Embryo development research published in National Academy of Sciences


Michael Gelbart, a PhD student in the Harvard Intelligent Probabilistic Systems group, publishes research on fruit fly embryo development in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As an undergraduate at Princeton University working in the Wieschaus and Kaschube labs, Michael created Embryo Development Geometry Explorer (EDGE), a software package for automatically analyzing and reconstructing microscope images of developing embryos. Using EDGE in conjunction with state-of-the-art imaging techniques, the research team quantified individual cell shape changes over time and proposed a physical model for nucleus movement during Drosophila gastrulation. The article is available freely online through PNAS open access and is to appear soon in the print journal. EDGE is currently in use by several labs around the world including at MIT and the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Germany. EDGE is free and open source.

Call for Applications: 2013-14 Harvard CRCS Postdoctoral Fellows and Visiting Scholars


The Harvard Center for Research on Computation and Society (CRCS) solicits applications for its Postdoctoral Fellows and Visiting Scholars Programs for the 2013-2014 academic year. Postdoctoral Fellows are given an annual salary of approximately $60,000 for one year (with the possibility of renewal) to engage in a program of original research, and are provided with additional funds for travel and research support. Visiting Scholars often come with their own support, but CRCS can occasionally offer supplemental funding.

We seek researchers who wish to interact with both computer scientists and colleagues from other disciplines, and have a demonstrated interest in connecting their research agenda with societal issues. We are particularly interested in candidates with interests in Economics and Computer Science, Health Care Informatics, Privacy & Security, and/or Technology & Accessibility, and those who may be interested in engaging in one of our ongoing/upcoming projects:

- Intelligent, Adaptive Systems for Health Care Informatics
- Language-Based Security
- Personalized Accessibility
- Privacy and Security in Targeted Advertising
- Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data
- Trustworthy Crowdsourcing

Harvard University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. We are particularly interested in attracting women and underrepresented groups to participate in CRCS. For further information about the Center and its activities, see http://crcs.seas.harvard.edu/.

Application Procedure

A cover letter, CV, research statement, copies of up to three research papers, and up to three letters of reference should be sent to:

Postdoctoral Fellows and Visiting Scholars Programs Center for
Research on Computation and Society crcs-apply@seas.harvard.edu

References for postdoctoral fellows should send their letters directly, and Visiting Scholar applicants may provide a list of references rather than having letters sent. The application deadline for full consideration is December 16, 2012.

NIPS Workshop on Perturbations, Optimization and Statistics


We are happy to announce the 2012 NIPS Workshop on Perturbations, Optimization and Statistics, to be held on December 7 or 8 in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. More information about the workshop is available at the website.

In nearly all machine learning tasks, we expect there to be randomness, or noise, in the data we observe and in the relationships encoded by the model. Usually, this noise is considered undesirable, and we would eliminate it if possible. However, there is an emerging body of work on perturbation methods, showing the benefits of explicitly adding noise into the modeling, learning, and inference pipelines. This workshop will bring together the growing community of researchers interested in different aspects of this area, and will broaden our understanding of why and how perturbation methods can be useful.

More generally, perturbation methods usually provide efficient and principled ways to reason about the neighborhood of possible outcomes when trying to make the best decision. For example, some might want to arrive at the best outcome that is robust to small changes in model parameters. Others might want to find the best choice while compensating for their lack of knowledge by averaging over the different outcomes. Recently, several works influenced by diverse fields of research such as statistics, optimization, machine learning, and theoretical computer science, use perturbation methods in similar ways. The goal of this workshop is to explore different techniques in perturbation methods and their consequences on computation, statistics and optimization.

Contributed papers are welcome. Please see the workshop website for more information on submission. The deadline is 30 September 2012.

Ryan Adams Wins DARPA Young Faculty Award


Ryan Adams, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), has won a Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award.

The objective of DARPA's Young Faculty Award (YFA) program is to identify and engage rising research stars in junior faculty positions at U.S. academic institutions and expose them to Defense Department needs and DARPA's program development process. The YFA program provides funding, mentoring, and industry and DoD contacts to these faculty members early in their careers to develop their research ideas in the context of DoD needs. The program focuses on untenured faculty, emphasizing those without prior DARPA funding. The long-term goal of YFA is to develop the next generation of academic scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in key disciplines who will focus a significant portion of their career on DoD and National Security issues.

More information here.