Volume 5, Issue 1, January 30, 2018
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UCLA Institute for Digital Research and Education
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UCLA Researcher Prepares New Wave of Neuroscientists for Big Data, Machine Learning

UCLA Dr. Mark S. Cohen has trained thousands of students, graduated nearly thirty Ph.D. candidates and helped revolutionize the way we connect the mind and the brain.

"My college roommate was a philosopher," so goes the story of Dr. Mark Cohen, but Cohen's isn't one that involves a premature existential crisis nor is it the typical hellish-roommate tale. On the contrary, engaging in philosophical discussions as an undergraduate helped spark Cohen's interest in the human brain. 

A professor-in-residence at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the creator and director of the Semel Neuroimaging Training Program, Cohen has helped forge revolutionary advancements in his field including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology, which he helped pioneer in the early 1990s. 

Whereas conventional MRI is purely structural imaging, he said, fMRI completely changed the landscape. "Imagine the difference between taking a photograph of a house and doing thermal imagery of the house that shows the water flowing through the pipes," he said.

Cohen has also been on the forefront of computational neuroscience, which his alumni routinely employ while conducting research. Essentially, they utilize machine learning to run faster analyses on the brain by using the Hoffman2 cluster, a supercomputer with enormous databases hosted at IDRE.

Dr. Ariana Anderson, Dr. Don Vaughn, and Dr. Wesley Kerr are three of his alumni. Read more.

IDRE-related Lectures, Seminars & Colloquia

The Backbone of the Energy Sector Revolution: Towards a Fully Digital and Smarter Distribution System Operator

Tuesday, January 30
2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
38-138 Engineering IV

Abstract: The electricity sector is facing unprecedented changes which are impacting the entire value chain. There is growing acknowledgment of the key roles Distribution System Operators will play in leading the change towards a more decarbonized, decentralized and digitized sector. EDP Distribuição, Portugal’s mainland DSO serving more than 6 million customers, is among the most innovative companies when it comes to building the digital and smarter grids of the future and to help in setting out directions. This workshop will address some of the major issues for the sector and the way the company is pushing forward and walking the talk.

Speaker Bio: João Torres is the CEO of EDP Distribuição, the Portuguese Distribution System Operator. In recent years, he has served two consecutive terms as Chairman of the European Association representing DSOs across Europe, which is leading the way forward to bring smart and digital grids from vision to reality.

Click here for more information. 


Cutting the Cord – Integrated Sensing, Actuation, and Robust Electronics for Soft Robot Autonomy

Wednesday, January 31
11 a.m. to 12 p.m. 
37-124 Engineering IV

Abstract: While there are key challenges in materials and manufacturing that remain to be addressed, further progress in soft robotics now depends on accomplishing a new set of goals: systems-level materials integration, untethered functionality, and robot autonomy. In this talk, I will focus on this latter set of challenges and the new fundamental questions that emerge when exploring the interface of soft multifunctional materials, rigid microelectronics, and robot mobility. 

Speaker Bio: Carmel Majidi is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, where he leads the Soft Machines Lab. Prior to arriving at CMU, Prof. Majidi had postdoctoral appointments at Harvard University and the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials. He received his doctoral training at UC Berkeley. Currently, his research is focused on the development of new classes of soft multifunctional materials for stretchable electronics, sensing, and muscle-like actuation.

Click here for more information.

CS 201- Jon Postel Distinguished Lecture:
Finding Very Damaging Needles in Very Large Haystacks

Thursday, February 1
4:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
Mong Auditorium - Engineering VI - First Floor

Abstract: Many of the most costly security compromises that enterprises suffer manifest as tiny trickles of behavior hidden within oceans of other site activity. This talk will examine the problem of developing robust detectors for particular forms of such activity.  The themes include research pitfalls, the crucial need to leverage domain knowledge aptly, and why machine learning is challenging to effectively apply for such problems.

