodoch
Aviv Solodoch obtained a BSc in Math and Physics from Tel Aviv University, and a MSc in Physics from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. He later completed a PhD in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at UCLA, where he is currently a a postdoctoral researcher. During his MSc, Aviv investigated air-sea interaction and heat exchange. During his PhD, Aviv investigated processes causing instability, offshore material exchange, and vortex formation in oceanic currents, using both numerical simulations and theory, with a focus on currents which form part of the overturning circulation in the North Atlantic. Aviv also conducted observational research with UCLA Marine Operations, studying coastal circulation dynamics in the Gulf of Mexico. He is presently studying the overturning circulation in the Southern Ocean, as well as the dynamics of transport of material between the coastal and deep ocean regions.
Text and photo provided by Aviv Solodoch
Bryor Snefjella’s research interests include the “micro” and “macro” scales of word meaning, using a mixture of experimental and observational approaches. Using experimental approaches, he studies word recognition processes and the representation of word meaning in the brain. He also applies emerging natural language processing technologies to model naturalistic language use patterns in social media and other corpora. Currently, Bryor is interested in the application of natural language processing, deep learning, and missing data methodology to model survey judgments about words’ meanings at unprecedented scale.
About Dr. Snefjella
Bryor Snefjella is a postdoctoral researcher in the Psychology Department, Cognitive Area, mentored by Idan Blank, Keith Holyoak, and Hongjing Lu. Before moving to UCLA, Bryor received a PhD in Cognitive Science of Language in McMaster University in Canada. His research on language use patterns in social media has received international media attention. Check him out on his personal website, Twitter, Linkedin, and Research Gate.
Text and photo provided by Bryor Snefjella
Casey Youngflesh’s research takes a cross-disciplinary approach, applying statistical and computational tools to large-scale ecological data. The IDRE postdoctoral fellowship will support research efforts using statistical data integration to quantify how the timing of seasonal ecological events (i.e., phenology) is changing over time, as well as the consequences of these changes. This work is focused specifically on exploring the phenological dynamics in North American migratory birds, a taxonomic group that has declined by nearly 30% over the last 50 years. This work will build upon prior efforts to characterize avian phenological dynamics, using a hierarchical Bayesian approach to integrate a diverse set of data sources within a unified statistical framework. This will take advantage of the wide spatiotemporal breadth of available information, despite considerable heterogeneity and incomplete overlap of these various data resources. This work will have implications for our understanding of how North American birds are responding to environmental change and constraints that may leave some populations more susceptible to the consequences of climate change.
About Dr. Youngflesh
Casey Youngflesh is a quantitative ecologist and postdoc with Morgan Tingley in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA. His research seeks to understand how ecological systems function, how they are responding to rapid global change, and what this might tell us about how best to conserve these systems. He has a particular interest in applying quantitative tools to large-scale data derived from a variety of sources, including citizen science projects, satellite-based sensors, remote camera networks, and field-based efforts. His research efforts have taken him across the world, from Antarctica to the Galápagos Islands, though these days he can mostly be found at his computer trying to make sense of his data.
Text and photo provided by Casey Youngflesh
Ricky Savjani’s research involves finding ways to mitigate motion while patients are undergoing radiotherapy for solid tumors within the thorax and abdomen. Mentors Dan Low, PhD and Anand Santhanam, PhD have pioneered a model-based CT approach in which patients undergo several (25) low-dose, fast helical CT scans while they are breathing freely. At UCLA, we now have scanned over 100 patients with this protocol, allowing us to now build inter-patient frameworks to model the dynamics of respiration. Ricky is developing a generative framework that can drive lung volume deformations using an external surrogate marker – a belt the patient wears that measures abdominal distention. With this framework, Ricky is working towards generating 3D volumetric projections of the anatomical motion during radiotherapy, ultimately allowing for better tumor control and fewer side effects. Ricky is also working closely with industry partner Varian, A Siemens Healthineers Company.
About Dr. Ricky Savjani
Ricky Savjani is a resident physician in the Department of Radiation Oncology at UCLA. As part of his training, he is conducting research through the American Board of Radiology Holman Research Pathway, in addition to seeing patients clinically to become a radiation oncologist. Prior to joining UCLA, Ricky received BS degrees in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. He then pursued an MD/PhD at Texas A&M College of Medicine where his research focused on structural and functional imaging of the human brain. Ricky loves medical imaging and hopes to continue to use advanced imaging approaches to deliver safer and better radiation to patients. For more information about Ricky and his projects, visit his lab and project website.
Text and image provided by Ricky Savjani
Wenwen Kong is an atmospheric scientist and geographer. She is interested in the behavior of precipitation and temperature over land. Her overarching research goal is to integrate our knowledge of other subdisciplines of Earth science (such as land, ocean, and cryosphere) with atmospheric processes, which, she hopes, allow us to achieve more accurate predictions from weather to climate timescales. Her current research seeks to address these questions: (1) What physical processes shape rainfall’s seasonality, intensity, and spatial extent? (2) What drives the variability of near-surface air temperature over land, and what are the quantitative contributions of different drivers for a specific region? (3) How do these processes behave in the past, present, and future? To tackle these problems, she employs a diverse set of research tools, including observational analysis, theory, and numerical modeling. Wenwen is excited to join the IDRE community, and she hopes to build interdisciplinary collaborations with other IDRE scholars.
About Dr. Kong
Wenwen Kong is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). At UCLA, she works with Professor Karen McKinnon and Dr. Isla Simpson to explore the role of land surface conditions and atmospheric circulation on continental temperature distribution. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, working with Professor John Chiang. Her dissertation was on the dynamical linkage between the seasonal evolution of the East Asian summer monsoon and the latitudinal migration of westerlies. Before that, she obtained her M.Sc in Atmospheric Science from Peking University (advised by Professor Yongyun Hu) and a B.Sc. in Atmospheric Science from the Ocean University of China.
Text and image provided by Wenwen Kong