EECS faculty member Caroline Uhler receives tenure

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020 - 1:15pm

Caroline Uhler, Associate Professor of EECS. Photo: David Sella

Caroline Uhler, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, has been granted tenure, the EECS department has announced.

Uhler, who is also a faculty member in the Laboratory for Information and Decision Sciences (LIDS) and a core faculty member of the Institute for Data Systems and Society (IDSS), came to MIT in 2015 as an assistant professor. She was promoted to associate professor in 2018.

"Caroline has made substantial contributions to theory and applications of probabilistic graphical models," Asu Ozdaglar, EECS department head, noted in her announcement. "She utilizes her knowledge of algebra, algebraic geometry, graph theory, optimization and combinatorics, and statistical modeling to create new paradigms and to answer important questions at the interface of statistics, machine learning and optimization, including causal inference (with focus on causal structure discovery from both observational and interventional data), efficient inference with Gaussian graphical models with special structure, and experimental design. She is particularly motivated by statistical problems arising in genomics."

Uhler has also "made fundamental contributions, including efficient computation for Bayesian estimation problems with linear constraints on the covariance matrix, providing a beautiful theory for graphical models that enjoy a particular form of positive association, called Multivariate Totally Positive models, or MTP2, (a property that emerges in a variety of domains ranging from phylogenetics to finance) and presenting the first causal structure discovery algorithm that is provably consistent in the interventional setting," Ozdaglar said.  In addition, "she is also actively working at the intersection of statistics, applied mathematics, and biology, motivated by her interest in learning gene regulatory networks," Ozdaglar noted.

"Caroline’s warmth, energy, and exceptional intellectual achievements have made her such an important part of the LIDS community,” said LIDS director John Tsitsiklis. “It is wonderful to see her immense talent recognized in this way, and a privilege to have her here at LIDS.”

IDSS director Munther Dahleh added: “What is amazing about Caroline is her ability to take complicated problems in genomics and to skillfully formulate and solve mathematical problems in statistics and optimization to provide solutions to these practical problems. Her problem-solving skills are simply impressive. I am thrilled to have her as a colleague at MIT.”

Uhler has developed two courses at MIT, one of which serves as the capstone class for the IDSS minor in statistics. She serves on the EECS admissions committee and the Broad Institute fellows selection committee, and been a co-organizer of the annual Women in Data Science (WiDS) conference produced jointly by MIT, Harvard, and Microsoft Research New England.

She is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute. Honors include the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award from the Humboldt Foundation, an NSF CAREER Award, a Simons Investigator Award, and a START Award from the Austrian Science Foundation, among others. She received bachelor's degrees in mathematics and biology from the University of Zurich, master's degrees in mathematics and high-school math education from the same institution, and a PhD in statistics from the University of California at Berkeley.

Material from the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) was incorporated into this report.