Speaker Bio: Vern Paxson is a Professor of EECS at UC Berkeley, and co-founder and Chief Scientist of Corelight, a company based on the network monitoring technology he has developed for many years.  He also leads the Networking and Security Group at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley.  His research focuses heavily on measurement-based analysis of network activity and Internet attacks.  He works extensively on high-performance network monitoring, detection algorithms, cybercrime, and countering censorship and abusive surveillance.

Click here for more information. 

A Picture of the Energy Landscape of Deep Neural Networks

Monday, February 5
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
EE-IV Shannon Room #54-134

Abstract: Deep networks are mysterious. These over-parametrized machine learning models have hitherto defied attempts to put a sound theoretical footing beneath their impressive performance. This talk will shed light upon some of these mysteries. I will paint a picture of the training process of deep networks. Along the way, I will develop state-of-the-art algorithms for non-convex optimization. I will conclude with a vision of how advances in machine learning and robotics may come together to help build such a Cyber-Physical Intelligence.

Speaker Bio: Pratik Chaudhari is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science at UCLA where he works with Stefano Soatto. He has worked on perception and control algorithms for autonomous urban navigation as a part of nuTonomy Inc. Pratik holds Master’s and Engineer’s degrees from MIT and a Bachelor’s degree from IIT Bombay in Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Click here for more information. 

An Informational Perspective on Uncertainty in Control

Monday, February 5
12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Mong Learning Center - EE-VI

Abstract: High-performance cyber-physical systems rely on many sensors and hardware components for successful operation. Control strategies for these devices require an understanding of how unpredictability in these components might impair performance. Can we quantify the value of adding an extra camera to our system to reduce uncertainty? In this talk, I discuss some theoretical perspectives to understand uncertainty in systems as well as practical protocols to mitigate it.

Speaker Bio: Gireeja Ranade is a Researcher at Microsoft Research, Redmond. She received an S.B. in EECS from MIT and an M.S. and Ph.D. in EECS from UC Berkeley where she designed and taught the pilot version of lower-division EECS classes. She has worked on problems in fake news and misinformation, brain-machine interfaces, information theory, control theory, wireless communications, and crowdsourcing.

Click here for more information.

CEE 200 Sec 1: Engeo – Non-Ergodic Site Response for Design of Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Tuesday, February 6
4 p.m. to 5:50 p.m.
A2 Haines Hall

Abstract: The presentation addresses the geotechnical challenges during the seismic design of Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts (LMNA). Designed by award-winning architect Ma Yansong of MAD Architects, the LMNA will exhibit renowned works, digital technologies, daily film screenings, and the private art and memorabilia collections of famed filmmaker George Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson. It is designed to be seismically isolated, with an effective isolated period of approximately 4 seconds. The state of practice for seismic hazard analysis (SHA) uses semi-empirical ground motion models (GMMs) with average source, path, and site effects derived from global catalogs (ergodic models).

Speaker Bio: 
Uri Eliahu, GE - President, Engeo
David Teague, PhD - Staff Engineer, Engeo
Jeff Braun, PE - Senior Engineer, Engeo
Bahareh Heidarzadeh, PhD - Project Engineer, Engeo

Click here for more information.

Introduction to Mplus 8.1

Monday, February 12
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
5628 Math Sciences Building

Abstract: Mplus is a powerful statistical package used for the analysis of both observed and latent variables. It can perform are exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, latent class analysis, latent growth curve modeling, structural equation modeling and multilevel modeling. This workshop is designed for people who are just getting started using Mplus. Our aim is to orient participants to the basic structure, syntax, data, and output associated with this package. Mplus version 8.1 will be used for this workshop.

NOTE: All researchers are welcome to attend.

Click here for more information.

On Growth and Form: Geometry, Physics, and Biology

Thursday, February 15
3 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.
6627 Math Sciences Building

Abstract: A century since the publication of Darcy Thompson's eponymous classic "On Growth and Form," his vision has finally begun to permeate into the fabric of modern biology. Within this backdrop, I will show how a combination of biological and physical experiments, mathematical models, and computations allow us to begin unraveling the physical basis for morphogenesis in the context of examples such as leaves, guts, and brains. I will also try and indicate how these problems enrich their roots, creating new questions in mathematics, physics, and biology.

