Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute Assistant Professors Volodymyr Kuleshov and Emma Pierson were recently awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Awards. They will each receive between $400,000 and $600,000 from the NSF program over the next five years to fund their educational research projects.

Assistant Prof. Kuleshov’s research will focus on improving genome sequencing through novel techniques using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Current methods of analyzing genetic data grapple with the magnitude and complexity of the data sets despite the decrease in cost of genome sequencing over the past two decades that enabled the creation of datasets comprising millions of genomes of plants, animals, humans, and more. The project’s goal is to develop the basis for algorithms by finding new mathematical models of genomic sequences that can be used for genetic data analysis such as analyzing human ancestry and discerning the role of genetics on disease.

Assistant Prof. Pierson will work to reduce healthcare bias through creating more equitable decision-making options. Healthcare inequality in America has resulted in those with high incomes living an average of a decade longer than those in the lowest income levels, and biased medical decision-making is partly to blame. The project will work to decrease the bias in medical decision-making by statistically analyzing decisions made by both humans and algorithms and then identifying sources of bias and proposing solutions to those biases in return, thus making healthcare more fair and more efficient by allocating resources where they will help the most.

A total of six Cornell University assistant professors – including Profs. Kuleshov and Pierson – received NSF Faculty Early Career Development Awards. The prestigious awards are presented to early-career faculty members who have the potential to be academic role models while serving as leaders in advancing the missions of their academic departments or organizations. Their work under the program must integrate education with research while building a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in their field.

More About