Speaker Bio: L. Mahadevan teaches Physics and Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He is also the Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics at Harvard. He uses experiments, theory, and computation to study motion and matter at the human scale, where phenomena are robust and easy to observe, yet not always easy to explain. His areas of interest include the patterns of shape and flow of inanimate matter on scales ranging from the supramolecular to the planetary, and the dynamics of sentient living matter that can self-organize, perceive and act.

Host: Andrea Bertozzi

Click here for more information. 

Using the MIXED Command in SPSS

Monday, February 26
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
5628 Math Sciences Building

Abstract: This seminar will illustrate the different kinds of models that can be run with the SPSS command MIXED.  Basic syntax and useful options will be discussed, as well as possible solutions to common problems encountered in multilevel modeling.  Examples of both two- and three-level models will be provided.

NOTE: All researchers are welcome to attend.

Click here for more information. 

IDRE-related Workshops & Events

IDRE Hosts Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) Training

IDRE is partnering with Stats Camp to bring statistical analysis training to UCLA on Monday, March 26 through Wednesday, March 28 from 9 am to 5 pm. The three-day event is called Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) Foundations and is an advanced intensive short course on the Craft of Structural Equation Models (SEM).

Course topics include:
• Design and measurement issues in cross-sectional and longitudinal research
• Traditional panel designs
• Overview of missing data
• Latent growth curve modeling
• Testing for Mediation and Moderation
• Multilevel and multiple group SEM
• Using Phantom Constructs
• Multiple group modeling

Registration includes:
• Three days of training led by Dr. Todd Little, a leading and renowned SEM and longitudinal model researcher
• Training materials in electronic format and access to a video of the seminar
• Catering of breakfast, lunch and snacks
• One-on-One consultation with instructor for your individual research questions

Register on the Stats Camp site with a valid UCLA email and the discount code “UCLAstatscamp” to receive a massive 35% discount on registration fees! Contact IDRE Stats for further information at:


ASCE Winter Career Fair

Thursday, February 1
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Ackerman Grand Ballroom

The ASCE Winter Career Fair specifically brings companies from the civil, environmental, geotechnical, hydrologic, structural, and transportation engineering and construction management industries. The tone is professional and the talent is top-notch. There are great opportunities for students to establish professional relationships with employers and show off their talents and résumés. Last time, our career fair attracted more than 300 undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students.

Click here for more information.



Wednesday & Thursday, February 7 - 8
8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day
5628 Math Sciences Building

UCLA-IDRE along with XSEDE and Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is pleased to announce a two-day Big Data workshop that will focus on topics such as Hadoop and Spark and will be presented using the Wide Area Classroom (WAC) training platform.

Click here for more information.


Play to Win!

Thursday thru Monday, February 8 - 12

Announcing the 2018 Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM)® and 2018 Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (ICM)®.

Take a real-world modeling problem and solve it with a team of up to three students (and a faculty advisor as pre-contest coach), over four days … submit your solution paper to COMAP…and if your team wins, you could get international recognition plus win a $10,000 scholarship award from Two Sigma Investments! Sound intriguing?

What do you get?
- fun and challenging experience/rewards of individual achievement and team accomplishment
- in-depth basics of creative problem solving
- an impressive credential for your academic resume
- distinct edge when applying for internships

Click here for more information.


Inaugural Bioengineering Research Day

Friday, February 23
8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Mong Learning Center, Engineering VI

This event is aimed to bring together the Bioengineering research community on the UCLA campus to share our experiences and build a community of students, faculty, and researchers to work together for larger goals of improving human health.

Other Features: Laboratory Open House, Lunch, and Poster Presentations 

Plenary Speakers: Professor Ali Khademhosseini and Professor Aaron Meyer

Click here for more information.


Grant & Funding Opportunities

UCLA Office of Information Technology
Institute for Digital Research and Education
310-825-6635 |
5308 Math Sciences
Box 951557, Mail Code 155705
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1557

Barbara Woltag, Editor, IDRE Newsletter
310-794-5169 |

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